Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: pickups to secure a championship

We’re halfway through Championship week and for those still fighting for a title, things are about to get serious. The Week 23 schedule is unfriendly in the back half of the week, with 10 games on Wednesday, 13 on Friday and 13 on Sunday – which doesn’t leave many opportunities for players to stream waivers. Still, I want to offer some teams worth targeting through Sunday. Let’s get in right away.

The Pacers are on the verge of becoming the Portland Trail Blazers. When I say that, I mean they will give you a glimmer of optimism that their stars might play, but then they don’t. The Pacers are 12th in the Eastern Conference and 3.5 games out of the play-in tournament; Their season is over with just six games left.

The fact that Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Held And Myles Turner everyone missed their previous game tells me all I need to know – they’re resting their stars because there’s nothing left to play. Haliburton has already been ruled out for Wednesday and as of this writing, Hield, a player who did not appear on Wednesday’s injury report, has been ruled out with a non-Covid illness. The Pacers should make it easier for us by demoting Turner from questionable to out; it would complete the trifecta and allow fantasy managers to switch to other Indiana options sooner rather than later.

Here are the Pacer pickups I prioritize:

TJ McConnell (30% roster)

McConnells averaged 13.7 points with 8.3 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 1.8 steals while shooting 60.1% from the field in 16 games without Haliburton this season. He’ll face off against the Bucks, Thunder and Cavaliers for the rest of the week, and while two of those teams are among the best in the league on defensive standings (Cavs are first, Bucks are second), you can’t rule out either team resting their stars.

Anyway, the Pacers are comfortable with McConnell and with Haliburton’s season of doubt (similar to Damien Lillard), McConnell is a player to field for the rest of the week as he can rack up assists and steals in 9-cat leagues with strong peripherals.

Andrew Nembhard (25% in squad)

The rookie is in a similar advantageous position as McConnell with Haliburton and Hield out; He’ll get a nice boost over both Sentinels in a few minutes. Nembhard has been a top-80 player in 9-cat leagues for the past week, providing Fantasy managers with a solid 15 points with 5 assists and 1.5 threes while shooting a robust 59% from the field. If he can hit the foul line as an 80% free-throw taker, he’ll climb even higher in the rankings (although he hasn’t touched the line in five straight games).

He and McConnell will be the engines of the offensive for the rest of the way.

Isaiah Jackson (24% of the list)

Turner has yet to be ruled out for Wednesday’s competition, but it’s only a matter of time. On the other hand, Jackson played well in just 20 minutes and won’t have much competition in the middle position for minutes.

He’s averaged 10 points with 8 rebounds, 1 block, and 1 steal in his last five games. So imagine his performance when he starts watching more than 30 minutes. As long as Jackson stays out of trouble, he should be a solid source of points, rebounds and blocks for the final three games of Week 23.

The Grizzlies are one of two teams that secured a playoff berth on Wednesday and began resting their players. Desmond Bane, Tyus Jones And Jaren Jackson Jr. are all set for Wednesday’s matchup, and who knows if that will continue as the grizz is unlikely to catch the nuggets for the 1-seed while the kings are unlikely to skip them for the 2-seed in the west.

So who will win?

Luke Kennard (35% in squad)

He ate before three of Memphis’ starters were due to miss Wednesday’s game, so Kennard is a priority complement for the rest of the week. He’s hit at least 4 three-pointers in 6 of his last 10 games, including 10 three-pointers against the Rockets a few games ago.

He’s also done more than that in the last two contests, demonstrating his rebound and assist potential, notching 12 boards and 7 assists in those games.

With two matchups against his former Clippers team and the Bulls to wrap up the week, he’ll continue to cook into Week 23, so vote for him now!

Xavier Tillman (36% in squad)

Memphis’ depleted frontcourt has produced Tillman as a top 60 player for the past week. He’s been instrumental in the Grizzlies’ seven straight wins, and here he talks about how his teammates put him in positions of success:

He delivered a career-high 20 points with 9 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block over 35 minutes in Monday’s win against Magic, and before that he posted a 15/8/3/3/2 line to give you a feel for it how much he can contribute across categories.

He’s questionable for Wednesday’s game with a sprained ankle, but I still feel comfortable using him against the Clippers and Bulls — two teams with defensive liabilities up front.

Portland Trail Blazer

The Trail Blazers have already decided their fate before they’re officially eliminated from the playoffs (that’s what happens if they lose to the Kings tonight), but that doesn’t mean there isn’t value to be drawn from their situation . Here are two players worth adding:

Drew Eubanks (28% of players)

If you feel left out, don’t worry; You are cordially invited to join the Eubanks block party. It’s the best option if you want to move up the blocks category and will have limited competition for minutes Yusuf Nurkic probably done for the season. Eubanks registered at least a block in 5 of their last 6 games and has low-end double-double appeal.

The Blazers play the Kings on Wednesday and Friday and end the week against the Timberwolves on Sunday, meaning his size is necessary to compete against his peers Domantas Sabonis, Karl-Anthony-Cities And Rudy Gobert. The Blazers look to their youth to carry them the rest of the way, and 26-year-old Eubanks fits that criteria.

Keon Johnson (4% in squad)

Johnson is probably the deepest deep-league streamer with a squad below 5%, but he’s hit double digits in three straight games and sees a healthy dose of minutes cams reddish injured. If his roll stays intact, you can expect 15 points with a couple of threes and five assists like he’s delivered in the last three competitions.

However, aside from a 4-steal play, he still has a lot to do defensively for fantasy managers. With the Blazers in dire need of an insult, Johnson could still help out the Fantasy managers for the rest of the week.

The Pelicans are the only team playing two games on Thursday and Saturday for the rest of the week. Every game matters for the Pelicans as they are currently the 8th seed in the West, with a game in the losing column separating them from the 11th seed Mavericks.

They face the Nuggets on Thursday and the Clippers on Saturday (their second night of a B2B set), so they need Ws if they want to play past April 9th. That being said, on days with just a few games, they get low-end production and can mean the difference between a close race at the finish. Here are a few players I would consider:

Josh Richardson (20% of the list)

I don’t expect him to make the box score shine, but double digits, a few rebounds and assists with a steal are reasonable expectations for Richardson despite coming off the bench. Remember, you’re only using it for counting stats.

Larry Nance Jr. (12% roster)

Take a look at Nance if you want to stock up on some rebounds and steals. His minutes are irregular, but he’s still on the rotation. If Jonas Valanciunas gets into bad trouble, he could provide usable minutes with his energy and ability to get some hustle stats.

Naji Marshall (3% in squad)

Despite rostering in fewer leagues than Nance Jr., Marshall offers more cross-category appeal. He’s been the backup point guard for the Pelicans lately, and now that he’s in the second-unit driver’s seat, he’s averaged 9 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in his last five games.

If he continues like this, these numbers could certainly help close the gap or create the lead you need to break away from your opponent. It also helps that you can play it twice from a single transaction – which may be different for some of the players above.

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