One of these players is largely unowned in fantasy leagues.
Believe it or not, fantasy basketball waiver wires are still full of talent. There are fantasy free agents who can still make yearlong impacts in your league—whether you keep them on your team or trade them for another difference-maker down the line.
Because every fantasy owner probably has a position that could stand to be addressed in his/her lineup, the aim of this list is to compile a starting five of fantasy must-haves.
All listed players are owned in fewer than 50 percent of ESPN.com leagues—many of them far fewer—meaning they should be available for the taking in your league.
Now’s the time to get them.
D.J. Foster of ProBasketballTalk.com reports that Toronto Raptors starting point guard Kyle Lowry suffered a nasty ankle injury on Tuesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, ascending a familiar face to fantasy relevance: Jose Calderon.
Calderon is owned in 47.1 percent of ESPN.com leagues due in large part to his lack of minutes from the point for Toronto.
He averaged 33.9 minutes per game last season as the Raptors’ starter with averages of 10.5 points, 8.8 assists and 0.9 steals. His percentages are traditionally more than acceptable—Calderon has shot more than 48 percent from the field in four full seasons and better than 85 percent from the line in four of his last five.
Mike Dunleavy is owned in 20.4 percent of ESPN.com leagues despite his stat line against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night: 29 PTS, 12 REB, 6 AST, 2 STL and 1 BLK. He also dumped in six three-pointers in 35 minutes and was scorching from the field.
Maybe it’s because he’s not a starter for the Milwaukee Bucks—but the San Antonio Spurs’ Manu Ginobili has proved that a productive sixth man can be a valuable fantasy commodity over the long term.
Dunleavy has played two games.
That’s obviously not long-term dominance, especially considering that his first game was a fantasy dud. But would you rather have Dunleavy on your roster for his next big game or hope that he is still available following his next big game?
Dunleavy is owned in 20.4 percent of ESPN.com fantasy leagues.
There are a grand total of four—four—players in the NBA with more minutes per game than the Houston Rockets’ Chandler Parsons. Houston’s starting small forward is averaging 39.9 minutes a night through three games.
Very good things happen in fantasy basketball when a guy’s on the floor for 40 minutes per game. Chandler’s balanced fantasy game flies under the radar (he’s owned in 21.6 percent of leagues on ESPN.com) because he’s been downright cold from the field, shooting 32.1 percent so far.
Parsons has hit a three every game and is averaging 8.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.3 steals this year. He has the potential to be a multi-category stud as the season progresses.
Nikola Vucevic played just 16 minutes for the Orlando Magic on opening night. Since then (two games), he’s averaged 39.5 minutes and has been doing wonderful things with them.
Vucevic dropped double-doubles on the Phoenix Suns and Chicago Bulls in back-to-back games. He averaged 17 points, 11.5 boards, 1.5 assists, a steal and a block per night. His field-goal shooting percentage leaves a bit to be desired as a fantasy big man (48.3 percent), but he made up for it from the free-throw line.
He went 6-of-7 against the Bulls from the stripe. Vucevic is owned in 23.4 percent of leagues on ESPN.com.
Now that he’s getting minutes as the starting center for the New Orleans Hornets, Robin Lopez is doing what a traditional fantasy center should do: score, rebound and block shots.
Lopez is averaging 31.3 minutes a night thus far, more than double his career average. With that time, he’s shot 55.6 percent from the field and 60.0 percent from the line to go with 14.3 points, 7.7 boards and 2.0 blocks a night.
With No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Davis is missing time due to a concussion, it appears Lopez is seeing more minutes in the frontcourt as a result, but he may even be playing himself into a stronger presence in the rotation going forward.
Lopez is owned in 33.5 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
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