Fantasy Basketball Mailbag: Late-Season Streamers and Heroes

Fantasy Basketball Mailbag: Late-Season Streamers and Heroes

This week's mailbag questions were on the light side, which is understandable given that only a small percentage of fantasy hoopers are still alive near the end of the playoffs. So I'll answer the questions I received and then ask a few of my own that may be relevant to those of you still alive in your leagues. 

Better streamer: Bennedict Mathurin or Andrew Nembhard? 12-team league, need best all-around stats. - Matchwinningstar (@matchwinningstar) 

Answer: Two days ago I would have said Mathurin. One day ago I would have said Nembhard. Now I'm not even sure what's happening in Indy. Nembhard has been doing a great job of filling in for injured Tyrese Haliburton and came into Monday's game on a roll. He had scored between 14 and 24 points in a five-game span and with Haliburton out again on Monday, I thought he was going to go off. So he came out and laid a 1-of-6 shooting egg for two points, six dimes and three fouls as the Pacers inexplicably fell to the Hornets. 

Aaron Nesmith, who was also playing well for the Pacers and who I also thought would go off, was even worse with five fouls and four points in just 17 minutes despite starting alongside Mathurin. And Mathurin was one of the few Pacers to play well in his return from an ankle injury. He hit 7-of-10 shots for 18 points and while the peripheral stats weren't all that great, he played well

This week's mailbag questions were on the light side, which is understandable given that only a small percentage of fantasy hoopers are still alive near the end of the playoffs. So I'll answer the questions I received and then ask a few of my own that may be relevant to those of you still alive in your leagues. 

Better streamer: Bennedict Mathurin or Andrew Nembhard? 12-team league, need best all-around stats. - Matchwinningstar (@matchwinningstar) 

Answer: Two days ago I would have said Mathurin. One day ago I would have said Nembhard. Now I'm not even sure what's happening in Indy. Nembhard has been doing a great job of filling in for injured Tyrese Haliburton and came into Monday's game on a roll. He had scored between 14 and 24 points in a five-game span and with Haliburton out again on Monday, I thought he was going to go off. So he came out and laid a 1-of-6 shooting egg for two points, six dimes and three fouls as the Pacers inexplicably fell to the Hornets. 

Aaron Nesmith, who was also playing well for the Pacers and who I also thought would go off, was even worse with five fouls and four points in just 17 minutes despite starting alongside Mathurin. And Mathurin was one of the few Pacers to play well in his return from an ankle injury. He hit 7-of-10 shots for 18 points and while the peripheral stats weren't all that great, he played well and was one of the few Pacers to shoot the ball on a night when the starters couldn't throw it in the ocean. 

The No. 11 Pacers are now 2.5 games behind the No. 10 Bulls and are on the outside looking in at even a play-in situation at this point. The Wizards have an identical record and could easily pass the Pacers soon, putting them in an even bigger hole. And once they give up on hopes of making a postseason run you have to wonder how much the Pacers will play guys like Haliburton and Myles Turner down the stretch? 

I think Nembhard, Nesmith and Mathurin, who still has an outside chance at some Rookie of the Year votes are worth consideration going forward despite Monday's disaster. And if they do start shutting players down, T.J. McConnell, Jalen Smith and Isaiah Jackson could all enter the streaming mix down the stretch. We still don't know if Haliburton might play on Wednesday and if he's out, I'm expecting for Mathurin to play well again, as well as a bounce back for Nesmith and Nembhard.

But when it comes to streaming, I think the key is to pay close attention to the daily news and pluck scrubs who are not only filling in for injured/resting players, but also have a clear path to minutes. A good example of this is Spurs center Sandro Mamukelashvili. Zach Collins was rested on Tuesday and Sandro was literally the only big man available on the roster that night. As a result, he not only started but went off for a season-high 20 points, five rebounds, three steals and three three-pointers on his way to the second best game of his entire career. Managers who rolled the dice on him for Tuesday's game had to be psyched to see what he did. And with the Spurs having already been eliminated, it's possible they just keep rolling him out there. 

I'm guilty of starting to pay more attention to my baseball drafts at this time of year and setting-and-forgetting some of my hoops lineups. And that's not the way to do it. Grinding and working the wire throughout the playoffs is the recipe for success and finding guys like Sandro on a daily basis is the key to winning today's wacky world of the NBA.

Thoughts on dropping Bojan Bogdanovic? I'm currently in the semifinals right now. - Tyler Wong (@tylerwong2) 

Answer: I'm fine with managers who dropped Bojan for this two-game week, but it's important to keep in mind the Pistons will play four games in each of the final two weeks. Then again, they've been eliminated from the playoffs already and the Pistons' injury report is jam packed with a ton of big names. And you made a great call, as Bogdanovic didn't play again on Tuesday night and hasn't even played since March 1 due to an Achilles injury. 

Marvin Bagley went off for 31 points and eight rebounds, James Wiseman, who I was high on last night, fouled out in just 19 minutes, and Killian Hayes and Jaden Ivey both went off, despite not shooting it well. Rodney McGruder has been hot of late and played 27 minutes, but hit just 2-of-7 shots for seven points. 

With Jalen Duren suffering from whiplash and Isaiah Stewart (shoulder) nowhere to be found, Wiseman and Bagley should continue to go off the rest of the way for the Pistons. And if the Pistons are folding up shop, we may not see Bogdanovic again this season and McGruder could be the guy the rest of the way. The Pistons, Spurs and Rockets are all going to offer plenty of streaming options down the stretch and if you dropped Bogdanovic, you made the right call. But he would also become a hot streaming option if the Pistons announce that he'll return at some point. But, as of now, I think he might be done for the year. 

Who could be some kind of silly-season hero? Isaiah Livers? Ochai Agbaji? -Illgobbo (@Illgobbo)

Answer: I thought Livers was going to go on a tear, but a hip injury derailed that plan and he hasn't played in the Pistons' last four games. Livers could return at any time and has some silly-season appeal but he shouldn't be messed with until he comes back and does something of note. 

Agbaji is an interesting case and went off for 27 points and six three-pointers on 8-of-14 shooting with five rebounds, three assists and a block in Monday's win over the Kings. The guard out of Kansas has now scored in double figures in five straight games and Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton are showing no signs of life while sitting with injuries for Utah. That means that Agbaji is one of the few guards still around for the Jazz and they're barely clinging to their playoff hopes as the 10th seed, just a ½ game ahead of both the Lakers and Pelicans. And the kicker is that the Jazz go four times next week. 

I think that Agbaji, who is still rostered in just 1.5 percent of ESPN leagues, is a must-have player right now, while Talen Horton-Tucker is right there with him. 

The aforementioned Mamukelashvili, who's rostered in 0.8 percent of ESPN leagues, is another potential silly-season hero and here are some other players that haven't already been mentioned who deserve some attention right now. 

Deni Avdija, Wizards - He had 15 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and three three-pointers on Tuesday and racked up 11 rebounds on Saturday. He benefitted from Kyle Kuzma (ankle) being out on Tuesday so make sure Kuzma's not playing if you're going to roll the dice on Avdija right now. Corey Kispert is also worth a look as long as Kuzma is out but literally doesn't do anything except occasionally score points and hit three-pointers. Kispert has a total of one steal, one block and 13 assists in 11 March games, but has been scoring in double digits on most nights. The Wizards only play three times next week. 

Cole Anthony, Magic - He had 16 points, seven rebounds, five assists, a steal and a three-pointer on Tuesday and has scored at least 14 points in six straight games as Jalen Suggs sits with a concussion. Anthony should be rostered everywhere right now, although the Magic have just three games next week. 

Tari Eason, Rockets - Eason is starting for the Rockets and is rostered in just 7.6 percent of ESPN leagues. Eason had 21 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and a three-pointer on Tuesday and the Rockets have been eliminated from the playoffs. If there is a guy who has silly-season hero written all over him, it's Eason. He'll be inconsistent but the Rockets play four times again next week and I'd do what I can to make sure Eason is on my roster for it. 

Jonathan Kuminga, Warriors - Kuminga is averaging 15.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.4 three-pointers in March and has scored in double figures in four of his last five games. He's also rostered in just 7.9 percent of ESPN leagues and is a young guy the Warriors can lean on down the stretch. The Warriors are clinging to the No. 6 seed in the West but are being tracked by the Thunder, Mavericks, Timberwolves and Jazz. Kuminga isn't likely to become a silly-season hero but he is becoming a staple in the Warriors rotation. The Dubs only play three times in each of the next two weeks but Kuminga is worth rostering if you need him. 

Terance Mann, Clippers - Paul George went down in a heap on Tuesday and will miss the remainder of the regular season. Mann, who is rostered in 4.6 percent of fantasy leagues, will likely replace him in the starting lineup for the foreseeable future, while Eric Gordon should also see a boost. Mann had eight points in 11 minutes on Tuesday but might be worth a look going forward as the Clippers prepare for their upcoming four-game week. 

Taurean Prince, Timberwolves - Anthony Edwards is dealing with an ankle injury and is iffy for Wednesday after missing Monday's game with the injury. Prince, who is rostered in just 0.4 percent of ESPN leagues, blew up for 35 points and eight three-pointers on 12-of-13 shooting on Monday. There's no way he does that again on Wednesday but as long as Edwards is out, he's worth a look. And if you somehow had him in your lineup on Monday, congratulations are in order. Prince and the Wolves play four times next week but it's hard to see Edwards being sidelined for more than another game or two.

Day'Ron Sharpe, Nets - Sharpe, a reserve center, got loose for 20 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks to tie his season-high in scoring on Tuesday despite Nic Claxton playing well in 28 minutes. I don't trust him at all just yet but this was an interesting development and the Nets are reeling after losing four straight. They're still hanging onto the No. 6 seed in the East but the Heat are nipping at their heels. Sharpe is not going to suddenly start challenging Claxton for minutes or his job but he should at least be on your radar in case he does it again in Thursday's rematch with the Cavaliers. The Nets play three times next week. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steve Alexander
Steve 'Doc' Alexander has been covering hoops for more than 20 years and recently joined Rotowire after spending his entire career at NBC Sports.
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