With just a couple of weeks before Christmas, the NBA is officially in the middle of the season. Even more than usual it seems, injuries, illnesses and acquisitions continue to shake up rotations. With so much turmoil, it is vital to pay close attention to ways to improve your season-long fantasy basketball. There are great options emerging on a regular basis on the waiver wire in many leagues, so make sure to get the most out of every roster spot. In the week ahead, there are 17 teams that play four times, which is slightly above average, and 12 teams that play three times. The Oklahoma City Thunder are the only outlier since they are only scheduled to play twice.
At the top of this post, you can find the top trending players, many of whom have been featured in this space over the past weeks. They are now rapidly disappearing off the waiver wire and are likely already owned in your league, but if not, they’re great options to consider. At the bottom of the post, you can find some options that are worth a look for deeper leagues or if you are trying to get ahead of the rush. In between those two groups, you can find four highlighted sleepers who I think make good additions and will be trending in the right direction over the coming week and beyond.
Top Trending Players
- PG Dennis Smith Jr., Portland Trail Blazers
- PG/SG De’Anthony Melton, Memphis Grizzlies
- PG/SG/SF Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies
- SG Chris Duarte, Indiana Pacers
- SG/SF Josh Hart, New Orleans Pelicans
- SG/SF Terence Davis, Sacramento Kings
- SG/SF Garrison Mathews, Houston Rockets
- SG/SF Franz Wagner, Orlando Magic
- SG/SF Luke Kennard, Los Angeles Clippers
- PF/C Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings
- C Daniel Gafford, Washington Wizards
SG/SF Devin Vassell, San Antonio Spurs (vs. CHA, at UTA, at SAC)
Vassell was featured in this list earlier this season, but his ownership has dropped back down to around 30% of leagues since he was sidelined for five of six games with a quad contusion. He returned and played just 17 minutes in his first game back on Thursday against the Nuggets but looked strong with nine points, five rebounds, two blocks and a steal. In the second game of the Spurs’ two-game set against Denver, Vassell had 15 points, four assists and five rebounds in just 23 minutes.
Before the injury, Vassell scored 15 points or more in five of six games, averaging 15.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 0.8 assists in 26.3 minutes per game. As his role and usage return to that level, he should be a nice multi-category contributor this week, especially in favorable matchups against the Hornets and Kings.
PF/C Marcus Morris Sr., Los Angeles Clippers (vs. PHX, at UTA, at OKC)
The Clippers held Morris out for about a month for what they called “left knee injury maintenance,” but they’ve taken the veteran out of bubble wrap for their past few games. With Paul George (elbow) and Nicolas Batum (health and safety protocols) sidelined, Morris has taken an even larger workload, but he’ll be worth a look even once PG13 returns since the Clippers have been lacking contributors on offense all season without Kawhi Leonard (knee).
Morris had 17 points or more in four straight games before a woeful shooting outing Saturday against Orlando in which he managed just two points. In that stretch of productive games, he averaged 4.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists to go with his 19.8 points while logging a 21.0% usage rate. On the season, his usage rate is a solid 19.5% and will likely return to that level once George is back. That should be enough to keep him fantasy relevant since right now he’s showing he can still be a force on offense, especially working in the post.
PG/SG Donte DiVincenzo, Milwaukee Bucks (at BOS, vs. IND, at NOP, vs. CLE)
The reigning champion Bucks have been without DiVincenzo all season after he underwent season-ending surgery on his left ankle in June. He was expected to be sidelined much longer, but he is expected to make his season debut Wednesday at home against the Pacers. He is only owned in just over 10% of leagues, so grab him quickly since there will likely be a rush to add him once he’s back and contributing.
Last year, the Big Ragu broke out producing 10.4 points, 5.8 boards, 3.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.0 3-pointers made per game. The 24-year-old is a very nice fit next to the Bucks’ stars and started all 66 of his regular season games for the Bucks last season, playing 27.5 minutes per game with a 16.7% usage rate. Grayson Allen and Pat Connaughton have filled in well, so DiVincenzo could be eased back in gradually, but eventually he should be a solid contributor to your fantasy team if he returns to the form he displayed last season.
SG/SF Gary Harris Jr., Orlando Magic (vs. ATL, vs. MIA, at BKN)
The Magic acquired Harris as one of the key pieces in the Aaron Gordon trade last season from the Nuggets, but Harris wasn’t very impressive in his 20 games with Orlando last year or in the early part of this season. However, he has started to find a nice rhythm and develop into a consistent contributor. He gets plenty of playing time for Orlando and makes sense as a wing pickup in many of the over 75% of leagues in which he’s still available.
Harris sat out Orlando’s loss to the Bucks on Nov. 22 but has started all nine games since then, averaging 31.7 minutes per game with a 15.2% usage rate resulting in 12.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He has hit multiple 3-pointers in four straight games and has 11 points or more in eight of those nine contests. The fantasy world gave up on Harris for the most part after his anemic start to the season, but he’s shown enough signs of life to be a speculative add or someone to keep a very close eye on moving forward. Orlando has had a rough season, but there are some players like Harris, who have shown they can be worth a look for your fantasy team.
Other options to consider
- PG Armoni Brooks, Houston Rockets
- PG/SG Patrick Beverley, Minnesota Timberwolves
- PG/SG Malik Beasley, Minnesota Timberwolves
- SG/SF Hamidou Diallo, Detroit Pistons
- SG Brandon Boston Jr., Los Angeles Clippers
- SG/SF Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio Spurs
- SF Herbert Jones, New Orleans Pelicans
- SF/PF Cameron Johnson, Phoenix Suns
- SF/PF Cedi Osman, Cleveland Cavaliers
- PF/C Trey Lyles, Detroit Pistons
- PF/C Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors
- PF/C P.J. Tucker, Miami Heat
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