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Basketball Pickups: Corey Kispert flourishes on Tuesday

Denver has a 'clear advantage' due to scheduling
Jay Croucher and Drew Dinsick overview who could be the top seed in the Western Conference, what seed situations would be the best for betting, Jamal Murray's injury status and more.

While this portion of the season can churn out some unsung heroes in fantasy basketball, there are also low-rostered players whose roles have remained consistent in recent weeks. One such player is Wizards wing Corey Kispert (35% rostered, Yahoo), who moved into the starting lineup after Bilal Coulibaly was ruled out for the rest of the season and has held onto that job. Providing 10th-round value in 8- and 9-cat formats over the past two weeks, Kispert led the way offensively in Washington’s surprise win over the Bucks.

Shooting 10-of-18 from the field and 3-of-4 from the foul line, Kispert finished with 27 points, seven rebounds, one steal, and four 3-pointers in 38 minutes. And over the past two weeks, he’s playing 38.0 minutes per game, so a potential return for Kyle Kuzma would not impact Kispert’s minutes. The 35% rostered percentage means he can still be found on the waiver wire in some standard leagues, and Kispert’s role makes him a player worth adding. Washington plays three more games in Week 23, beginning with the Lakers on Wednesday.

A Wizards player worth tracking is rookie Tristan Vukcevic, who’s rostered in less than one percent of Yahoo leagues. With Richaun Holmes sidelined and Marvin Bagley III joining the list of injured players during the first half, Vukcevic was asked to play 31 minutes, and he finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one 3-pointer. If Vukcevic can perform reasonably well against the Lakers, he may be worth a look in deep leagues for the rest of Week 23, especially if Holmes and Bagley remain sidelined.

Let’s look at some of Tuesday’s other top pickups:

Miles McBride (49%)

Deuce continues to log heavy minutes and perform, finishing Tuesday’s loss to the Heat with 24 points, two rebounds, two assists, one blocked shot, and four 3-pointers in 45 minutes. Over the past two weeks, the Knicks guard has been a top 25 player in 9-cat formats, averaging 18.4 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.3 blocks, and 3.7 3-pointers in 44.5 minutes per game. OG Anunoby (elbow) and Julius Randle (shoulder) remain without a timeline for return, meaning McBride will continue to play heavy minutes.

Norman Powell (47%)

The Clippers were without Kawhi Leonard (knee) on Tuesday, as he did not even make the trip to Sacramento. That opened up a spot in the starting lineup, which Powell filled. One of the few Clippers to shoot the ball well in the 14-point defeat, he finished with 17 points, two rebounds, one assists, one steal, and three 3-pointers in 28 minutes. Powell shot 4-of-7 from the field and 6-of-6 from the foul line, getting his points in an efficient manner. The Clippers aren’t officially locked into a 4 vs. 5 matchup in the first round, but they’re unlikely to crack the top 3 in the West and lead Dallas and New Orleans by two games in the loss column for fourth. That could lead to more time on the bench for the team’s marquee options, thus freeing up additional scoring opportunities for Powell.

Malaki Branham (7%)

Branham was one of two “newcomers” to the Spurs starting lineup, with Cedi Osman being the other. While Osman was ruled out at the half with an ankle injury, Branham played 37 minutes and finished with 24 points, three rebounds, one assist, and three 3-pointers. He shot 10-of-19 from the field and 1-of-2 from the foul line. With Devin Vassell and Jeremy Sochan done for the season and Keldon Johnson still sidelined, Branham is a player who will need to take on a larger role as the Spurs play out the string.

Sam Merrill (7%)

The Cavaliers were without Donovan Mitchell for Tuesday’s game in Utah, and Caris LeVert’s promotion into the starting lineup left Merrill as the lone reserve guard. He shot the ball well in Cleveland’s win over Utah, making six of 12 attempts and finishing with 18 points, four rebounds, and five assists in 32 minutes off the bench. Merrill’s value moving forward depends on Mitchell’s availability; if Spida is cleared to play, there isn’t much to be gained from holding onto Merrill.

Pat Connaughton (3%)

Connaughton was not on the streaming radar ahead of Tuesday’s loss to the Bucks, but the circumstances changed during the third quarter. Patrick Beverley, starting for the injured Damian Lillard, hobbled off during the third and did not return. This freed up additional opportunities for Connaughton to provide value, and that’s what he did. Playing 29 minutes, he tallied 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists, one block, and three 3-pointers. If Beverley and Lillard are sidelined, Connaughton will be worth holding onto.

Omer Yurtseven ( < 1%)

Yurtseven wasn’t on many fantasy managers’ radars before Tuesday, but that likely changed after Walker Kessler suffered a fractured nose during the first half. His exit freed up minutes for Yurtseven, who played 30 minutes off the bench. Shooting 5-of-10 from the field and 1-of-1 from the foul line, he finished with 11 points, six rebounds, two assists, and one blocked shot in 30 minutes. With John Collins sitting out Tuesday’s game and Kessler’s injury, Yurtseven could offer tangible fantasy value for the rest of Week 23.