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Five players every NBA team should be targeting before the waiver deadline

Profile Picture: Rory Breasail

Rory Breasail

February 17th, 2022

The 2022 NBA Trade Deadline may be over, but the NBA’s final rosters are not set just yet. That’s because teams have until March 1, the waiver deadline, to add players as free agents or off the waiver wire that will still be eligible to play in the playoffs. Over the next two weeks, there will be a round of buyouts as players maneuver themselves to new situations, with both player and team looking for the perfect fit.

Today we’re taking a look at five players every NBA team should be targeting before the waiver deadline.

5. ABDEL NADER

Abdel Nader was recently released by the Phoenix Suns in order to complete their trade for Aaron Holiday. Nader has been dealing with what the team refers to as "right knee injury management," after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery last season. The injuries are truly unfortunate because Nader had really begun to make himself into a quality contributor.

Nader’s uncertain health status makes him a poor fit for contenders pushing to win now, but an enterprising team in the rebuilding process would be wise to take a swing on Nader’s potential. Nader plays small forward and is both a capable defender and outside shooter. Just positional scarcity alone should ensure he doesn’t end the season without finding a new landing spot.

4. ROBIN LOPEZ

Lopez is a curious case. It’s not clear if he’ll be waived at all, as he seems entirely comfortable playing limited minutes for the lottery-bound Orlando Magic and hanging out at Disney World on his off days. Then again, it never made much sense that Lopez signed there in the first place, given that Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba would be eating up the vast majority of the minutes at center.

But if Lopez does get waived, he’d be good in so many spots. He’s a solid rim protector who consistently helps his team's rebounding numbers. He’s also a great screen setter and seems to never miss a jump hook around the basket. A reunion with the injury-laden Chicago Bulls seems like a natural fit.

3. DENNIS SCHRODER

After a brief stint in Boston, Dennis Schroder is currently playing for the Houston Rockets. The Rockets are actually one of the few teams in the NBA that truly have no use for him, both as they lean into the tank for the remainder of the season, and also because they need the minutes to focus on developing Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr.

Schroder is a pretty dynamic slashing guard, and there are certainly teams that could use his ability to penetrate the paint. He’s also been one of the best clutch performers this season, even if he could do a better job of playing within the team concept at times.

2. GARY HARRIS

Gary Harris has had a couple of anonymous seasons playing for the Orlando Magic after being part of the Aaron Gordon trade, but it wasn’t long ago that he was a key contributor on the young and upcoming Denver Nuggets team.

It was his inconsistencies as an outsider shooter that led Harris to become expendable, but suddenly he is up to 38% from deep on the season. It was Harris returning to the lineup against the Utah Jazz in the first round of the 2020 playoffs that ultimately turned the tide of the series. He slowed down Donovan Mitchell just enough to edge the Jazz in a seven-game thriller that literally came down to the final shot. Harris is really that good as an on-ball guard defender, which makes him a highly desirable player for many contenders.

1. GORAN DRAGIC

After being traded from the Miami Heat to the Toronto Raptors, Goran Dragic hasn’t played since the first month of the NBA season. It was a bit of an odd situation that Dragic became estranged from the Raptors, but now that he’s been waived, many teams should be bidding for his services.

We’re just two years away from Dragic being perhaps the second most important player during the Miami Heat’s run to the NBA Finals in the Bubble. Dragic is now 35, so it’s unfair to expect that kind of performance from him again. On the other hand, he’s been on ice the entire season, so he’s likely going to be capable of a high level of play.

While Dallas was long considered the favorites to nab Dragic to pair him with Slovenian countryman Luka Doncic, with the addition of Spencer Dinwiddie that interest has apparently waned. Any contender looking for on-ball creation and shooting would benefit massively by acquiring "The Dragon."

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