Fantasy Basketball 2019: Pickups and NBA Waiver-Wire Adds After December 4

Theo SalaunContributor IIIDecember 5, 2019

SAN ANTONIO, TX - DECEMBER 3: Lonnie Walker IV #1 of the San Antonio Spurs dunks the ball against the Houston Rockets on December 3, 2019 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photos by Darren Carroll/NBAE via Getty Images)
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We may have been distracted by the little one in The Mandalorian, but "Skywalker" has now stormed back into fantasy basketball's collective consciousness. The San Antonio Spurs did not need the high ground to outduel the Houston Rockets on Tuesday; they just needed a 28-point performance from Lonnie Walker IV. 

While Walker had a big night, he is not the only waiver-wire player worth considering as of Wednesday. His  teammate Jakob Poeltl and the Toronto Raptors' Norman Powell have each enticed a few raised eyebrows over the past week.

With an eye toward category leagues, here are some of the most interesting waiver-wire targets owned in under 33 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues, followed by analysis of three top pickups. No players really emerged as permanent standouts, but they do warrant consideration as streamers or for upside.


Waiver-Wire Targets

  • PG Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers (22 percent owned)
  • PG/SG/SF Jarrett Culver, Minnesota Timberwolves (15 percent owned)
  • SG Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio Spurs (4 percent owned)
  • SG/SF Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors (31 percent owned)
  • SG/SF/PF Duncan Robinson, Miami Heat (23 percent owned)
  • C Jakob Poeltl, San Antonio Spurs (15 percent owned)


SG/SF Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors (31 percent owned)

Powell is the top pickup right now. His production is bound to fall off, but you may as well ride the hot hand. With Kyle Lowry's minutes opened up while he recovered from a thumb fracture, Powell stepped in and went to work. 

Over the 11 games Lowry missed, Powell played 31 minutes per game and averaged 15.8 points, 2.2 threes, 3.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.6 blocks on 48.1 percent shooting from the field and 88.0 percent from the line. Getting points, threes and free-throw percentage from an injury streamer is nice, but Lowry's return on December 3 was encouraging for Powell.

While Lowry played 41 minutes in his first game back, Powell still played 34 (many in lieu of OG Anunoby) and put up 23 points, eight rebounds and four threes on 57.1 percent shooting from the field. Stormin' Norman is certainly feeling it right now, and fantasy managers should be able to keep running him out there as long as Nick Nurse is willing to. 


SG Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio Spurs (4 percent owned)

In 32 career opportunities, Lonnie Walker IV has played 7.3 minutes per game. He's played over 20 minutes in a game just twice, including Tuesday's 35-minute outing. Walker's minutes are likely to drop back down to earth, in the maze of Gregg Popovich's inclinations, but his upside is clear.

With Marco Belinelli and LaMarcus Aldridge injured and Dejounte Murray continuing to struggle, Walker stepped in and single-handedly outscored the Rockets 19-18 in the fourth quarter of the Spurs' double-overtime victory. To go along with 28 points, he had four threes, four rebounds, three assists and one block on 55.6 percent shooting from the field. 

Steady minutes should not be expected just yet and nor should short-term production, as the Spurs only play two games over the next nine days. But San Antonio does need a spark, and Popovich is likely to give Walker some more of the minutes typically played by Belinelli, Murray, Bryn Forbes, Derrick White and Patty Mills. As a versatile 6'5" scorer, he could capitalize on whatever bits and pieces of opportunity he receives and then establish himself in San Antonio's rotation—making him a high-upside waiver target to monitor.


PG/SG/SF Jarrett Culver, Minnesota Timberwolves (15 percent owned)

This is an experimental pickup. While Jarrett Culver's ceiling has felt astronomical since college, his floor has always been an enigma. And that didn't change once he was moved into the starting lineup instead of Jeff Teague as some sort of quasi-/co-point guard alongside Andrew Wiggins.

At 6'7" and 20 years old, Culver is raw but possesses versatility, a fun jumper and enough hunger as a scorer to have made his Texas Tech Red Raiders must-watch tournament entertainment. Over his last five games, he has averaged 11.8 points, 1.2 threes, 4.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.6 blocks per game. For such an unrefined prospect, those are encouraging numbers.

Less encouraging are his shooting splits. Over that same span, Culver has shot 36.5 percent from the field (including 26.1 percent from three) and 53.8 percent from the line. The kid is nowhere near polished, but there's some sparkle in there and, with 26.2 minutes per game over his last 15, he's getting the opportunity to start shining. 

He's not worth adding right now, but if the game slows down for him and his shooting rates go up, supplementing his well-rounded stats with those scoring, threes and shooting efficiency increases will make him a must-add.