Bucks Trail Blazers Basketball
Portland Trail Blazers forward Justise Winslow brings the ball up against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)


Mike Shara

The trading deadline has now passed and the ground has at least started to settle beneath the players who’ve been jettisoned around the country, suddenly thrust into new roles on new teams in new cities. Now that we’ve seen most of them play a game or two, we have some ideas about players who might have a better fantasy basketball value now. Not surprisingly, most of the players I’m recommending here are playing for bad/rebuilding teams that have just shed one or two veteran rotation players to open up a spot for a younger, cheaper player who probably wasn’t originally drafted by anybody in your fantasy league. These kinds of waiver wire acquisitions can make a huge difference as we head down the stretch toward the fantasy playoffs after the NBA All-Star Weekend winds down, especially if a player on your fantasy team was traded to a team where he’s going to play less of a role.


JUSTISE WINSLOW, PF, Portland (25% rostered in Yahoo!, 8.3% in ESPN)
His career has been severely handicapped by injuries, but remember that Winslow was the 10th overall pick of the Miami Heat just 7 years ago and is still just 25 years old. He has missed almost two entire seasons with injuries but in 2018-19 (his best, healthiest season) he averaged 12.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.1 steals over 66 games for Miami. He then bounced around to Memphis and L.A. but the Clippers just traded him to Portland and since arriving there, he has been terrific – on Valentine’s Day vs. Milwaukee he had 13 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block while committing just one turnover. That kind of stat-stuffer is hard to come by at this time of the year. Get him while you can, knowing that the Trail Blazers really don’t have anyone else to play in front of him.

ISAIAH JACKSON, PF/C, Indiana (4% rostered in ESPN, 27% in Yahoo!)
He’s injured at the moment, but you’ve probably got a reserve spot available on your team right now, especially if you’ve been holding on to hopes that Kawhi Leonard or Damien Lillard might return later this season (don’t bet on either). Jackson’s ankle injury won’t keep him out much longer, anyway and now that the Pacers have traded away PF Domantis Sabonis, there is a plum opportunity waiting for him when he’s healthy. In his most recent healthy game he had 26 points and 10 rebounds in 29 minutes vs. the Clippers. Indiana is going to spend the rest of this season seeing what (if anything) they have on their roster that is worth developing, which means Jackson is likely to get a real shot at proving himself with serious minutes in games that don’t mean much, standings-wise.

MAXI KLEBER, C, Dallas (16% rostered in Yahoo!, 2% in ESPN)
With the Mavs getting rid of Kristaps Porzingis, there will be more big man minutes around for both Kleber and Dwight Powell to take advantage of. If you’re in need of rebounds, he might provide a boost. His scoring is always going to be a question mark, but he’s usually going to be a threat for a double/double every night and his effort and hustle are both constant. Almost out of necessity now, Head Coach Jason Kidd will be relying on Kleber going forward, and with Porzingis’ poor shot selection shipped to D.C., he may get a few more chances to score, too.

MARVIN BAGLEY JR, C/PF, Detroit (28% rostered on Yahoo!, 40% on ESPN)
He will forever likely be known as the #2 overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, taken by Sacramento ahead of both Trae Young and Luka Doncic, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he will end up being a complete bust of a pick. Newly acquired by Detroit, he fits the timeline of their young team, which is trying to acquire talented young players to grow together. He had a little bit of trouble with injuries, a bit of personal problem getting along with other players on the Kings and couldn’t seem to convince his coaches to give him consistent minutes. It is strange that Sacramento’s bosses couldn’t find him playing time – it’s not like they were playing their veterans in hopes of winning a title any time soon. The Pistons have needed a player with his athleticism and scoring touch for a while, and while his rim protection needs work, he has a lot of talent and should get a long look from Detroit over the next two months. 

DEVIN VASSELL, SG/SF, San Antonio (41% rostered on Yahoo!, 13% on ESPN)
The Spurs just traded Derrick White Jr. to the Celtics, which means plenty of playing time has suddenly become available for the second year pro out of Florida State. San Antonio does have a lot of draft capital invested in him (he was the 11th overall pick last year), so they’re going to want to see what he’s capable of before deciding if he is a key piece of their rebuilding puzzle for the future. He’s not the most consistent performer in the league yet (he had just 5 points Monday night after scoring 20 three nights earlier), but perhaps knowing he has a fairly long leash now with White gone will help him keep things steadier. His upside is fairly high, as he often contributes in multiple categories – not just points.

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