Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: Time to trust Killian Hayes, stash Naz Reid and more Week 3 options

Hello everyone, welcome back! We’re already in midseason form here on the waiver wire, at least in terms of the quality of talent on the wire (unfortunately). As always, however, even during down weeks, there are tons of ways to improve your roster through attention and activity.

In the context of an already disappointingly dry waiver wire so early in the season, I want to remind everyone of a relevant historical threshold: we are not yet seven games into the season. Why is the seven-game mark relevant? Back in Donovan Mitchell’s rookie season (2017-18), he was an unambiguous drop after the seven-game mark. Though there had been occasional flashes, he’d played under 18 minutes and scored single digits in two of his previous three games. That all changed dramatically in Game 8, and he’d go on to record a top-60 finish and was the season’s best Fantasy rookie. Seven games is still very early.

Generally speaking, we don’t add schedule analysis to this column until much later in the season. Schedule manipulation does provide an advantage, but this is the time when we’re most likely to stumble upon a season-defining pickup, and it’s more important to prioritize that quest. 

That said, Week 3 has some important oddities: 

  • No games on Tuesday (Election Day, including major state-wide races in Ohio, Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi, among other races around the country – don’t forget to vote!).
  • Massive slates on Monday (12 games) and Wednesday (14)
  • Tiny slates on Thursday (2) and Saturday (4)

Managers who plan ahead might be able to build a multiple games-played advantage by picking up Thursday and/or Saturday streamers at the start of the week. The Magic, Hawks and Bucks all play both days and have multiple players listed in the “other recommendations” section below.

As we do every year, the players in this article must be rostered in less than two-thirds of CBS leagues. Players are listed in the order that I recommend adding them, assuming they are equally good fits for your team.

Double-check your league

Players rostered in more than two-thirds of leagues, but who are still under-rostered. Double-check to make sure they aren’t available in your league.

Adds for all leagues

Killian Hayes, Pistons (23% rostered)

New Pistons head coach Monty Williams keeps telling us, even as the Fantasy community keeps trying not to hear: Killian Hayes is the starting point guard, and Jaden Ivey is an untrusted bench option. It doesn’t matter if you, me, scouts, other Fantasy analysts, or your aunt Nancy think Williams is handling this correctly. He controls the rotation, and he’s chosen to prioritize Hayes. Furthermore, he clearly doesn’t think Ivey is close to unseating Hayes – rookie Marcus Sasser (4% rostered) entered the game ahead of Ivey on Thursday and played more minutes. Hayes is underwhelming as a scorer, but he’s a capable passer and has at least one steal in every game.

Tim Hardaway Jr., Mavericks (45% rostered)

Getting minutes and getting buckets, it’s really that simple. Hardaway’s role has been constant whether or not Kyrie Irving (foot) is active, playing between 27-30 minutes and attempting between 15-17 shots. The total production is impressive – 20-5-2 with four 3s per game. He’s shooting slightly above his career averages from the field and behind the arc, so some amount of regression is likely coming, but hot shooting isn’t the main story here. What’s really changed this season is Hardaway’s role – his 15 FGA and 6.8 3PA per game are both easily his highest marks since joining Dallas nearly five years ago. He’s functioning as the primary offense for the bench unit and thriving in this new role. 

Naz Reid, Timberwolves (37% rostered)

Reid was drafted in most industry leagues, and his early play has justified that niche popularity. Despite playing just 23.8 minutes per game, he’s averaging 16-5-1 while chipping in two 3s per game. Reid is a dual-threat waiver pickup – someone who is usable right now, but who also has massive upside if either Rudy Gobert or Karl-Anthony Towns miss time. He’d need a lot more minutes to make an impact defensively, but his versatile offensive skill set stands out on the waiver wire.

Herbert Jones, Pelicans (52% rostered)

By the end of last year, Jones’ roster rate was near 100%. Now he’s back to waiver fodder, despite a nearly identical stat line. He’s started the season in a shooting slump, so his points and FG% are slightly down, but his rebounds and 3s have gone up. His steals are down, but his blocks are up – and his combined “stocks” per game are up overall. Jones was drafted in almost every league, and he’s still that same player. Profit from other managers’ impatience.

Keyonte George, Jazz (30% rostered)

The waiver wire is a bit dry right now, so it might be a good time to use a pickup on a longer-term stash candidate. Because let’s be blunt, George’s current production is not good enough. His 8-3-3 in 19.7 minutes per game isn’t even viable in a 16-team league, let alone a standard roster. But George is passing the “eye test”. He’s also passing the “beat writers are already complaining that he needs more minutes test.” And, in the one game where he got a sizable chunk of minutes, he aced the “box score good test,” posting 12-7-6 with one steal and two 3s. I don’t know when he’ll start getting enough minutes to be a top-100 Fantasy guy – and it’s possible that doesn’t even happen until a future season. But I am already confident that he’ll reach that height at some point in the not-too-distant future. If you have a deep bench, or if you aren’t sold on any of the other names mentioned here, George is a solid upside pickup (and if someone else pops up who you can use now, George is a painless drop). 

Lonnie Walker IV, Nets (15% rostered)

The Nets are already dealing with a ton of injuries. Starters Cameron Johnson (calf) and Nic Claxton (ankle) have been out since the opener, Spencer Dinwiddie (ankle) has missed a game and a half, and Dennis Smith Jr. (hip) has missed one game. With all those injuries, it’s unclear what Walker’s role will be once the team is healthy. He was a DNP-CD in the opener but has played 25 minutes per game as the first sub in every game since. Certainly, he won’t always be the sixth man, but will he maintain minutes in the low 20s? If yes, we could be looking at a solid (albeit unspectacular) long-term option. If not, then Walker still has about another week (or more) until Johnson returns, plenty of time to help our rosters. He’s averaging 17-3-3 with 1.3 steals and 2.7 3s as the sixth man.

Dorian Finney-Smith, Nets (23% rostered)

Finney-Smith is making the most of his extended opportunity with Cameron Johnson (calf) and Nic Claxton (ankle) sidelined. Johnson is out until at least through next weekend, and he might remain sidelined for longer. Claxton’s (ankle) return timeline is completely unclear, but his absence is less relevant to Finney-Smith than Johnson’s. In three starts, Finney-Smith is averaging 15-6-2 and 3.7 3s while playing 31 minutes per game. He’ll likely be droppable once Johnson and Claxton are back, but Finney-Smith is a solid contributor in the short term.

Other recommendations: Jalen Suggs, Magic (46% rostered); Grant Williams, Mavericks (28% rostered); Kevon Looney, Warriors (59% rostered); Malik Monk, Kings (45% rostered); Marcus Sasser, Pistons (4% rostered); Cole Anthony, Magic (54% rostered); Ziaire Williams, Grizzlies (30% rostered); Isaac Okoro, Cavaliers (37% rostered)

Deep League Special

Duncan Robinson, Heat (5% rostered)

Robinson’s got a steady role right now, with at least 21 minutes in every game. The sharpshooter doesn’t contribute much besides 3-pointers, but, man, he’s really good at making 3-pointers. He’s averaging 2.4 per game, with at least five attempts per night. 

Other recommendations: Christian Braun, Nuggets (18% rostered); Cason Wallace, Thunder (13% rostered)

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