Same format as last week, with one readily available player per game and some additional insight into the game. I’d imagine that most fantasy leagues have either wrapped up or are in the finals, so take my picks this week as desperation moves. Not a single pick this week is meant for a dynasty league, as this week is all about making that final pickup to win this season. Let’s get right into it.
Mavericks vs Cavaliers
Dorian Finney-Smith (28 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 37 minutes)
What’s funny about Dorian Finney-Smith is that up until last night he’s been playing quite poorly. Over the last three games, he’s averaging only nine points, three rebounds, attempting six threes and only making two of them. However, he was on fire last night, draining six threes on twelve attempts, totaling 28 points. As mentioned above, these are championship hail mary pickups. At only 20% ownership, he’s available and, while he’s only scored over 20 points three times this season, he’s averaging 33.2 minutes per game and can provide a little something in every category.
Moses Brown (12 Points, 9 rebounds, 0 assists, 21 minutes)
Picking up a player on a 10-day contract typically is bad fantasy advice, however, when that player is starting for a playoff caliber team and it’s the final week why not. Moses Brown played well in place of Jarett Allen last night totalling 12 points, nine rebounds and shooting perfect from the field. With Allen sidelined for the rest of the season, I don’t see why the Cavaliers wouldn’t give Brown more minutes.
In shallower leagues, Caris LeVert has returned from injury and has found his groove once again, putting up 32 points, six rebounds and four assists. With Darius Garland being a pass-heavy guard and Caris being a shot-heavy player, he could be that final championchip piece. For dynasty owners I would wait and see what happens this offseason with Collin Sexton before buying stock into Caris LeVert.
Nuggets vs Pacers
Bones Hyland (20 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, 27 minutes)
It brings me great joy to sit down and watch Hyland surpass expectations every Wednesday night. Not because I recommend him every other week, but because the kid is electrifying to watch. He is a sharp-shooter who looks confident bringing the ball up the court and who’s improving on defense every night. What impressed me the most last night was his passing, finishing the night with seven assists. Not a career-high, but it’s encouraging seeing his assist numbers slowly develop over the season to the point where he’s averaged over four in his last 10 games.
Goga Bitadze (17 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 33 minutes)
The Pacers have entered full tank mode to end the season with Myles Turner being ruled out the rest of the season and Malcom Brogdon being rested last night. The Pacers turn to their young talent to fill minutes and 22-year-old Goga Bitadze has been awarded the starting center role. Over the last five games, he’s averaged 17 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and a block. A quick fix for points and rebounds, Bitadze should be a hot waiver wire player.
Magic vs Wizards
Markelle Fultz (19 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists, 21 minutes)
For a player with only 10% ownership, Fultz has been quietly scoring at an impressive rate. Last night, he went for 19 points and has averaged 15 points over his last three games, nine since returning from injury. While the numbers aren’t necessarily the most impressive, remember the key theme of this article: championship desperation. Sometimes points are all you need and Markelle can deliver.
Rui Hachimura (17 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 29 minutes)
Two back-to-back solid outings for third-year player Hachimura, putting up 17, 7 and 3 last night and 21, 4 and 0 on Tuesday against the Bulls. Ssince returning from injury, he has been disappointing compared to preseason evaluations. However, with the Wizards eliminated from playoff contention, I don’t see why the team wouldn’t play him as much as they can to try and develop chemistry and get him back on track. Young talent getting opportunities on a struggling team should be a recipe for temporary points.
If desperate, look into Moritz Wagner of the Orlando Magic. He’s averaging 12 points, six rebounds and has had multiple games recently with five assists.
Hornets vs Knicks
Kelly Oubre Jr. (21 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 24 minutes)
Is this a return to form for the Sixth Man of the Year nominee, or is it just a blip in his late season struggle? With only a few games left it’s tough to say, but for your championship ambitions it’s absolutely the former. His next four games are gonna rewrite the narrative and get him the award.
Evan Fournier (30 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist)
Even with the Knicks eliminated from the playoffs, coach Tom Thibodeau refuses to pivot and let young players play. The fact that Alec Burks is still starting over Immanuel Quickley is a fireable offense on its own, but don’t complain about the hand you’re dealt, adjust to it. If the Knicks are going to continue to play veterans heading into the final games of the season, pick up Fournier and profit off of it. If last night proved anything, it’s that Fournier still has value and can still put up scoring numbers.
Timberwolves vs Raptors
Jarred Vanderbilt (10 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 21 minutes)
Defensive players aren’t usually compatible with fantasy statistics as Matisse Thybulle, Royce O’Neal and Marcus Smart continue to illustrate this season. However, there’s one thing all these players have in common:consistent playing time. Vanderbilt is no exception averaging 22 minutes a night over his last 10 games. His rebounding numbers have been constant as well, averaging eight per night.
Precious Achiuwa (13 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 22 minutes)
While Nick Nurse seems determined to burn out his star talent before the playoffs begin, Achiuwa has been a rare bright spot off the bench as of late. He’s averaged 13 points, seven rebounds, and two assists over his last 10 games, statistically higher than his season averages this year. Definitely the only Raptor outside the starting line up I would remotely trust.
Heat vs Celtics
Max Strus (14 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 32 minutes)
Of the several guards that the Heat signed during the pandemic surge, Strus appears to be one of the few to stick and continue getting playing time. He’s averaged 22 minutes per game over his last 10 and replaced Duncan Robinson in the starting lineup last night. He’s only averaged 10 points in that 10-game stretch, but opportunity breeds big games.
Daniel Theis (15 points, 1 rebound, 0 assists)
With Robert Williams III undergoing surgery, a vacant spot was left open in the Celtics starting lineup. While it was Grant Williams that got the starting role, Theis out played him last night and should see more opportunities as a result. The pick here may be Al Horford but I’ll stick with Theis strictly because of his low ownership percentage.
Kings vs Rockets
Damian Jones (24 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 34 minutes)
While Davion Mitchell is putting up monster numbers after being given the keys, big man Damian Jones has also been surging as of late, averaging 17 points, seven rebounds, and two assists over his last four games. With Sacramento also in tank mode to end the season Jones should continue to see starting minutes and opportunities.
Kevin Porter Jr. (30 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists, 38 minutes)
While his ownership percentage is high compared to everyone else mentioned today, Porter Jr. put up such an impressive game that I had to make him my Houston pick. The best single performance in the NBA last night, a 30-point triple-double is impressive.
Hawks vs Thunder
I wouldn’t recommend anyone outside of Trae Young from Atlanta. The Hawks work by committee outside of Young, so playing time, scoring averages, starting roles are all in constant flux. Especially since they’re fighting for a better place in the standings, I would steer clear of everybody from Atlanta.
Theo Maledon (18 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists, 34 minutes)
On the complete other end of the spectrum, I would absolutely recommend this one specific player from the Thunder. Maledon has been on a tear recently, averaging over 20 points in his last five games. Add on to that great assist numbers, solid rebounding stats, and decent if slightly misleading efficiency and you should absolutely pick up Maledon for the short term.
Grizzlies vs Spurs
Keldon Johnson (23 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 38 minutes)
Outside of that unfortunate last minute miss, Johnson had a really good game. He’s really blossomed into the second star in San Antonio beside Dejounte Murray. If the Spurs get a few pieces and the young guys develop, they could make some noise next year. Not serious noise mind you but possibly a four or five seed.
De’Anthony Melton (16 points, 4 rebounds, 0 assists, 24 minutes)
Since last Wednesday, Melton has put up solid bench performances, last night was his worst game in that stretch. 16 points on 50% field goal shooting is very solid for a depth player, especially when that’s your worst game.
Suns vs Warriors
Jae Crowder (10 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 34 minutes)
Chris Paul has returned, so Cameron Payne’s numbers have tanked. With Phoenix’s starting lineup highly rostered, I’ll go with the least-owned player of the bunch. Crowder provides points and rebounds.
Jordan Poole (38 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 36 minutes)
Poole party two, electric boogaloo anyone? With Stephen Curry still recovering from injury, Poole has stepped up and filled that power vacuum quite nicely, crowning his recent performances with a 38-point masterpiece last night. Over the last 10 games, he’s averaged 25 points, five assists and four rebounds. Impressive for a player who’s supposedly slumping.
Pelicans vs Trail Blazers
Jaxson Hayes (18 points, 3 rebounds, 0 assists, 22 minutes)
With everyone but Zion Williamson in the fold for New Orleans, Hayes can be the benefactor of reduced coverage and easier shots. This is a role I think he fits very nicely, with him eventually being the Pelicans 6th man coming off the bench. As for now, I expect him to keep averaging similar stats on a nightly basis.
Drew Eubanks (21 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 31 minutes)
Eubanks is the gift that keeps on giving for anyone smart enough to pick him up off of waivers. A 21-point, nine rebound performance is one thing but a 16 rebound game? Those are Drummond levels of rebound-collecting from the sophomore! How is he only 27% rostered? He’s currently a fantasy cheat code.