Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire Pickups: Week 23
Alright, boys and girls. We are in the eye of the storm: the fantasy basketball playoffs. Most will get thrashed around and spit out, but a few of you will survive, hear the birds chirp, see the effervescent colors of the rainbow pierce your eyes, and ultimately fall into that pot of gold with the leprechauns. Maximizing games played and minutes should be the number one priority. After that, it’s a treasure hunt for specialists. You know what you need to do by looking at matchups, so happy hunting on the waiver wire, and good luck.
As always, I utilized the Yahoo database to highlight players owned in less than 50% of leagues.
James Johnson (SF/PF – MIA) – 26% owned
Johnson missed the first 15 games of the season recovering from offseason sports hernia surgery. He proceeded to play 33 games, but was mostly ineffective, averaging only 20.8 minutes. Johnson then missed 11 games due to a shoulder injury and was all but eradicated from our consciousness. The past three games, though, he’s played 17, 22, and 27 minutes, respectively, and averaged 11.0 points, 1.7 three-pointers, 3.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.0 block while shooting 60% from the field.
Johnson has always shown the ability to contribute across-the-board fantasy production. It’s all about health and minutes. He looks healthy, and the minutes are steadily increasing. Now, we never know what Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is going to do, but the trend looks friendly. Miami plays Milwaukee on Friday and Washington on Saturday. Both are pace-up matchups for the Heat, with the Wizards matchup a pristine one. Next week, Miami plays three games against Orlando, Dallas, and New York, if you’re feeling confident.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG/SF – LAL) – 37% owned
Over the last five games, KCP has played 31, 22, 30, 28, and 34 minutes. He’s been a top-50 player, averaging 19.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 3.6 three-pointers. He’s jacking up 12.6 shots per game. Now, LeBron James missed two of those contests, but he’s likely to sit more down the stretch. Besides, in the last two games James started, KCP still played 22 and 28 minutes. With all the injuries the Lakers have endured, the playing time looks secure. They play Brooklyn on Friday and Sacramento on Sunday. Both are good matchups, especially the Kings. Next week, the Lakers play four games against Washington, Utah, Charlotte, and New Orleans.
Jakob Poeltl (C – SA) – 26% owned
Poeltl has started the last nine games for the Spurs. He’s averaged 24.8 minutes, 6.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.9 steals, and 1.9 blocks. In addition, he’s shot 65% from the field on 4.9 attempts. Poeltl is a low-usage player, but that’s not why you’re interested in him. Blocks and rebounds are his specialties with a side of steals. The Spurs play Houston on Friday and Boston on Sunday. Next week, they have three games against Charlotte, Cleveland, and Sacramento.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (PG/SG – LAC) – 41% owned
Gilgeous-Alexander has really picked up his play of late. Over the past three games, he’s averaged 31.4 minutes, 16.0 points, 1.7 three-pointers, 4.0 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 1.7 steals, and 0.3 blocks. He’s shot 54% from the field on 11 attempts and only turned the ball over once per game. The free-throw shooting has been poor, though, having made seven of 12 attempts.
The minutes and shot attempts are the two main factors in his favor. Has Doc Rivers unleashed the beast because he was playing well, or did SGA start playing well just because his coach gave him more opportunities? The chicken or the egg scenario. Whatever the case may be, he’s balling and producing for fantasy. That’s all we care about. The Clippers have two games left this week, as they play Cleveland on Friday and New York on Sunday. Next week, they play four games against Minnesota, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Memphis.
P. J. Tucker (SF/PF – HOU) – 46% owned
I often reference low-usage players, but I’m not sure there’s anyone with lower usage than Tucker. On the season, he has a 9.5% usage rate, but over the past few weeks, that number has dropped to 6.6. So don’t expect many points from him. What Tucker does provide, though, are three-pointers, rebounds, and stocks (primarily steals). Over the past four games, he has swiped 11 steals. In addition, he plays a ton of minutes (34.9 per game). Houston plays the Spurs on Friday and the Pelicans on Sunday. Next week, they only play three games against Milwaukee, Denver, and Sacramento.
Pat Connaughton (SG/SF – MIL) – 6% owned
Malcolm Brogdon, who is out for the season with a plantar fascia tear in his right foot, has missed the last three games for the Bucks, Over that span, Connaughton has played 25, 36, and 34 minutes off the bench. Prior to that stretch, he played 25, 24, and 25 minutes, so he had a role.
What does Connaughton do? He’s athletic and will provide some highlight dunks from time to time. From a fantasy perspective, he will drain some three-pointers, grab rebounds, dish out a few assists, and provide a sprinkling of steals and blocks. Nothing overwhelming, but a little something-something across the board. The Bucks have two games left this week, both at home: Miami on Friday and Cleveland on Sunday. Unfortunately, they only play three games next week (Orlando, Clippers, and Atlanta).
Damyean Dotson (SG – NYK) – 41% owned
The most dependable Knick. Ha! That’s crazy to write and think about, but the numbers don’t lie. Over the past seven games, Dotson has averaged 34.5 minutes and 15.3 shot attempts. With a 22.4% usage rate, he has provided 18.1 points, 3.0 three-pointers, 3.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.1 steals. Not so funny now, right? The Knicks play Denver on Friday and the Clippers on Sunday. Next week, they only play two games, so this is for sure a short-term relationship. A two-night stand?