Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: Markelle Fultz could boost squads rest of season

By Gabe Allen, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

This week’s waiver wire article focuses primarily on players possessing the potential to provide season-long upside. As such, some of the suggested adds have not been performing at all that high of a level lately, or thus far this season. Often enough, it pays to look past the present, to some extent. Sometimes that helps us view the bigger picture.

For the managers who aren’t comfortably at the top of the standings but instead fighting tooth and nail to win every week down the stretch of the regular season, don’t close this tab just yet. Rest assured: A few of the players I’m recommending have been playing well lately and make for strong short-term snags. As usual, a list of recently recommended players to add has been included at the very end.

Brandon Miller, Charlotte Hornets (40% rostered)

Miller is dealing with a back contusion, an injury that has kept fellow Hornet Mark Williams sidelined for 19 games and counting. Still, the rookie wing is worth adding, especially in points leagues, but also in category formats — if you can stomach his lackluster field-goal percentage. Like Detroit’s Ausar Thompson, Miller is someone to consider stashing for the post-trade deadline and post-All-Star break stretch — sometimes referred to as silly season. At the very least, put him on your watch list.

Markelle Fultz, Orlando Magic (49% rostered)

Fultz hasn’t made much happen yet since returning from a two-month injury absence, but his minute totals have risen with each passing game. In Wednesday’s matchup versus Atlanta, Fultz finished with 10 points, four rebounds, three steals and one assist across 30 minutes. He did commit four turnovers, but the fact that he saw more minutes than anyone else in the Magic’s backcourt bodes well for his long-term outlook. While Fultz has had his difficulties staying healthy over the years, there will probably be more well-rounded showings like this last one if he can avoid the injury bug — but with the assist and turnover totals swapped. As such, he’s worth a speculative add in all formats.

Kevin Huerter, Sacramento Kings (47% rostered)

Huerter had arguably the best year of his career last season, his first with the Kings. However, this season has been a struggle, as he’s posting career lows in assists, steals, three-point shooting percentage and minutes while delivering his lowest scoring average since his rookie year. Lately, though, there have been signs that he may be starting to turn things around. Over the last three games, he has averaged 22.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.0 threes, 3.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 0.7 blocks in 34.4 minutes. Playing alongside two and, in some lineups, three stellar playmakers in De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis and Malik Monk, Huerter is going to continue to get open looks. If he starts making more of them, earning 30-plus minutes per night from here on out is absolutely within the realm of possibilities.

Ausar Thompson, Detroit Pistons (43% rostered)

Earlier in the season, it was slumping sophomore Jaden Ivey who saw his rostered percentage drop significantly as managers searched for greener pastures. Now, as Ivey rises up the ranks, rookie teammate Ausar Thompson finds himself in a similar position. After a stellar start to his career that included posterizations and flashes of dominant defense, Thompson saw his minutes begin to evaporate once Bojan Bogdanović returned from an offseason injury. Thompson's plummeting rostered percentage reflects that. Nevertheless, Thompson is a player to keep an eye on at the very least, given that the last-place Pistons will almost certainly funnel more minutes to younger players as the campaign carries on. If you have the space and patience to stash someone on your bench for a bit, Thompson may prove to be a prudent pickup.

Xavier Tillman Sr., Memphis Grizzlies (38% rostered)

Tillman struggled to stay healthy earlier in the season, and as a result, saw his rostered percentage fall all the way into the single digits. But now, with Steven Adams (knee) and Brandon Clarke (Achilles) still out indefinitely and Bismack Biyombo having recently been released, there is plenty of opportunity for Tillman to earn ample minutes in a depleted frontcourt. Over the last five games, the fourth-year big man is averaging 11.6 points, 6.8 boards, 3.6 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.6 blocks in 32.2 minutes. He’s not going to fill it up from a scoring standpoint, but Tillman can contribute well-rounded stat lines, which makes him an appealing pickup across all formats. If he's still available, grab him now while you still can.

Marvin Bagley III, Washington Wizards (33% rostered)

Bagley drew the start in place of Daniel Gafford (concussion) in his Washington debut and exploded for 20 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, two assists and two steals in 39 minutes. Once Gafford is healthy, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether Bagley will remain a relevant fantasy option, even in deeper leagues. One reason the change of scenery may be beneficial to Bagley is that he’s no longer on the team with the league’s worst offensive spacing. A little bit of breathing room goes a long way for an inside-the-arc bucket-getter like Bagley, and it’s possible he’s going to enjoy a solid second half of the season coming off the bench behind Gafford. Right now, he’s worth adding due to his short-term streaming upside and his season-long potential.

Mason Plumlee, Los Angeles Clippers (16% rostered)

With Ivica Zubac (calf) four weeks away from a re-evaluation, Plumlee is worthy of consideration due to his undeniable upside over the next month or so. Daniel Theis has been decent in a reserve role and will likely continue to see around 15-20 minutes per game off the bench. But Plumlee will have every opportunity to earn ample playing time until Zubac returns. In the most recent game, Plumlee’s first start of the season, he collected 14 points, five rebounds, three blocks and two assists in 28 minutes against the Thunder. Like Bagley, he typically doesn’t provide much in the way of blocks or steals, doesn’t shoot treys and struggles from the charity stripe. However, Plumlee could be valuable across all formats thanks to his ability to contribute positively in the rebounding, assist and field-goal percentage departments.

Jontay Porter, Toronto Raptors (5% rostered)

Jakob Poeltl (ankle) will be re-evaluated Sunday, which may signal a nearing end to Porter’s tenure as Toronto’s starting center. Nevertheless, Porter, who has dealt with injuries dating back to college and spent last season grinding in the G League after missing the 2021-22 season entirely, has shown some flashes despite struggling from the field. Over the last five games, Porter is averaging 7.2 points, 5.0 boards, 3.8 dimes, 1.4 blocks, 1.2 threes and 0.6 steals in 20.5 minutes. Even when Poeltl does return, Porter could maintain a similar level of involvement if he keeps performing at a high level and starts making a few more shots. If Poeltl misses another week, Porter is an intriguing streaming option in deeper leagues of every format.

Recent recommendations still rostered in less than 50%of leagues: Jonathan Kuminga, Alex Caruso, Tari Eason, Goga Bitadze, Alec Burks, Luke Kennard, Larry Nance Jr.