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Fantasy Basketball Category Analysis & Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 17 (2024)

Fantasy Basketball Category Analysis & Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 17 (2024)

The second half of the NBA season is upon us, and now it’s time to shake things up a bit. With the landscape changing after an active trade season, we will start pushing the limits on how we identify and take advantage of opportunities on the waiver wire.

While we will continue to strategically identify players who can take your team to the next level, things at this point in the game may not make sense and, to be quite frank, may get a little weird. Still, we are in this thing together, and it’s my job to be logical, illogical, right, and wrong, all to encourage you to make your most noteworthy moves to get you that championship crown.

As always, I would like to thank the readers and members of our FantasyPros community. Your choice to read and engage with this article as a part of your fantasy basketball strategy means a lot. In a world packed with many options to satisfy your fantasy needs, including this article as part of your means to address them is humbling and immensely appreciated. With that said, let’s get down to business.

For those just joining us, welcome! This is your weekly dose of fantasy basketball possibilities as we explore and identify players who can help take your team to the next level in your quest for the championship crown of your league. It’s a long season, so it’s beneficial to maintain an “it’s-a-marathon-not-a-sprint” mindset as you strategize and tailor your weekly or season-long approach to maximize your team’s value and potential.

Each week, we will look at widely available players rostered in fewer than 65% of fantasy leagues on Yahoo!. We will focus on building strategies in eight-category leagues with standard scoring (more details outlined below).

Insights about the highlighted players will concentrate on how they can contribute to the aligned category but also touch on how they can contribute to various other categories.

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Fantasy Basketball Category Analysis & Waiver Wire Pickups

(Statistics and data courtesy of nba.com)

Fantasy Format

Scoring Type:

Head-to-Head (Most Categories)

Player Stat Categories:

  • Points Scored (PTS)
  • Total Rebounds (REB)
  • Assists (AST)
  • Steals (ST)
  • Block Shots (BLK)
  • 3-Point Shots Made (3PTM)
  • Field Goal Percentage (FG%)
  • Free Throw Percentage (FT%)

Roster Positions:

  • Point Guard (PG)
  • Shooting Guard (SG)
  • Guard (G)
  • Small Forward (SF)
  • Power Forward (PF)
  • Center (C) x 2
  • Utility (UTIL) x 2
  • Bench (BN) x 2
  • Injured List (IL) x 3

Three Things About the Season

This season has been action-packed and shows promise of excitement to the final minute of the season. The first half of the season brought forth a highly competitive landscape that accumulated in a thrilling, yet intentional trade season that is sure to produce new storylines. In turn, that will force us to be even more strategic and innovative in how we see and take advantage of opportunities to bolster our rosters for the long haul. In reviewing the first half, three themes emerged and tracking them could help ignite your managerial foresight and recontextualize your team’s competitive potential.

Age ain’t nothing but a number.

These young bucks are balling, and while they still have much to learn, their athleticism, talent, and hunger have made an immediate impact on their teams and our rotations. Victor Wembanyama, Chet Holmgren, Brandon Miller, and Jaime Jaquez Jr. lead the way as some of the most exciting and productive rookies to enter the league this season. At the same time, the potential of players like Brandin Podziemski, Cam Whitmore, Scoot Henderson, Ausar Thompson, and others offers a promising glance of what tomorrow’s league will look like.

On the other end of the spectrum, seasoned vets such as LeBron James, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, and countless others are still demonstrating their elite abilities as they try to add even more hardware to their collections. With coaches more aggressively deploying their young talent and more strategically using their seasoned assets, we are being constantly challenged with how we evaluate and acquire new players for our team.

With this in mind, have courage and be bold in the second half of the season, while also honoring history, managing metrics, and leveraging logic; all contribute to a winning approach.

No one is safe.

At this rate, the Play-In Tournament will be just as entertaining and competitive as the Playoffs. The competitive play has been sensational this season, and while there have been a fair share of blowouts, teams are still managing to put quality minutes on the floor, leading to an “anybody can get got” scenario. The Eastern Conference is starting to chip away at the imbalance of power that has been tilted towards the Western Conference since 2000, and while this All-Star game was less believable than in recent years, we can not invalidate the regular season standings.

With ample teams talented enough to lock up a post-season bid, we could see teams dig way into their bag to ensure they secure their ticket while protecting their key assets. This dynamic, however, will present a more significant challenge than simply resting your star players or strategically punting a game or two. In this race, everything counts, and that means more opportunities for every player to shine. With teams having more with hybrid roles and tighter yet responsive rotations, it has leveled the playing field and democratized the championship race so that any team believes they too can have a slice of the American Dream.

With this in mind, we need to carefully evaluate each player’s opportunity and usage.

Play your game.

The league is changing and with that comes the opportunity to redefine your strategy. As many pioneering figures in the league have done, be fearless in your path and you could find something greater than wins; you can find the evolution of your love for the game.

This could mean changing how you build your strategy and how you self-evaluate, both of which are important. Trends, metrics, data, and rankings are all good, but can be made even better when you add yourself into the mix. Dare to be great, dare to be you, and at the end of the day, win while being you.

At this point, your team is your team, and while there are week-to-week heroes, the chances of significantly improving your team with a single pick are slim. However, there are a few acquisitions that can help you add new dimensions to your team’s identity and ability to perform. While we won’t dig deep into the analysis this week, these names are familiar and should come as no surprise. Each player comes with risks, but they could offer solid multi-categorical production to boost your overall roster construction.

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Points

Tim Hardaway Jr. (SG, SF – DAL): 57% Rostered

The Mavericks’ acquisition of P.J. Washington was a tremendous move and has given them another viable scoring option. While this doesn’t directly impact Hardaway’s role and playing time, it could have some implications on the overall strategy of the team. Washington can serve as a rising tide that lifts all boats, or it could lead to a new team dynamic that moves Hardaway from a key role to a more specialist-tactical one. Both could be beneficial, however, both could force Hardaway to rely more on efficient complimentary play rather than forcing offensive production.

In any case, Hardaway should be on all rosters or close to it; he is offensively talented, averaging 17.3 points per game and the biggest threat to his upside is roster ambiguity, not the quality of his play. While it may take some time to re-evaluate his potential in this new-look squad, waiting too long could see you miss out on one of the few singular waiver assets that could tremendously shift your offensive trajectory.

Dillon Brooks (SG, SF – HOU): 40% Rostered

Brooks is a crucial enforcer on a talented and scrappy Rockets squad. While the team has ample talent that could eventually threaten his contributions, his role alongside Fred VanVleet as the veteran leaders gives him a particular equity that can’t be easily displaced by young potential. It also helps that his production this season has been solid, averaging a respectable 14.2 points per game. While he can be up and down in his assists and rebounding, he offers multi-categorical value in more nuanced categories such as three-pointers made, steals, and free-throw percentage. Barring any injuries, his offensive profile comes with a level of utility that can’t be easily found at this point in the season.

Caris LeVert (SG, SF – CLE): 40% Rostered

LeVert is having a solid season, and while he has been plagued by untimely injuries and bust games, his potential as a multi-categorical contributor is immense. He is averaging 14.4 points per game, as well as cashing in 3.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.0 steals per contest. Although his game-to-game box score may be less than ideal, his production is undeniable. That being said, the frustrations of trying to “read the tea leaves” are real. Ultimately, the choice to roster him or not is yours, however, as the season progresses, it isn’t hard to imagine a scenario where the Cavaliers begin to ride the hot hand, something LeVert is well-versed in catching.

Rebounds

Josh Hart (SG, SF – NYK): 64% Rostered

Hart is a rebounding machine, at 7.1 per game, and while his place in the starting rotation may be temporary, he can do enough now to carry you through the backend of your season. Unfortunately, it is quite possible that by the time Hart demonstrates what he can do as a feature lead in the rotation, he may be re-directed back to his support role, but he could surprise us.

Nick Richards (C – CHA): 46% Rostered

Richards is positioned to succeed in this rotation, especially with the departure of P.J. Washington. He can rebound, block, and score. His rebound rate of 7.9 per game also has the potential to rise, and I hope he can increase his 9.7 points per contest, which would further his utility as a multi-categorical contributor.

Saddiq Bey (SF, PF – ATL): 58% Rostered

Bey has a ton of talent, and while the team has a competitive front and backcourt, he has sustained his impactful and versatile role, averaging 13.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. While it isn’t too enjoyable to monitor his box score, he always manages to pull together a competitive stat line. Bey provides the kind of floor and promising ceiling that can round out some rough edges of your team’s offensive and defensive production.

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Assists

Spencer Dinwiddie (PG, SG – LAL): 58% Rostered

After joining the Lakers, Dinwiddie is poised to play above his potential. While his production hasn’t been jaw-dropping, it hasn’t been poor. He is averaging 12.4 points and 6.0 assists per game and should offer value to a competitively understated Los Angeles squad. New settings can do wonders for a player, and with the Lakers in a great position to take some adjustment risks, Dinwiddie could serve as the missing piece of this talented team’s puzzle.

Andrew Nembhard (PG, SG – IND): 11% Rostered

Nembhard allows the team more opportunities to use Tyrese Haliburton in various ways, given his ability to facilitate the script, with 4.6 assists per game. While the Pacers’ backcourt is quite competitive, Nembhard could find himself more in the mix than teammate Bennedict Mathurin should the team opt to tighten up their rotation. If he can remain healthy and show some chemistry with Haliburton, Pascal Siakam, and Aaron Nesmith, Nembhard could be in store for a sensational second half of the season.

Marcus Sasser (PG – DET): 5% Rostered

Sasser is in a great position to establish himself as a key player on a rebuilding Pistons squad. With the departure of Killian Hayes, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Alec Burks, he should find more opportunities to build and sustain some of the upside we have witnessed throughout the season. While he profiled stronger as a two-guard during his time in Houston, averaging 16.8 points per game in his final season, he has shown promise as a facilitator since entering the league, averaging 3.0 assists per game this season and 6.0 per game over the last five contests. While the Pistons have officially begun making bold moves to reshape the team, Sasser could benefit from the new look should he earn coach Monty William’s trust along with his fellow teammates Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey as they seek better days for their promising young careers.

Steals

Kelly Oubre Jr. (SG, SF – PHI): 58% Rostered

Oubre is tremendously talented and has taken well to the Sixers organization. With the absence of Joel Embiid, Philadelphia will have to get production out of their other assets, and there is no doubt that the team is different when Embiid is out of the lineup. However, the team could reimagine a new approach that would bode well for their post-season hopes when he is eventually healthy. Oubre can do a little bit of everything and is possibly the most versatile player on the team. He is averaging 14.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game and could build on those marks considerably as the season progresses. While he does have a streaky nature to his game, his all-around contribution, especially in this niche steals category, could bode very well for your success.

Jalen Suggs (PG, SG – ORL): 47% Rostered

Suggs is talented and has done a great job gaining back some of the ground he lost due to injury. But while the injuries persist, his impact and place in the rotation puts him in must-roster territory as he does a little bit of everything well enough to make him an invaluable piece of your rotation. Suggs is averaging 12.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 0.6 blocks per game, and should he improve his durability, he could be a solid contributor in all formats.

Xavier Tillman Sr. (PF, C – MEM): 8% Rostered

Tillman is going to play very well on the league’s leading team. The Celtics are managing Al Horford so well that he is producing at a competitive level for the team. What do you think will happen when Tillman gets into the swing of things? He is a promising two-way player who can score when given a chance and is a beast defensively, with 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. The team invested some real capital in getting Tillman at what seems the perfect time of his development, and I believe this will be one of most impactful trades of the year.

Blocks

Alex Caruso (PG, SG – CHI): 59% Rostered

Caruso has been balling out this season, especially on the defensive side of the ball, with 1.2 blocks and 1.4 steals per game. While he doesn’t profile as a featured player, he is a starter who shows real promise every time he touches the floor and his multi-categorical contributions make him invaluable to the team. With the Bulls opting to hold onto Caruso, all signs are pointing up. Caruso is still Caruso, but an increase in his all-around production could be enough to make him a mainstay in your rotation.

Precious Achiuwa (PF, C – NYK): 55% Rostered

Achiuwa has done a lot his short time since joining the Knicks. While his rebounding is his most visible nightly contribution, his potential as a multi-categorical contributor is very understated. He can score efficiently from the floor and his defense is pretty smooth too, with 0.8 blocks per game. While the team has many assets at its disposal, Achiuwa should be able to sustain competitive production. His current “buffet” of opportunity may not last, but it won’t completely close and he should be a viable asset for the duration of the season.

Jonathan Isaac (SF, PF – ORL): 9% Rostered

I am rooting for this man so badly. With the amount of loyalty Orlando has shown its players through their comebacks, like Markelle Fultz and Jalen Suggs to name a few, I hope that their long-term hold approach pays off should they find a way to fully rehabilitate Isaac. He is averaging 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game and can put up points when the game falls his way. Investing in his caliber of talent could pay off tremendous dividends, especially for those looking for a lift in the blocks category. However, it could also fall short due to long ramp-up times and inopportune minor injury setbacks, but we’ve also seen how a timely hail Mary can pay off considerably!

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Three-Pointers Made

Duncan Robinson (SG, SF – MIA): 28% Rostered

Robinson is back from a concussion and has quickly reminded us of his offensive gifts. While he doesn’t sport the featured title or prestige of his other teammates, he is seemingly the one with the most freedom to do whatever he desires offensively when on the floor. Robinson’s quality of production, matched by his sizable volume, makes him a fantastic asset. He is averaging 13.3 points and 2.8 made three-pointers per game, while p9sting a healthy shooting rate of 45.9% from the floor, 41.2% from beyond the arc, and 89.0% from the free-throw line.

Lonnie Walker IV (SG, SF – BKN): 7% Rostered

Walker isn’t in full health, but when he’s on the floor, he is a respectable offensive weapon who can contribute across all major and niche offensive categories. He is averaging 11.5 points and 2.1 three-pointers made per game, and could be an invaluable addition as we get deeper into the season.

Gary Trent Jr. (PG, SG – TOR): 32% Rostered

While he may be too streaky to be reliable, Trent’s potential upside and expanded role in the Raptors’ rotation could lead him to put up game-changing numbers. He is averaging 11.5 points, 2.4 three-pointers made, and 1.0 steals per game. He could be a solid contributor to your roster as the team redefines its identity post-Pascal Siakam and company.

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Field-Goal Percentage

Aaron Nesmith (SF, PF – IND): 53% Rostered

Even while injured, Nesmith has seemingly done enough to secure his role in the rotation for the rest of the season. The departure of Buddy Hield could lead to increased production as the team needs reliable and impactful scoring contributions. While the rise of Bennedict Mathurin and Andrew Nembhard directly impacts his ability to operate, their roles are seemingly built around Nesmith even when he is absent from the lineup. His 12.6 points, 2.1 three-pointers made, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 51.9% from the floor make him worth investing and believing in.

Norman Powell (SG, SF – LAC): 38% Rostered

Powell is averaging 13.4 points per game and has found a solid role on a Clippers team poised to make a strong post-season run. He doesn’t offer much by way of other stats, but his consistent offensive production makes him an above-average complimentary piece when leveraging his solid 49.5% shooting rate to bolster your team’s efficiency.

Marvin Bagley III (PF, C – WAS): 48% Rostered

A 48.0% roster rate is far too low for Bagley, who is poised to shine for the rest of the season given his advantageous situation in Washington. He is playing on a team in transition that is looking for assets around which they can build. Having dealt with the ups and downs of trying to reach his potential, Bagley seems to be in a great place, mentally and physically, to try and prove himself the dominant force he was projected to be back in 2018. In a season that has been inconsistent at best, he is averaging 11.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game while shooting 57.8% from the floor. Take a chance now, because you don’t want to feel the pain of seeing him rostered by one of your leaguemates.

Free-Throw Percentage

This category can be tricky to manage, but with time and attention, it can be a pivotal and highly-strategic category to master and give you the upper hand on your competition. The following three players could bolster your rotation tremendously if you want to establish more of a presence in this area.

Bruce Brown Jr. (PG, SG, SF – TOR): 50% Rostered – 85.0% FT%
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG, SF – DEN): 49% Rostered – 92.1% FT%
Alec Burks (PG, SG, SF – NYK): 17% Rostered – 90.1% FT%


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