Fantasy Basketball category help: Waiver options to boost your roster

New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina can help in both assists and steals. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

By Alex Barutha, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports

By this point in the fantasy season, most owners should be able to identify which categories they’re strong in, and which ones they are weak in.

If you’re in need of assists or steals, the following options off the waiver wire should help bolster your roster. I’ve also included the top three players in each category, if you’re looking to make a trade. There’s also a shorter section at the end highlighting an option for threes, as well as an option for blocks.

Assists 

Season Leaders

James Harden, Rockets (10.2)

Russell Westbrook, Thunder (9.8)

John Wall, Wizards (9.7)

T.J. McConnell, 76ers (20% owned)

McConnell has been seeing starter’s minutes since Markelle Fultz (shoulder) missed his first game back on Oct. 25. Though Fultz is set to be re-evaluated in mid-November, there is no guarantee he’ll be healthy enough to immediately see the floor, especially considering how sub-par his play was prior to being sidelined. As a result, picking McConnell up off the waiver wire could certainly pay dividends for multiple weeks. Over the past nine games, he’s dishing out 6.7 assists per game. He’s also been a respectable source of rebounds (4.4) and steals (1.6) over that period. In addition, McConnell has been an efficient shooter, making half of his looks from the field.

Jerian Grant, Bulls (18% owned)

While Grant isn’t seeing the 30-plus minutes per night he was over the first few games of the season, he’s still been a solid source of assists as of late. Over the past seven games, he’s posting 5.7 assists per game (and only 0.7 turnovers), which includes a zero-assist dud against Indiana in just 17 minutes of action. Taking away that contest, he’s averaging 6.7 assists per game over that same stretch. Beware, though — Grant’s field-goal percentage has been ugly (34.9 percent on the season).

Frank Ntilikina, Knicks (22% owned)

Ntilikina could be featured in both the assists and steals sections, as he’s been impressive in both. He’s shown to be a quality source of assists (6.2) in limited action (24.0 minutes per game). His long arms allow him to be a force on the defensive end as well, racking up 2.0 steals per game on the season. As he develops and gets more comfortable within New York’s offense, he may garner more minutes as the year goes on. For that reason, he could end up being more than a short-term pickup off the waiver wire.

Steals

Season Leaders

Paul George, Thunder (2.5)

Kent Bazemore, Hawks (2.1)

Frank Ntilikina (2.0)

Kris Dunn, Bulls (44% owned)

Dunn’s main strengths are his passing and his defense, the latter of which he’s been showing off this season. In his seven appearances, he’s averaging 2.1 steals per game. His workload of 25.6 minutes isn’t ideal, but it seems like a stable role within the Bulls’ rotation. He’s also not a complete dud in rebounds (4.3) and assists (3.4), but his field goal percentage (42.9) won’t be doing fantasy owners any favors.

Josh Richardson, Heat (47% owned)

Richardson provides something that most players on the waiver wire don’t have at this point in the season: a starting role. Richardson is seeing 33.3 minutes per game this season and swiping 1.5 steals in the process. While his 2.5 turnovers put somewhat of a damper on his fantasy value, he is drilling 1.6 threes per game. His overall steals numbers might not be eye-popping, but he makes for a long-term pickup off the waiver wire considering his workload.

Thabo Sefolosha, Jazz (12% owned)

With Rudy Gobert (knee) out for 2-4 weeks, the Jazz have been forced to alter their rotation. That has resulted in Derrick Favors starting at center while Sefolosha starts at power forward. Over his past two starts, Sefolosha has totaled five steals. That rate is probably unsustainable, but those numbers aren’t a massive fluke either, as he’s averaged 2.0 steals per 36 minutes over the past four seasons. While he’s not much of a scorer, Sefolosha has been a quality source of rebounds this season at 4.9 per game, which will certainly increase as he continues drawing starts.

Luc Mbah a Moute, Rockets (12% owned)

Mbah a Moute has had a reputation as a good defender for much, if not all, of his career. His most recent two seasons with the Clippers had him seeing just 19.7 minutes per contest. With the Rockets, his role has been expanded to 27.5 minutes per game. The fast pace of the Rockets play has also worked in his benefit. Over his past six appearances, he’s swiping 2.3 steals, which certainly makes him an impact fantasy player in the category. He doesn’t score much (8.4 points per game), but drills 1.0 three per contest and shoots 48.2 percent from the field.

Three-Pointers 

J.R. Smith, Cavaliers (22% owned)

Smith started the season ice-cold, shooting 27.5 percent from the field over the team’s first 10 games. He’s looked more like himself as of late, however, shooting 46.7 percent and averaging 14.5 points per game since then. He’s also adding an impressive 3.5 threes per game over that stretch. While that rate is likely unsustainable, he posted 2.9 threes per 36 minutes last season, so when given the minutes, he’s an upper-tier threat from beyond the arc. 

Blocks

Lucas Nogueira, Raptors (8% owned)

Though he’s averaged just 12.5 minutes over the past six games, Nogueira is providing 1.5 blocks per game. His workload doesn’t often allow him to contribute anywhere else, but if you’re desperate for blocks, he’s available in the vast majority of leagues.