We’re nearing the end of the first quarter of the NBA season, and teams are starting to establish themselves as contenders both in the NBA and in season-long fantasy basketball leagues. Whether you’ve been struggling towards the bottom of your league or have already risen to the top, there are probably players who can give your roster a boost on your league’s waiver wire.
Each week throughout the season, I’ll highlight some of the hottest trending players, list some deep league adds, and take a more in-depth look at four sleeper pickups. These sleeper targets aren’t quite mainstream, but they are emerging as options that can give your team a boost and bring potential 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 be a help if the top options and my four sleeper pickups have already been picked up.
In week 5, which starts Monday, November 14, half the teams in the NBA are scheduled for three games. The Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers only play two games during the week while ten teams are scheduled for a busy four-game week. The busiest team, though, will be the San Antonio Spurs who play five games in seven days with back-to-back sets to start and finish the week.
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 John Wall, Los Angeles Clippers
- PG/SG Spencer Dinwiddie, Dallas Mavericks
- PG/SG Jalen Suggs, Orlando Magic
- PG/SG Seth Curry, Brooklyn Nets
- SG/SF Royce O’Neale, Brooklyn Nets
- SG/SF Max Strus, Miami Heat
- SG/SF Lonnie Walker IV, Los Angeles Lakers
- SG/SF/PF Herbert Jones, New Orleans Pelicans
- SF/PF/C Aleksej Pokusevski, Oklahoma City Thunder
- PF/C Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors
- PF/C Marcus Morris Sr., Los Angeles Clippers
- C Mason Plumlee, Charlotte Hornets
PG/SG Killian Hayes, Detroit Pistons (vs. TOR, at LAL, at LAC, at SAC)
There were several guards that I was weighing for this spot before news broke on Saturday night that Cade Cunningham would miss at least the first three games of Detroit’s upcoming road trip in addition to Monday’s home game against the Raptors. With that information, Hayes is easily the most attractive widely available guard pickup even though his long-term upside is limited by Cunningham’s eventual return.
On Wednesday when Cunningham was first limited by the injury, Hayes had a season-high 16 points off the bench. With Cunningham sidelined for Friday and Saturday’s games, Hayes stepped into a much larger role although he continued to come off the bench. Friday against the Knicks he had 11 points, seven assists, six rebounds and three steals in 34 minutes. On Saturday, Hayes had 15 points, seven assists and six rebounds in 35 minutes against the Celtics.
Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that Hayes was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, and he has shown the ability to produce if he gets the usage. For the next week at least, it looks like he’ll get the chance to play a bigger role and can contribute to your team at least in the short term. Even with an expanded role coming up, Hayes is available in over three-quarters of leagues.
PF/C Charles Bassey, San Antonio Spurs (at GS, at POR, at SAC, at LAC, at LAL)
The Spurs rotation is always volatile from game to game for a variety of reasons, but with five games on tap this week, it’s worth taking a look at Bassey, who can provide valuable big-man production in the short term while filling in for Zach Collins (leg), who is out indefinitely with a non-displaced fracture of his left fibula.
Bassey was a second-round rookie with the 76ers, who had a few solid games when asked to step into a larger role. After being waived, he signed a two-way contract with the Spurs and has looked solid in his three games serving as the team’s primary backup for Jakob Poeltl. In those three games, he totaled 28 rebounds in 49 minutes, including 14 boards in his most recent matchup which was against the Bucks. In that game, he also added five points, four assists and four blocked shots in his most well-rounded game of the season. In the previous game, he established season-highs with 10 points and two assists.
He’s still only owned in just over 10% of leagues, but he has shown he can stuff the stat sheet very nicely with defensive numbers and plenty of rebounds. He probably won’t take a ton of shots, but a low-grade double-double is definitely a possibility. With five games in the coming week, all those blocks and rebounds will have a nice chance to accumulate, and there’s always a chance the Spurs rest Poeltl for one of those games, setting Bassey up for what could be a monster night.
PF/C Walker Kessler, Utah Jazz (vs. NY, vs. PHX, at POR)
Kessler was picked No. 22 last year by the Timberwolves and then traded to the Jazz as part of the trade that sent Rudy Gobert to Minnesota. Kessler had a minor toe issue that kept him out of summer league and a non-COVID illness that forced him to miss three games at the end of October. As a result, Kessler flew a little under the radar and is available in two-thirds of season-long leagues.
In his four games since returning to playing double-digit minutes off the bench coming into Saturday, Kessler averaged 8.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots per game even though he only played an average of 15.3 minutes. He has multiple blocked shots in all four of those games and shot an impressive 16-for-19.
His contributions are still pretty limited in his role, but he could eventually get more playing time for the Jazz as they try to evaluate their young talent. Kelly Olynyk has been productive while keeping the spot warm, but Kessler is more of a part of Utah’s future. He’s owned in one-third of leagues, but it’s a good time to stash him for down the road if you have the roster spot to do so. Kessler has more long-term upside than Bassey, but Bassey can be more of an instant fix up front with his extra games this week.
SF/PF Kenyon Martin Jr., Houston Rockets (vs. LAC, at DAL, vs. IND, vs. GS)
The Rockets are a tricky team to figure out since their rotation shifts on a regular basis for a wide variety of reasons. Martin has been playing enough to be a big contributor lately, though, and he can offer solid wing production in multiple categories while getting this much playing time.
Martin has scored at least 13 points in four of his previous six games. In those games, Martin added 4.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.0 blocked shots to his 14.2 points per contest. He scored over 20 points in two of those contests and hit multiple three-point shots in four of those games as well. He should be able to help your team with solid production as long as Jae’Sean Tate (knee soreness) is sidelined, and the latest reports are that Tate is still not close to a return.
Other options to consider
- PG/SG Andrew Nembhard, Indiana Pacers
- PG/SG Jevon Carter, Milwaukee Bucks
- PG/SG/SF Alec Burks, Detroit Pistons
- SG/SF Malik Beasley, Utah Jazz
- SG/SF Jalen Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder
- SF/PF Rui Hachimura, Washington Wizards
- SF/PF Tari Eason, Houston Rockets
- PF/C Isaiah Jackson, Indiana Pacers
- PF/C Jalen Duren, Detroit Pistons
- C Daniel Gafford, Washington Wizards
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
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.