Fantasy Basketball 2021: Deep NBA Sleepers After Dec. 26

Theo SalaunCorrespondent IDecember 27, 2021

Fantasy Basketball 2021: Deep NBA Sleepers After Dec. 26

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    Craig Lassig/Associated Press

    Hope you enjoyed the holidays, because setting fantasy basketball lineups is going to be a grind. With player availability more uncertain than ever, managers may need to pivot in step with teams in the real world.

    The past few weeks have felt and continue to feel like an Advent calendar of disappointment—with new players put in health and safety protocols each day. So, in the spirit of adjusting to those impromptu changes, here are some waiver-wire reinforcements.

    As deep sleepers, these three players are rostered in under 25 percent of Yahoo leagues (as of Sunday). All can provide short-term value as a fill-in—but with some long-term potential as an added bonus.

Gabe Vincent, PG, Miami Heat

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    In his third NBA season, Gabe Vincent's involvement is ratcheting up. He's started the past eight games for the Miami Heat, seven as shooting guard and the most recent at point guard.

    With Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry missing time, Vincent has become a key piece for Miami. In his eight starts, he's averaging 15.0 points, 5.1 assists and 2.6 threes per game. Toss in a career-high 27-point game during that stretch and you've got an obvious case for a fantasy steal.

    As a short-term fill-in at point guard, you can't do better than Vincent. The Heat play four games this week, making him—rostered in just 24 percent of leagues—an appealing pickup. Longer term, he's proved his ability to play both the 1 and the 2, so there's a chance he carves out a role even once teammates return.

Deni Avdija, SG/SF, Washington Wizards

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    Isaac Hale/Associated Press

    It's been rocky for last season's premier late-round flier, but the versatile Deni Avdija is finally making some noise in his sophomore season. 

    On Dec. 19, Washington Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. told reporters that Avdija has "shown that he can be a defensive stopper at times. He's going to stay on the floor. He knows how to play."

    And Unseld has kept his promise, with Avdija playing 29-plus minutes in each contest since. A dynamic player on both ends of the floor, the wing has scored 10-plus and secured five-plus rebounds in four of his last five games. During that stretch, he's also hit at least one three per match and tacked on a number of two-steal games alongside one tantalizing three-block contest. 

    Rostered in only 23 percent of leagues, Avdija is as high an upside waiver pickup as you can get this time of year. He's 20 years old, has a well-rounded skill set and is earning his coach's confidence—a great recipe nearing the season's halfway point.

Nicolas Claxton, C, Brooklyn Nets

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    There's a reason that Nic Claxton is a central name whenever trade talk comes up about the Brooklyn Nets. At 22 years old, the mobile big man's defensive prowess is already well established, and the offensive versatility is enticing.

    Unlike Vincent and Avdija, Claxton isn't a picture-perfect fill-in. His production is inconsistent right now, but the long-term upside makes him an intriguing long-term pickup. 

    Since returning from injury in early December, Claxton has scored double-digit points just twice. But he's posted a 17-point, two-steal, two-block game and one five-block game—denoting obvious room for fantasy production as he builds a real-world role. 

    Rostered in 17 percent of leagues, you can keep an eye on the Nets' young center in case his minutes continue trending in the right direction.

           

    Individual player rostered percentages can be found via FantasyPros if you don't have access to Yahoo.

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