The NBA is back, and it didn’t take long for the drama and intensity to get kicked up! As you start your quest for season-long fantasy basketball success, it’s vital that you get all the right pieces in place. Even after just a few days, there are opportunities to be seized by adding players from the waiver wire.
Each week throughout the season, I’ll highlight some of the hottest trending players, some deep league adds, and drill a little deeper on four sleeper pickups. These sleeper targets aren’t quite mainstream, but are emerging in a way that can give your team a boost and bring upside moving forward. The top trending players are good pickups to consider if available, but they are quickly vanishing off waiver wires. The deep league options at the bottom of the post can give you a boost if those top options and my four sleeper pickups have already been grabbed.
In week 2, which starts Monday, October 4, 14 teams have three games on the schedule, 15 teams play four times and the Sacramento Kings only have two games on the schedule. Upcoming matchups and frequency of games is a factor to consider, but we’re early enough in the season that at this point, it’s ok to take a long-term look and add the best player with less emphasis on short-term matchups.
Things change in a hurry from day to day throughout the season, so follow along on my Twitter account @ZT_sports if you are looking for single-game streaming options, along with cheap DFS plays on a daily basis.
Top Trending Players
- PG Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic
- PG/SG Jaden Ivey, Detroit Pistons
- SG/SF Bennedict Mathurin, Indiana Pacers
- SG/SF John Konchar, Memphis Grizzlies
- SG/SF Josh Richardson, San Antonio Spurs
- SG/SF Kevin Huerter, Sacramento Kings
- SG/SF Terence Davis, Sacramento Kings
- SF/PF Grant Williams, Boston Celtics
- SF/PF/C Aleksej Pokusevski, Oklahoma City Thunder
- PF/C Jalen Duren, Detroit Pistons
- PF/C Santi Aldama, Memphis Grizzlies
SG/SF Lonnie Walker IV, Los Angeles Lakers (at DEN, at MIN, vs. DEN)
Walker started each of the first two games for the Lakers and looks lined up for a large role with his new team, but he’s still owned in under 25% of leagues headed into Sunday’s action. He flashed upside during his four years in San Antonio, but the Spurs rescinded their qualifying offer, making him a free agent. He wasn’t on the market for long, joining the Lakers later that day.
In his Lakers’ debut, Walker played 29 minutes against the Warriors but struggled with his shot, going only 2-of-7 from the field and finishing with just five points. He still had serviceable non-scoring numbers with five assists, three rebounds, a steal and a blocked shot. He really stepped up on Thursday against the Clippers, playing 37 minutes in the closer game and going off for 26 points. He had three assists and two steals in that game while contributing a couple of three-pointers and shooting 9-of-21 from the field.
Walker’s 21.3% usage rate in the first two games is encouraging, and playing over 29 minutes in each shows he should get plenty of opportunities. He has not been a great source of steals or assists in the past, but adding those to his game would make him an even better pickup this season.
C Kelly Olynyk, Utah Jazz (at HOU, vs. HOU, at DEN, vs MEM)
Olynyk has bounced around the past few seasons from the Heat to the Rockets to the Pistons before landing with the Jazz this past offseason. At each stop, he has been very productive in the right role but struggled to get consistent usage. Last season, he only started one game in Detroit and averaged 19 minutes. He has already started two games for the Jazz, averaging 25 minutes per game.
On Wednesday, Olynyk was in foul trouble and was limited to 15 minutes with eight points and no rebounds. He avoided that issue on Friday and played 34 minutes in the Jazz’ win over the Timberwolves. He had 21 points, four steals, three rebounds, three assists and a block. Hopefully his rebound numbers increase, but his role looks secure. Utah does have Walker Kessler in the mix as well, and he could step into a larger role if Olynyk struggles or is phased out late in the season. Short-term though, it looks like Olynyk is the add with Kessler as another option to keep an eye on. Even after his big game, Olynyk is owned in under a third of leagues.
SF/PF Bruce Brown, Denver Nuggets (at POR, vs. LAL, vs. UTA, at LAL)
The Nuggets added Brown on a two-year deal over the summer after he was one of the most reliable contributors for the Nets last season. Brown has proven to be a versatile contributor that can chip in across the board and flex to multiple positions in the lineup. He already jumped into the starting lineup in place of Jamal Murray in the second game of the season and will likely be a plug-and-play solution whenever the Nuggets have a lineup opening. Given the sketchy health history of Murray and Michael Porter Jr., Brown could end up with extended run on a regular basis.
Even coming off the bench, he can contribute solid multi-category work. Last year, he averaged 14.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks per game in his 22 contests after the All-Star break. In his one start for Denver, he flashed his scoring upside with 20 points, five assists a steal and a rebound. Look for Brown to be a nice addition who can fill in holes in your roster just like the Nuggets will call upon him to do as the season continues.
PG/SG Dennis Smith Jr., Charlotte Hornets (at NY, at ORL, vs. GS)
The Hornets backcourt has taken several big hits early in the season. LaMelo Ball (ankle) and Terry Rozier (ankle) are both battling injuries that could sideline them into the week while Cody Martin (quad) has also been sidelined and James Bouknight is dealing with off-court issues. As a result, Smith is pretty much the last man standing in the backcourt, giving him a chance to step up and contribute in a major way.
In each the first two games of the season, Smith scored double-digit points, averaging 11.0 points, 4.0 assists, 2.5 steals, 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 block. He expected to step up and start Sunday, and the former top-10 pick may finally have an opportunity to be a fantasy regular. With the Hornets up-tempo style, DSJ should be able to produce solid numbers as long as he gets playing time, so he makes sense as a short-term add to boost your backcourt.
Other options to consider
- PG/SG Jaylen Nowell, Minnesota Timberwolves
- PG/SG Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks
- PG/SG Andrew Nembhard, Indiana Pacers
- SG/SF Joe Harris, Brooklyn Nets
- SG/SF Joshua Primo, San Antonio Spurs
- SF/PF Trey Murphy III, New Orleans Pelicans
- SF/PF Deni Avdija, Washington Wizards
- SF/PF Jalen McDaniels, Charlotte Hornets
- PF Jarred Vanderbilt, Utah Jazz
- PF/C Isaiah Jackson, Indiana Pacers
- C Isaiah Hartenstein, New York Knicks
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.