Fantasy Basketball: Top NBA Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 12 of 2022-23

The NBA rolls into 2023 with a very busy week to get January underway. There are three massive slates on Monday, Wednesday and Friday with at least 11 games scheduled for each day. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday are lighter schedules with three, four and five games, respectively. To wrap up the week, there is a nice nine-game Sunday slate that lines up with the final Sunday of the NFL season to create a cross-sport spectacular on January 8.

With so many games on those megaslates, most teams are lined up for a busy week. Of the 30 NBA teams, 21 play four games in the coming week, eight are scheduled to play three times and only the Washington Wizards are the outlier with just two games. Make sure to take a look at both the quality and the quantity of upcoming matchups, especially if you are looking for players to make a short-term instant impact.

In this weekly post throughout the season, you can find some of the hottest trending players, some deep league additions to consider, and a more in-depth look at four sleeper pickups. The sleeper targets listed below aren’t quite mainstream, but they are emerging as options with plenty of potential upside. The top trending players are good pickups to consider if available but are quickly vanishing off waiver wires. The deep league options at the bottom of the post can be a help if the top options and the four sleeper pickups have already been picked up.

Things change in a hurry from day to day throughout the season, so follow along on my Twitter account @ZT_sports if you are looking for single-game streaming options, along with cheap DFS plays on a daily basis.


Top trending players


SF/PF TJ Warren, Brooklyn Nets (vs. SA, at CHI, at NO, at MIA)

warren was in my suggested pickups a few weeks ago when he started getting ramped up after being sidelined due to injury. He’s still owned in under a third of leagues, though, and he’s starting to become more involved in the Nets’ attack on a regular basis.

Coming into Saturday’s matchup with the Hornets, Warren was actually coming off a down game on Wednesday, which may be part of his lower ownership, but it opens up a nice window of opportunity. He scored just two points on five shots against Atlanta in that contest, but he had reached double-digit points in six of his previous seven games with the one exception being a game in which he played under 10 minutes. On Saturday, he bounced back with 10 points and seven rebounds while playing 31 minutes against the Hornets.

During that earlier seven-game span, Warren took an average of nine field goal attempts per game with a 22.8% usage rate. He averaged 12.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.0 steal over that run. He flashed his ceiling with a season-high 23 points in a win over the Cavs while adding eight boards, two assists and two steals in 27 minutes.

If the Nets are ever without Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant, Warren would be an even better play, but he’s growing into an important contributor in his current role and is a great pickup for the upcoming week.


PF/C Jalen Johnson, Atlanta Hawks (at GS, at SAC, at LAL, at LAC)

The Hawks have been without Clint Capela (calf) for three games, allowing Onyeka Okongwu to step into the starting lineup and Johnson to play more minutes off the bench. The 21-year-old from Duke is in his second year with Atlanta but has stepped up, earning more playing time.

In those three games, Johnson averaged 12.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 steal and 0.7 blocked shots in 23.6 minutes per game. He had 14 and 15 points in his two most recent games while shooting a super-efficient 11-for-21. He has been doing good work on the glass and on the defensive end, so there’s a chance coach Nate McMillan will work to find him time even when their rotation is back to 100%. Johnson has a high ceiling if he gets regular minutes in the rotation and is still owned in less than 5% of leagues.


PG Duane Washington Jr., Phoenix Suns (at NY, at CLE, vs. MIA, vs. CLE)

The Suns’ backcourt is typically the source of most of its scoring, but there is a huge opportunity for someone to step up while Devin Booker (groin) is out. Cameron Payne (foot) and Landry Shamet (Achilles) are candidates to step in with more offense but are battling injuries of their own while Josh Okogie is much more of a defense-first option.

Washington has a chance to carve out a role either in the starting five or as one of the first options off the bench if he keeps up his hot shooting. Despite showing flashes of upside in his rookie year with the Pacers, he was waived and then signed to a two-way contract by the Suns. After appearing in only 15 of the team’s first 31 games and averaging just 9.0 minutes per game, Washington has been able to be much more involved over the past two weeks, averaging 14.2 points on 13.2 shot attempts in 17.1 minutes per game.

He scored 26 points to go with eight assists and four rebounds in 24 minutes in a win over Memphis on Tuesday with five made three-pointers. In his two games since then, Washington has scored 10 and 11 points to go with two rebounds and two assists in each contest.

Washington isn’t guaranteed playing time, but he’s been good enough to be worth a look. If he can establish himself as an “instant offense” option, he could end up with a good chance to hit his high ceiling with the Suns playing four games this week.


C Mark Williams, Charlotte Hornets (vs. LAL, vs. MEM, at MIL, at IND)

Another impressive player who has delivered when given a chance but is not assured of minutes is Hornets rookie Mark Williams. the no 15 overall pick in last year’s NBA draft, Williams has looked good while filling in for Nick Richards (ankle) over the past few games.

Williams played over 15 minutes in each of Charlotte’s last three games coming into Saturday night, culminating in an impressive double-double against the Thunder on Thursday. In those three games, he averaged 10.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.3 blocked shots. In his ceiling game against OKC, the rookie shot a perfect 7-for-7 from the field and totaled 17 points to go with 13 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals.

On Saturday, Richards returned, but Williams still played more minutes with eight points and seven rebounds in 15 minutes while Richards only played three minutes.

When Richards, Williams and Mason Plumlee are all healthy, it will be interesting to see how the rotation plays out for Charlotte. Williams has shown he can produce when given a chance, though, so he makes a nice speculative addition, especially since the Hornets are likely to skew toward their younger players as the season continues.

I love the upside of Johnson, Washington and Williams, and they’re worth either adding or monitoring since they all bring high ceilings if the minutes come their way over the coming week.


Other options to consider


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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

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