Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: Dereck Lively II & Cam Thomas, hot first-week pickups

Cam Thomas #24 of the Brooklyn Nets. (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
Cam Thomas of the Brooklyn Nets exploded for 36 points on opening night and will be a popular pickup on the fantasy waiver wire. (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images) (Dustin Satloff via Getty Images)

By Gabe Allen, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

With the NBA regular season underway, the more experienced fantasy basketball managers are keeping both eyes on the waiver wire. Often enough, injuries and mid-season trades shake things up. However, the beginning of the year is usually the best time to find overlooked talent floating around in the free agency pool. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk though: no manager wants to prematurely abandon a player after one or two lousy games, but by the same token, every manager wants to pounce on opportunities to improve their roster. Without further ado, here are eight players to consider adding in the early stages of the new season.

Dereck Lively II, Dallas Mavericks (48% rostered)

The aptly named Lively was outstanding in his debut performance against the Spurs. Though Maxi Kleber received the starting nod, coach Jason Kidd went with Lively instead of Kleber to begin the third quarter, which helped fuel the Mavericks’ comeback after a somewhat sloppy start, especially defensively. Lively brings a level of athleticism and spryness that can’t really be replicated by the rest of the team’s big men. Moreover, he showcased impressive offensive chemistry with Luka Dončić in pick-and-roll situations. If Lively is available, add him now.

Cam Thomas, Brooklyn Nets (47% rostered)

Thomas exploded for 36 points in 25 minutes off the bench in the season opener. Having already contributed a double-digit scoring average (10.6 PPG) in merely 16.6 minutes per game last season, Thomas’ upside is tangible, particularly in points leagues, even if he doesn’t end up earning 30-plus minutes per night.

Deni Avdija, Washington Wizards (44% rostered)

Avdija turned in a solid stat line in the season opener (nine points, seven boards, five dimes, one steal) despite seeing limited minutes (21) in a lopsided loss. The fourth-year point forward figures to stuff the stat sheet on a near-nightly basis for a rebuilding Wizards team that has every incentive to prioritize his development. By this time next week, Avdija will probably be rostered in far more than 50% of fantasy leagues. Like Lively, Avdija is an immediate add.

Kelly Oubre Jr., Philadelphia 76ers (42% rostered)

Philadelphia is one of four teams that has only two games on the schedule for next week, so there are certainly better one-week streaming options out there. With that being said, the uncertainty surrounding the availability of James Harden (personal) going forward leaves the door of opportunity ajar for Oubre to continue making a major impact in the scoring column. Although Philadelphia has no shortage of proven scorers who are higher in the pecking order, including Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris, Oubre has never been shy about letting it fly, as evidenced by his 27-point performance in his 76ers debut.

Kyle Anderson, Minnesota Timberwolves (41% rostered)

Anderson struggled from the field (3-for-9) in the season opener but as usual contributed across multiple categories, posting seven points, nine rebounds, five assists and one swipe in 30 minutes off the bench. Last year Anderson was among the league’s best waiver wire pickups thanks to his well-rounded stat profile. He’s worth rostering in most leagues even if injuries don’t catapult him into a more significant role like last season.

Jalen Johnson, Atlanta Hawks (34% rostered)

Johnson was unable to supplant Atlanta’s more experienced forwards (De’Andre Hunter, Saddiq Bey) in the starting lineup heading into the season. Nevertheless, no Hawk soared higher than Johnson during the season opener, as the third-year forward kept his team in the game by registering 21 points, seven boards, two dimes, two steals and one block in 29 minutes. If you’re searching for someone with breakout potential, Johnson is worthy of consideration.

Josh Okogie, Phoenix Suns (31% rostered)

Okogie has held his own through two contests, supplying averages of 13.5 points, 6.5 boards, 2.0 assists, and 1.5 threes in 32.0 minutes per game. His defensive skills should keep him heavily involved going forward, even when Bradley Beal (back) and Devin Booker (foot) return, and he seems comfortable in his low-usage role offensively. Furthermore, with four games on the Suns’ schedule next week, Okogie is a decent streaming option heading into Week 2.

Delon Wright, Washington Wizards (7% rostered)

Wright picked up right where he left off last season, recording eight points, six boards, six dimes and three steals in 25 minutes during the opener. He’s coming off a career year defensively, having snatched a career-high 1.8 steals in merely 24.4 minutes last season. He logged his best assist-to-turnover ratio last season as well, handing out 3.9 assists compared to only 0.9 turnovers. Wright typically isn’t going to score in double digits, but his multi-category production makes him a viable option in most leagues and a darling in deeper formats.