The 2021-22 NBA season has tipped off and fantasy basketball season is underway with the first week behind us.
Of course, star players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant had monster weeks to start the season, but what about the under-the-radar players who you could pick up off of waivers to bolster your roster?
There are always a ton of players who go undrafted but make an impact in roles bigger than projected, making them waiver wire gems.
Below you can find five players you should add to your roster immediately if they’re still available in your league, along with three other players to tab for your watch list incase they continue producing the way they did during opening week.
All players are owned in fewer than 50.0 percent of leagues. All owned percentages and positions are based off of ESPN Fantasy Basketball.
Fantasy basketball waiver wire pickups
Mo Bamba, C, Orlando Magic
Owned in: 44.2 percent of leagues
For those who jumped on Bamba before his breakout first week, hats off to you.
The former No. 6 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft is finally receiving his chance at consistent playing time, and he’s made the most of it thus far. The Magic’s new head coach Jamahl Mosley has slotted Bamba alongside Wendell Carter Jr. in the starting lineup in a bit of a surprise pairing. Bamba has thrived in the situation through the first week, averaging 16.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 blocks, 2.5 assists and 1.0 steals per game while shooting an efficient 70.6 percent from the field.
Perhaps the most shocking contribution is Bamba averaging 3.0 3s per game, a lethal addition to his game as a fantasy player (and real player, for that matter).
If he’s still available, add Bamba now before it’s too late.
Ricky Rubio, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers
Owned in: 31.8 percent of leagues
Rubio went undrafted in the majority of leagues, likely because of his unknown role on a new team with a young backcourt pairing of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland.
If the first week is any indication, it has become clear that Rubio will still have a fantasy impact as a playmaker, dropping a pair of double-doubles with assists. Rubio dished out 10 assists in each of his first two games and should continue to be a solid source of 3s and steals, as well.
Averaging 26.5 minutes per game, Rubio should see plenty of playing time to be worthy of a permanent roster spot.
Tyrese Maxey, SG, Philadelphia 76ers
Owned in: 24.5 percent of leagues
For as long as Ben Simmons is sitting out, Maxey will have everyday fantasy value.
The second-year guard has taken over Simmons’ spot in the starting lineup, putting together a strong opening week to make the most of the opportunity. Maxey went for 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists on opening night, before following that performance with 15 points, two boards, two assists and one steal the next game. He has proved to be able to produce in multiple different categories and he may gain a point guard position designation while holding down that starting role.
Maxey is worth a look because of his playing time and the talent on the roster around him.
Chris Duarte, SG, Indiana Pacers
Owned in: 30.7 percent of leagues
Duarte made a statement in his first game as a pro, going off for 27 points with six 3-pointers to create a buzz around his name.
It appears as though he has solidified himself a spot in the Pacers’ starting lineup, meaning the minutes will be there for him to be productive enough to warrant a roster spot. The 24-year-old rookie was the oldest player in this year’s draft class and the anticipation was that he would be able to make an immediate impact. He showed just that through the first week, following his big debut with a balanced 15 points, five assists, four rebounds, three 3-pointers and one steal in his second game.
Duarte looks like he’ll be a consistent source of points and 3s with a few contributions to other counting stats. He’s worth a roster spot if he’s still available after that breakout first game.
Will Barton, SF, Denver Nuggets
Owned in: 23.5 percent of leagues
After missing the entire 2021 NBA Playoffs, Barton has started the 2021-22 season with a bang.
The 30-year-old forward has slotted back into the Nuggets’ starting lineup, assuming some playmaking duties in the absence of star guard Jamal Murray, who is still out recovering from a torn ACL.
Barton’s production as a scorer has always been known, but the burst of assists through the first two games has been a pleasant surprise from a fantasy standpoint. Barton had 20 points, six rebounds and five assists in his first game, followed by 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists in his second game.
If he can continue to rack up other counting stats aside from points, Barton would be a great addition to any fantasy roster. Add him now and see if this trend continues.
Patty Mills, PG, Brooklyn Nets
Owned in: 34.5 percent of leagues
Mills has been doing exactly what was expected of him after signing with the Nets this offseason – coming off the bench to get buckets.
He poured in 21 points on a perfect 7-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc in Brooklyn’s season-opener, followed by another 3-for-3 shooting night from deep in his second game, where he tallied 11 points.
Mills had two boards, two assists and one steal in each of his first two games, giving you a realistic idea of what to expect from him in other categories. But when it comes to points and 3s, Mills could be a great source throughout the season.
It’s worth monitoring him in the coming weeks to see if he can provide more than just those two categories as he gets situated with the Nets.
Steven Adams, C, Memphis Grizzlies
Owned in: 47.2 percent of leagues
You know exactly what you’re going to get out of Adams – rebounding with the hopes of scoring enough points to notch a double-double.
If you’re in a league where double-doubles are rewarded, Adams may be worth an immediate add after ripping down 14 boards in his Grizzlies’ debut. He only scored eight points, but if his rebounding numbers can hover around double figures, he’s bound to record a few handfuls of double-doubles throughout the season. His efficiency should be a boost to your team’s field goal percentage, too.
At the least, keep Adams on your watch list as he plays a few more games with his new team.
Desmond Bane, SG, Memphis Grizzlies
Owned in: 8.6 percent of leagues
Bane started to come along as a fantasy player toward the end of his rookie season last year and this season, it appears he may be worthy of a roster spot.
It’s only been one game, so it’s too early to tell, but Bane looked fantastic in his season-opener, going for 22 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals with a pair of 3-pointers.
It will be interesting to see what his playing time looks like once Dillon Brooks returns from a hand injury, but for now, keep an eye on Bane to see if he can maintain a big role in Memphis’ rotation.