It’s Thursday. You know what that means.
But if you don’t, let’s talk about it real quick.
The NBA season is back, baby. All gas, no brakes. And with that, I’m back on a weekly basis to look at the waiver wire for the players you should be targeting for both short- and long-term success.
We’ll look at players that you should consider picking up who are rostered in four different rostership tiers:
What’s more, we’ll give you a breakdown of how many games each team has for the upcoming week so that you can maximize the minutes of your streamers.
Since it is the first week of the season, and I’m writing this when some teams haven’t even played yet, it’s important to not overreact to a big performance or a bad performance. It’s also important to not react at all and miss out on a potentially waiver wire gem.
If you’re grabbing these guys, you should look to drop those streaming types that you drafted in the late rounds of your draft.
Without further delay, let’s get to it, starting with the schedule of games being played for next week.
Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire Week 1
BKN, CHA, CHI, CLE, DAL, DEN, DET, GSW, IND, MEM, NOP, ORL, PHX, POR, TOR, UTA
ATL, BOS, LAL, MIA, MIL, MIN, NYK, OKC, SAS, WAS
HOU, LAC, PHI, SAC
Rostered in 50-60% of leagues
The Spurs surprised everyone when they announced that the second-year forward would actually be the running point. And while the Spurs ultimately lost their opening game to the Mavericks, the experiment looks like it could work. Sochan had 13 points with five assists and eight rebounds. Yeah, his 10.3 PER and -10 performance isn’t anything too great, but the 24.8 USG% in his first game at the point is a good sign. What’s more, he made two threes, which is going to be big for his fantasy output if he can show any ability to hit a jumper consistently.
The Grizzlies were dealt a brutal blow of Steven Adams being out for the season with another knee surgery. Add to that Brandon Clarke already missing a bulk of the season after tearing his Achilles last season, Memphis finds itself very thin at big. Tillman is going to get the majority of the run there, and it showed with him playing 34 minutes in the Grizzlies’ opener. He grabbed 12 boards and had 17 points, but Memphis was bullied around in the interior, being out-rebounded 52-37. I think Memphis will make a play for a center, but until they do, it’s Tillman’s role with a little bit of Santi Aldama sprinkled in there when he’s good to play.
Rostered in 30-49% of leagues
Jason Kidd trolled us all when he rolled out Maxi Kleber on opening night as the team’s starting center. In the second half, though, that changed, as the rookie out of Duke took over. Lively, who is admittedly green and has some offensive concerns about his non-lob scoring, ended up playing 31 minutes in the game, going 7-of-8 from the field for 16 points and 10 rebounds. That’s a hell of a debut and it should lead to him getting the bulk of the run moving forward at center. For a quick comparison, Kleber was -12 on the night while Lively was a game-high +20.
The player with the highest PER in basketball is Thomas. The league’s leading scorer is Thomas. Opening Night overreaction city, baby! Thomas was cooking for the Nets off the bench, and this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this. He’s shown flashes of being a microwave scorer for the Nets last year, but the opportunity and consistency have been the big issues for him. Still, he needs to be rostered after his monster performance.
Rostered in 15-29% of leagues
Did anyone tell Jalen that the Slam Dunk Contest is in February? He was having a one-man dunk contest in Charlotte Wednesday night, and the answer to “which forward should we roster?” in Atlanta has been answered. Johnson scored 21 points off the bench, trailing only Trae Young for the most on the team, and he also contributed seven boards and three STOCKs. He’s my No. 1 pickup out of anyone on this list for the upside he possesses.
The Lakers had a fantastic offseason, and the acquisition of Prince may have been the best move that they made. He offers them a floor spacer who is defensively capable with a nice stroke from behind the arc. That was on full display in their opening night loss to the Nuggets. Prince went 4-of-6 from behind the arc and is a solid pickup for teams who need three-point help.
Rostered in 0-14% of leagues
This is a stash play, but we did see a glimpse of what George is capable of in the Jazz’s loss to the Kings. The rookie played 19 minutes, and he will continue to battle Talen Horton-Tucker and Kris Dunn for on-ball duties. If you’re in a deep league and have the ability to stash someone, George has big upside.
I was more impressed by the overall performance of Moody compared to Jonathan Kuminga Tuesday night. The cutting, the willingness to look for his shot, and the three steals are all big for his progression. He’s in his third year, and the Warriors desperately need contributions from Moody and Kuminga. While Chris Paul dribbled way too much for my liking in an offense that thrives with movement, I have hope that he’ll be able to get Moody involved going forward with the second team.