Who is trending up? Which rotations are changing? And what’s the latest with the notable injuries around the NBA?
Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks have won seven of their past eight games and Bogdan Bogdanovic in particular is thriving under interim coach Nate McMillian. Bogdanovic, one of the Hawks’ big offseason additions who struggled through injuries and inconsistency before the coaching change, has averaged 21.8 PPG during the recent eight-game stretch, shooting 53.0% from 3-point range and averaging 4.4 3PG, 4.8 RPG and 4.0 APG. Still, Bogdanovic is available 25.1% of ESPN leagues.
Boston Celtics: The Pelicans elected not to sign Isaiah Thomas to a second 10-day contract, and rumors are swirling that the Celtics – the team where he averaged 28.9 PPG in 2016-17 — could be interested. The 32-year-old had been out of the NBA for over a year before signing with the Pelicans and appearing in three games, and though he shot only 33.3% and played just 16.0 MPG, he did look to still have something left to offer. Thomas’ scoring could be useful for the Celtics, particularly with Evan Fournier still out due to COVID-19 protocols; Fournier, acquired at the trade deadline from Orlando, hasn’t played since April 4.
Charlotte Hornets: Some good news for the Hornets, as Terry Rozier is expected to be available for Wednesday’s game against the Cavaliers; he is officially listed as probable after missing Tuesday’s game against the Lakers due to left knee tendinitis. P.J. Washington (ankle sprain) and Malik Monk (ankle sprain) along with Gordon Hayward (foot sprain) and LaMelo Ball (wrist fracture) all remain out against Cleveland.
Chicago Bulls: Nikola Vucevic has played 10 games with the Bulls since being traded from Orlando, and while the sample size is still relatively small, the early returns show a decrease in several offensive categories. Vucevic’s scoring has dropped from 24.5 to 21.8 PPG, his 3-point shooting has slipped from 2.7 to 2.1 3PG and his rebounding is down from 11.8 to 9.7 RPG. Those numbers are still terrific, and good enough to lead fantasy teams to the championship, just not quite where they were with the Magic.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Both Jarrett Allen (concussion) and Larry Nance Jr. (illness) are slated to return to the Cavs’ lineup on Wednesday against Charlotte. Allen has missed eight games while Nance hasn’t played since March 27 due to a mysterious illness that caused him to lose around 20 pounds. With Allen and Nance back, Dean Wade and Isaiah Hartenstein are expected to return to a lesser role.
Denver Nuggets: Monte Morris, Facundo Campazzo and Will Barton are all going to be important distributors on the Nuggets now that Jamal Murray is out for the season due to a torn ACL. Morris is rostered in 15.1% of ESPN leagues, Campazzo in 7.3% and Barton in 43.7%, and each is worth a longer look in 12-team and maybe even 10-team leagues. This is a roster built around players who can pass, so not all of the assisting will need to come from the backcourt with guys like Nikola Jokic and Aaron Gordon, but Morris, Campazzo and Barton are all more important fantasy pieces today than they were before Murray went down.
Detroit Pistons: Rookie first-rounder Killian Hayes has played four games since returning from a torn hip labrum, but right now he’s off the fantasy radar in virtually all leagues. The best option in Detroit’s backcourt is veteran Cory Joseph, who has put up 11.7 PPG, 6.1 APG, and 1.2 SPG in 11 games since coming over from Sacramento. The one big knock on Joseph, however, is he’s a point guard who has made only 0.5 3PG over the course of his career.
Golden State Warriors: According to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, James Wiseman will undergo right knee surgery to repair a meniscus tear either Thursday or Friday this week. “The results of the surgery will determine the expected return timetable, which ranges from a shorter 4-6-week absence to a possible multi-month recovery that would severely limit his offseason availability,” Slater writes. The expectation is that the 20-year-old rookie center won’t play again this season, which could continue to lead to extended minutes for Juan Toscano-Anderson. JTA played 24 minutes on Monday, the first game since Wiseman went down.
Houston Rockets: Kelly Olynyk hit the ground running after being traded from Miami to Houston, and the veteran big man hasn’t slowed down. After another big game on Monday where he went for 16 points and eight rebounds against the Suns, Olynyk now is at 16.9 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.9 3PG, 0.7 BPG and 0.9 SPG in 10 games with the Rockets. And he’s still available in 39.7% of ESPN leagues.
Indiana Pacers: Myles Turner (ankle) is listed as questionable to play in Wednesday’s game against the Rockets, and if he can’t go Goga Bitadze is expected to continue to fill in at center. Turner hasn’t played since April 6, and Bitadze – who, like Turner, is an excellent shot-blocker — has averaged 2.3 BPG since Turner’s been out.
LA Clippers: With Paul George (rest) and Kawhi Leonard (foot) out on Wednesday, Luke Kennard, Terance Mann, Nicolas Batum, and Marcus Morris are all in position to be important fantasy options against the rebuilding Pistons. Morris went off for 33 points and six rebounds when the two teams faced each other on Sunday night, a game in which Leonard missed but George played.
Los Angeles Lakers: ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported this week that Anthony Davis and LeBron James could return to play for the Lakers in two to three weeks. Davis has been sidelined with a calf strain since Feb. 14 while James hasn’t played since suffering a high-ankle sprain on March 20. This time frame means the only way Davis and James can help fantasy teams again this season is for the fantasy managers to first advance deep into the fantasy playoffs without them, which won’t be easy.
Memphis Grizzlies: When it comes to streamers, Dillon Brooks is a name who has bounced around many fantasy leagues this season, getting picked up for a game or two before being sent back to the waiver wire and the process starting over with another fantasy manager. In seven games this month, though, the versatile swingman has been on quite a roll, averaging 18.1 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 2.0 APG and 2.4 3PG. He’s available in just over half of ESPN leagues, and is worth adding right now.
Miami Heat: The move to acquire Victor Oladipo at the trade deadline hasn’t worked out quite like the Heat hoped, at least not as of yet. Oladipo didn’t travel on the Heat’s road trip after leaving the April 8 win over the Lakers due to knee soreness. For someone with a history of knee injuries, that is a big concern, and it’s getting too late in the fantasy season to wait around for Oladipo to return to health. Adjust accordingly, if you haven’t already.
Milwaukee Bucks: It likely won’t factor too much into anything, but HoopsHype reports that Joe Johnson has a workout scheduled with the Bucks for later this week. Johnson is 39 and hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2017-18 season but he does have 20,405 career points on his resume. Austin Rivers and Isaiah Thomas are two other free agent scorers the Bucks have been linked to over the past month.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Edwards’ 34.0% shooting from 3-point range in seven games this month may not seem like much… until you realize that he shot 30.1% from distance in March and 29.4% in February. The young scorer appears is taking 2.0 less threes this month than he did last week, and improved shot selection from 3-point range could be contributing to his improved efficiency.
New Orleans Pelicans: One of the more interesting developments around the NBA is the chemistry Jaxson Hayes has formed with Zion Williamson in the Pelicans’ young frontcourt. Christian Clark of nola.com writes: “Williamson and Hayes have appeared in 15 games together since March 3. In those 151 minutes, the Pelicans are averaging 119.0 points per 100 possessions and are allowing only 96.1 points per 100 possessions. New Orleans is blowing other teams away with the Nos. 1 and 8 picks on the floor.” Hayes has seen his playing time bump up to 20.7 MPG during the past nine games, which is a promising sign for the young center.
New York Knicks: Nerlens Noel is available in 77.5% of ESPN leagues, and while his lack of scoring limits his fantasy value in points leagues, the shot-blocking, steals prowess and rebounding ability makes him very appealing in roto and category leagues. The veteran Kentucky product and former lottery pick has averaged 7.4 RPG, 2.7 BPG and 1.4 SPG during the past 10 games.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Luguentz Dort looked like he was back in the Pac-12 Conference on Tuesday, cashing in with a career-high 42 points against a tough, albeit undermanned, Jazz team. But Dort, who was in just his second game back after a two-week absence, has our attention. Rostered in only 22.0% of ESPN leagues, the former Arizona State star is a worthy streaming option who can fill it up from distance, rack up steals, rebound, and — obviously –score.
Orlando Magic: Terrence Ross was one of the few big names on the Magic who wasn’t dealt at the trade deadline, and many figured the sharpshooter would take advantage in the box score from that point on. So far, that hasn’t been the case. In fact, after averaging 2.3 3PG in February and 4.0 3PG in four games in March, the veteran has contributed only 0.9 3PG in seven games this month, with his scoring dropping to 15.7 PPG. That’s not enough to keep Ross rostered in standard 12-team leagues, as his scoring and 3-point shooting are his best fantasy assets.
Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid is among the names in the running for league MVP honors this season, but since returning from a left leg injury that cost him 10 games the 76ers’ big man hasn’t been the same force on the glass. Embiid, who has averaged 11.0 RPG this season, has pulled down 8.0 RPG since returning from the injury. If there’s good news here, it’s that his scoring (27.2 PPG) hasn’t suffered as much.
Phoenix Suns: Jae Crowder’s 3-point shooter has been very streaking this season, but right now he’s on quite a roll from downtown. Crowder recently connected on 11 of 16 threes in games against Washington and Houston, and his 2.5 3PG this season is his second-best season to date from long range. The veteran forward key piece to Phoenix’s puzzle this season knocked down 2.9 3PG in 20 games with the late last season after being traded from Memphis.
Portland Trail Blazers: Even the return of Jusuf Nurkic hasn’t stopped Enes Kanter from doing what he does – rebound. Kanter ranks fourth in the league with 11.9 RPG this season, helped in part by the 30 boards he pulled down Saturday against the Pistons when Nurkic was out of the lineup. But even with Nurkic back in action the past two games, Kanter pulled down 8.5 RPG in those contests. Kanter is a free agent in 18.9% of ESPN leagues.
Sacramento Kings: It feels like De’Aaron Fox just keeps getting better and better, and he just may have found a new gear at this latter stage of the season. The speedy point guard has averaged 27.7 PPG in six games this month, including a 43-point outburst against the Pelicans on Monday, and this is the third consecutive month that he’s averaged over 6.0 3-point attempts per game after falling below 5.0 in both December and January.
San Antonio Spurs: After being a key part of the rotation much of the season, jumbo wing Devin Vassell appears to be on the outside looking in in the later stages of his rookie season. Vassell, drafted No. 11 overall in 2020, played only four minutes on Friday, was a DNP-CD on Sunday and logged just 10 minutes on Monday. Vassell will need to show more on the offensive end next season to become a fantasy option; his 5.0 PPG on 39.7% shooting has left much to be desired from the Florida State product this season.
Toronto Raptors: The Raptors will again be without Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet and on Wednesday against the Spurs, creating another opportunity for rookie first-rounder Malachi Flynn to play big minutes and rack up stats. Flynn, who is rostered in only 17.4% of ESPN leagues, has played 35 minutes or more in four of the past five games and has averaged 16.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 6.0 APG and 1.3 APG during the past three games.
Utah Jazz: The win over the Thunder on Tuesday moved the Jazz to 41-14 on the season, but with only 17 games left in the regular season the team finds itself worn out and trying to balance winning with resting. Royce O’Neale was a healthy scratch again the Thunder, and Jordan Clarkson and Joe Ingles both missed the game due to injuries. Utah is still trying to hold off Phoenix and the Clippers for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, but it will be worth keeping extra close attention on the Jazz in the coming weeks as all of the team’s regulars are at risk of getting a night off.
Washington Wizards: Russell Westbrook had a rough first half of the season, at least by his standards, but the All-Star guard has been much improved since the All-Star break. During the last 19 games, his numbers have improved by an average of 3.5 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2.5 APG and his shooting has also taken a sharp turn for the better, shooting 1.9% better from the field, 9.9% better from the free throw line, and 3.2 % better from beyond the 3-point arc.