With the trade deadline behind us, it’s time to load up for the home stretch and make the moves that will help bring home the gold. The fantasy basketball season can be something of a marathon, but the end is in sight.
With that in mind, here are a few players to take consider grabbing off the waiver wire in your league.
Dario Saric – My oh my how things have suddenly changed in Philadelphia. Since last week, the 76ers sent Ersan Ilyasova to Atlanta and announced that first overall draft pick Ben Simmons will not play this season after all.
What this means is that the path is clear for Saric to rack up a ton of minutes at power forward. Saric has now scored in double figures in eight straight games and has received more than 30 minutes in his last four, including a 40-minute outing against the New York Knicks.
Even better, he has also grabbed double-digit rebounds in his last four games. Saric provides threes, rebounds, steals, and even a hearty helping of assists and blocks. Bottom line: run, don’t walk to the wire to pick him up. This guy could be a breakout fantasy star.
Nerlens Noel – The Dallas Mavericks made a heck of a move to add Noel as their center of the future. They sacrificed Justin Anderson and what will likely be a pair of second round picks to get a guy who could be the defensive force at the rim that the Mavs have been looking for.
Noel’s fantasy arrow is pointing straight up now that he no longer has to worry about splitting time with Joel Embiid or Jahlil Okafor in Philly. Dallas also parted with Andrew Bogut in the trade, which means that there will be plenty of minutes for Noel. If you need a center, particularly one that can get a high number of steals, give Noel a very long look.
Yogi Ferrell – After being waived by the Brooklyn Nets back in December, Ferrell was quickly scooped up by the Dallas Mavericks, who needed a point guard due to lingering injuries to starting point guard Deron Williams. Ferrell promptly blew up, including a 32-point performance that saw him hit nine three against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Just weeks later, the Mavs have decided to give Ferrell the keys for the remainder of the season, buying out the veteran Williams in the process. Ferrell may be a bit hot-and-cold, but the minutes will be there, and Dallas is going to give him every chance to succeed.
Ivica Zubac- Like the Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers are playing for the future at this point. Head coach Luke Walton had already been giving more minutes to the team’s young players, and new president of basketball operations Magic Johnson has reaffirmed that goal.
Veteran center Timofey Mozgov and his massive contract have been sent to the bench, freeing up minutes for Tarik Black and rookie Ivica Zubac. Of the two, Zubac has the true fantasy value thanks to his ability to block shots and score both from the field and at the free-throw line.
It appears that getting Zubac experience is a major priority at this stage, as he played 27 minutes against the Oklahoma City Thunder and he responded with 11 points, six rebounds, and three blocks. If everything breaks just right, Zubac could help a few fantasy teams finish the year strong.
Robert Covington- I wrote about Covington before the season as one of my sleeper draft picks, and while he hasn’t been hitting from the field as much as expected, Philadelphia just increased his minutes.
With Simmons out and Ilyasova traded, the Sixers essentially have no backup power forward, so Covington has inherited the role despite still starting at small forward. He has played 39 minutes in each of his two games since the trade deadline, and he has absolutely blown up, averaging 22.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 3.5 threes AND 3.5 steals. Just like with Saric, RUN to the waiver wire and pray no one else in your league already grabbed him.