By Alex Rikleen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
On the one hand, it’s hard to believe we’re only entering the third weekend of the NBA season. On the other, the fact that that most teams have now played 10 percent of their games is equally inconceivable. The season is still so young, yet a meaningful portion of it is already in the rear-view.
Though the season is young, we’ve now seen enough that it’s OK to make significant changes to our preseason expectations for players. Jonathan Isaac, OG Anunoby, and a pair of Rockets listed below were dramatically underrated this preseason.
Contrarily, widely drafted players like Derrick White and Joe Ingles now look like they will never reach their October expectations, and both are rightly getting dropped in shallower leagues. However, while we now have a meaningful sample, we still must be careful to avoid overreaction. While White and Ingles are legitimate drop candidates, Otto Porter is not.
No matter what your situation, the best way to ensure a winning fantasy season is to remain constantly vigilant on the waiver wire.
The players below are listed in the order I’d recommend adding them.
As always, this article will focus on players available in at least 50 percent of leagues. With that said, especially this early in the season, there are a lot of very valuable players who are widely available but miss that cut-off. I won’t go into depth on those guys, but I’ll include them below in the appropriate order.
Some under-rostered names who might be available in your league:
OG Anunoby, Raptors (74 percent rostered)
Tristan Thompson, Cavaliers (83 percent rostered)
Aron Baynes, Suns (67 percent rostered)
P.J. Tucker, Rockets (60 percent rostered)
Devonte’ Graham, Hornets (66 percent rostered)
Dwight Powell, Dallas Mavericks (54 percent rostered)
Powell was the headliner last week, and he’s over 50% rostered, so I’ll be brief. Powell is a nine-category star. He was immediately reinserted into the starting lineup upon return from injury, despite playing under a strict minutes cap. By his fourth game, he was up to 34 minutes. He’s going to get a ton of minutes and he’s not a negative in any category. He won’t be back on waivers this season.
Jabari Parker, Atlanta Hawks (47% rostered)
We’re just two games into John Collins’ 25-game suspension, which means Parker seems to have 23 more nights of value. Just because he comes with an expiration date, however, doesn’t mean you should ignore him. Most waiver wire pickups find their way back at some point.
Furthermore, filling in for a suspended player is better than an injured one, because you know exactly when that run is likely to end and can better prepare. Parker has started in both of Collins’ missed games, averaging 30.5 minutes, 18.5 points and 6.5 rebounds. It’s also worth noting that Parker has some history as a high-value fantasy producer. Back in 2016-17, before his season was cut short due to injury, Parker put up 51 games of top-60 value.
I don’t expect him to reach those lofty heights, but I’d rather Parker than any other current pickup with an expiration date (except perhaps Aron Baynes) — and there are a lot of expiration-date players right now.
Danuel House, Houston Rockets (41%)
It’s really quite simple: House has been a top-50 player so far this season. Assuming a standard 13-man roster, House should be rostered in all leagues with at least four teams in them. He’s starting and averaging 31.0 minutes per game, and that workload seems to increase anytime another rotation player misses a game, regardless of the missing player’s position.
He’s highly efficient from both the field and the charity stripe, and he’s making 2.8 threes per game. He’s one of just seven players averaging more than two threes and one block per game. House is not quite as valuable as his teammate, P.J. Tucker (60%), but both are must-adds in all leagues. Both are limited as scorers, but do more than enough elsewhere to make up for that.
Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies (25%)
Brooks’ rostered rate is rising quickly after his 31-point game Wednesday, but he’s not featured here because of that one game. Rather, the best thing Brooks has going for him is his surroundings — specifically, the shooting guard depth chart behind him. The Grizzlies’ net rating is 32 points per 100 possessions better when Brooks is on the court, compared to when he is off the court.
That number for Marko Guduric is -3.5, and it’s all the way down at -23.8 for Grayson Allen. The latter is by far the worst for any of their rotation players. The struggles of Brooks’ backups should help keep Brooks’ minutes elevated, and they’ve already been increasing through the early portion of the season. Brooks has taken at least 12 shots in five of the last six games, and he’s averaging a solid 4.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals. He’s not the most exciting pickup, but he’s likely to stay rosterable for most of the season.
Glenn Robinson (14%); Jordan Poole (5%); Ky Bowman (24%), Golden State Warriors
The Warriors’ backcourt has not yet settled, but it is still an area of high interest following the news that Steph Curry (hand) will miss at least three months. Further adding to the confusion is D’Angelo Russell’s (hand) injury, for which the team never gave a clear timeline — though it appears as though he may return Friday. There’s value available here, we just need to figure out where.
While Russell is out, my favorite pickup is Bowman, and not just because he was a Boston College Eagle. Bowman started all three games without Russell, averaging 37.3 minutes, 14.3 points and 5.3 assists. However, once Russell returns, he will probably return to a small bench role, sapping all of his value.
With Russell active, Robinson becomes my preferred play. He was already getting stable minutes even before the Curry injury, giving him a more stable floor. His play has been inconsistent, but he has the potential to be a quality scorer and rebounder with efficient shooting. Poole has seen a significant boost in responsibilities since Curry got hurt, including a promotion into the starting lineup. Since then, he’s averaging 29.5 minutes and he’s scored at least 16 points twice. He also profiles as a decent source of assists and threes.
Despite Alec Burks’ (11%) incredible game Wednesday night, I still think he is a less attractive option than these other three. If in either of the Warriors’ Friday or Saturday games Burks plays at least 30 minutes and scores at least 16 points, I’ll reconsider. Eric Paschall (70%) is not discussed here because he’s already rostered in too many leagues.
Other recommendations: Jae Crowder, Grizzlies (16%); Kevon Looney, Warriors (19%); Bryn Forbes, Spurs (23%); Darius Garland, Cavaliers (21%); Kevin Knox, Knicks (12%); Furkan Korkmaz, 76ers (5%)