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Fantasy Basketball Week 23 schedule breakdown

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The Rotoworld Basketball Show discusses the recent high-level of play from Jalen Green, debating whether it's sustainable for the remainder of the season.

In many fantasy basketball leagues, Week 23 is championship week. All the work that went into drafting and augmenting rosters comes down to seven days of action, and the good news is that most of the NBA’s teams will play four games.

However, not all schedules are equal, with some teams playing one back-to-back and others two. And of the four teams that only play three games during Week 23, three of them close the week with games on Friday and Sunday.

Let’s look at the Week 23 schedule breakdown and some of its important storylines. Hopefully, it will help you dominate your championship week matchup in a way similar to the UConn men’s basketball team rolling through the East Region over the last two weekends.

Week 23 Games Played

4 Games: ATL, BOS, BKN, CHO, CLE, DAL, DET, GSW, HOU, IND, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, NOR, NYK, OKC, ORL, PHI, PHO, POR, SAC, TOR, WAS

3 Games: CHI, DEN, SAS, UTA

Week 23 Storylines

- Denver may be the three-game team that’s worth targeting toward the end of Week 23

Chicago, Denver, San Antonio, and Utah only play three games during Week 23, which puts them at a disadvantage regarding fantasy value. However, there is a notable difference in the schedules. While Chicago, San Antonio, and Utah have games on the two busiest days of Week 23 (Friday and Sunday), Denver plays its final game on Saturday, which is a four-game day. Whether or not fantasy managers can mine that roster depends primarily on where the Nuggets are in the race for home-court advantage in the Western Conference playoffs and the health of point guard Jamal Murray.

Murray has been nagged by knee, shin, and ankle issues, most recently sitting out four games (including Denver’s first three of Week 22). Reggie Jackson has been his replacement in the starting lineup and will continue to fill that void if Murray remains sidelined. The Nuggets went into the final day of Week 22 sitting in third place in the West, one game behind Minnesota and Oklahoma City in the loss column. How that impacts Michael Malone’s thinking regarding the rotation is one of the big questions heading into Week 23, especially with other starters (Nikola Jokic and Aaron Gordon) having been nagged by injuries recently. In addition to Jackson, Christian Braun, and Peyton Watson will be worth tracking ahead of Denver’s final game of Week 23.

- It’s time for fantasy managers to go “all in” on Keon Ellis

Week 22 was brutal for the Sacramento Kings regarding injuries. Kevin Huerter suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder and will undergo season-ending surgery, while Malik Monk will miss anywhere from four to six weeks with a sprained MCL in his knee. Ells was already on the fantasy radar due to Huerter’s injury as he moved into the starting lineup, and the Monk injury boosted his streaming value even more. As of Saturday evening, Ellis was rostered in 20% of Yahoo leagues, and that number should increase ahead of Sacramento’s four-game Week 23 slate.

Another player whose value could be boosted due to the injuries is Harrison Barnes, even though he hasn’t been the most impressive fantasy player this season. He’s averaging 29.3 minutes per game, which could increase slightly with Huerter and Monk sidelined. Davion Mitchell, Chris Duarte, and Kessler Edwards are worth watching for the early portion of Week 23, especially with the Kings being active on one of the lighter days of the week (Thursday).

- Thursday and Saturday are the “streaming days” of Week 23

As noted, Friday (12 games) and Sunday (13) are the busiest days of Week 23, while Saturday (four) will be the quietest. However, fantasy managers should not sleep on Thursday, as the slate has five games. Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Golden State, New York, and Philadelphia are among the teams in action that night. And of the ten teams playing, eight will begin a stretch of three games in four days on Thursday. Philadelphia may have the most attractive schedule of those teams, as the 76ers play on Thursday (at Miami) and Saturday (at Memphis) before visiting the Spurs on Sunday.

Fantasy managers are still waiting on Joel Embiid (knee), who has been sidelined since January 30. While there was hope that he would be back before the end of the regular season, there isn’t much time left for the reigning MVP to make that happen. The good news is that Embiid did travel with the team to its loss to the Cavaliers on Friday. Embiid has reached the point in his ramp-up process where he is going against live bodies, but nothing definitive has been said regarding whether this is 1-on-1 or 3-on-3 work. Mo Bamba and Paul Reed remain the available options at the center position, with the latter being the better fantasy option despite coming off the bench.

- Identifying quality streamers in Detroit, Memphis, or Portland could be what pushes some managers over the finish line

Detroit, Memphis, and Portland all play four games in Week 23, and all have already been eliminated from postseason contention. That can make identifying streamers a tricky proposition, especially with those teams also being limited due to injuries. Marcus Sasser emerging in Detroit isn’t surprising, as the rookie has been well-positioned for additional playing time due to recent health issues for Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey. But who would have thought that Evan Fournier would sneak onto the radar? James Wiseman is a better choice than either, especially if Jalen Duren is sidelined.

Charlotte (Vasilije Micic, Tre Mann), Portland (Dalano Banton and Duop Reath), Memphis (GG Jackson, Jake LaRavia, and Scotty Pippen Jr.), and Washington (Corey Kispert) also fit the mold of non-playoff players who could be of increased value during championship week. Of the teams listed, Detroit and Memphis will end their Week 23 slates on Saturday, while Charlotte, Portland, and Washington will do so on Sunday.

- How many games will managers get from LeBron and Anthony Davis?

The Lakers play four games in Week 23, but their schedule consists of two back-to-backs. After visiting the Raptors and Wizards on Tuesday and Wednesday, they’ll host Cleveland and Minnesota on Saturday and Sunday. Given the recent health issues that LeBron James (ankle) and Anthony Davis (knee) have dealt with, will managers get a full week out of the two stars? Given the Lakers’ place within the West standings and Houston catching fire, they don’t have much margin for error in their quest to qualify for the play-in.

The Lakers lead the Rockets by two games in the loss column with eight games remaining (nine for Houston), and the two teams split their four meetings. Something else to watch with the Lakers is the status of Gabe Vincent (knee), who could be cleared to return for Sunday’s game against the Nets. He may not do enough to be a factor in fantasy leagues, but adding another perimeter option to the rotation would be welcome at this point in the season.

- Can Utah’s unheralded rookies prove valuable despite only playing three games?

Utah is one of four teams that will only play three games, and all three are scheduled on busier nights (Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday). However, the injuries that have sidelined Lauri Markkanen (shoulder) and Jordan Clarkson (back) could make a few of the team’s younger players well worth the risk in fantasy leagues. Taylor Hendricks has started all but three of the team’s games since the All-Star break, and fellow rookie Brice Sensabaugh has been a starter whenever Markkanen has been sidelined. It’s too late to add Keyonte George in most standard leagues, but Hendricks and Sensabaugh can still be found on the waiver wire in more than 80% of Yahoo leagues.

Light Game Days

Saturday: 4 Games

CLE vs. LAL
DET vs. BKN
PHI vs. MEM
ATL vs. DEN

Week 23 Back-to-backs

Sunday (Week 22)-Monday: BKN, CHA, CHI

Monday-Tuesday: None

Tuesday-Wednesday: CLE, LAL, MIL, MIN, OKC, TOR

Wednesday-Thursday: ATL

Thursday-Friday: DAL, GSW, HOU, LAC, MIA, NYK, SAC

Friday-Saturday: DET, MEM

Saturday-Sunday: BKN, CLE, LAL, PHI

Sunday-Monday (Week 24): None