By Gabe Allen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
The dust of the trade deadline and buyout market has mostly settled. At this stage of the season, the waiver wire can be confused with a barren wasteland. However, those who look closely know that is merely a mirage. There are always injuries to account for, as well as the shifting of teams’ priorities.
As such, while this week’s column does include several veterans on playoff-caliber clubs, it focuses heavily on younger players on less competitive teams who are hoping to capitalize on their respective opportunities.
Goran Dragic, Heat (48% rostered)
It has been almost a month since the struggling Dragic logged at least 30 minutes in a game. Injuries, as well as Miami’s acquisition of Victor Oladipo, are the main culprits here. The Heat might be wary of overextending the soon-to-be 35-year-old Dragic during the final month and change of the regular season. However, with per-game averages of 13.2 points (43.9% FG, 34.6% 3PT, 83.1% FT), 4.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 1.6 threes and 0.6 steals in 26.7 minutes this season, Dragic is worthy of consideration in most formats even if his minute totals remain fairly modest. At the very least, the proven veteran guard is a strong speculative add, with the hope being that he begins rounding his game into form as Miami gears up for the playoffs. He’ll also be in position to benefit if Oladipo misses time following a knee injury Thursday night.
Bobby Portis, Bucks (47% rostered)
Portis has been superb over the last three games, averaging 17.0 points and 11.0 boards while filling in as the starting power forward for the reigning two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee). Portis has long been a solid scorer and rebounder, and he’s spending ample time on the floor with excellent playmakers such as Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, and Donte DiVincenzo. If Antetokounmpo’s knee requires regular rest in the lead-up to the playoffs, Portis could be a quality pickup in most formats.
Keldon Johnson, Spurs (46% rostered)
Johnson has managed double-doubles in two of the last three games, and he delivered an incredible 23-point, 21-rebound performance back on March 19. Apart from the aforementioned exceptions, Johnson has mostly struggled of late, dating back to the beginning of March. Nevertheless, he showed what he’s capable of during the first few months of the season and warrants consideration if he’s available in your league.
Aleksej Pokusevski, Thunder (39% rostered)
After appearing overwhelmed earlier in the season, Pokusevski has burst onto the scene over the last few weeks. Not only has the rookie poured in 20-plus points in three of the last six games, including a 25-point night in which he cashed in seven triples, but Pokusevski has also been utilizing his size and athleticism defensively to grab boards and block shots. Also a pretty decent playmaker already, Pokusevski probably won’t be so readily available on waiver wires for long.
Malachi Flynn, Raptors (34% rostered)
With Toronto’s Kyle Lowry (foot) sidelined, Flynn has been contributing across multiple categories, though his field goal percentage leaves a lot to be desired. If Lowry returns soon and can stay healthy down the stretch of the regular season, Flynn’s fantasy relevance could be short-lived — but for now, he’s providing no shortage of counting stats.
Killian Hayes, Pistons (26% rostered)
Small sample size alert! Following a lengthy injury absence, Hayes has shown promise in his two most recent appearances, averaging 10.0 points, 4.5 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals, and 1.5 blocks in 23.0 minutes. On a team that’s prioritizing player development and ping-pong balls, the rookie point guard could be relied upon more heavily down the stretch this season, especially as his conditioning improves.
Cole Anthony, Magic (24% rostered)
Another rookie point guard returning from a fairly lengthy injury absence, Anthony accumulated 13 points and seven dimes across 26 minutes in his first game back against the Wizards. Admittedly, Washington offers little resistance defensively, but Orlando is in the same boat with Anthony as Detroit is with Hayes. Both teams are focused on the future, and in all likelihood that will translate into opportunities for these rookie point guards. Anthony offers more upside in terms of volume scoring, assists, and threes, while Hayes might be more helpful defensively and slightly more efficient.
Dorian Finney-Smith, Mavericks (21% rostered)
Finney-Smith is on a tear lately, and he is far and away Dallas’ most consistent 3-and-D player. Those familiar with Finney-Smith know he’s not one to frequently fill it up from a scoring perspective, but his well-rounded production combined with his consistently demanding role (at least 33 minutes in six straight) makes him a reliable option in deep leagues.
Jeff Green, Nets (17% rostered)
Green continues to thrive as a small-ball big man and has scored 20-plus in three of the last four games. DeAndre Jordan is no longer part of the rotation on a nightly basis, which should help Green stay relevant, especially in deep leagues, even as Brooklyn gets closer to full strength.
Isaiah Stewart, Pistons (14% rostered)
Starting in place of Mason Plumlee (concussion), Stewart exploded for 16 points on eight-of-10 from the field to go along with 13 boards, four dimes, one steal, and one block in 33 minutes against the Kings on Thursday. The rookie big man has been an excellent per-minute producer all season and makes for a solid short-term streaming option while Plumlee is out. He leads all rookies in total blocks and total rebounds.
Cody Zeller, Hornets (12% rostered)
Just when I thought I was all the way out on Zeller, he’s pulling me back in. He has posted a double-double in two of the last five games, and with Charlotte ravaged by injuries to a plethora of its perimeter players, long stretches of small-ball don’t seem feasible going forward. As a result, if Zeller can stay healthy, he may be in line for a more consistent and demanding role as the Hornets fight to hold onto a playoff spot.
R.J. Hampton, Magic (11% rostered)
Hampton has scored in double figures in each of the last three games while averaging just over 30 minutes. During this recent stretch of solid play, the rookie guard is managing 14.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.7 threes, and 1.0 steal per game. Hampton should be able to hold off the likes of Dwayne Bacon and will likely receive ample playing time for the rest of the season.
Jeremy Lamb, Pacers (10% rostered)
Lamb has been wreaking havoc defensively of late, combining for seven steals and four blocks in the last two games alone. Indiana sports decent depth along the wing when fully healthy though, so Lamb’s usefulness for fantasy purposes will likely be limited to deeper leagues.
Deni Avdija, Wizards (8% rostered)
Like fellow rookie forward, Pokusevski, for most of the season Avdija looked like he was at least a year away from being a positive contributor — until recently. Avdija’s breakout hasn’t been as noticeable as Pokusevski’s, though the former has logged a double-double in two of the last four outings. Avdija isn’t and probably won’t become a must-add player this season, but don’t lose sight of him as the season winds down, especially if Washington starts falling out of playoff contention.
Michael Carter-Williams, Magic (8% rostered)
Have I hit my Magic quota yet? Despite the recent return of fellow Orlando point guard Cole Anthony and the presence of another promising rookie in R.J. Hampton, Carter-Williams may still be worth a look down the stretch this season. He has the size to cover multiple positions, and his minutes may remain steady enough for him to continue chipping in plenty of counting stats.
Kenrich Williams, Thunder (7% rostered)
Williams is taking advantage of the opportunity provided by Oklahoma City’s laundry list of injuries, including fellow forwards Darius Bazley (shoulder) and Isaiah Roby (concussion). Williams has reached double figures in scoring in seven of the last 10 games while making an impact in every category. Having handed out nine dimes while flirting with a triple-double in consecutive matchups, Williams is absolutely worth adding in virtually any deep league.
Last Week’s Recommended Adds (Who I Still Believe In)
Danny Green, 76ers (47% rostered)
Jalen Brunson, Mavericks (40% rostered)
Hamidou Diallo, Pistons (38% rostered)
Tomas Satoransky, Bulls (37% rostered)
Theo Maledon, Thunder (26% rostered)
Mo Bamba, Magic (10% rostered)
Cory Joseph, Pistons (7% rostered)