Having a great season in fantasy basketball is always thrilling, but it can lead to heartbreak if it doesn’t end with you lifting the trophy when all is said and done. For example, one of my teams was right there, contending for the league title, but it was built around the talents of Kevin Durant, so now I’m watching that team slowly sink into oblivion.
That uncertainty is why we play the game, though. Sometimes, an entire season’s worth of work all comes down to finishing strong, especially in head-to-head leagues where a playoff structure exists.
With that being the case, let’s take a look at a few waiver-wire players who are surging over the last 30 days. Some of these names may surprise you, but each could make the difference between a win and a loss in a specific category.
T.J. Warren, Phoenix Suns (Field Goal Percentage)- It has been something of an up-and-down season for T.J. Warren of the Phoenix Suns, but he has proven himself worthy of more minutes, and now that P.J. Tucker has been sent to Toronto, Warren is locked in for plenty of playing time. As the season has gone on his three-point attempts have steadily dropped, but the uptick in his field goal percentage has been well worth the lack of long bombs. Over the past 30 days, Warren has become the 5th-most impactful player in the league in terms of field goal percentage, which is especially impressive since he is doing it from the small forward position. If you have a few guys throwing up bricks on your team, Warren can help solve that problem.
Markieff Morris, Washington Wizards (Free-Throw Percentage)- Another one that is a bit of a surprise, Markieff Morris has been the most impactful pure-power forward from the free-throw line over the last 30 days. He’s only getting there a few times a game, so be wary of the small sample size, but with Morris currently contributing positively in every statistical category(!), he’s absolutely worth a look.
Wayne Ellington, Miami Heat (Threes)- Lakers fans fondly remember Wayne Ellington, who battled through the tragic loss of his father early in his lone season in Los Angeles. Now with the plucky Miami Heat after a stop in Brooklyn, Ellington is still filling it up from deep. He sees consistent minutes off the bench, and while he doesn’t shoot at a high volume, nearly every shot he does take is a three (think Jason Kidd back in his Dallas Mavericks days). He’s hitting a respectable 38 percent from deep, which combined with his near-total reliance on the three-ball, has made him 5th over the past 30 days in the category for fantasy basketball.
Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers (Rebounds)- The Cleveland Cavaliers rely on Tristan Thompson to do the dirty work for them on the boards, and it appears he’s ramping up his efforts there. He doesn’t provide much beyond field goal percentage and rebounds, but he did rack up 10.1 rebounds per game in February and is always a threat to have a big night as the Cavs begin to rest their starters. He isn’t a flashy pickup, but Thompson will get the job done.
T.J. McConnell, Philadelphia 76ers (Assists)- One of my favorite non-Lakers to watch, T.J. McConnell gets by on grit, smart play, and dishing the rock. He rarely shoots, but as a pure point guard, McConnell loves to get the ball to his teammates in their favorite spots. While he can contribute a bit in the steals category as well, McConnell’s main area of expertise is assists, where he is the 10th-best player in the league over the past 30 games. Like most of the players on this list, he doesn’t provide a whole lot else, but he can certainly help teams get an extra point or two out of the category.
Robert Covington, Philadelphia 76ers (Steals)- My favorite sleeper from draft day, Covington is probably well-known in most leagues at this point. He is kryptonite to your field goal percentage but racks up threes and steals with regularity, and does enough elsewhere to be worth a roster spot. In fact, he has been so good in the Philadelphia 76ers fantasy-friendly system that he has been the second-best thief in the league over the past 30 days. If you need steals, he’s your guy. Period.
James Johnson, Miami Heat (Blocks)- Another Heat player, James Johnson has bounced around the league for much of his career and has flirted with fantasy relevance thanks to a high block rate relative to minutes played. He has been knocking in threes with more regularity this season as well, but if you are adding him to your roster, it’s likely for the blocks he provides from the small forward position. He has been the 5th-best in the league over the past month, slotting him ahead of swat fiends like Serge Ibaka, Myles Turner, and DeAndre Jordan. If you need blocks, give James Johnson a long look.
Tim Hardaway Jr., Atlanta Hawks (Points)- The points category can be a tricky one since most of the players who score lots of points are stars and therefore won’t be found on the waiver wire. However, Atlanta’s Tim Hardaway Jr, owned in just 43 percent of ESPN leagues, fits the bill. He’s connecting on 2.5 threes per game over the last 30, which is helping him to average nearly 18 points per game. He sees plenty of minutes on the wing, and if you find yourself in a tight race in the points category, he’s certainly worth taking a flyer on.