This article is part of our NBA Waiver Wire series.
As we enter the final three weeks of the season, the schedule matters more than ever. So before we get into the players, let's take a look at the calendar.
Quick strategies overview:
- In weekly lineup leagues, maximizing games (and, preferably early-week games when the injury report has less time to change) is critical.
- Settings vary greatly in daily lineups leagues – make sure you are very familiar with the rules in your league.
- If your settings permit day-to-day streaming, then you should stream as many roster spots as you can; seven games of whoever is available is worth way more than three games of Nerlens Noel (unless you need blocks), four games of Grayson Allen, or even five games of Josh Richardson.
- It's still possible to do a version of streaming in daily lineups leagues with more restrictive settings, though it is more difficult. For example: add a Pelicans player over the weekend to take advantage of their three games in four days between Monday and Thursday. Then, swap in a player with a Friday-Saturday back-to-back (Cavaliers, Grizzlies, Bulls, Jazz, Hawks, Magic, Wizards) and then swap in a third player with a game on Sunday. This strategy would get a manager six starts while only using two transactions during the week.
- I find this tool particularly helpful for this kind of streaming.
This week's schedule:
- Target the Mavericks, Raptors and Thunder, who each play five games this week
- Avoid the Pistons, Warriors, Pacers, Clippers and Knicks, who play only three games this week.
- Every other team plays four games, but not all four-game weeks are created equally:
- The Lakers, 76ers, Suns, Kings and Spurs all play four games and play no back-to-backs. That makes them a bit more attractive than the rest of the teams with four-game weeks.
- This week's schedule is unusually front-loaded. The busiest day of the week will be Monday (11 games), and there are more games Monday-through-Wednesday (27) than Friday-through-Sunday (26). That means streaming managers have to be a bit more proactive earlier in the week.
Ok, enough logistics. Let's get to the players.
As always, the players in this article must be rostered in less than two-thirds of CBS leagues. Players are listed in the order that I recommend adding them, assuming they are equally good fits for your team.
Adds for All Leagues
Isaiah Stewart, Pistons (65% rostered)
With James Harden (hamstring) out for at least the next week, and possibly more, and Kevin Durant (thigh) still missing some games, the Nets' second string is still getting a lot of work. Brown is a statistical oddball – 9.5 rebounds per game from a "shooting guard"? He's best in rebounds and steals, worst in blocks, and the overall impact is positive in almost every category. He certainly plays more when the stars are out, but he's rosterable in deep leagues even after they return.
Shamet is a fantasy specialist, providing absolutely nothing outside of points, threes, and a medium quantity of assists. However, finding a guy who can score 20 off the waiver wire is pretty rare, and Shamet is up to 19.0 per game over his last six. In a vacuum, I prefer Brown to Shamet. But while Harden is out, Shamet will be a better fit for a lot of rosters, and both are worthy adds.
Dorian Finney-Smith, Mavericks (37% rostered)
I'm not a big Finney-Smith guy, but he's probably the best widely available guy with five games this week, so I want to shout him out. He's averaging 34.3 minutes over the last six games, and the Mavericks are at basically full health – coach Rick Carlisle has looked at his full roster and decided Finney-Smith deserves extended run. That's a great sign. Finney-Smith doesn't score or block much, but he does at least a little bit of everything else. He's an excellent pickup in weekly lineup leagues.
The other Maverick I like a lot is Jalen Brunson (38% rostered), though his appeal is a bit lower at this point.
Nerlens Noel, Knicks (47% rostered)
Blocks, blocks, blocks, blocks, blocks. Noel has blocked at least two shots in each of his last 10 games. He's averaging 2.8 per game during that run, a pace that would be good for second in the league. Noel is a classic "he's not for everyone, but there is at least one team in every league that should pick him up" guy. He only plays three games this week, but at his current rate that's still nine blocks – there are only five other players in the league who would average nine blocks in five games, and none of them are available on waivers.
A strategic reminder: just because you don't need blocks doesn't mean you should leave Noel on the wire. He's so good in fantasy's scarcest category that it is worth adding him defensively if either: A) your current opponent might want him, or B) you expect to win this week, and your opponent next week might want him.
Grayson Allen, Grizzlies (38% rostered)
I've been pretty consistent about my preference for De'Anthony Melton (15% rostered) over Allen – I think Melton is a better real-basketball player, and, if they both played the same number of minutes, Melton would be the better fantasy add. But Grizzlies' coach Taylor Jenkins seems to disagree, at least on the who is the better real-basketball question. And if Allen is going to keep playing 25-ish minutes per game (or more), then he can be a solid end-of-roster option, especially when the Grizzlies have a relatively favorable schedule this week.
In deeper leagues, Melton is also an option, but we cannot rely on a consistent workload from him. As much fun as his 41 minutes were on Monday (25-8-6, four steals and six threes), he followed that up with a 15-minute dud (five points, one three, literally nothing else) on Wednesday.
Malachi Flynn, Raptors (45% rostered)
We've devoted a lot of internet ink to Flynn over the last few weeks. A lot of managers are likely to drop Flynn after his five-points, 11-minutes outing on Wednesday. I think that's a mistake.
The Raptors have fallen to 12th in the East. To make the playoffs, they'd have to pass the Bulls and the Wizards. Those are two teams that have not spent the last fortnight tanking and two teams that have been very public about the fact that they view this as a "win-now" season. Wednesday, April 21, was the first time this month that the Raptors played all four of their stars in the same game. So, what's more likely: a lot more rests down the stretch (opening up more minutes for Flynn), or that the Raptors have suddenly decided that the last two weeks of tanking was just a big goof/an effort to make the final stretch more interesting?
Before Wednesday, it had been 11 games since the Raptors last played all four of Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam on the same night. They have 13 games left, six of which are parts of back-to-backs (including Monday-Tuesday and Saturday-Sunday of Week 19). How many more times do we think all four play together again?
Reggie Jackson, Clippers (42% rostered)
There's nothing new to say here that I didn't talk about last week. At least until Patrick Beverley (hand) comes back, Jackson is a fantasy starter, and Beverley is expected to miss at least one more week. He helps in points, rebounds, assists and threes and his FG% is better than it was earlier in his career. He went to Boston College. All good reasons to add him. Especially the Boston College thing. (Add Jared Dudley?)
(Don't actually add Jared Dudley.)
Xavier Tillman, Grizzlies (8% rostered)
Jonas Valanciunas (concussion) is out for at least Friday's game and could miss several more. Now, the NBA concussion protocol makes the NFL's look like it prioritizes player safety (it doesn't), so Valanciunas could return at almost any time. If I knew he'd be out a full week, Tillman would probably be this week's top add. In two games as a starter, Tillman put up 13-13-2 with 2.0 steals in 34.5 minutes. He's only listed so low because of the uncertainty around Valanciunas' return.
Mo Bamba, Magic (32% rostered)
Keep the streak alive, Mo Bamba! Five straight weeks that I can justify squeezing you in here! He missed two-and-a-half games with an injury, but his minutes have increased in each of his three since returning, topping off at 28 on Thursday. The 28 is unsustainable, but a workload in the low 20s is enough for him to be a shot-blocking, double-double machine.
Other recommendations: Aleksej Pokusevski, Thunder (55% rostered); Davis Bertans, Wizards (53% rostered); Daniel Gafford, Wizards (27% rostered); Kendrick Nunn, Heat (42% rostered); Jalen Brunson, Mavericks (38% rostered); Killian Hayes, Pistons (33% rostered)
Naji Marshall, Pelicans (16 percent rostered)
Marshall and Jaxson Hayes appear to be alternating who gets the most minutes each night. The data pool is still a little small, so it's unclear whether this is an intentional pattern and will continue. If this trend continues, then Marshall is a great add on "his" nights, though he's not really rosterable when he's not getting those bigger workloads. In the two games when Marshall received more run, he averaged 16-9-7 in 34.0 minutes. On the two "Hayes" nights, Marshall got only 6-3-4 in 21.0 minutes.
Deep League Special
Oshae Brissett, Pacers (5% rostered)
If Domantas Sabonis (back) and Myles Turner (toe) keep missing games, then Brissett is actually an all-leagues guy. But I'm guessing Sabonis plays at least a couple games this week with the Pacers in the thick of a competitive race for the eight seed (remember, with the new play-in rules, the eighth seed gets two chances to win one game to make the playoffs. The ninth seed has to win two games in a row to make the playoffs).
With the twin towers out over their last two games, Brissett averaged 18.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks in 33.5 minutes. Most importantly, the undrafted free agent showed that he can hang in an NBA game. Sabonis and Turner are hardly the only injuries currently plaguing the Indiana frontcourt, and as long as one or two guys are absent each game – a likely contingency – Brissett is likely to get meaningful rotation minutes down the stretch.
Other recommendations: Xavier Tillman, Grizzlies (8% rostered)