By Gabe Allen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
This week’s edition dives into the depths of the waiver wire, focusing on players rostered in less than one-third of Yahoo Fantasy leagues. Several players mentioned in last week’s column remain widely available, as well.
PLAYING THE LONG GAME
Robert Williams, Celtics (31% rostered)
Now in his third NBA season, Williams has slowly and steadily improved over the years. Through 25 games, he’s managing career-high averages in points (6.3), rebounds (5.5), blocks (1.4), steals (1.0), and minutes (15.4) — and he’s still Boston’s third big behind the more experienced duo of Daniel Theis and Tristan Thompson. But if coach Brad Stevens is to be taken at his word, Williams will see an uptick in playing time as the season progresses. If you need steals and blocks or can afford to stash a player with long-term upside, Williams is an intriguing option.
BAD TEAMS, GOOD PLAYERS
Saben Lee, Pistons (25% rostered)
Detroit will be without Delon Wright (groin) through the All-Star break and Lee, a second-round pick out of Vanderbilt, has been making a name for himself during Wright’s absence. In the last three games, Lee has combined for 46 points on 17-of-26 shooting from the field and four-of-five from beyond the arc, to go along with 13 assists and seven steals. Dennis Smith is coming off a strong showing Wednesday against New Orleans, in which he posted 11 points, seven dimes, and three steals, so there’s a chance he could ultimately prove to be the better add. Nevertheless, Lee has played so well lately that it will be tough for Dwane Casey to move away from him.
Naz Reid, Timberwolves (23% rostered)
Reid has been both productive and efficient, regardless of his role this season (31 games, 13 starts). In 21.0 minutes per game, the 21-year-old sophomore is averaging 11.9 points (50.9% FG, 35.6% 3Pt, 73.9% FT), 5.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.2 blocks, 1.0 three and 0.6 steals. Off to a 7-26 start and with their own 2021 first-round pick owed to Golden State (top-three protected), the Timberwolves have every incentive to prioritize developing young, promising players like Reid as the campaign wears on.
WIDELY AVAILABLE WINGS
Derrick Jones Jr., Trail Blazers (26% rostered)
With Jusuf Nurkic (wrist) and Zach Collins (ankle) out, the 6-foot-5 Jones Jr. and 6-foot-7 Robert Covington are pacing Portland in blocks per game. Jones is chipping in 1.1 swats and 0.8 steals per game through 27 appearances. Moreover, he has logged at least 29 minutes in five of the last six games while combining for 12 rejections during that same stretch. Jones has also scored in double figures in four of the last five contests while going 25-of-39 from the field and six-of-16 from three. If that weren’t enough, he’s pulling down 6.6 rebounds per night across the last nine games. It may not last long, but Jones is fantasy-viable for the time being.
Patrick Williams, Bulls (24% rostered)
Many first-year players hit the mythological “rookie wall," while a select few sprint right through it. Williams just might do the latter. He’s only 19 years old, but at 6-foot-7, 227 lbs, he’s already physically ready to survive the rigors of the NBA. He’s reached double figures in scoring in 10 of the last 14 games and has played at least 30 minutes in nine of the last 12. Furthermore, Williams has combined for six steals in the last five games and nine blocks in the last 11. For as long as Otto Porter (back) and Lauri Markkanen (shoulder) remain sidelined, Williams is worthy of consideration in most formats.
COMBO GUARDS TO CONSIDER
Immanuel Quickley, Knicks (23% rostered)
After combining for 17 points across the previous three contests, Quickley poured in 25 points to go with three dimes and two steals in 20 minutes against the Kings on Thursday. Despite a few recent duds, the rookie has found a way to stay relevant in New York’s backcourt rotation, even after the arrival of veteran Derrick Rose. Elfrid Payton (hamstring) missed Thursday night’s game, so Quickley becomes a more attractive fantasy option if Payton ends up sitting out multiple contests.
Bruce Brown, Nets (15% rostered)
Brown has been superb over the last three games, combining for 56 points on 23-of-32 from the field, to go along with 16 boards, seven dimes, and five steals. He isn’t a reliable deep threat but excels at just about everything else, from defense to pick-and-roll playmaking. Brooklyn needs all the help it can get on the defensive end, and Brown has now earned at least 20 minutes in 11 straight contests.
Shake Milton, 76ers (15% rostered)
Following a five-game absence due to a sprained ankle, Milton has picked up where he left off. He hasn’t shot the ball well, but he’s still playing a major role as the Sixers’ de facto sixth man. After combining for 59 minutes in his first two games back in the lineup, Milton accumulated 10 points, six assists, and four rebounds in 19 minutes during Thursday’s blowout victory over the Mavericks.
Malik Monk, Hornets (15% rostered)
Devonte’ Graham (kneecap) is already ruled out for Friday’s matchup versus the Warriors, which will be his fourth straight absence. Meanwhile, Monk has scored at least 20 points in three of the last four games while maintaining impressive February averages of 15.5 points (45.4% FG, 47.9% 3Pt, 85.7% FT), 3.9 rebounds, 3.1 threes, and 1.8 assists in 27.4 minutes per tilt.
Marc Gasol (23% rostered)
The lack of points and boards will understandably keep most from adding the former Defensive Player of the Year. However, those in deeper leagues who need some help in the assists, steals, and blocks departments could do worse while Anthony Davis (calf) is out. In the seven most recent games the Lakers have played without Davis, Gasol has amassed 13 blocks. Over his last five games (all without Davis), Gasol holds well-rounded averages of 8.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.8 blocks, 1.0 steal, and 2.2 made threes.
Talen Horton-Tucker (5% rostered)
Horton-Tucker has logged at least 28 minutes in two of the last three games. He’s a versatile, two-way player who has repeatedly received ringing endorsements from LeBron James. Capable of creating offense for himself and others (five assists in two of the last four games) while possessing the length and strength to cover multiple positions defensively, the sophomore wing seems likely to continue earning substantial playing time as the Lakers search for an offensive spark plug.
KEEP AN EYE ON THE ROCKETS
Danuel House Jr. (19% rostered) and David Nwaba (13% rostered)
House has scored in double figures in eight of his 12 appearances this month, while Nwaba has reached double digits in four of his last five. Victor Oladipo (foot) recently returned to the lineup following a six-game absence. Still, if Oladipo doesn’t stay healthy or doesn’t remain in Houston beyond the March 25 trade deadline, House and/or Nwaba could see their fantasy value skyrocket, especially as the Rockets appear to be shifting toward a rebuild. As such, both players make for strong speculative adds, even if they don’t pay off right away.