Caris LeVert among top fantasy basketball free-agent finds

After suffering a gruesome dislocated right foot injury early this season, Caris LeVert is back on the court for the Nets. Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Working the waiver wire is pivotal to succeeding in fantasy basketball. With so many games, injuries and endless shifts in rotations throughout the marathon campaign, we'll need to source stats from free agency to maximize imaginary rosters.

A willingness to entertain competition for the last few spots on your fantasy hoops roster can prove rewarding. When curating this fluid collective of statistical contributors, it helps to consider your end-of-bench players in direct competition with the talent floating in free agency.

The goal of this weekly series is to identify players available in at least half of ESPN leagues at each position. Some nominations are specialists capable of helping in one or two categories, while others deliver more diverse and essential statistical offerings.

In the breakdowns below, I've ordered players at each position with the priority of acquisition in mind, rather than roster percentage in ESPN leagues.

Point guard

Patrick Beverley, LA Clippers (Rostered in 23.6 percent of ESPN leagues): A triple-double threat when afforded heavy usage and steady minutes, which is the case of late as the gritty backcourt leader for the Clippers this past three weeks, Beverley is quietly a fantasy gem given helpful rebounding, assist, steal, and shooting rates. The Clippers dealt off Tobias Harris but still intend to contend for the final playoff berth in the West, signaling Beverley is a key veteran to consider in leagues of almost any size.

Terry Rozier, Boston Celtics (29.5 percent): This is somewhat speculative on Sunday morning without real concrete news on Kyrie Irving's knee sprain suffered on Saturday against the Clippers, but Rozier could become a valuable spot-starter for fantasy managers if Irving were to miss any time with the injury.

Monte Morris, Denver Nuggets (24.7 percent): Among the most added backcourt players of the past week in ESPN leagues, Morris is a gem in alliteration leagues and is also a helpful utility player given a useful mix of assist and scoring production. When Garry Harris is fully healthy and possibly with Isiah Thomas to join the rotation, it's best to add Morris now while his role is still unfettered.

Deep additions (players available in at least 80 percent of ESPN leagues): Shabazz Napier (9.8 percent) is a savvy scoring microwave of the Lou Williams ilk. The Nets rely on creation from their guards on the perimeter, with Napier serving a high-usage role left by the injured Spencer Dinwiddie.

Shooting guard

Tomas Satoransky, Washington Wizards (41.3 percent): A weekly inclusion in this column until we vault him across the 50 percent threshold, Satoransky is somewhat like Beverley in that he won't wow with his scoring pattern, but an excellent blend of shooting and passing metrics drives value.

Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics (21.2 percent): Found at 15th among shooting guards on the Player Rater the past month, Smart is not only the best possible source for steals, but he has also produced the conference's highest 3-point percentage since the start of 2019.

Malik Beasley, Denver Nuggets (23.9 percent): With Harris still ailing, Beasley has consumed a healthy batch of minutes and shots as the key scoring wing for the Nuggets the past two weeks. Like with teammate Morris, Beasley is likely a fine interim, if not long-term, target to consider.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LA Clippers (18.9 percent): While I prefer Beverley's stock to this rookie for the rest of the season, I'm still intrigued by the strong defensive rates and a somewhat effective blend of scoring and dimes the Kentucky product can provide.

Deep additions: Memphis' Justin Holiday (19.6 percent) is earning steady minutes with the Grizzlies in the wake of dealing off multiple key veterans and can help those in need of 3-point production.

Small forward

Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets (44.5 percent): The most added wing of the week, LeVert should see his stock soar once he fully integrates back into a leading usage role for the Nets.

Kenrich Williams, New Orleans Pelicans: A surprising beneficiary of the Pelicans' stretch forward fire sale that saw Nikola Mirotic and Wesley Johnson dealt, Williams has averaged 36.3 MPG, 2.3 3PG, and 1.8 "stocks" (blocks plus steals) this past week.

Terrence Ross, Orlando Magic (25.7 percent): The Magic held onto Ross in the Markelle Fultz negotiations thanks to a sincere desire for the franchise to make the playoffs. Part of that goal includes relying on Ross' strong scoring pop from the pine, as he's averaged nearly 25 PPG and just shy of five 3-pointers made per game during the past week.

Deep additions: Mikal Bridges (10.5 percent) is a defensive dynamo finally hitting his stride as a scoring forward, Bridges will get every opportunity to shine on a Phoenix team with the second-worst record in the league. We can find help in even on these younger rosters, especially with the team's commitment to Bridges as a 3-and-D weapon.

Power forward

Bobby Portis, Washington Wizards (33.7 percent): The #FreeBobbyPortis campaign waged by DFS NBA fans the past few seasons finally came to fruition, as he's due for a more prominent role with the Wizards now than Chicago finally moved on. With some stretch shooting skills complementing traditional double-double results from a physical forward, Portis is in a sweet spot to deliver fantasy value going forward.

Jonathan Isaac, Orlando Magic (19.8 percent): A favorite of mine in the draft process last season given how capably elite block and steal rates often translate from college to the professional level. Isaac is getting regular run as a starter for Orlando and has netted 2.3 BPG and one steal per game this past week to go with 13.3 PPG and more than six combined assists and rebounds. With some helpful 3-point results, we're talking about a four or five category contributor at a relatively thin position.

Ivan Rabb, Memphis Grizzlies (4.5 percent): The departure of Marc Gasol should open stead minutes for Rabb at both frontcourt positions in the coming weeks. Jonas Valanciunas will cut into Rabb's workload, but with 12.3 PPG, 7.8 boards, and 1.6 combined blocks and steals the past week, he's become a worthy streaming option until we see a real downward shift in opportunity rates.

Deep additions: Maximilian Kleber (2.3 percent) not only has an awesome name but can help fantasy managers in deeper leagues in both blocks and 3-point production.


Larry Nance Jr., Cleveland Cavaliers (34.5 percent): During the past five games, only Andre Drummond, Joel Embiid, Hassan Whiteside, and Rudy Gobert have averaged more rebounding chances (defined as being within 3.5 feet of an available rebound) than Nance. In an out of the rotation to a degree this season, Nance is back in good graces and should be considered a top addition for any managers in need of support on the glass and with both assists (3.3 APG the past week) and defensive metrics (two "stocks" per game during the past week).

Ivica Zubac, LA Clippers (12 percent): Dealt across the building by the Lakers for Mike Muscala, Zubac is a traditional center who should capably replace the role Marcin Gortat served for the Clippers this season. With 12 points, nine boards and three swats in his Clippers debut, a rousing comeback win in Boston, Zubac is an interesting streaming option for those who punted the center position this season.

Deep additions: Found at 14th in the NBA in rebounding chances per game in his recent return from injury, Cody Zeller (6.1 percent) should see steady minutes at center for a Charlotte team otherwise thin at the pivot. ... Denver's Mason Plumlee (7.8 percent) has impressively slashed for 16.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 4.0 APG with 2.3 combined steals and blocks the past week in a starting role with Paul Millsap ailing. Plumlee is tough to trust once Millsap is back in the fold, but it's worth remembering this uniquely valuable stretch if this backup big were to earn any other starts this season.