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Fantasy Basketball Category Analysis & Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 21 (2024)

Fantasy Basketball Category Analysis & Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 21 (2024)

For most fantasy basketball leagues, the playoffs are here, and it’s time to perfect that 1-0 winning mentality for each slate this week.

Those who unfortunately fell short of the goal this year, I hope you were able to grow as a competitor and will be ready to dominate next year.

For those fortunate enough to have made the post-season, congratulations! You are undoubtedly ready to get your rotation right to take home the crown. There is no need to overhaul your approach, nor should you have expectations to do so at this point. However, there is still room to get more strategic and pragmatically focused to tool, enhance and refine your core means of production to be agile and responsive to your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.

The picks this week all have potential, whether this week or later, to impact your team no matter the competitive nature of your league and should remain on your radar week-to-week. Still, it may take some finessing of your rotation to maximize and cash in on their potential. As I mentioned last week, things may get a little less immediately apparent. However, to help, I adjusted the format of this week’s article to help keep the analysis more concise so you can draw your conclusions and make the critical decisions that could take you to the top.

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.

Check out the latest fantasy basketball expert consensus rankings partner-arrow>

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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

Opponent Matchup Grades

Grades were developed by comparing players’ stats and team dynamics against opponents’ strengths and weaknesses based on the conducted analysis that assessed the following Areas:

AREAS DESCRIPTION
Team’s Category Production Potential Compares the team’s average production in a category against the opponent’s average allowed in that same category
Game Environment Impact Assesses how the game’s pace, involving both teams, might impact the team’s production potential in a given category
Team Matchup Potential Assesses team and opponent’s offensive and defensive ratings to gauge matchup outcomes
Player Production Potential Analyzes player’s stats to determine their potential in a specific category

Note: Data collected from NBA.com dated on Monday, March 19th, before main-slate games.

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Points

Aaron Nesmith (SF, PF – IND): 47% Rostered

ACQUISITION DETAILS
League Level Shallow
Priority Medium-High
Acquisition Type Stream/Core Potential

Aaron Nesmith, averaging 12.4 points per game (131st in the league), is the Pacers’ next leading scorer after Pascal Siakam, Tyrese Haliburton and Myles Turner. He will undoubtedly be relied on for offensive production as the team looks to put together a successful post-season run. He has a conservative-efficient nature to his game, averaging 8.8 field-goal attempts per game, the seventh-most on the team. However, with Bruce Brown, Buddy Hield and Bennedict Mathurin out of the picture, Nesmith is now fourth in attempts on the team and will have plenty of opportunity to be more aggressive in his playmaking.

CATEGORY PROFILE
Primary Category Points
Secondary Category Field-Goal Percentage
Auxillary Category Three-Pointers Made, Steals

His 10.9 points per game in March was underwhelming compared to his 13.6 points per game these past three months. Still, Nesmith offers promising value as a multi-categorical contributor and could be a solid strategic piece to bolster your competitive positioning in more nuanced categories across the board.

OFFENSIVE PROFILE
CATEGORY STAT
Field-Goals Attempted 8.8
Field-Goals Made 4.4
Field-Goal Percentage 50.4%
Three-Pointers Attempted 4.6
Three-Pointers Made 2.1
Three-Pointer Percentage 44.5%

Week Breakdown & Matchup Grades

DATE OPP OPP PTS RANK MATCHUP GRADE
Mon: Mar. 18 CLE 109.6 5th C-
Wed: Mar. 20 @DET 120.1 26th A-
Fri: Mar. 22 @GSW 116.8 19th B-
Sun: Mar. 24 @LAL 117.8 23rd B+

On the Radar

Tre Mann (PG, SG – CHA): 25% Rostered – 8.1 PPG

Waiver Wire Priority: Medium

Rebounds

Taylor Hendricks (PF – UTA): 20% Rostered

ACQUISITION DETAILS
League Level Deep
Priority Medium-Low
Acquisition Type Stream/Core Potential

Taylor Hendricks performed well against the Timberwolves on March 16, putting together his first career double-double with 15.0 points and 10.0 rebounds. While he hasn’t been able to consistently demonstrate his promising ceiling up to this point in the season, he has improved from month to month and has managed to prove his value as a rebounder. Although his season stats aren’t eye-popping, Hendricks has the talent and pedigree that could translate into game-changing results.

CATEGORY PROFILE
Primary Category Rebounds
Secondary Category Blocks
Auxillary Category Points, Steals

Hendricks is averaging 6.1 points, 4.4 rebounds (132nd in the league), 0.7 blocks and 0.6 steals per game this season. However, his time at UCF tells another story that could indicate he could elevate his game. In his single year with the Knights, Hendricks averaged 15.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 0.9 steals per game. While we all know there is no guarantee that the college game will translate to the next level, he could be in a nice position late in the season to catch fire as a hot hand on a Jazz team that could choose to be competitive and play their way into the play-in tournament.

For those looking to make some bold moves to acquire a potentially sizable competitive advantage in rebounds and other categories, Hendricks’s understated multi-categorical contributions could be worth tapping into.

REBOUND PROFILE
Rebound Percentage 11.6%
Offensive Rebound Percentage 6.3%
Defensive Rebound Percentage 16.7%

Week Breakdown & Matchup Grades

DATE OPP OPP REB RANK MATCHUP GRADE
Mon: Mar. 18 MIN 41.2 3rd C-
Wed: Mar. 20 @OKC 44.8 24th B+
Thu: Mar. 21 @DAL 45.1 26th A-
Sat: Mar. 23 @HOU 44.7 23rd B-

On the Radar

Precious Achiuwa (PF, C – NYK): 43% Rostered – 6.7 RPG

Waiver Wire Priority: Medium-High

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Assists

Caris LeVert (SG, SF – CLE): 56% Rostered

ACQUISITION DETAILS
League Level Shallow
Priority High
Acquisition Type Core

Caris LeVert is proving to be a productive facilitator and has a track record of being one of the best offensive playmakers on the floor any given night. Issues with production consistency, untimely duds and suspect durability have plagued his season, leading to him becoming more of a premium streaming asset than a lineup regular.

However, with the season winding down and the team fighting to remain in a power position heading into the post-season, his versatility, talent and hot-hand tendencies could lead to some elite play late in the season.

CATEGORY PROFILE
Primary Category Assists
Secondary Category Steals
Auxillary Category Points, Three-Pointers Made, Rebounds

LeVert offers a solid floor in assists, averaging 5.1 per game (48th in the league), but he can offer a lot more when he plays up to his ceiling that can truly change the dynamics of your matchups. He is averaging 13.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game, shooting 41.4% from the floor and 34.1% from beyond the arc.

With the current health issues plaguing the team’s core, Donovan Mitchell, Max Strus and Evan Mobley expect Levert to step up in a big way, especially if the team utilizes him in a role that allows him to get going early and aggressively.

Week Breakdown & Matchup Grades

DATE OPP OPP AST RANK MATCHUP GRADE
Mon: Mar. 18 @IND 24.7 5th C
Wed: Mar. 20 MIA 26.7 14th B-
Fri: Mar. 22 @MIN 24.4 2nd C-
Sun: Mar. 24 @MIA 26.7 14th B-

On the Radar

T.J. McConnell (PG – IND): 23% Rostered – 5.3 APG

Waiver Wire Priority: Medium-High

Steals

T.J. McConnell (PG – IND): 23% Rostered

ACQUISITION DETAILS
League Level Deep/Shallow Potential
Priority Medium-High
Acquisition Type Stream/Core Potential

T.J. McConnell is in a great position to make his bones down the stretch for the Pacers and possibly your fantasy squad. The team has offensive talent. However, their consistency and ability to be versatile in their play-making could be critical factors in ensuring that they avoid the play-in tournament and actually make the playoffs.

Though the latter situation is likely to happen, it is possible that it doesn’t. While less dire, a play-in tournament could force the team to use and deplete resources that considerably detract from their ability to effectively compete in an entire playoff series. It could be in the team’s best interests to lock McConnell in earlier than later, so they can leverage his versatility to stabilize the production of the team’s rotations, both starting and off the bench.

CATEGORY PROFILE
Primary Category Steals
Secondary Category Assists
Auxillary Category Points, Field-Goal Percentage

McConnell is a solid two-way player who does all the little things right. While his production isn’t as jaw-dropping as others, it is promising enough to see him break through his ceiling if given the opportunity. He is averaging 5.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game (T-54th in the league) and can shoot the ball efficiently and effectively.

If the team lets McConnell play a more prominent role in making plays with and without the ball in his hands, he could pay healthy dividends to managers who invest in his understated multi-categorical profile.

Week Breakdown & Matchup Grades

DATE OPP OPP STL RANK MATCHUP GRADE
Mon: Mar. 18 CLE 7.6 19th B-
Wed: Mar. 20 @DET 8.9 30th A
Fri: Mar. 22 @GSW 7.8 22nd B
Sun: Mar. 24 @LAL 7.9 23rd B

On the Radar

Jaime Jaquez Jr. (SG, SF – MIA): 42% Rostered – 1.1 SPG

Waiver Wire Priority: Medium-High

Blocks

Xavier Tillman Sr. (PF, C – BOS): 5% Rostered

ACQUISITION DETAILS
League Level Deep/Shallow Potential
Priority Medium-Low
Acquisition Type Stream

The Celtics have locked up their playoff berth and will likely begin shifting into post-season mode these coming weeks to ensure they are ready for their championship run. This shift in approach will most likely lead to increased load management for their starters and critical support players. However, this period could be a significantly different story for Xavier Tillman Sr.

While Al Horford remains the trusted starter in the rotation, his dwindling explosiveness and the team’s limited depth in the front-court could lead the team to test the upside of Tillman Sr. Furthermore, the only things that Horford seemingly has over Tillman are his years on the squad and the team’s trust. This could ultimately prove to be an insurmountable obstacle preventing him from gaining more of a relevant role moving forward.

CATEGORY PROFILE
Primary Category Blocks
Secondary Category Steals
Auxillary Category Rebounds, Field-Goal Percentage

From a production standpoint, the differences aren’t that substantial. In fact, Tillman Sr. is producing at almost the same rate across all categories, averaging 11.4 minutes less per game than Horford and without a consistent role. While his health is also sketchy, I do feel the Celtics moved on him for a reason. They could be poised to put him in positions to ramp up his conditioning with more time on the floor and reps integrated into the scheme over the next few weeks. If he can earn the trust of his coaches and teammates, producing meaningful value down the stretch, his usage and role could increase and become more comprehensive than a pragmatic momentum-managing asset.

If this is the case, Tillman Sr. could become a dangerous multi-categorical contributor down the stretch for your more nuanced categories. He is averaging 4.4 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks per game (46th in the league). He has a lot of potential and could be a good complimentary piece if looking to build in some competitive value in steals and blocks, at the very least.

Boston’s Luke Kornet can also be a candidate to consider. He has a rapport with the team and a respectable 1.0 blocks per game (34th in the league).

Week Breakdown & Matchup Grades

DATE OPP OPP BLK RANK MATCHUP GRADE
Mon: Mar. 18 DET 6.0 25th B
Wed: Mar. 20 MIL 4.3 3rd C-
Fri: Mar. 22 @DET 6.0 25th B
Sat: Mar. 23 @CHI 5.1 14th B-

On the Radar

Nick Richards (C – CHA): 51% Rostered – 1.2 BPG

Waiver Wire Priority: Medium-High

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Three-Pointers Made

Corey Kispert (SG, SF – WAS): 28% Rostered

ACQUISITION DETAILS
League Level Deep/Shallow Potential
Priority High
Acquisition Type Stream/Core Potential

The Wizards are in shambles right now and have no incentive to push their star players to get back to conclude an underwhelming season. Not only is Corey Kispert available, but he has been relatively relevant throughout his third season while taking another successful step forward in his production and development. Offensively, he ranks fifth on the team in scoring with 12.4 points per game.

While he doesn’t offer too much value in assists and rebounds, that could all change, as his talent and pedigree may force him to expand his versatility in more ways than one. Kispert is also averaging 2.1 three-pointers (64th in the league) on 6.5 attempts per game, shooting 48.0% from the floor and 38.4% from beyond the arc.

CATEGORY PROFILE
Primary Category Three-Pointers Made
Secondary Category Points
Auxillary Category Field-Goal Percentage, Rebounds

The ceiling for Kispert is very promising, and he could be an asset that significantly helps you offensively win your league championship. I mean, just look at his February game log, where Kispert averaged 17.3 points while nearly shooting 50.0% from the floor. While his health and the risks of his role remaining the same on a team with destabilized rotations prove to be a threat to his potential for some late-season magic, Kispert could be worth taking a chance on this week.

SHOOTING PROFILE
CATEGORY STAT
Three-Pointers Attempted 9.3
Three-Pointers Made 4.4
Three-Pointer Percentage 37.2%

Week Breakdown & Matchup Grades

DATE OPP OPP 3PM RANK MATCHUP GRADE
Tue: Mar. 19 HOU 12.3 9th C-
Thu: Mar. 21 SAC 13.2 18th B-
Sat: Mar. 23 TOR 13.4 23rd B

On the Radar

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG, SF – DEN): 55% Rostered – 1.5 3PM

Waiver Wire Priority: Medium

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Field-Goal Percentage

Amen Thompson (PG, SG, SF – HOU): 54% Rostered

ACQUISITION DETAILS
League Level Shallow
Priority High
Acquisition Type Core Potential

Amen Thompson has had a slow start to the season due to injuries and a strict load management schedule. Still, it looks as if the opportunity and the Rockets’ approach are about to pay off, as the first-year talent seems poised to take on a more prominent team role, given his versatility and ability to produce. The team is on the cusp of punching their ticket to the post-season through the play-in tournament, but they have to compete to the end while being prepared to sustain their momentum throughout the playoffs, should they make it.

With the incentive of a potential post-season run, the multi-categorical production loss of Alperen Sengun, a dominant defense and depth questions in their frontcourt, the Houston coaching staff could be forced to utilize Thompson more liberally. He could take advantage of his opportunity and demonstrate the elite potential and playmaking ability that made him the fourth-overall pick in the draft.

CATEGORY PROFILE
Primary Category Field-Goal Percentage
Secondary Category Rebounds
Auxillary Category Steals, Points

Thompson is efficient from the floor, shooting 52.8% (99th in the league). However, he can offer some significant returns as a multi-categorical contributor across almost all categories. His 8.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.6 blocks per game might appear to be modest. Yet, in his 2022-2023 season with Overtime Elite League, he averaged 16.4 points, 5.9 assists, 5.9 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 0.9 blocks per game. Thompson has demonstrated that he can generate this production level at the next level. Grab him while you can.

Week Breakdown & Matchup Grades

DATE OPP OPP FG% RANK MATCHUP GRADE
Tue: Mar. 19 @WAS 50.1% 30th A
Thu: Mar. 21 CHI 47.2% 14th B-
Sat: Mar. 23 UTA 48.5% 21st B

On the Radar

T.J. McConnell (PG – IND): 23% Rostered – 54.7% FG%

Waiver Wire Priority: Medium-High

Free-Throw Percentage

De’Andre Hunter (SF, PF – ATL): 54% Rostered

ACQUISITION DETAILS
League Level Shallow
Priority Medium-High
Acquisition Type Core Potential

Losing Saddiq Bey is another massive loss for the Hawks this season. With Trae Young‘s return still questionable, the team is left with another hole in their offense, leaving them severely disadvantaged as they fight for their playoff chances this season. With that comes an opportunity for Hunter to increase his value and production in the rotation, whether starting or coming off the bench.

Hunter offers a conservative yet robust offensive repertoire that gave Atlanta more depth and options for utilizing their front and back-court assets. But now, he could be facing the one thing that has kept him in a waiver limbo of sorts with his buddy Tim Hardaway Jr.: his ability to scale and sustain his scoring production.

CATEGORY PROFILE
Primary Category Free-Throw Percentage
Secondary Category Points
Auxillary Category Three-Pointers Made, Field-Goal Percentage, Steals

Hunter’s 15.6 points, 2.0 three-pointers made and 2.9 made free-throws per game and shooting of 48.0% from the floor, 42.1% from beyond the arc and 86.3% (94th in the league) from the free-throw line are sensational.

However, he does little else outside score, which could create a big problem for managers if he is unable to at least hit his average. Regardless, his offensive profile and talent pedigree are too good to pass up if you are offensively starving right now across all scoring and efficiency categories.

Week Breakdown & Matchup Grades

DATE OPP OPP FT% RANK MATCHUP GRADE
Mon: Mar. 18 @LAL 80.2% 26th B+
Thu: Mar. 21 @PHO 76.8% 5th C
Sat: Mar. 23 CHA 80.1% 25th B+

On the Radar

Tim Hardaway Jr. (G -DAL): 43% Rostered – 85.4% FT%

Waiver Wire Priority: Medium-High


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