We’ve reached what the fantasy community calls the “silly season” with a record amount of resting, injuries and tank-related DNPs. There’s lots to cover on this 12-game slate, but we’re going to be picky and highlight the stuff that matters most to fantasy managers currently in the playoffs.
For NBA news and fantasy advice, find me on Twitter here!
Jalen McDaniels is here to stay
Wednesday wasn’t a great game for McDaniels as he shot 3-of-13 from the field, but pulled a Robert Covington with two steals, a block and three triples to salvage his line. We now have a five-game sample size to work with, and the results are super encouraging with Jalen posting top-35 numbers of 14.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.6 dimes, 1.6 steals, 0.8 blocks and 2.2 triples on 52% from the field and 75% from the line. He’s getting significant minutes at the three and four, coach James Borrego keeps citing his athleticism and versatility as the reasons why he’s helping the Hornets and all signs point to him playing a big role for the foreseeable future with Gordon Hayward not close to a return.
Isaiah Hartenstein’s minutes dive
With Jarrett Allen and Larry Nance Jr. returning from their extended absences, one of the best streamers of the last couple weeks saw his minutes tank as a result. Hartenstein ended up just shy of 13 minutes, but still produced a nice line of eight points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal and three blocks. I’m willing to hold him for another game or two to see how this pans out, as I still think there’s a path to 20 minutes here.
Kevin Love is on shutdown watch and Dean Wade played some small forward which is a good sign for Hartenstein, and he has proven that he only needs slightly more than 20 minutes to be a standard-league player. In his previous seven games, Hartenstein was putting 8th-round numbers in 21 minutes with 10.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.6 steals and 1.9 blocks. The Cavs know they have a potential role player of the future in Hartenstein, and I’m betting they give him extended run to prove it since they already know what they have in Allen and Nance. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff's positive comments about him last week come to mind too, as he cited his playmaking, physicality and ability to play in the pick-and-roll as his favorite things about him.
Khem Birch picking up steam in Toronto
After making a big impression on Tuesday with 13 points, seven rebounds, two steals, a block and a triple in 25 minutes, Birch moved into the starting lineup on Wednesday and didn’t disappoint with 14 points, six rebounds, one assist, one steal and two blocks in 29 minutes. It begs the question - where the heck was this kind of production in Orlando? Birch was the Tony Snell of centers in Orlando and now he’s doing this?
Sure he might be worth a look, but I refuse to call him anything more than a low-end big for the time being. Plus, it’s important to note that the Raptors are the only team in the NBA with two games next week. They do follow that up with a five-game week though, so that’s when I’d be looking to add if he’s still doing stuff.
Hassan Whiteside is a thing again
One of the most polarizing players in the NBA, Whiteside is right back on the fantasy radar with Richaun Holmes (hamstring) expected to miss a few games. Sure he’s had a disastrous season because he’s been no threat to Holmes and has struggled to stay healthy, but on a per-minute level, he’s as good as he’s ever been. This is a player who ranked 9th(!) in 9-cat leagues last season in 29 minutes per game, and while his knees probably can’t handle that type of workload, I could see him eclipsing 25ish. Whiteside finished Wednesday’s game with 12 points, nine rebounds, two assists, one steal and four blocks in 23 minutes and could be the difference maker for a lot of matchups this week and perhaps beyond. I'll be very interested to see how they handle him on the second leg of this back-to-back.
Editor’s Note: Drafting is only half the battle! Get an edge on your competition with our NBA Season Tools - available in our EDGE+ Roto tier for $3.99/mo. (annually) or $9.99/mo. (monthly) - that are packed with rankings, projections, a trade evaluator, start/sit tools and much more. And don't forget to use promo code WELCOME10 to get 10% off. Click here to learn more!
Still no update on SGA
Coach Mark Daigneault was asked about Shai Gilgeous-Alexander before Wednesday’s game and he said that there is still no update and that his re-evaluation hasn’t happened yet. Before you panic, the re-evaluation was supposed to be in mid-April so it could be any day now, so let’s not make any harsh add/drop decisions until then unless you’re desperately trying to win this week. Lu Dort was out with "shoulder soreness" which Daigneault admitted was just rest, and Aleksej Pokusevski's breakout has been delayed by an arm injury.
This guy really needs to make up his mind if he’s going to be really good or a complete liability in category leagues. Wednesday was a step in the right direction again with 22 points, eight rebounds and one dime, but he didn’t have any defensive stats or triples and was coming off a brutal game vs. the Jazz. The opportunity is massive with the Thunder shorthanded, but if you are going to add just keep in mind that you are putting your percentages at risk. I was also counting on Bazley making a bigger impact in the defensive categories, but the book has not been written on what kind of fantasy player he will be as he's still only 20 years old.
Moses Brown is peaking
For a minute there I was little nervous about Tony Bradley stealing minutes from Moses but it looks like he has stabilized again, delivering a nice performance against Rudy Gobert on Tuesday with 12 points, 15 rebounds, two steals and one block in 26 minutes. He then followed that up with 18 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and two blocks in 28 minutes vs. the Warriors. The schedule looks very soft with games coming up vs. the Pistons, Raptors and Wizards, so maybe we’ll see another one of his famous 20-20 lines.
Daniel Gafford to start soon?
Gafford was pretty quiet on Wednesday, but finished as a +11 in 16 minutes with four points, six rebounds, one assist, two steals and a block. He was red hot coming into tonight, posting 9th-round numbers in 15 minutes per game over his last five. Essentially, he pulled a Robert Williams with 10.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.4 blocks in that span. Gafford is still on restrictions as they ease him back and Brooks is “comfortable” with where his minutes are for the time being, but he also implied that it’s a “definite possibility” that he will be starting soon. He’s already worth rostering as a blocks specialist, but if he can get in that 24 minute range there is mid-round upside here. I expect a monster finish in the fantasy playoffs and the Wizards appear to be going for it as they are just one game out of the play-in spot. "I love it. It's definitely been a challenge,” Brooks said. All of our adversity, it's going to help us down the stretch." That’s even better news for the fantasy value of Bradley Beal, because even though he’s not 100 percent he’s now playing for a scoring title and a postseason spot.
Editor’s Note: Don’t forget to download the NBC Sports EDGE app to receive real-time player news and updates. Plus, it allows you to easily track your favorite players. Get it here!
Ivica Zubac trending up
The big man went through a rough stretch in early April but he’s rolling once again, putting up 18 points, 13 boards, two dimes, two steals and a block in 32 minutes. Yes the Clippers rested half their team tonight, but Zubac has been outstanding over his last four with 13.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.8 dimes, 0.5 steals and 0.5 blocks. He’s usually good for 1.5 to 2.0 blocks too, so expect some positive regression there. Serge Ibaka is “progressing” but remains without a timetable, and DeMarcus Cousins can’t be bothered to play defense so Zubac’s role is locked in for the fantasy playoffs.
Reggie Jackson had a monster night for the Clippers but is only a late-round option when the studs are playing, and coach Ty Lue said Wednesday that Kawhi Leonard has been sitting out as a precaution. For that reason I’m leaving Luke Kennard and Terance Mann on the wire.
Kelly Olynyk continues to FEAST
Olynyk breaking out on the tanking Rockets is the most 2020-21 thing ever. I never anticipated him getting this much run in Houston with the team in player evaluation mode, especially when you consider that Olynyk is a free agent this summer. However, they seem to love the Olynyk-Wood pairing up front, and he’s been on a top-40 run in 9-cat over the last two weeks with 17.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.5 dimes, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks and 3.0 triples.
They’re starting to play well together and figure it out. There’s a lot I could tell them as far as where they need to be on the floor, but when you play five-out basketball, it’s hard to tell a guy where they should be all the time. They’re both two smart guys; they’re figuring it out. It’s a work in progress, but I like what I see so far.” Hopefully he doesn’t do that thing in Miami where he alternates between an early-round asset and a Patrick Patterson, but his fantasy arrow will continue to point straight up until the Rockets dial him back in favor of KJ Martin.
Both Monte Morris (23% rostered) and Facundo Campazzo (15%) are widely available in fantasy leagues, but Morris is the priority add here. The Nuggets will continue to deploy two-PG lineups which means there's a path to 26+ minutes for each, but I think Morris will separate himself down the stretch. With Jamal Murray off the floor, Morris has a per-36 line of 16.9 points, 5.3 dimes, 3.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks and 1.8 triples. As for Campazzo, his stat profile isn't nearly as impressive and he's unlikely to be anything more than an assists specialist.