The key to winning your fantasy basketball league is not how well you draft, but the players you add off waivers. This is extremely important because securing hidden talent could replace those late-round selections that aren’t having the best season. Here at NFS, we provide the best picks for players you should grab off waivers now before it is too late. As always, both opportunity and performance are taken into consideration for these players, and also all players listed are rostered below 40 percent on ESPN. Learn to think like a NERD! Check out the NBA New Age Rankings for every player’s year-to-date performance valuation.
Darius Garland, PG/SG, Cleveland Cavaliers
After a subpar rookie season, Darius Garland was a low flyer in the drafts coming into this season. However, he quickly earned himself as an early priority pickup and hasn’t fallen throughout the season. He did suffer a writs injury where he missed multiple weeks but it didn’t miss a step once he returned. Garland finished his sophomore season averaging 18 points, six assists, and 1.2 steals per game. He also shot a solid 45 percent from the field and 40 percent from the beyond the arc. Garland improved in every statistical category except for turnovers. Garland is in a prime position for another breakout season and could be a potential all-star with where he is heading right now.
Kevin Porter Jr, SG/PG, Houston Rockets
While Kevin Porter only appeared in 26 games this season, his peak was phenomenal. In his short time of consistent play, he played a level to become a key future player for the Rockets. He even dropped 50 points and 11 assists on over 60 percent shooting against the Milwaukee Bucks. Porter finished the season averaging 17 points and six assists per game. His only struggle this season was his shooting percentages. Not only were they inefficient, but they were also lower than last season with Cleveland. With a proper offseason, Kevin Porter can be a terrific player for the Rockets and whoever Houston selects with their top pick.
T.J. McConnell. PG, Indiana Pacers
T.J. McConnell has been one of the best backup point guards in the entire league, playing being Malcolm Brogdon. He was able to achieve a triple-double with steals in March which put him in a category with only six other NBA players. Since that triple-double, he didn’t slow his production, finishing the season averaging 10 points, six assists, and two steals a game. He also shot an incredible 60 percent from the field in those same games. McConnell will be an unrestricted free agent this summer but is in line for a big payday after an impressive second season with the Pacers.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG/SF, Atlanta Hawks
After dealing with a leg injury that forced him to miss most of the first half of the season, Bogdan Bogdanovic came back and had an impressive second half. I would personally say that Bogdanovic was one of the best fantasy pickups this season. Since being lifted from his minute restriction, Bogdanovic has been averaged 20 points, four rebounds, four assists, and 1.4 steals per game. He also shot nearly 50 percent from both the field and from beyond the arc. Bogdanovic’s incredible play was critical in helping the Hawks secure their first playoff spot since 2017.
Robert Williams III, PF/C, Boston Celtics
Robert Williams III showed some good flashes depose dealing with some inconsistent minutes and a crowded center position for the Boston Celtics. The former first-round pick brought the block party to every game. Since the All-Star break, when Williams’s minutes started to pick up, he averaged nine points, eight rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game. He also an insane 72 percent from the field since the break. If Williams can have a productive offseason and elevate his game, he has the potential to become the franchise center for the Celtics. He could be a quality sleeper pick next season.
Darius Bazley, SF/PF, Oklahoma City Thunder
After the Thunder decided to go fully into tank mode, Darius Bazley was able to capitalize on his opportunity to get some good playing time with a thin frontcourt. In his sophomore season, Bazley averaged 14 points and seven rebounds a game. He really struggled on trying to stay efficient, only shooting about 40 percent from the field and 29 percent from beyond the arc. Nonetheless, Bazley will very likely become a key player for the Thunder in the future as he still only 20 years old. A productive offseason could see him as a quality late-round pick next year.
Kelly Olynyk, C/PF, Houston Rockets
After the Victor Oladipo trade, most thought the Rockets got absolutely scammed when they only got Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk in return. However, Olynyk reached a whole different level once he arrived in Houston. Since being traded, he averaged 19 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and 1.4 steals per game. He also drastically improved his shooting percentages, hitting 56 percent from the field and 38 from beyond the arc. Both are much better than his splits in Miami this season. Olynyk is set to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason but it would likely b in his best interest to stay with the Rockets, as he has by far played his best basketball for the organization.
Isaiah Stewart, C/PF, Detroit Pistons
Isaiah Stewart is one of the most underrated rookies we saw this season. Despite playing in a very crowded backcourt, he worked his way up to have a very productive second half of the season. Since the All-Star break, Stewart averaged 10 points, eight rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game. He also shot an efficient 55 percent from the field and was even a half-decent shooter for his position, hitting 34 percent from three. Stewart’s late breakout may even be enough for the front office to trade veterans in front of him.