Fantasy Basketball Week 23 Waiver Wire: Adds for all leagues plus schedule notes
Welcome. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. The end of the NBA regular season is less than a month away.
As we get closer and closer to the final, managers need to be mindful of the need to constantly re-evaluate what injured players should hold onto. NBA teams have 10-14 games left. If you’re playing in a private league that ends before the last week of the season, you’re only concerned about the next 6-10 games (or less). It has just been announced that Colleen Sexton (hamstring) will be out for at least one more week – that’s four games, 30% of Utah’s remaining schedule (50% in many individual leagues). He’s nowhere near good enough to hold on when we know he will miss at least that many games.
Sexton is a simple example with a team that gave a specific timeline and a player who is already close to the wire cut line. The decision is harder to make with a top 100 player and a mixed schedule, but we’re getting closer to the point where a multi-game injury will make any non-star player immediately ruled out. The difference between the top 100 Fantasy player and the top 150 is easily outweighed by two or three extra games played.
As always, the players in this article must be registered in less than two-thirds of the CBS leagues. The players are listed in the order I recommend adding them, as long as they are equally good for your team.
Adds for all leagues
Nick Richards, Hornets (26% of members)
Mark Williams (thumb), a well-known friend of the column, has missed the last three games. And, true to the league’s tank season with horrific injuries reporting its best days, we have no idea if Williams will be back, or when. Given all the information available, it’s safe to assume that he will miss at least a few more games. His absence meant a promotion for Richards, who averages 10-9-2 in 28.3 minutes in three starts. Richards is a capable shot blocker who is likely to average nearly two shots per game as long as his minutes remain high. He is a classic big man with no wire skills, except that his free kick shots are slightly better.
Austin Reeves, Lakers (30% of participants)
Reeves makes the most of the absence of LeBron James (ft). In the nine games since James last played, Reeves is averaging 16-2-6 with 1.6 3s and a great shooting distribution of 54-42-83. Finding six assists in a game on a failure wire is rare. And it’s still at least a week before James returns. As stated in the opening of this article, this means that Reeves’ runway as a valuable Fantasy pickup is at least 42% of the Lakers’ remaining games (From the time this article was published to James’s first possible return game, Los Angeles plays five times). Richards may last until the end of the season, but next week Reeves will be the most valuable pickup.
Jayden Hardy, Mavericks (11% of members)
Luka Doncic (thigh) could return to the Mavericks game on Monday. This will greatly reduce the value of Hardy. Kyrie Irving (ft) is unlikely to return on Friday and his possible return is also bad for Hardy. But Hardy’s performance in three games without the Mavericks’ star guards demands our attention. In those starts, he averaged 24-5-3 with 3.7 triples. Hardy was a highly publicized player after graduating from high school, but he was drafted into the second round of the 2022 draft after a mediocre season in G League Ignite. Despite the 20-year-old having some rotation problems in Dallas earlier this season, the 20-year-old has huge potential that he seems to be unlocking. He would have been the best player this week if Doncic and Irving didn’t seem so close to making a comeback.
Talen Horton-Tucker, Jazz (64% member)
I am not what you would call a “THT believer”. However, I have to admit it when a widely available player goes down 37-8-10 like Horton-Tucker did on Saturday in Charlotte. On the one hand, this impulse fell on one of the worst teams in the NBA. On the other hand, the Hornets have shown signs of life lately, and the Horton-Tucker record is part of a recent surge in production. He started the last nine games as a pseudo point guard, averaging an impressive 16-5-6 in 28.6 minutes. Colleen Sexton (hamstring) will be out for at least another week, although Jordan Clarkson (finger) appears to be getting closer to a comeback (of course we don’t have anything close to official deadlines. Why would we need that?). Horton-Tucker should be on the list at least as long as the two are gone, and possibly longer. Just don’t count on too many 37 outs.
Xavier Tillman, Grizzlies (58% of participants)
It’s been a disappointing week for Tillman and there’s nothing to be done. But despite going just 9-5-2 in 25.0 minutes in three games, the reasoning that made him one of last week’s best players still stands. The regular seasons of Stephen Adams (knee) and Brandon Clarke (Achilles) have ended, and Tillman remains the unopposed starter. In the first three games without Adams and Clark, Tillman’s minutes jumped to 32.0. So there is upside not only in its likely workload, but last week’s performance is also close to the worst-case scenario as it lagged behind its seasonal per-minute averages. And even though his points and rebounds were low, Tillman still contributed to the defense with 2.0 shares a game last week. My enthusiasm has faded, but it’s still very good.
Other recommendations: Malik Monk, Kings (49% of participants); Herbert Jones, Pelicans (54% of participants); Jalen Suggs, Magic (composed of 56%); Josh Green, Mavericks (19%); Andrew Nembhard, Pacers (29% of participants); Josh Okogi, Suns (32% of participants); Corey Joseph, Pistons (10% of participants)
Deep League Special Edition
Cory Kispert, Wizards (9% of participants)
Due to recent production alone, Kispert is worth considering in the standard leagues. However, his stat profile is extremely limited and most standard league managers need players who help in more than two categories. Deep league managers can’t always be this picky, and Kispert is really good in those two areas, averaging 13.9 points and 2.7 triples per game over the last seven. Also, if we’re picking nits, he’s technically useful in three categories thanks to his 49.6% FG, though his field goal attempts are low enough that his effectiveness barely registers. Thing is, the widely available pickup hit double figures six times in seven games, playing 32.0 minutes. In some leagues this is not always the case.
Other recommendations: Joe Ingles, Bucks (9% of participants); Jordan Nvora, Pacers (9% of participants)
Week 23 has an average number of games and a semi-balanced schedule.
There are 15 teams with four games, 12 with three games, and three (Nuggets, Pistons, Heat) with two games.
Wednesday, Friday and Sunday are the busiest days, but they only have 10, 10 and nine games. Thursday is easy with four games and the rest of the days are six games.
Daily league lineups
There are the same number of games on weekends (25 from Friday to Sunday) as from Monday to Thursday (26). Usually the gap is bigger, but the league moves more games over the weekend as the season ends.
This shifting balance is important in leagues with daily lineups for one simple reason. Try to follow because this math gets more complicated. Since there are more days between Monday and Thursday than between Friday and Saturday (4 vs 3), we have more starting slots available in our Fantasy groups. Radical things, I know. Depending on the rules of your league, you can gain a significant in-game advantage by streaming aggressively early in the week.
Even if your recruitment limits severely limit your ability to stream, the shift schedule means we need to change our strategies. For most of the season, managers uploaded their waivers to target certain categories and/or ensure they didn’t miss out on getting a breakout. This strategy made sense, but now we must change. The opportunity cost of skipping a breakthrough player is now low due to the constant player turnover during the Silly Season and the limited number of games remaining. We now need to prioritize games played, which will often mean using up most or all of your weekly purchases at the start of the week. With a combination of fewer games played and more starting places on your roster, you can get a significant advantage.
No team starts the week in a row, and the Knicks are the only team to start 3-for-4. However, if you have an extra pickup available in week 22, some teams have a Friday-Monday 3-for-4 (Bulls, Warriors, Grizzlies, Timberwolves, 76ers, Rockets). This will allow you to take advantage of the Thunder or the Spurs, who are 3-for-4 Tuesday-Friday in Week 23.
The Nets and Thunder end Week 23 3-for-4, while the Nets and Hawks end the week in a row.
Weekly league lineups
Among teams with three games, the Clippers, Magic, Lakers and Raptors stay at home and avoid each other. However, we need to be wary of the Lakers and Raptors who are on the injury report. Their first games won’t take place until Wednesday, which could be too late to adapt if the player is excluded.
The Bucks, Suns and Trail Blazers also have a three-game week, with Game 1 on Wednesday, but their schedules would be unattractive even without the late start. The Bucks are doing the worst, with consecutive Fridays through Saturdays in Utah and Denver. The Suns have two road games and are 3-for-4. Portland’s schedule is the least bad of all, but they still have a road game in Utah.
The Grizzlies’ schedule is by far the most favorable among four-game teams. They don’t have a row, two games against the Rockets and one against the Mavericks.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Thunder, Pacers and…