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The Week Ahead: Week 23

Chris Paul

Chris Paul

USA Today Sports

Week 23 Schedule: Games Played
4 Games: BKN, CHA, CHI, DAL, DET, GSW, HOU, MIA, MIN, NOP, NYK, PHI, POR, UTA, WAS
3 Games: ATL, BOS, CLE, DEN, IND, LAL, MEM, MIL, OKC, ORL, PHX, TOR
2 Games: LAC, SAC, SAS

Chris Paul (right thumb avulsion fracture) could be back sooner than expected

On Monday, Sam Amick of The Athletic reported that not only was Chris Paul ahead of schedule in his recovery from the avulsion fracture in his right thumb, but that some of his sources are telling him that CP3 could return to the floor as soon as Wednesday vs. the Timberwolves. Paul has been ramping up his workload at recent practices, and now it seems that getting his conditioning to where it needs to be will be the final hurdle in his return to play.

It’s worth noting that Paul is dealing with an avulsion fracture, meaning that a small piece of the bone which is attached to the tendon in his thumb ripped away, but these are not as serious as a standard fracture and can often heal without surgical intervention. It’s also worth mentioning that Paul’s initial 6-8 week timetable, which would have had him out until April 3, was loosely issued by the team – and Paul was seen going through a “vigorous” workout ahead of Sunday’s game vs. the Kings. Lastly, he’s been sporting nothing more than a soft splint on that right hand, and he was seen slapping hands with everyone after Devin Booker hit a clutch shot in the closing seconds of regulation on Sunday to send that game to overtime, where the Suns eventually got the win.

Now, there really isn’t any reason for Paul to rush his way back to the court with Phoenix comfortably sitting on the No. 1 seed out West, a full nine games ahead of Memphis, and they’ve gone 10-4 since Paul went down. That said, if Paul is feeling comfortable with his thumb injury, and the medical staff determines he can’t do any more damage, then it wouldn’t be shocking to see Paul beat that 6-8 week timetable. We should get another update within the coming days, but if it’s just a matter of pain tolerance and conditioning, then we might see CP3 back on the floor sooner than later.

Given Paul’s enormous upside in fantasy hoops, I think he’s worth tucking away in an IL spot until we have more information, but it’s tough to justify allowing him to occupy an active roster spot at this stage in the fantasy season. Should he return, though, Cameron Payne would take a significant hit, and both Devin Booker and Jae Crowder would see fewer playmaking opportunities.

Teams with attractive schedules for Week 23: CHI, GSW, NOP, NYK, WAS

Players on the Bulls, Warriors, Pelicans, Knicks and Wizards will make for particularly attractive streamers this week, as they not only have four games, but they also play on the lighter game days – Tuesday and Thursday.

Bulls

Alex Caruso (41%): If you need a guy you can give you some triples, assists and a copious amount of steals, than Caruso is someone to consider grabbing this week.

Coby White (37%): White is more of a low-end, points and triples guy, but if you need help in those two categories, he could be someone to think about as a streamer.

Warriors

Gary Payton II (9%): GP2 (sore left knee) was expected to return to the floor for Sunday’s game vs. the Spurs, and while he ultimately didn’t play, it sounds like he’s on the cusp of a return. He should see quality minutes right away with Stephen Curry (left foot sprain) unavailable, so he’s someone to think about grabbing if you need some help in the steals department. Through 10 games as a starting guard for the Dubs this season, Payton has put in averages of 11.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.4 triples, 1.7 steals and just 0.7 turnovers per contest on 61.5% shooting.

Pelicans

Jaxson Hayes (43%) / Willy Hernangomez (8%)

Hayes would be the preferred target between these two, but both guys have been hot over the past five. Hayes has been contributing 15.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.4 triples and 1.4 swats per contest on 57.8% shooting from the field and 79.2% at the stripe; while Hernangomez has come through with 13.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 turnovers per game on 60% shooting from the floor and 84.2% at the line.

Jose Alvarado (10%): Grant Theft Alvarado had another solid showing on Sunday, ripping away another three steals in his 24 minutes off the bench to go with 15 points, four rebounds, four assists, one triple and two turnovers in a win over the Hawks. Over the past six games, he’s been flirting with top-100 numbers behind averages of 9.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.3 steals and just 1.3 turnovers per contest on 42.9% shooting.

Knicks

Immanuel Quickley (40%): Over the past month, Quickley has been putting up top-70 numbers with 14.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.7 triples, 0.9 steals and just 1.3 turnovers per game on 44.9% shooting from the field and 89.4% from the stripe in 26.1 minutes a night. He will continue to be limited in a reserve role due to Tom Thibodeau’s profound love for Alec Burks, but still, he’s been doing enough as of late to warrant a roster spot in most leagues.

Wizards

Raul Neto (6%) / Ish Smith (6%)

Neto through 17 starts: 9.7 points, 4.9 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.9 turnovers (50.8 FG, 80 FT)
Ish Smith in D.C.: 8.3 points, 4.9 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.3 turnovers (45.1 FG, 60 FT)

I think these two low-end PGs are interchangeable, but if you need a cheap source of dimes this week, either of these guys are worth a look.

Corey Kispert (8%): The rookie can be hit-or-miss, but he’s been in a nice rhythm over the past three games, churning out late-round value with 14.0 points, 2.3 boards, 1.3 dimes, 2.3 triples and just 0.7 turnovers per contest on 53.6% shooting from the field and 83.3% at the line.

Deni Avdija (9%): Avdija has been solid in three of his past four games, and while inconsistent, he’s compiled averages of 13.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.3 triples and just 0.3 turnovers on 43.2% shooting from the field and 76.2% at the stripe over that four-game stretch.

Rui Hachimura (16%): The second-year forward isn’t much more than a points specialist and FG% booster, but over the past seven he’s put in 12.9 points, 1.3 treys, 3.4 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 1.0 steal and just 1.0 turnover per game on 56.1% shooting from the field and 77.8% at the stripe. Give him a look if those numbers are appealing.

Light Game Days

Tuesday – 4 Games

GSW vs. ORL
ATL vs. NYK
CHI vs. MIL
LAC vs. DEN

Thursday – 5 Games

CLE vs. TOR
IND vs. MEM
WAS vs. MIL
CHI vs. NOP
PHX vs. DEN

Week 23 Back-to-Backs:

Sunday (Mar. 20th)-Monday: BOS, HOU, NOP, OKC, PHI, POR, TOR, UTA

Monday-Tuesday: CHI

Tuesday-Wednesday: ATL, GSW, NYK, ORL

Wednesday-Thursday: IND, MEM, PHX

Thursday-Friday: WAS

Friday-Saturday: HOU, MIA, POR

Saturday-Sunday: BKN, NOR