We’re basically 20% into the NBA season, so who are some widely available players who should be added in fantasy, and are their numbers real? Below are some must-adds, some streamers, and some dynasty players to consider picking up off waivers.
(All numbers are prior to Sunday’s games. All stats courtesy of ESPN.com, NBA.com, and Basketball-Reference.com. Thank you!)
TOP 100 PLAYERS TO ADD IMMEDIATELY
Ricky Rubio, CLE, PG, #35 Player Rater (season), 57.6% rostered (ESPN leagues)
Much of this list will boil down to this: top 50 or top 100 value means a player should be rostered, ESPECIALLY if they have safe starter’s minutes. Enter Ricky Rubio, who’s over 50% rostered, but should be on more fantasy teams. He’s now a starter for the Cavaliers since Collin Sexton is out for the season. Rubio is averaging 15 points per game, 3+ rebounds per game, 6+ assists per game, and 1+ steal per game, with 2+ 3-pointers made per game. Rubio is top 15 in the NBA in APG, and that’s with coming off the bench to start the season. The Cavs keep losing players to injury, meaning Rubio’s role keeps growing. Assists are vital in fantasy basketball, and Rubio’s one of the best sources of dimes in fantasy. Rubio has one less total assist in this season than Fred VanVleet, but FVV’s played over 100 more minutes than Ricky.
Alex Caruso, CHI, PG/SG, #57 PR, 35.2% rostered
Caruso’s played the fourth-most total minutes for the Bulls, so whether he’s coming off the bench or starting, he’s getting minutes, and minutes make everything else grow. Caruso is NOT a scorer, he’s averaging 7-3-4, but that’s with 2+ SPG (he’s tied for #1 in total steals prior to Sunday’s games). The assists and steals have resulted in top 75 value, but just imagine if Caruso’s outside shot (currently sub-30 3PT%) climbs back up towards his 40 3PT% last year. THEN his fantasy rostership will climb quickly, I think. As it is, he’s a top 100 player, his minutes and role are safe on the Bulls, he gets you scarce counting stats (at an elite level in SPG), and he has upside with his scoring. I know the PPG is tough, but Caruso’s already proven his worth. Don’t let his value waste on the waiver wire.
Aaron Gordon, DEN, PF, #74 PR, 38.4% rostered
Jamal Murray, Michael Porter, Jr., and now (sometimes) Nikola Jokic are missing games for the Nuggets. Cui bono? Who benefits? Will Barton and former face-of-the-Orlando-Magic Aaron Gordon. AG’s third in MPG and fourth in field goal attempts per game over the past two weeks for Denver, averaging 14-5-2 with 1+ 3PM and 1+ block per game. He’s relatively available and he’s getting mucho volume due to the absences of star players. We don’t know when Murray or MPJ will return; until they do, AG’s role will be significant. He scored 28 points against the vaunted Bulls’ defense on Friday night. He’s shooting better than 50% from the floor and Gordon sports the best true shooting percentage of his career so far this season. He’s also 26 years old. We consider AG a finished product because he’s been in the league for so long, but what if there’s still room for improvement? He’s ABSOLUTELY worth rostering until the Nuggies get healthy (if they get healthy!). Denver only has two games this Thanksgiving week, but that just means he’ll probably be even more available than he should be. Pick him up now if you can afford the roster spot.
Franz Wagner, ORL, SF, #78 PR, 26% rostered
This is a volume play, a dynasty play, and a redraft league play. First, Wagner has given near top 75 value in his rookie season thus far (good sign). Second, he’s second in MPG and third in shots on Orlando, meaning he’s assured volume. Third, he’s 6’10” and he’s 20 years old. So, his averages of 13-4-2 have been nice overall; the Magic play four games this week, which is nice volume in weekly leagues, especially if you’re streaming; and, he’s hella young and talented, so his dynasty future looks bright, which is nice for long-term leagues. Honestly, I don’t know what’s not to like about Franz (Go Blue!) other than his team is bad and you probably haven’t seen him play (maybe you don’t even know he exists!). His role is also secure until Jonathan Issac returns from injury (we don’t know when that will be). Wagner’s points will be up and down from game to game, but I feel confident he’ll end the season as a top 125 player on volume alone. He’s getting volume and he’s got upside, and he’s on a bad team. I love that combination in fantasy!
T.J. McConnell, IND, PG, #84 PR, 46.6% rostered (#58 PR15)
Ah, TJ, the eternal handcuff/bench streamer. McConnell gets you counting stats no matter what his role is. When his teams are healthy, his role diminishes, but not too much, as he’s still extremely helpful as a sixth man who can run the offense for the starters or the bench units. He’s averaging 9-3-5, with 1+ SPG, and he’s shooting 53 FG%, so he doesn’t hurt your ratios. He won’t get you many 3PM, but the assists, steals, and FG% result in a player who’s constantly useful, but rarely elite (although he does get tantalizingly close to triple-doubles on a routine basis when given the minutes). I like rostering TJ because A) the Pacers are always injured somehow, and B) having a professional point guard who you can depend on for dimes becomes tougher and tougher to acquire as the season goes along. Consider TJ a handcuff or mere streamer, if you will, but I bet you’ll wish you had him at some point this season when your assists are looking weak. Again, he’s a top 100 player so far, even though he’s technically coming off the bench. (Plus, he’s been top 75 the past two weeks.) Oh, and the Pacers have 4 games this week, so the volume’s attractive, too.
Jalen Brunson, DAL, PG, #87 PR, 41% rostered
Jalen Brunson is the backup point guard to Luka Doncic, but Brunson’s averaged the fourth most minutes AND shots for the Mavericks on the season, and those numbers have only gone up recently. He’s been a top 100 player while averaging 15-4-5 with 1+ 3PM. Of the 21 players averaging 15-4-5, Brunson has the 12th best 3PT% (right after Paul George). Those counting stats are starter-esque, AND he shot 40% from three last season, so there could be positive regression coming for him, too. The Mavs only have two games this week, so he could be better as a streamer, but if he were available in my league, I’d pick him up and keep him rostered for the season. If/when Luka Doncic misses games, Brunson’s in line for steep volume.
Devin Vassell, SAS, SG/SF, #94 PR, 13% rostered
Top 100 is top 100. Vassell hasn’t been anyone’s version of attractive this year so far, but his numbers have kept his value up, whether he’s coming off the bench or starting. Vassell’s fourth in total minutes this season for the Spurs, and he takes the fifth-most shots per game. His line of 12-4-1, with 1+ SPG and nearly two 3PM per game puts him in line with only 27 other players in the NBA, which means he’s giving you value across the board, whether it wows you or not. The Spurs have three games this week, but Vassell’s a player you want to keep your eye on for dynasty purposes (especially if he starts to eat away at the slumping Derrick White). He’s a good dynasty add, and he’s been a top 100 player. What’s not to like aside from the anonymity?
Desmond Bane, MEM, SG/SF, #95 PR, 18.7% rostered
Bane’s ridiculous outside shooting hasn’t kept up, but he’s still accruing counting stats. Currently averaging 14-3-1 with 2+ 3PM, he’s second in MPG and third in FGA for the Grizzlies; he’s a young player assured of a role on an up-and-coming team. He’s also been excellent from the free throw line when he gets there. Memphis has four games this week, which means volume for Bane. Every fantasy team needs outside shooting, as does every NBA team. Bane is a young sniper who will hopefully grow and broaden his game. The cost to find out is very low. He perhaps won’t maintain top 100 value, but I think he’ll stay in the top 125 as the season goes along. He’s a perfect complement to Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson, Jr.
Lu Dort, OKC, SG/SF, #99 PR, 30.8% rostered (#72 PR15)
Speaking of volume! Dort’s second in MPG on the young Thunder, and he’s averaged 20 PPG over the last week. His season stat line is 16 and 4 with a few dimes thrown in and 2+ 3PM. As you can see, he’s been a top 75 player the past two weeks. Anyone who’s second in FGA on their team is worth rostering for the volume alone, and Dort’s role as the defender and blue collar glue guy on OKC seems safe (similar to Jae’Sean Tate, see below). He’s also sinking his free throws at a career high, so perhaps there’s more improvement in store for Dort’s shot, too. OKC has a roster in flux as they try to develop their young players, but Dort’s development is important, too. Every team needs tough defenders and people willing to do the dirty work. Dort’s one of those guys. I loved having him on my fantasy teams last year, and I dearly wish I had him this year, too.
PLAYERS OUTSIDE THE TOP 100 TO ADD OR STREAM
Josh Giddey, OKC, PG/SG, #109 PR, 43.9% rostered
Giddey, also on the Thunder, is a rookie who’s averaging 10-7-5. Here’s the list of NBA players who equal or exceed that line:
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, Paul George, Luka Doncic, James Harden, Julius Randle, LaMelo Ball, Russell Westbrook, Dejounte Murray, and Josh Giddey-Up.
Giddey is a ROOKIE. And, he’s on that list. He’s also the only player on that list who’s A) playing in less than 30 MPG, and B) is younger than 20 years old. He’s also grabbing over a steal per game. If Giddey’s shooting improves EVEN A LITTLE BIT (which would be, y’know, natural FOR A ROOKIE), then his value will increase as well. Every player on that list above is at least 80% rostered, most are 90+%. Giddey’s producing at an elite level in all but PPG. Grab him now while you can, because someone else will scoop him once they notice his elite counting stats.
Cam Reddish, ATL, SF/SG, #110 PR, 10.3% rostered
Cam’s draft-mate, De’Andre Hunter, is out injured for awhile, at least, so Cam’s role should significantly improve. He’s been fifth in FGA per game for the Hawks the past two weeks, and there’s really no reason why the Hawks wouldn’t give him as much run as possible while they try to navigate being a team with title aspirations, as well as a team devoted to developing their young players. Cam’s scoring needs to solidify for him to be considered a solid fantasy player that you can depend on, but for dynasty purposes, or just for streaming, Cam’s available and he’s got upside. The Hawks play four games this week: home for the Thunder, at the Spurs, at the Grizzlies, and home for the Knicks. Those are four winnable games, at least two of which will come against bad defenses. Cam could be in store for a good fantasy week (he’s scored 15+PPG his last two games) as the Hawks’ sixth man.
JaVale McGee, PHX, C, #113 PR, 8.5% rostered (#63 PR15)
McGee is averaging 10+ PPG and 7+ RPG in under 20 MPG the past two weeks. That may not sound like much, but when you’re scrounging for streamable rebounds in fantasy, a guy who routinely gets you boards is worth rostering or streaming. He’s grabbed 103 total rebounds in under 250 total minutes played; Mitchell Robinson, the starting Center for the Knicks, has 114 total boards in 385 minutes. JaVale gets you rebounds when he gets the minutes. On nights when Deandre Ayton doesn’t play, McGee’s a damn fine option to start; on nights when he comes off the bench, he’s still a nice streaming option. I’ve rostered him in my main league as an Ayton handcuff, but also as just a useful bench player.
Patrick Beverley, MIN, PG, #120 PR, 9.2% rostered
PatBev starts for the Minnesota Timber Wolves and he’s averaging 8-4-4 with 1 BPG and 1+ 3PM per game. Only 19 players can match those numbers AND have a 35+ 3PT%. That’s exclusive company, even if it’s for a guy who doesn’t get you buckets (he’s at 8+ PPG). Plus, PatBev’s shooting worse from three than he has the past few years, so positive regression could improve his scoring ratios, too. Anyone who accrues 4+ RPG and 4+ APG needs to be considered for a roster spot. Minnie has four games this week, so Beverley’s volume should be useful as a streamer for this period. I don’t know if he can crack the top 100, but he’s definitely rosterable, and he’s a must as a streamer, especially in weekly formats.
Jae’Sean Tate, HOU, SF, #125 PR, 11.7% rostered
Much like Lu Dort, Tate’s a defensive/glue guy for a young squad. Tate’s averaging 11-7 but he grabbed a dub-dub the other night against the Knicks, and he’s nearly averaged a double-double over his past three games. He’s firmly entrenched as the starting three for Houston, and his solid defense plays well with the youngsters on the Rockets as they search for their shots. He’s an incredibly non-sexy player, but he’s another guy I had on my team last year who proved hella valuable due to his volume. I think he’s a safe bet to maintain top 125 value for the season. He’s safe to stream, or to roster for weekly leagues when the Rockets have four games (they have three this week, so he’s not a must add).
Duncan Robinson, MIA, SG/SF, #145 PR, 17.7% rostered (#110 PR15)
Robinson’s been one of the elite outside shooters in the NBA the past two seasons. His shot’s been hit or miss so far this year, but that should return to normal in due time (you can already see improvement recently). Tyler Herro’s wonderful play off the bench has eaten into Robinson’s minutes (and, now he’s day-to-day with a knee contusion), but Duncan’s minutes and shots will go back up as soon as his shot starts falling, I think. It’s difficult to keep elite snipers on the bench in the New NBA, especially for a team like the Miami Heat who start Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, two players who are NOT outside threats. The Heat only play three games this week, and Duncan’s hurt, obviously, so no need to pick him up immediately or stream him this week, but DO keep on eye on him. He was extremely undervalued last season in fantasy, and if he regains his form, then he’ll be easily obtainable fantasy gold again.
Bobby Portis, MIL, PF/C, #148 PR, 36.3% rostered
Brook Lopez is still out with back issues for the Bucks, which has meant more minutes and shots for Portis. He was out to begin the season, which is reflected in his player rating for the year, but he’s been a top 100 player the past two weeks, averaging 17-9, with a dime, a steal, and 2+ 3PM. Milwaukee’s getting healthier, but Portis’s role may not diminish too much, even after (if) BroLo returns, especially if the Bucks opt to rest Lopez in games, or cap his minutes. 17 and 9 with multiple threes puts you in Karl-Anthony Towns and Julius Randle range, by the way. If that’s what Portis is capable of delivering for the rest of the season, then he’s a must roster player. The Bucks have four games this week: home for Orlando and Detroit, then on the road against Denver and Indiana. Portis is a GREAT streamer for this week, and he’s worth holding onto in case his numbers maintain through the season. He went for 24 and 15 against the Magic on Saturday night.