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Fantasy Basketball: Top NBA Waiver Wire Pickups at the All-Star break 2021-22

Zach Thompson gives his top additions from the waiver wire for the remainder of your season-long fantasy basketball leagues.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Phoenix Suns Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The All-Star break is a key time for season-long fantasy basketball teams to take a look at where the team is in the standings and what players can provide what is needed down the stretch. Most leagues are just a few weeks from the start of the playoffs with just six weeks left before the regular season comes to a close on April 10.

If you’re taking a long look and viewing the rest of the regular season, the team with the most games remaining is the Toronto Raptors, who have 25 games remaining. There are 11 teams that have 24 games left, 10 teams with 23, seven teams with 22 and only one team with just 21 games left — the Los Angeles Clippers. The number of games remaining is just one factor to consider as you shop the waiver wire, but especially if you’re looking for counting stats, a four-game variance can make a difference, so it’s worth considering.

This week, I’m going to look at my favorite widely available options for the rest of the season with less emphasis than normal on immediate matchups. In last week’s post, we covered the different approaches to this extended break and options to pick up for this week.

At the top of this post each week, you can find the top trending pickups who are rapidly disappearing off the waiver wire. If they are still available on your league’s waiver wire, they’re great options to consider. On the other extreme, you can find some very available deep-league options to consider at the bottom of the post. In between those two groups, you can find four highlighted sleepers who I think are good pickups trending in the right direction. Things change in a hurry from day to day at this point in 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

SG/SF Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs traded Derrick White to the Boston Celtics at the trade deadline, and many owners immediately jumped on Vassell as a pickup. I’m a big fan of Vassell and have featured him here multiple times this season, but don’t miss that Walker is also getting more work now that he’s back from his right knee soreness which limited him immediately after the trade. Walker is currently in the final year of his rookie contract and will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. San Antonio will need to make a call on whether to match any other team’s offer for Walker, so expect them to give him a chance to show them whether he’s ready to step into a larger role or not.

On the season, his numbers aren’t great since he is averaging only 2.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists to go with his 11.2 points per game while shooting below 40% from the field. However, he has been playing much better over the Spurs’ three most recent contests. He had 17, 21 and 17 points in those three games and added exactly five rebounds and two assists in each of his two final games before the break. He had a 26.9% usage rate over those three games, averaging 15.3 field goal attempts per game. While Vassell is much more efficient and contributes in multiple categories, Walker is a more aggressive shooter who brings a lot of scoring upside. As the Spurs evaluate his role in their future, look for “Skywalker” to make the most of his chances and be a solid scoring addition the rest of the season.

SG Tre Mann, Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder should be a good source of value as they give their younger players more run as the season winds down. Last week, I highlighted Aleksej Pokusevski in this space, and he’s still a pickup I really like as well. Another young member of the Thunder showing out lately has been the 21-year-old Mann. Mann has started the past 11 games for the Thunder and has logged a solid 23.7% usage rate in 28.6 minutes per game. He saw that usage bump even higher in the final two games before the break while Lu Dort (shoulder) was sidelined. His usage in each of those two games was over 27%, and it could be a sign that OKC is going to give the rookie more of a green light the rest of the season. Mann is probably not someone to target if you’re obsessed with efficiency stats in your league. He is shooting just 36% over his 11 games in the starting lineup, but the good news is that he is getting over 13 shots per game. The chances are going to be there if you can afford a little hit in shooting percentage. His free-throw shooting is not an issue, though, so that’s a plus.

In his 11 games since taking over a starting spot, Mann has produced 13.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 2.5 3-pointers and 1.1 steals. He looked especially good in those final two games sans Dort, pouring in 30 points to help beat the Knicks and following that up with 24 points, six rebounds and three assists in a loss to Walker and the Spurs. While Dort and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (ankle) are expected to return before the end of the season and reduce his workload, Mann has shown the ability to put together big games, and the Thunder will almost certainly find ways to give their first-round pick from last year plenty of chances the rest of the season.

PF Isaiah Jackson, Indiana Pacers

The Pacers tore things down a little bit at the trade deadline, sending away Domantas Sabonis and Torrey Craig from the frontcourt and getting back Jalen Smith (highlighted last week). While Smith has looked solid so far and Myles Turner (foot) could return after the break, there should also be room for Jackson in the frontcourt mix. Like the aforementioned Mann, the 20-year-old is another rookie who should get an extended run so that the team knows what to expect from him next season. He has been dealing with an ankle injury lately, but hopefully, the extra time off this week brings him back into the rotation.

He put up good numbers in the G League for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants before being called up to the Pacers following Turner’s injury. He played five games off the bench, averaging 11.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in just 17.2 minutes per game. He started the next game and dominated against the Clippers with 26 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in 29 minutes. He was set to start the next contest as well as an extremely chalky DFS play, but he went down with his ankle injury after logging only 22 seconds and not accumulating a single stat. He tried to return nine days later but was limited to 12 minutes and then missed the next three games. Indiana has been cautious with him, but after the extended layoff, I think he’ll be back in the rotation and contributing very strong numbers in points, blocks and boards.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Suns PG Chris Paul (thumb) will miss six to eight weeks.

PG Aaron Holiday, Phoenix Suns

After being traded from the Wizards to Phoenix at the trade deadline, Holiday has jumped right into the Suns’ rotation and was proving he belonged even before Chris Paul (thumb) got hurt in the final game before the All-Star break. The Suns have been coy in the past with Paul’s injury, but they’re 48-10 at the break and can afford to be cautious with their superstar PG to have him ready for the postseason. Phoenix acquired Holiday to provide depth at the position with Cameron Payne (wrist) also hurt, and now that move looks loaded with foresight.

Holiday played 20 minutes against the Bucks in that final game before the break and had nine points, six rebounds and an assist. He started in place of the injured Bradley Beal prior to the trade and scored 14 points to go with four assists, four rebounds and three steals in 28 minutes in what turned out to be his final game with the Wizards. Even as a starter, his minutes and usage were low for Washington, but he has looked sharp and creative in his small sample size for the Suns. He should be able to take Elfrid Payton’s minutes quickly and be very involved while Paul is out. There is a little risk in grabbing him since his role is a little murky, but there’s a lot of upside if things go his way.

Other options to consider

  • PG Raul Neto, Washington Wizards
  • PG/SG Donte DiVincenzo, Sacramento Kings
  • PG/SG/SF Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Washington Wizards
  • SG/SF/PF Bruce Brown, Brooklyn Nets
  • SG/SF Corey Kispert, Washington Wizards
  • PG/SG/SF Javonte Green, Chicago Bulls
  • SG/SF Jeremy Lamb, Sacramento Kings
  • SF/PF Dorian Finney-Smith, Dallas Mavericks
  • SF/PF Brandon Clarke, Memphis Grizzlies
  • SF/PF Nicolas Batum, Los Angeles Clippers
  • SF/PF Aleksej Pokusevski, Oklahoma City Thunder
  • SF/PF Jonathan Kuminga, Golden State Warriors
  • PF Jalen Smith, Indiana Pacers
  • PF/C Maxi Kleber, Dallas Mavericks
  • PF/C Marvin Bagley, Detroit Pistons
  • C Goga Bitadze, Indiana Pacers

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