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. Learn to think like a NERD! Check out the NBA Player Consistency Rankings to see how consistently, good or bad, players are, determined by stats, not hunches or anecdotal evidence!
Ricky Rubio, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers
A salary dump trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves, Ricky Rubio has shown he can be productive in whatever kind of role he is assigned. He’s had an incredibly hot start for the Cleveland Cavaliers thus far. Through three games, Rubio has averaged 16 points, four rebounds, nine assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Rubio has also shot an impressive 45 percent from beyond the arc, despite only having a 32 percent career average. His role going forward will be questionable with Darius Garland dealing with an injury, and eventually recovering from it, as well as his starting position from Rubio. But Rubio has proven to be a fruitful guard throughout his entire career and should get plenty of opportunities, if even off the bench.
Chris Duarte, SG, Indiana Pacers
With injuries to Caris LeVert and T.J. Warren, rookie Chris Duarte has already been thrust into the starting lineup and seeing significant playing time. The Oregon product has averaged 20 points, four rebounds, and four assists while shooting 45 percent from three in three games on the young season. His role going forward will likely decrease once LeVert and Warren are healthy again, but that shouldn’t stop Duarte from getting meaningful nightly minutes as he’s already proven to be an NBA-ready rookie.
Alex Caruso, PG/SG, Chicago Bulls
Fan favorite, Alex Caruso, was able to secure himself a rich new contract in the Windy City. With that has come a new role where he is much more involved in the offense. Through three games with the Chicago Bulls, Caruso has averaged eight points, three assists, and three steals while shooting 60 percent from beyond the arc and 50 percent from the field. His minutes should stay consistent even when Colby White returns because Caruso has proven to be a much more consistent player with defensive upside when on the court.
Precious Achiuwa, PF, Toronto Raptors
An underrated rookie with the Miami Heat, Precious Achiuwa was moved to the Toronto Raptors as part of the Kyle Lowry trade. With an already thin frontcourt, Achiuwa should find plenty of opportunities to bring impact to a rebuilding Raptors team. Through three games, Achuiwa is already averaging a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. His free throw percentage has also improved by seven percent and should rise as the season goes on. He’s one of the most underrated prospects currently and should thrive under Nick Nurse as his head coach.
Will Barton, SF, Denver Nuggets
Will Barton never seems to be counted on during drafts as he comes in almost every season as a waiver wire player. Through two games, Will Barton is averaging 16 points, seven rebounds, and six assists while shooting 50 percent from deep. His role has been consistent with the Nuggets for the last handful of seasons now. His biggest concern is his health and staying on the court; Barton hasn’t played more than 60 games since 2017. But he is still a reliable pick-up off waivers for this coming week.
Franz Wagner, SF, Orlando Magic
Many considered Franz Wagner to be a project player coming into the draft because of his raw ability, but lack of an NBA frame to compete with the best. But his first two games with the Orlando Magic have instantly turned him into a sleeper on waivers. Wagner has averaged 14 points, four rebounds, and a block per game while shooting 57 percent from the field and from deep. Injuries to Jonathan Isaac and Chuma Okeke should get Wagner more minutes going forward to prove himself as a rotation player for the Magic.
Mo Bamba, C, Orlando Magic
The Mo Bamba show has begun and a breakout season could be on the horizon for the fourth-year big man from Texas. Through two games, Bamba is averaging 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists, a steal, and three blocks per game. However, that is not the most impressive stat thus far. Bamba’s ability to space the floor has skyrocketed as he has hit 66 percent of his threes with almost five attempts per game. He’s already the hot topic on the waiver wire, so this makes him worth being added immediately.
Daniel Gafford, C/PF, Washington Wizards
After an impressive playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Daniel Gafford was not only awarded a contract extension, but was also looked at as a quality sleeper with Thomas Bryant still out. Through two games, Gafford has already shown massive improvement. He’s averaged eight points and three blocks while shooting 87 percent from the field. His complementary role with Montrezl Harrell makes Gafford’s role consistent going forward. He’s an underrated player on the waiver wire with known consistent production.