Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire Pickups: Five players to add before NBA season starts

By Mike Barner, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

The NBA regular season starts Tuesday. Most fantasy basketball drafts have been completed, and even though no games have been played yet, that doesn't mean there aren't some moves to consider making to upgrade your roster. Let's discuss five players still available in most Yahoo leagues that are worth adding now.

Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bills (50 percent available)

The Bulls may have found themselves a gem in Dosunmu, who they selected in the second round of the 2021 Draft. He was pressed into action because of injuries, and he showed that he belonged. He logged 27 minutes per game, averaging 8.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists while shooting 52.0 percent from the field.

What’s even more impressive is how well Dosunmu played as a starter. Over 40 games in that role, he averaged 10.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 three-pointers while shooting 52.3 percent from the field. Lonzo Ball (knee) is not only out to begin this season, but we might not see him again until sometime in 2023 after he had yet another surgery. Dosunmu has been named the starting point guard to begin this season, making him a prime target to snag off of waivers.

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Isaiah Hartenstein, New York Knicks (58 percent available)

Hartenstein has bounced around the league, playing for four teams over four seasons. He was limited to a bench role for the Clippers last season, averaging just 18 minutes a game. Despite his limited playing time, he provided 8.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 blocks per game. He was also highly efficient, shooting 62.6 percent from the field.

Hartenstein parlayed his strong performance into a two-year contract with the Knicks. He’s ticketed for a backup role behind Mitchell Robinson, who signed a four-year deal to remain with New York. Still, Robinson has never averaged more than 28 minutes per contest. Hartenstein could still play around 20 minutes per night. Considering what he did in similar minutes last season, he’s worth adding for those who don’t like how their draft played out at center.

Will Barton, Washington Wizards (60 percent available)

Barton wasn’t one of the big names on the Nuggets, but that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t crucial to their success. He played at least 31 minutes per game in each of the last three seasons, never averaging fewer than 12.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. With Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. out for most of last season, he thrived with averages of 14.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.2 three-pointers.

As good as he has been, the Nuggets decided it was time to make a change and traded him to the Wizards. He’s lined up to start at small forward and has some dangerous scoring options around him in Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma. Barton should see a decline in his shots, but he could also see an uptick in assists. While he likely won’t stand out in any particular area, he can do enough across the board to be worth rostering in most formats.

JaVale McGee, Dallas Mavericks (64 percent available)

The Mavericks went into the offseason needing to add size to their roster. Their best center options after they traded away Porzingis last year were Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell. That’s not an inspiring duo, and it’s partly why we even saw them deploy Dorian Finney-Smith at the five in small lineups during the playoffs. The Mavericks have since addressed their weakness, adding McGee and Christian Wood.

Wood has been the more productive player in recent seasons, but the Mavericks have decided to make him a part of their second unit. That will leave McGee to start at center. With how talented Wood is, don’t expect McGee to see traditional starter’s minutes. However, in just 16 minutes per game last season, he averaged 9.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. When he logged 22 minutes per game with the Lakers during the 2018-19 season, he provided 12.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. The center shouldn’t be available in this many leagues.

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Kelly Olynyk, Utah Jazz (73 percent available)

The Jazz suffered another disappointing defeat in the playoffs, despite having a strong regular season. They decided it was time to blow up their core, trading away Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. They’ve undergone a full-blown rebuild, also trading away Bojan Bogdanovic. Veterans Mike Conley Jr. and Jordan Clarkson remain on the roster, but who knows for how long.

With the Jazz undergoing so many changes, their depth chart looks very different. They have some intriguing options at center in Olynyk and rookie Walker Kessler. Kessler isn’t a huge offensive threat, but he has the potential to be an elite shot-blocker. To begin the season, Kessler is expected to come off the bench behind Olynyk, who was acquired in the deal that sent Bogdanovic to the Pistons.

Olynyk doesn’t usually provide much in the way of blocks, which isn’t great in fantasy for a center. However, in only 22 minutes per game for his career, he’s averaged 10.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.2 three-pointers per game. With him having the potential to play between 25-30 minutes per game on a rebuilding team, Olynyk could see his fantasy value on the rise in a hurry.