If you’re like me, then you’ve been searching for rebounds in this early fantasy basketball season. Centers miss games, that’s nothing new, but I’ve found that it’s tougher this season to find good boards on the waiver wire or in free agency. As positionless basketball spreads throughout the New NBA I suppose it’s natural that the center position would become a bit less dependable when it comes to rebounds. More guards and wings are grabbing boards than ever before, and more elite bigs are resting more often.
Below are some players who are mostly available as must adds, or to stream, or perhaps pick up as a handcuff. All numbers are prior to Tuesday’s games.
Andre Drummond, C, PHI, 49.6% rostered in ESPN leagues, MUST ADD
Drum simply must be rostered. He’s currently #101 on the ESPN player rater, and he’s grabbed the 16th most total rebounds in the NBA, while coming off the bench. When Drummond gets the minutes, he grabs the boards. He’s perhaps the best handcuff in fantasy because we know that Drum will spell Joel Embiid during games Embiid plays, AND Drum will get starter’s minutes when Embiid sits. Since Embiid is out with Covid (though he’s vaxxed and may be able to come back sooner than later, get well soon, Process!) Drum should get his minutes and shots. Drummond is averaging 6+ points per game and 10+ rebounds per game in under 20 minutes per game. If he gets to start, he’ll give you a 20-20 game, I promise. He’ll also add a few assists in most games, too. If he’s on your wire, PICK HIM UP. In the event that Embiid is forced to miss a lot of games, Drummond will become 90% rostered, at least.
Hassan Whiteside, C, UTA, 39.5% rostered
This is a handcuff situation, BUT: Whiteside is already a top 100 player (#95) on the player rater backing up the Stifle Tower, Rudy Gobert. 50 players in the NBA are currently averaging 7+ PPG and 7+ RPG. Whiteside is on that list but he’s the ONLY player to average less than 20 minutes per game. If Gobert rests a game or misses any time, Hassan Whiteside becomes a must roster player. As it is, he’s not a bad streamer, who has definite upside with more minutes. I’ve never been a huge fan of Whiteside’s play, but counting stats are counting stats and Whiteside delivers volume when he’s afforded the chance.
Bobby Portis, PF, MIL, 21.4% rostered
Portis recently returned from an injury, but he’s already a desirable addition, mainly because the Bucks are still walking wounded, especially in the front court. Brook Lopez, Milwaukee’s starting center, hasn’t played since the first game of the season, and there’s no timetable for his return. Bobby Portis will have to help fill those minutes, something that he and Giannis have been doing since Portis returned. He’s averaging 12 shots a game in six games, 10+ PPG, 7+ RPG, 1+ blocks per game, and a steal per game. STOCK MARKET ALERT: if Portis can average a steal and a block per game, while also giving you points and boards, he’s a guy you’ll have to roster. He’s in store for big minutes going forward, until/unless BroLo comes back. Pick him up now while you can, he probably won’t be there next week.
Darius Bazley, SF/PF, OKC, 13.4% rostered
Like I was saying before I listed three bigs, perimeter players are grabbing more and more rebounds! Like Bazley, a first round pick from two years ago, who hasn’t developed his shot yet, but is getting mucho minutes on the young Thunder. He’s averaging the fourth-most MPG on OKC and the third-most shots. Now, he hasn’t delivered on the offensive end, he has a sub-40 FG%, but he’s getting you 10+ PPG, 6+ RPG, 1+ APG, and one steal and nearly one block per game. He’s not finishing on his drives and he’s not sinking his free throws. None of this seems very appealing, until you remember that he’s basically free to stream, and a guy who can give you a little bit of everything, including boards from the wing, which means he’s a useful player to keep on your fantasy radar. If Bazley’s ratios improve in his third season, then he could become a guy you keep on your roster. For now, pick him up and use his counting stats when you need to (just don’t think too hard about his ratios).
Jae’Sean Tate, SF, HOU, 9.2% rostered
Tate is one of my favorite players because he works his ass off. He’s not the most talented guy in the world, but he’s tough, he can finish on drives, and he gives 11-6-2 based purely on volume alone. He’s a solid player on a bad team, which means minutes and shots. Minutes are like water, they make everything else grow. Tate’s fourth in MPG on Houston (his defense keeps him in games) and fifth in shots, but he also plays less than 30 MPG. If his minutes crept up, so would his counting stats. As is, he’s still #107 on the player rater, so he’s absolutely been solid in fantasy. Tate averaged over a steal per game last season, so those might go up as the season goes along. Tate’s a young player (it’s his second season) and he’s on a team that doesn’t really have a lot of mouths to feed at the small forward position, despite having a lot of youth on the roster, so his role seems to be secure. Jae’Sean is a useful fantasy player, and if he improves, he could become something more. For now, keep your eye on him.
Precious Achiuwa, PF/C, TOR, 7% rostered
Precious is coming off the bench now that Pascal Siakam is back for the Raptors, but Precious is still worth streaming and/or rostering as a handcuff. Only 38 players this season are averaging 8+ PPG and 8+ RPG, including Achiuwa, but Precious is the only one of those players to do it in less than 25 MPG (he averages 23.6). That means he could presumably get you a double-double were he given the minutes. With Siakam back, I don’t think Achiuwa will get that chance, but if he can get you 7 and 7, then he’s like Whiteside, and he’ll absolutely be a useful streaming option. I’m a fan of Precious, I love his defense and his potential, and I’m hopeful that Toronto will find the minutes for him to continue to develop. It’d be a shame if he stalled out. Keep an eye on how the Raptors parcel out their minutes, as injuries to Khem Birch or others may open up more playing time for young Precious. He may hurt you in the ratios, but this is only his sophomore season, and his field goal percentage is due for some positive regression.
JaVale McGee, C, PHX, 3.1% rostered
I know, I know, it’s JaVale McGee. We know who he is at this point. But, he’s averaging 9+ PPG and 6+ RPG in under 20 MPG, and on nights where he spells Deandre Ayton, McGee’s starter-level minutes should result in near dub-dubs or actual bona fide 10 and 10s. JaVale’s not just another good handcuff (though he is that), he’s a great guy to stream. He’s outside of the top 200 in fantasy, but I actually think that will improve as the year goes on. Again, 9 & 6 in under 20 minutes per game isn’t bad for a guy who’s free to pick up off of waivers.