The NBA season continues into December with plenty of action leading up to the Christmas Day showcase later this month. This week there are a pair of three-game slates on Tuesday and Thursday alternating with oversized slates on Wednesday (11 games) and Friday (10 games).
In Week 8, 16 teams are scheduled for three games and 12 teams play four games. The Portland Trail Blazers and the San Antonio Spurs only have two games in the coming week, which is something to keep in mind if you’re adding players from those teams since they won’t have as much short-term impact.
In this weekly post throughout the season, you can find some of the hottest trending players, some deep league additions to consider, and a more in-depth look at four sleeper pickups. The sleeper targets listed below aren’t quite mainstream, but they are emerging as options with plenty of potential upside. The top trending players are good pickups to consider if available but are quickly vanishing off waiver wires. The deep league options at the bottom of the post can be a help if the top options and the four sleeper pickups have already been picked up.
Things change in a hurry from day to day throughout the season, so follow along on my Twitter account @ZT_sports if you are looking for single-game streaming options, along with cheap DFS plays on a daily basis.
Top Trending Players
- PG Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic
- PG/SG Killian Hayes, Detroit Pistons
- PG/SG Jaylen Nowell, Minnesota Timberwolves
- PG/SG Markelle Fultz, Orlando Magic
- SG Malik Monk, Sacramento Kings
- SG/SF Tim Hardaway Jr., Dallas Mavericks
- SG/SF Jalen Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder
- SF/PF Trey Murphy III, New Orleans Pelicans
- SF/PF Justise Winslow, Portland Trail Blazers
- PF/C Walker Kessler, Utah Jazz
- PF/C Marvin Bagley III, Detroit Pistons
- C Mason Plumlee, Charlotte Hornets
SG/SF AJ Griffin, Atlanta Hawks (vs. OKC, at NY, at BKN, vs. CHI)
The Hawks are suddenly dealing with multiple injuries, opening up opportunities for the No. 16 overall pick from last year’s draft to step into a larger role. With De’Andre Hunter (hip) out for at least a week and John Collins (ankle) out for at least two weeks, there should be expanded opportunities for both Griffin and his fellow-Duke alum Jalen Johnson.
Griffin has scored double-digit points in six of his past eight games, averaging 13.4 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 26.1 minutes per game. He had a huge game on Friday, taking on even more work with Trae Young (shoulder) also sidelined. He scored 24 points in 35 minutes, while adding three steals, three rebounds and an assist to help the shorthanded Hawks to an eight-point win.
While Trae’s absence isn’t expected to continue, it’s great to see Griffin show off that kind of upside when the work comes his way. The rookie has shown he can contribute steals and points and should stay involved enough in the short term to give your team a nice boost in those categories, especially with four favorable matchups on the board for this week.
PG/SG Andrew Nembhard, Indiana Pacers (at GS, at MIN, vs. WAS, vs. BKN)
Nembhard was actually listed in my pickups as a speculative add a few weeks ago, but he is still available in over 90% of leagues and has started to make a name for himself in the past few games. The rookie from Gonzaga has stepped up as a contributor on both ends of the floor and is quickly becoming a favorite of defensive-minded coach Rick Carlisle.
Nembhard started six straight games after the injury to Chris Duarte (ankle) that caused him to be in that earlier waiver wire post. However, he only averaged 8.7 points, 3.0 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 24.2 minutes per game. He missed four games with a knee bruise in November, but has been impressive in his three games since returning.
He came off the bench against the Lakers in his first game back, and it was in that game that he had his signature moment, hitting a game-winning three-pointer against LeBron and Co. and totaling 12 points, four rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block. He started each of the Pacers’ two games since then and looked especially sharp against the Jazz on Friday with 13 points and a career-high 10 assists, two steals and four boards. With the Pacers banged up in general and Tyrese Haliburton playing through left groin soreness, Nembhard should continue to get a chance to play a larger role in the offense in the four games this week, all of which look to be relatively favorable to plenty of points.
SF/PF T.J. Warren, Brooklyn Nets (vs. CHA, vs. ATL, at IND)
The Nets took a flier on Warren, who missed almost two full calendar years due to a left foot injury. Like in real life, his ceiling makes him worth a look for your fantasy team too, since when he was healthy he was a fantasy stud. In the 2019-2020 season, he averaged 19.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game, while starting 67 games for the Pacers. He may not ever be that player again, but the Nets could also definitely use scoring production from players besides KD and Kyrie.
Warren returned to action on Friday and finished with 10 points, four rebounds and one steal in 17 minutes. While he’ll likely be on a minutes restriction and might even miss games due to reconditioning, he has the potential to be a key contributor if he’s able to get healthy and return to something close to his previous form. He is still available in almost 75% of leagues.
C Bruno Fernando, Houston Rockets (vs. PHI, at SA, vs. MIL)
Fernando actually began the season as the Rockets starting center before missing a month with knee soreness. He started in his return due to other injuries but has been coming off the bench for his last few games. Fernando showed his upside, though, with a big game against the Suns on Friday night. He had 14 points, seven rebounds, an assist and a steal in just 14 minutes.
On the season coming into Saturday’s game, his per-minute production has been outstanding, and he has averaged 16.7 points, 11.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 2.2 blocked shots and 1.3 steals per 36 minutes played. He isn’t getting a ton of minutes right now in the Rockets’ frontcourt, which is crowded with young promising options like Jabari Smith Jr., Alperen Sengun and Tari Eason. However, if he has more games like Friday, he should be able to play himself into an expanded role, making him an interesting big to stash for now.
Other options to consider
- PG Jose Alvarado, New Orleans Pelicans
- PG T.J. McConnell, Indiana Pacers
- PG/SG Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks
- PG/SG Theo Maledon, Charlotte Hornets
- PG/SG Tre Mann, Oklahoma City Thunder
- SG/SF Joe Harris, Brooklyn Nets
- SG/SF Terence Davis, Sacramento Kings
- SG/SF Bogdan Bogdanovic, Atlanta Hawks
- SF/PF Jalen McDaniels, Charlotte Hornets
- SF/PF Grant Williams, Boston Celtics
- SF/PF Caleb Martin, Miami Heat
- PF/C Moritz Wagner, Orlando Magic
- PF/C Trendon Watford, Portland Trail Blazers
- PF/C Jalen Johnson, Atlanta Hawks
- C Naz Reid, Minnesota Timberwolves
- C Daniel Gafford, Washington Wizards
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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 do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. 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.