NBA Fantasy - Sneaky Adds for the Fantasy Playoffs

NBA Fantasy - Sneaky Adds for the Fantasy Playoffs

This article is part of our NBA Waiver Wire series.

It's not always the big names that carry fantasy managers to a championship. As players continue to go down with injuries, others are left to take on added playing time. A good example at the end of last season was the hot streak that Drew Eubanks went on for the Trail Blazers when Jusuf Nurkic was hurt. Let's look at five other under-the-radar names that could be valuable options down the stretch.

Tari Eason, Houston Rockets

The Rockets have high hopes for Eason, who was selected with the 17th pick in the 2022 Draft. However, he had difficulty finding his way onto the floor early in the season. Overall, he has logged just 20 minutes per game. Still, he has provided averages of 8.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 0.6 blocks and 0.7 three-pointers. If he could ever find himself in an expanded role, that type of production indicated that he could be a difference-maker in fantasy.

Between injuries and the Rockets trading away Eric Gordon at the deadline, some added minutes have opened up for Eason. He has averaged 27 minutes over the last four games and made the most of his opportunity, providing 12.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.0 three-pointers. He even had two double-doubles during that span. If he can consistently play this much, he has to be rostered in everything but shallow leagues.

Talen Horton-Tucker, Utah Jazz

Looking at Horton-Tucker's season stats doesn't tell the entire story of where he

It's not always the big names that carry fantasy managers to a championship. As players continue to go down with injuries, others are left to take on added playing time. A good example at the end of last season was the hot streak that Drew Eubanks went on for the Trail Blazers when Jusuf Nurkic was hurt. Let's look at five other under-the-radar names that could be valuable options down the stretch.

Tari Eason, Houston Rockets

The Rockets have high hopes for Eason, who was selected with the 17th pick in the 2022 Draft. However, he had difficulty finding his way onto the floor early in the season. Overall, he has logged just 20 minutes per game. Still, he has provided averages of 8.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 0.6 blocks and 0.7 three-pointers. If he could ever find himself in an expanded role, that type of production indicated that he could be a difference-maker in fantasy.

Between injuries and the Rockets trading away Eric Gordon at the deadline, some added minutes have opened up for Eason. He has averaged 27 minutes over the last four games and made the most of his opportunity, providing 12.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.0 three-pointers. He even had two double-doubles during that span. If he can consistently play this much, he has to be rostered in everything but shallow leagues.

Talen Horton-Tucker, Utah Jazz

Looking at Horton-Tucker's season stats doesn't tell the entire story of where he is right now. He has appeared in 49 games, averaging just 17 minutes. Even though the Jazz underwent a rebuild during the offseason, they added a lot of depth in their trades, often leaving Horton-Tucker to spend a significant amount of time on the bench.

The depth that the Jazz built up is basically gone, especially at guard. They traded away Mike Conley Jr. and Malik Beasley, and they bought out Russell Westbrook before he even played a single game with the team. Then, Collin Sexton went down with a hamstring injury. That has resulted in Horton-Tucker logging an average of 27 minutes over the last eight games. During that span, he came through with 13.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.1 three-pointers. If there was a downside, it's that he shot 40.7 percent from the field and averaged 3.0 turnovers per game. Sexton doesn't seem close to a return, and the Jazz could eventually decide to sit him out for the rest of the season. Horton-Tucker is set to be a major contributor down the stretch.

Isaiah Joe, Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder have played surprisingly well this season. They had themselves firmly in the play-in hunt for most of the season. However, they have started to fall on hard times, losing five straight games to enter Friday as the 13th seed in the Western Conference. What has coincided with their losses is that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has missed the last four games with injuries and COVID-19 protocols.

There are a lot of shots up for grabs whenever Gilgeous-Alexander is out, given his 32.6 percent usage rate. Joe has stepped in to fill some of the void, putting up 18.8 points and 3.8 three-pointers over the last four games. While he didn't do much in other categories, he did shoot 56.8 percent from the field. Gilgeous-Alexander doesn't have a timetable for a return, and if the Thunder continue to fall down the standings, it wouldn't be a surprise if he gets more rest days, even when he is finally healthy. For fantasy managers who need a boost of scoring and three-point shooting, Joe is an unexpected option who could provide considerable contributions.

Delon Wright, Washington Wizards

The Wizards find themselves firmly in the play-in hunt in the Eastern Conference. They have been led by their star trio of Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma, each averaging at least 21.5 points per game. Monte Morris has held down the starting point guard spot, and with three talented scorers around him, he has averaged a career-high 5.3 assists per game. However, Morris has missed the last three games with a back injury and is being considered week-to-week after receiving an epidural injection Wednesday.

Wright has started and played at least 28 minutes in each of the last three games without Morris. He turned the role into averages of 10.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 three-pointers. He has been excellent defensively all season, providing 1.9 steals in just 23 minutes per game. Add that to the possibility of elevated assists with Morris out, and Wright is an excellent point guard option moving forward.

Dennis Smith Jr., Charlotte Hornets

It has been a lost season for the Hornets. Injuries have completely derailed them, and LaMelo Ball (ankle) is now down again. After appearing in just 36 games, he has been ruled out for the remainder of the season. Smith has started in place of Ball in the past, averaging 10.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 2.0 steals over 12 games in that role. However, he did not get the start with Ball out Wednesday against the Hornets. They shifted Terry Rozier to point guard and inserted Kelly Oubre Jr. into the starting five.

The good news for fantasy is Smith still played 26 minutes off the bench. He finished with eight points, five rebounds, six assists, one steal and two blocks. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, he is likely in line to approach 30 minutes per game on a nightly basis. If the Hornets decide to give any rest days to Rozier or any of their other veterans down the stretch, Smith could be looking at even more playing time. He looked to be stuck in a limited role behind Ball and Rozier when he was added to the team in the offseason, but he is now in a position to be a valuable fantasy option when it matters the most.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Barner
Mike started covering fantasy sports in 2007, joining RotoWire in 2010. In 2018, he was a finalist for the FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. Mike also won the 2022-23 FSGA NBA Experts Champions league. In addition to RotoWire, Mike has written for Sportsline, Sports Illustrated, DK Live, RealTime Fantasy Sports, Lineup Lab and KFFL.com.
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