This article is part of our NBA Waiver Wire series.
The All-Star break is over. Two-thirds of the season is in the rear view, and teams have between 24 (Pistons) and 29 (Lakers, Timberwolves, Wizards) games remaining. As we return from the break, it's a good time to zoom out a little and focus on which waiver prospects can be major difference makers through the stretch run.
For this week's piece, we're taking the long view, and not focusing on short-term injuries or riding the current waves. Every season, there are a few massive, post-ASB breakouts who become season-defining fantasy adds. There are always exceptions, but I generally think of two primary archetypes that those post-ASB breakout players fit into: High-risk/high-reward potential breakouts, and young players on tanking teams.
Jerami Grant, Nuggets (49 percent rostered)
Daniel Theis, Celtics (40 percent rostered)
De'Anthony Melton, Grizzlies (10 percent rostered)
Grant, Theis and Melton strike me as the players most likely to emerge from the first of those archetypes.
- All three players all have important real-basketball roles on playoff-bound or playoff-hopeful teams. At a point in the season when some teams start to engage in hanky-panky – the Lakers and Bucks may start resting players, the bottom-dwellers lean into the tank – the Nuggets, Celtics and Grizzlies are all trying to win every game.
- All three players have steady roles but could reasonably see their workloads increase. Grant averages just 22.9 minutes when Paul Millsap is healthy, Theis averages 22.9 minutes on the season, and Melton has averaged 20.7 minutes