Hopefully, your season-long fantasy basketball team is crushing it like the Bucks and Lakers, who are dominating teams and quickly establishing themselves as the front-runners in their conferences. Whether you’re way out in front like those teams, falling apart quickly like the Knicks and Warriors, or somewhere in the middle hunting for a playoff spot, there are players available who can help you adjust to the always-changing NBA landscape. To help you find the best widely available options, each week I provide my top four pickups here in the DraftKings Playbook. All stats are current coming into Saturday’s action. If you have specific questions about your roster or league format, I’d be happy to answer them on Twitter @ZT_Sports.
Looking at the week ahead, the NBA has a fairly typical schedule overall even though there are fewer total matchups than usual. 16 teams play four contests this week, and 10 teams play three times. The other four teams–the Mavericks, Wizards, Spurs and Trail Blazers–only play twice. As usual, Wednesday is the busiest night with 11 games on tap, and there are only four games per day slated for Tuesday and Thursday.
As you search for just the right mix of players for your roster, take a look at these four on the rise.
PF/C MORITZ WAGNER, WAS (at CHA, at MEM)The Wizards only play two games this week, but Wagner is still one of the top additions to consider given his recent form and a huge opportunity in front of him while Thomas Bryant (foot) is out. Wagner has been battling a bit of an ankle injury of his own but should be much more highly owned than his 36% ownership rate in Yahoo and 9.4% ownership rate on ESPN.
Wagner has started each of the Wizards’ two games since he returned from the injury. He had just five points in his first game back but still chipped in 11 rebounds, an assist and a steal. His shot was much better in his second game back when he played over 30 minutes in the second game of the back-to-back set, producing 19 points, nine rebounds, two steals and an assist. Wagner has been pretty effective in his 19 games for the Wizards, averaging 12.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and over a three-pointer made in each game. With two great matchups and plenty of playing time coming his way, Wagner is a great add for as long as Bryant is sidelined.
C JAXSON HAYES, NO (vs. DET, at MIL, at PHI, vs. ORL)The Pelicans acquired Hayes from the Hawks in a draft-night deal to join their frontcourt alongside Zion Williamson (knee). While Williamson is still sidelined, Hayes is starting to grow into his potential. The 19-year-old has played over 25 minutes in each of his past three games and is establishing himself as the team’s best option in the middle.
Over his past 11 games, Hayes is averaging 10.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots in 25.8 minutes per contest. He had a career-high five blocks against the Suns on Thursday and seems to be finding his groove on the defensive end. He isn’t going to offer the same scoring or long-range shooting that Wagner can bring, but he can help with blocks and boards while chipping in double-digit points. Even when Zion and Derrick Favors (personal) are able to return to the lineup, Hayes appears to have earned enough of a role that he’ll continue to be fantasy relevant.
PG/SG DE’ANTHONY MELTON, MEM (at GS, at PHO, vs. MIL, vs WAS)The Grizzlies have been hit hard by the injury bug over the past few weeks. In addition to Ja Morant (back), who is still week-to-week, Dillon Brooks (shoulder) and Kyle Anderson (heel) are both battling injuries as well. Melton has outproduced Tyus Jones and played some minutes alongside Jones, showing he can offer more depth on the wing as well.
In three games since Morant has been sidelined, Melton has averaged 25.8 minutes per game and produced 11.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.7 steals. He doesn’t typically go off in any one category, but he fills in the stat sheet nicely and can contribute across the board. With a very favorable schedule ahead and opportunity knocking, Melton is poised to be a producer in the coming week.
SG/SF KENT BAZEMORE, POR (vs. NYK, at DEN)Bazemore has made the most of his limited opportunities with the Trail Blazers but should be in line for more work after Rodney Hood (Achilles) was lost for the season on Friday night. Bazemore has played in 23 games and averaged 7.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 22.4 minutes per game. He has been a balanced contributor in the past, and his best season was two years ago when he averaged 12.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals per contest for the Hawks.
Bazemore started the second half in Hood’s spot and finished with 10 points and two rebounds, although the game quickly turned into a rout, which may have limited his production. He did start two games for Portland earlier this season and averaged 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks in 33.2 minutes in those two contests. It will be interesting to see how he gels with the rest of Portland’s starting five to see if he can be a multi-category producer worth owning
Other options worth watching
- PG Ish Smith, Washington Wizards
- PF/C Frank Kaminsky, Phoenix Suns
- PG Dennis Schroder, Oklahoma City Thunder
- SG/SF Ben McLemore, Houston Rockets
- PG/SG Markelle Fultz, Orlando Magic
- SF/PF Cedi Osman, Cleveland Cavaliers
- SG/SF Tim Hardaway Jr., Dallas Mavericks
- SG/SF Garrett Temple, Brooklyn Nets
- PG/SG Kris Dunn, Chicago Bulls
- PF/C Maxi Kleber, Dallas Mavericks
- C Damian Jones, Atlanta Hawks
- SG/SF Cameron Johnson, Phoenix Suns
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.