By Gabe Allen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
The constant infusion of young talent into the NBA helps sustain and improve the league and the game. It also aids focused fantasy managers seeking to better their rosters via the waiver wire. Spoiler alert: six of the eight players I’m suggesting this week are rookies or sophomores. Many of these players have taken on a more demanding role recently due to injuries — and while some will return to modest reserve jobs as their teams get healthier, others may be in the process of carving out a more meaningful role for the remainder of the campaign.
Skylar Mays, Portland Trail Blazers (48% rostered)
Mays is the hottest pickup in fantasy leagues, having seen the most significant spike in rostered percentage (+36% Last Day). He has dished out double-digit dimes in three of the last four games, this, after managing averages of 15.3 points and 8.3 assists in 31.5 minutes last season, albeit in only six appearances. While Scoot Henderson (ankle), Malcolm Brogdon (hamstring) and Anfernee Simons (thumb) remain sidelined, Mays is a superb streaming option.
Duncan Robinson (42% rostered) and Jaime Jaquez (26% rostered), Miami Heat
Plenty of fantasy managers have scooped up Robinson (+24% Last Day) and Jaquez (+16% Last Day) recently, and with good reason. Robinson has been a flamethrower of late, combining for 70 points and 14 threes across the last three games. Especially while Tyler Herro (ankle) is out for the next couple weeks, Robinson will be worth a look in most leagues. Moreover, with Max Strus in Cleveland, Robinson’s perimeter firepower is, for the first time in a few years, crucial to a Miami team whose two best players prefer to operate inside the arc.
Meanwhile, Jaquez is averaging 14.5 points, 4.5 boards, 3.3 assists, 1.5 threes and 1.0 steals in 34.2 minutes over the last four outings. The rookie wing has plenty of competition for minutes, but he has been making a case that he deserves a consistently demanding role. He’s worth a speculative add.
Jordan Hawkins (33% rostered) and Dyson Daniels (18% rostered), New Orleans Pelicans
If New Orleans is ever fully healthy for more than a few games, Hawkins and Daniels might not be worthy of roster spots outside of deeper leagues. However, given how infrequently this club has been fortunate in the injury department over the last several seasons, I’d suggest snagging Hawkins or Daniels, depending on your team’s needs. Hawkins is a sensational scorer who has reached double figures in eight of the last nine contests while averaging 15.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.1 threes, 1.8 assists and 0.9 steals in 32.9 minutes during that same stretch. Daniels doesn’t provide as much scoring as his rookie teammate, but the sophomore’s stat profile is more well-rounded. Across the last eight games, Daniels is averaging 9.8 points, 5.0 boards, 3.8 dimes, 1.5 swipes, 1.4 threes and 0.5 blocks in 28.1 minutes.
Bilal Coulibaly, Washington Wizards (31% rostered)
With Washington in the earliest stages of a rebuild, it makes sense to funnel minutes to the team’s young, promising players, such as Coulibaly. The rookie has taken advantage of his recent increase in playing time, recording averages of 13.3 points, 7.3 boards, 2.7 assists, 2.3 steals, 2.3 threes and 0.7 blocks in 31.7 minutes over the last three contests. It’s a small sample size, for sure, but Coulibaly has flashed tremendous versatility lately and warrants consideration across all formats; there’s some serious season-long upside here.
Jacob Gilyard, Memphis Grizzlies (3% rostered)
Gilyard is an intriguing short-term option — particularly in deeper formats — but he also has legitimate upside over the next month or so if the Grizzlies remain banged up in the backcourt before Ja Morant (suspension) returns to the rotation. Across the last three games, the sophomore point guard is averaging 9.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.0 dimes versus 1.0 turnovers, 3.0 threes and 2.0 steals in 26.2 minutes.
Ochai Agbaji, Utah Jazz (3% rostered)
Keyonte George is being slept on to an almost criminal extent, considering how well he has performed since earning a spot in the starting lineup. And veteran Kelly Olynyk is probably a more reliable option than Agbaji. However, for those in deeper leagues, Agbaji should be considered while Walker Kessler (elbow) is still out. Over the last three games, Agbaji is posting 8.0 points, 6.0 boards, 1.3 blocks, 1.3 threes, 1.0 assists and 1.0 steals in 27.4 minutes.
Recent recommendations still rostered in less than 50 percent of leagues
Killian Hayes, Dereck Lively II, Dario Saric, Kyle Anderson, Lonnie Walker IV, Grayson Allen, Keyonte George, Tari Eason, Xavier Tillman, Alex Caruso, Nick Richards, Reggie Jackson, Goga Bitadze, Sam Hauser