Welcome back! Happy to have you back here with me. Let's dive in.
The NBA season is only three days old, but we've already learned a ton. The Bucks and Warriors have played twice, everyone else has played once, and there are plenty of players who've already emerged as Fantasy targets.
One note before we get to the players: it's important to be aggressive early when it comes to the waiver wire, but don't go overboard. Don't drop a seventh-round pick after one or two bad games. At least for now, we're only dropping players from the last few rounds of our drafts.
As we do every year, the players in this article must be rostered in less than two-thirds of CBS leagues. That said, this early in the season, I may fudge the boundary there a little bit as rosters settle out. Players are listed in the order that I recommend adding them, assuming they are equally good fits for your team.
Double-check your league
Players rostered in more than two-thirds of CBS leagues but who are still under-rostered. Double-check to make sure they aren't available in your league.
- Jordan Poole, Warriors (84% rostered)
- Josh Giddey, Thunder (82% rostered)
- Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Pelicans (83% rostered)
- Al Horford, Celtics (72% rostered)
- Scottie Barnes, Raptors (82% rostered)
Extra attention required
These three players are widely rostered but still available in more than one in every seven leagues, and demand some extra explanation
Bamba really should be in the section above, but it warrants reiterating. Bamba is a per-minute monster whose best skill also happens to be Fantasy's rarest (blocks). He was an all-leagues add in this column late last season after he played more than 20 minutes two games in a row. On Wednesday, he started and played 27 minutes. A must-add in all formats.
Alperen Sengun, Rockets (69%)
Sengun only played 19 minutes in the opener, but what a glorious 19 minutes they were. I came into the season sky-high on the rookie, and the preseason and his debut has only increased my optimism. His 11 points, six rebounds, and two assists works out to a pace of roughly 17-10-3 if he had played 30 minutes. It may take some time before he gets that kind of workload, but I absolutely expect him to get there this season for the tanking Rockets – and I think that production level is sustainable. He's much more valuable in the long-term than the immediate, but I wouldn't drop him for anyone listed in this article (except Bamba).
Tyrese Maxey, 76ers (73%)
With every passing day, Ben Simmons seems less and less likely to ever play another minute for the 76ers. Similarly, 76ers management continues to insist on a return trade package that none of the other 29 teams are even close to offering. We'll see what happens when Shake Milton is healthy, but Maxey might be the starting point guard for a long time to come. The second-year former first-round pick is an excellent prospect and should get tons of work.
Adds for all leagues
Grayson Allen, Bucks (15%)
The Bucks won their opener by 23 points, and lost their next game by 42. Which means we have yet to see what their rotation will look like when (if?) they finally play a competitive contest. That said, Allen started both and played 28 and 29 minutes. He's averaging 12.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.5 3s and seems firmly ahead of Pat Connaughton and Jordan Nwora in the rotation. Donte DiVincenzo's (ankle) eventual return could hurt Allen, but based on what we've seen so far it seems like Connaughton and Nwora are more at risk.
For this pickup to work out, he'll have to maintain that passing production. Surrounded by great shooters and with an extra couple minutes per game (assuming the blowouts eventually normalize), that should be doable.
Jaden McDaniels, Timberwolves (40%)
McDaniels started and played 26 minutes in an opening-night blowout. That's a good sign for the promising sophomore. His box score was weird – he attempted just three shots, scored four points, but also racked up four steals and three blocks. That's obviously not sustainable, but he's likely to be a solid source of defensive production, and his shot attempts and scoring will increase.
Based on what we've seen from him statistically, ranking him as the second-best all-leagues add is a bit aggressive, but I really like the talent and the situation. Even if you're not as optimistic about his development as I am, he's likely to be a much sought-after "1-1-1" (one steal, block, and 3 per game) player.
Desmond Bane (42%) and De'Anthony Melton (33%), Grizzlies
Both of the Grizzlies' starting wings from Wednesday warrant Fantasy attention. They both scored 20-plus and played at least 30 minutes in the opener. And, at least until Dillon Brooks (hand) comes back, both players are probably Fantasy starters in most leagues. So why aren't they listed higher in this column? Brooks might come back as soon as Wednesday.
Whenever Brooks does return, he's a near-lock to return to the starting lineup and play 30 minutes per game. Unfortunately, most of that is probably coming out of one or both of this pair. Forced to guess, I'd posit that Bane stays in the starting lineup and keeps most of his pre-Brooks value, while Melton fades to deep-league only territory. But we really don't know what will happen. If I had any confidence that one or the other held a clear advantage in a post-Brooks landscape, that player would have been this week's top add. In any case, it's worth adding either Bane or Melton, making the most of the next few games, and hoping for the best once Brooks is back.
Nicolas Claxton, Nets (17%)
Claxton was a surprise start Tuesday against Milwaukee, playing 24 minutes in a blowout loss. That is a much bigger workload than anyone expected, and the blowout implies he may have played more had the game been close. His final line – 12 points, seven rebounds and nothing else – was disappointing, but that's not what matters here. It's possible the start and the large workload was matchup based, but if he can reliably get close to 25 minutes per game he's likely to be an all-leagues auto-start.
Last season, per-36 minutes, Claxton averaged a double-double with 2.4 blocks and 1.4 steals. He's never going to see 36 minutes, but Steve Nash made an obvious effort to play Claxton alongside James Harden, which means easy lobs should be readily available. We may turn around and drop Claxton in a matter of days, but there is a ton of upside here.
Chris Duarte, Pacers (57%)
The 2021 lottery pick came out of the gate with a bang, scoring 27 points on 9-15 (6-9 3Pt) shooting in his NBA debut. That's obviously worthy of waiver wire attention. But 66% 3 point shooting is obviously not sustainable, and we have to wonder whether we've already missed his best game of the year. Duarte's usage rate of 22 percent is likely to drop when Caris LeVert (back) returns, which is expected late next week. This is clearly an outlier performance, so we don't really know what to expect going forward, but there remains a strong chance that he'll settle in at a production level that remains attractive for Fantasy.
Other recommendations: Franz Wagner, Magic (17% rostered); Kelly Oubre, Hornets (63% rostered); Ricky Rubio, Cavaliers (40% rostered); Patty Mills, Nets (43% rostered); Nemanja Bjelica (32% rostered); Devin Vassell, Spurs (14% rostered); Precious Achiuwa, Raptors (27% rostered); Cam Reddish, Hawks (37% rostered); Pat Connaughton, Bucks (14% rostered); Davion Mitchell (48% rostered); Matisse Thybulle, 76ers (12% rostered)
Damion Lee, Warriors (2%)
Lee is effectively the Warriors' sixth man through two games, playing the most minutes of the non-starters in both contests. He played 29 minutes in both games, averaging 13.0 points, 2.0 assists and 1.5 3s. He had lengthy windows of Fantasy viability in the Steph Curry-less 2019-20 season, when Lee averaged 29.0 points per game. The Warriors are better now, so Lee's usage will be lower even if his minutes load is similar. With that said, he's capable of providing some steady value to deep league managers who need traditional guard stats.