The All-Star break is over, and already we have our first open entrant into the 2021 tankathon (read on for more on that). That transition is a huge boost to the waiver fortunes of multiple young players on the roster, all of whom get specific attention below.
Over the next few weeks, a few more teams are likely to lean into that contest, while others try to beef up their roster for the stretch run. As these changes take shape, they will likely dominate the waiver wire.
Schedule-wise, take note of the Lakers, who are the only team with five games next week. Unfortunately, most Lakers are either already rostered or not really worth it, but check your leagues to see if Kyle Kuzma (84% rostered) is available.
As always, the players in this article must be rostered in less than two-thirds of CBS leagues. Players are listed in the order that I recommend adding them, assuming they are equally good fits for your team.
Adds for all leagues
Robert Williams, Celtics (51% rostered)
I've hammered this one lately, so I'll try to be brief. Williams is such a dynamic per-minute producer that he only needs roughly 20 minutes a night to provide all-leagues value. Despite limited minutes, he's one of the best per-game defensive producers in the league – and his minutes have trended up. He's a must-add even in shallow category leagues. Williams has six blocks over his last two games alone (45 minutes).
Kevin Porter, Rockets (44% rostered)
Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce to you our first not-trying-to-hide it tank of the 2020-21 season: the Houston Rockets! As I wrote in this column a few times, the timeline they initially laid out for Christian Wood (ankle) was always unbelievably optimistic. There was never a realistic chance that this was a one-week injury. But we are now more than five weeks out, and they are continuing to extend his absence.
I'm sure the extra time out will help Wood in the long-term, but we've reached the point where he'd probably be back if this team cared about this season. In addition to extending Wood's absence, John Wall (knee) resting the first night after the All-Star break against the third-worst team in the West is another giant "we're tanking now" admission. And, of course, they've already parted ways with DeMarcus Cousins and are holding P.J. Tucker out while they look for a trade partner.
Rest for Wall, Eric Gordon (groin), Victor Oladipo and Wood is likely to come pretty regularly down the stretch. Porter would be a borderline-add even if Houston wasn't tanking, but the likelihood of frequent rests on the depth chart around him boosts Porter into this week's No. 2 spot. The 20-year-old Porter oozes talent – he was projected as a high lottery draft pick entering college – and he was highly productive when given minutes as a rookie in Cleveland. In games in which he played at least 28 minutes, he averaged 15.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.3 assists with 2.0 3s and 1.3 steals. In his season debut Thursday, he put up a 13-5-10 line with three steals, a block and a 3.
Porter is my highest-priority Rockets pickup, but I'm still fully aboard the Jae'Sean Tate (51% rostered) bandwagon, too. Porter is a better pickup than Tate if you have to choose one, but both are very addable.
This is a Fantasy recommendation; I'm choosing players who can help your Fantasy team win. This is neither the first time, nor will it be the last, when I recommend people whose actions off the court may make some managers uncomfortable. My advice: this game is supposed to be fun. If you have mixed feelings about rostering and rooting for a player, whatever the reason, then don't roster them! Adding Porter (or someone else) can help a team win, but there are literally millions of ways to win without him, too.
Jalen Brunson, Mavericks (33% rostered)
Brunson is another name I've harped on for a few weeks now, so, the cliff notes version of what I've said in weeks past:
He's averaging 28.4 minutes over the past month, a time when the Dallas backcourt has been mostly healthy, meaning he's established a large and lasting role
His night-to-night production during that time has been relatively stable
He's averaging 16-4-3 and 1.8 3s.
He was great Wednesday, though we should be careful not to get too excited. At 34 years old, it should come as no surprise that Gay's stats are noticeably better the more rest he gets. He is never going to be as well rested as he is in the first game after the All-Star break. He also benefited from LaMarcus Aldridge being sidelined as the Spurs seek a trade partner, and from Keldon Johnson playing limited minutes as he eases back into the fold. Gay is rosterable, and likely to be a solid contributor for a little while, but don't expect Wednesday's production levels to be a new normal.
Just Missed the Cut (Double-Check Your League)
Justin Patton, Rockets (7% rostered)
I'm still completely in the tank for Jae'Sean Tate, but sometimes a team needs to play a center who is actually taller than 6'6" (Tate is 6'4"). In those minutes, Patton is literally the only option for the Rockets right now. That's not an exaggeration. Patton is the only healthy Rocket above 6'6". And the latest injury reporting indicates that will remain true for at least another week. Patton isn't exactly setting the world on fire, but he's averaging 7-6-2 with great defensive numbers in 27.3 minutes over his last four. There is absolutely no chance he maintains his current defensive production (3.3 stocks per game!), but the 2017 first-round pick did provide meaningful steals and blocks in college, so he could continue to help there.