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What will happen on the buyout market?

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook

Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

NBA All-Star Weekend is on the horizon, which for years has made for a different “week” as far as fantasy is concerned. Week 18 will span two weeks, and 22 teams will play four games. Six are in the optimal position where they’ll play five games, while the Pistons and Grizzlies only get three games apiece. Add in the recently passed trade deadline and multiple veterans hitting the buyout market, and we’re in for a very interesting Week 18.

Week 18 Schedule: Games played (February 13-26)

5 Games: CHI, CLE, DEN, GSW, OKC, WAS

4 Games: ATL, BOS, BKN, CHA, DAL, HOU, IND, LAC, LAL, MIA, MIL, MIN, NOP, NYK, ORL, PHI, PHO, POR, SAC, SAS, TOR, UTA

3 Games: DET, MEM

Top Storylines to watch

How will the buyout market play out?

Now that the trade deadline has come and gone, the next step is for some veterans to find new homes after agreeing to contract buyouts. Danny Green (Cleveland), Reggie Jackson (Denver), and Terrence Ross (Phoenix) are among the veterans who have reportedly come to agreements with new teams. Still, players such as Russell Westbrook, John Wall, and Patrick Beverley could be on the board if they aren’t already. Most of those moves are made with the goal of joining a playoff-bound team, which doesn’t always mesh with the spot where the player can be of the highest value in fantasy basketball.

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Important injury updates to come during All-Star break

Sunday brought bad news to the New Orleans Pelicans, as David Griffin revealed that Zion Williamson aggravated his hamstring injury. While he’s still due to be re-evaluated after the All-Star break, he’s looking at the prospect of missing multiple weeks. Simply put, hold onto Trey Murphy if you have him. Some other injury updates of interest to fantasy managers that should come at some point during Week 18 include Stephen Curry (left leg), Kevin Durant (right knee), Kyle Lowry (left knee), and Mitchell Robinson (right thumb). Curry and Durant are obviously the biggest names, but in the latter case, we still don’t know the specifics of how he’ll be used in Phoenix. The fantasy options to account for the absences of Curry, Lowry, and Robinson are well-known now; how much longer will managers have to count on the replacements? We should find out at some point in Week 18.

How many games will managers get out of Klay Thompson?

The Warriors’ guard has yet to play both ends of a back-to-back this season. And with Golden State’s five-game Week 18 including two, how many games will Thompson get in? Given the prior trend, many managers will likely assume he’ll play three games max. Golden State begins the “week” with a Monday/Tuesday back-to-back against the Wizards (home) and Clippers (away), and they start post-break play with a Thursday/Friday back-to-back against the Lakers (away) and Rockets (home).

Add in a game against the Timberwolves to end Week 18, and three of Golden State’s games will be against teams they’ll have to compete with for playoff (or play-in tournament) seeding. The game against Washington won’t have tiebreaker implications, and the Warriors will be expected to beat Houston whether Klay plays or not. With the aforementioned Curry already out, Thompson joining him on the sideline for injury management reasons could push Donte DiVincenzo back into the starting lineup. Rostered in 48% of Yahoo leagues, DiVincenzo is providing 7th-round, per-game value over the last two weeks. Look for that rostered percentage to increase, especially with the Warriors playing five games in Week 18.

Can Mavs’ Josh Green keep the ball rolling?

With Dallas trading Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith to the Nets in exchange for Kyrie Irving and Markieff Morris, the departure of DFS has left the team with a clear deficiency on the defensive end of the floor. That, combined with his own improved play, has boosted Josh Green‘s standing with the Mavericks rotation. He’s started the team’s last five games, including the first game Irving and Luka Dončić shared the court as Mavericks teammates Saturday night in Sacramento. Green played 40 minutes in the overtime loss to the Kings, putting up 23 points, five rebounds, one assist, one steal, and five 3-pointers.

Is this two-week run in which he’s been a 6th-round player in 9-cat formats a mirage, or can he keep it going? Dallas will play four games in Week 18, two on each side of the All-Star break. Something else that could boost Green’s value in the short term is the health of Tim Hardaway Jr., who exited Saturday’s game due to tightness in his hamstring. In addition to Green, fantasy managers should keep an eye on how the minutes are divided at the center position. Christian Wood may be the best offensive player, but the need for defense keeps Dwight Powell and even JaVale McGee in the discussion. And that doesn’t include Maxi Kleber, who’s expected to return from a hamstring injury at some point after the break.

What should managers do with Cam Thomas?

The “Cam Thomas Experience” was incredibly fun last week, as he scored 40 points or more in three straight games. But that was while the Nets were in limbo due to the eventual decisions to move on from Irving and Durant. The rotation was as close to whole as it has been in some time for Saturday’s loss to the 76ers, with Seth Curry being the lone absentee. And that impacted Thomas’ minutes/place in the rotation, as he came off the bench and played 18 minutes.

He shot 7-of-12 from the field and finished with 14 points, one rebound, and two assists, but is that enough playing time to keep a player fantasy relevant when he doesn’t offer much beyond points, rebounds, and 3-pointers? The recent barrage boosted Thomas’ rostered percentage to 74% in Yahoo leagues, but we’ll see if that holds after the break. Brooklyn two games before and two after the All-Star break, beginning Monday night against the Knicks.

How will the final approved trade impact fantasy?

Sunday night, the four-team trade involving the Warriors, Trail Blazers, Hawks, and Pistons, which hit a snag when it was revealed that Gary Payton II failed the physical administered by the Warriors, was finally resolved. As a result, the three players (in addition to Payton) who could not join their new teams will now be able to do so. The other there players are Saddiq Bey (Hawks), James Wiseman (Pistons), and Kevin Knox (Trail Blazers). Knox and Wiseman weren’t in the rotation at their previous stops, but it was reported by ESPN’s Marc Spears that the Pistons plan to start Wiseman.

Where that leaves Jalen Duren, who has been a 6th-round player over the last two weeks in 9-cat formats, remains to be seen. Does he sit once Wiseman arrives and gets into the swing of things? Or would the Pistons start him alongside Wiseman, moving Isaiah Stewart to the bench? Knox’s arrival in Portland won’t significantly impact that rotation, while the addition of Bey could cut into the playing time of youngsters A.J. Griffin and Jalen Johnson in Atlanta. Per reports, Payton is expected to miss 2-3 months with his core injury, so his impact on the Warriors wouldn’t come until the actual playoffs instead of those of the fantasy variety.

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Light Game Days

Tuesday (February 14): 5 Games

ORL vs. TOR
BOS vs. MIL
SAC vs. PHO
GSW vs. LAC
WAS vs. POR

Thursday (February 16): 3 Games

MIL vs. CHI
WAS vs. MIN
LAC vs. PHO

Week 18 Back-to-backs

Monday-Tuesday (February 13-14): GSW, ORL, POR, WAS

Tuesday-Wednesday (February 14-15): BOS

Wednesday-Thursday (February 15-16): CHI

Thursday-Friday (February 23-24): CLE, GSW, OKC, SAC

Friday-Saturday (February 24-25): CHA, MIA, NYK

Saturday-Sunday (February 25-26): DEN, TOR