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Fantasy Basketball: Top NBA Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 22 of 2022-23

Zach Thompson gives his top additions from the waiver wire for your season-long fantasy basketball leagues for Week 22, which begins Monday, March 20

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

With just three weeks remaining in the regular season, if you’re still playing for your season-long fantasy basketball crown, congratulations! Most leagues avoid the final week of the season, so there are probably just two weeks remaining in what has been an exciting season. As teams prepare for the postseason and the offseason, rotations continue to shift and adjust which opens up some great options on the waiver wire. It’s not too late to get some key pieces on board for the final push to the championship.

After a couple of balanced, slower weeks, this week is built around massive 10-game slates on Wednesday and Friday with at least six games every other day except Thursday, when there are only four contests. Fifteen of the 30 teams in the NBA play four times this coming week with 12 teams scheduled for three games and three teams only playing twice. The Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons and Miami Heat have those lighter schedules, so be careful building around too many players or late additions from those teams.

In this weekly post, you can find some of the hottest trending players, some deep league additions to consider and a more in-depth look at a few 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 daily 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/SG Andrew Nembhard, Indiana Pacers (at CHA, at TOR, at BOS, at ATL)

PF/C Jalen Smith, Indiana Pacers

The Pacers have four games, including juicy matchups against the Hornets and the Hawks coming up this week. They begin the week fighting for a spot in the Play-in Tournament but also battling multiple injuries. They were without stars Tyrese Haliburton and Myles Turner at times last week which opened up significant opportunities for Nembhard, Smith and several of their teammates. Hopefully, you grabbed Jordan Nwora from my list last week, but if not, he’s still a strong option to consider as well.

Haliburton will miss at least Monday’s game and seems unlikely to play on both Friday and Saturday against the Celtics and Hawks. Veteran T.J. McConnell is a nice multi-stat option to consider adding if available, but he has also missed some games lately. Instead, I think it makes sense to go with the rookie Nembhard. Let youth be served this week!

Coming into Saturday night’s matchup, Nembhard started each of the Pacers’ 10 games since the All-Star break, averaging 26.1 minutes per game. His usage rate on the season is just 15.5% but that has increased to 18.7% over his 10 games coming out of the break and to 26.0% over his three contests without Haliburton.

Amidst all the swirling pieces around him, Nembhard scored at least 14 points in each of his five most recent games coming into Saturday averaging 18.8 points, 4.6 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 0.4 steals per game. His role in the coming week will shift and fluctuate depending on who else is available, but the rookie should be able to put up good enough numbers to give your team a boost. He’s owned in barely a quarter of leagues.

If you need help up front, Smith is worth a look since he has played over 20 minutes in four of his past six games, averaging 11.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game. He has been playing ahead of Isaiah Jackson for bench minutes and is still owned in only about 33% of leagues. The minutes and workload are a little uncertain, but if he gets playing time, Smith should be a good source of big-man numbers this week.

Depending on who is available, both Nembhard and Smith bring high ceilings to go with their solid floors.

SG/SF Malaki Branham, San Antonio Spurs (at NOP, at MIL, at WAS, at BOS)

PF/C Sandro Mamukelashvili, San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs are well out of the NBA postseason picture but will have a big impact on the fantasy playoffs this week. San Antonio is on a four-game road trip with favorable matchups along the way. The biggest question with the Spurs is availability. The team has been juggling Tre Jones, Devin Vassell, Romeo Langford, Keldon Johnson, Keita Bates-Diop, Devonte’ Graham, Jeremy Sochan, Doug McDermott, Zach Collins and Charley Bassey in and out of the lineup due to different ailments and soreness while trying to give younger players the chance to grow.

One player who should get plenty of playing time and chances to show his potential is the Spurs’ first-round pick from last year’s draft, Malaki Branham. Branham is owned in under 15% of leagues but has shown very good upside. He has missed two of the Spurs’ eight games this month but played 30 and 39 minutes in their two most recent contests. He had 20 points and five boards on Wednesday and followed that up with 18 points and six boards on Friday. He totaled six three-pointers in those two games and had a 20.9% usage rate.

Branham has the potential to be a steal if he plays all four of the upcoming games this week, and he should definitely be a name you consider on the wing.

Up front, the Spurs also have an intriguing potential contributor on the rise in Mamukelashvili, who they picked up earlier this month after he was waived by the Bucks. Mamukelashvili has played seven games for the Spurs, averaging 7.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 19.9 minutes per game. He had a season-high 14 boards on Friday in San Antonio’s loss to Memphis, and he could see an expanded role in the upcoming week depending on the status of Collins, who missed Wednesday’s game with an ankle injury and is questionable for Sunday with a right biceps contusion.

Mamukelashvili is owned in under 5% of leagues and could end up a very nice contributor since he can add good rebounds and tack on some three-pointers. He was a silly season hero last year with the Bucks and looks lined up to make a difference again.

SF Simone Fotecchio, Utah Jazz (vs. SAC, vs. POR, vs. MIL, at SAC)

Another team dealing with multiple injuries and shortened rotations lately is the Jazz. That has opened the opportunity for Fontecchio to make a mark. The 27-year-old from Italy signed a two-year deal with the Jazz coming into the season but has been limited by multiple injuries and a trip to the NBA Health and Safety Protocols. He has only been able to play 41 games and only 12.1 minutes per game on the season, but he has been playing a larger role since the trade deadline.

In his seven games in March prior to Saturday’s matchup with the Celtics, Fontecchio averaged 21.7 minutes per game with a 21.3% usage rate. In those contests, he averaged 12.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.7 steals and 2.3 three-pointers made per game.

Fontecchio got his only start of the season during that run against the Mavericks, and he also scored at least eight points in each of his past four games. He had a career-high 23 points, highlighted by five three-points against the Heat on Monday, and the long-range specialist can give your team a boost in scoring and three-pointers if he keeps getting a chance to showcase his upside as the Jazz play out the rest of their season. He’s owned in just 2% of leagues coming into the week.

Other options to consider

  • PG/SG Monte Morris, Washington Wizards
  • PG/SG Kris Dunn, Utah Jazz
  • PG/SG Cameron Payne, Phoenix Suns
  • PG/SG Patrick Beverley, Chicago Bulls
  • SG/SF Aaron Nesmith, Indiana Pacers
  • SG/SF Austin Reaves, Los Angeles Lakers
  • SG/SF Josh Okogie, Phoenix Suns
  • SG/SF Rodney McGruder, Detroit Pistons
  • SG/SF Eric Gordon, Los Angeles Clippers
  • SG/SF Matisse Thybulle, Portland Trail Blazers
  • SF/PF Jordan Nwora, Indiana Pacers
  • SF/PF Jea’Sean Tate, Houston Rockets
  • PF/C Xavier Tillman, Memphis Grizzlies
  • PF/C Jonathan Kuminga, Golden State Warriors
  • PF/C Trendon Watford, Portland Trail Blazers
  • 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.