To say that this past week in the NBA has been turbulent seems like a criminal understatement. With COVID-19 concerns causing multiple teams to radically adjust their rotations and bring on new players, every team’s roster and rotation has been impacted while others have been completely overhauled. With the Christmas Day showcases lined up for Saturday and a long way to go still in the season, there is plenty of great fantasy value available on the waiver wire if you put in the time to find the right situations and have some things break your way.
In the coming week, there are four teams that only are scheduled to play two games and only the Oklahoma City Thunder and Orlando Magic are scheduled to play four times. Since Friday there are no NBA games scheduled, Thursday is an unusually busy schedule with 12 games on tap. The five Christmas Day games are always fun, and there are eight contests next Sunday to close out the week.
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 several weeks. They are now rapidly disappearing off the waiver wire and are likely already owned in your league, but they’re great options to consider if available. At the bottom of the post, you can find some deep-league options that are worth considering if you are trying to get ahead of the rush or the other options aren’t available. 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. While there are many players who could pop into big usage for a game or two I’ll try to focus on players who have some level of staying power. If you are trying to find single-game streaming options along with cheap DFS plays, follow me on Twitter @ZT_sports.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The NBA has postponed several games for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday due to health protocols.
The NBA has announced the following: pic.twitter.com/rnNhuq0hc1— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) December 19, 2021
Top Trending Players
- PG/SG Patty Mills, Brooklyn Nets
- PG/SG Eric Bledsoe, Los Angeles Clippers
- PG/SG Patrick Beverley, Minnesota Timberwolves
- SG/SF Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies
- SG/SF Saddiq Bey, Detroit Pistons
- SG/SF Grayson Allen, Milwaukee Bucks
- SG/SF Garrison Mathews, Houston Rockets
- SG/SF Gary Harris, Orlando Magic
- SF/PF Cameron Johnson, Phoenix Suns
- PF/C Blake Griffin, Brooklyn Nets
- PF/C Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors
- PF/C Robert Covington, Portland Trail Blazers
PF Chuma Okeke, Orlando Magic (at TOR, at ATL, vs. NOP, at MIA)
Okeke has had a few good games in his second year with the Magic and been a great DFS value on a couple of nights, but for the most part, he has been a peripheral role player. All that changed on Friday, though, when the Magic placed multiple players in the health and safety protocols and then lost Wendell Carter Jr. to a leg injury that could keep him sidelined for a few games or a few weeks.
With so many of his teammates out, Okeke stepped up and logged a season-high 39 minutes. He finished with his first double-double of the season with 18 points and 10 rebounds while also adding an impressive six steals. He had already been picking up the defensive numbers with six steals over his previous five games, and the rebounding should also be consistent, especially while Carter Jr. is sidelined. On Saturday night, Okeke again stepped into a bigger role when his Magic visited the Nets. In that contest, he logged 35 minutes and finished with 15 points, six rebounds, one assist, two blocks and two more steals. Even after his monster performances, he’s owned in just over one-third of leagues, and he should be a great option to get in your lineup for his four games. Robin Lopez and Gary Harris (featured last week) are also great additions with their busy schedule and increased roles.
SG/SF Josh Richardson, Boston Celtics (vs. PHI, vs. CLE, at MIL)
The Celtics have numerous players in the health and safety protocols as well, and they continue to search for a rhythm that will help them reach their full potential. Richardson has been a key part of their rotation in the past few contests he has been available for after clearing the protocols after missing only a couple of games. Richardson has come off the bench in all 22 of his games in his first year with the Celtics but has played over 30 minutes and attempted at least 10 field goals in three straight contests. Over those three games with an increased workload, Richardson has averaged 19.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.7 steals and 4.0 3-pointers and has compiled a solid 19.7% usage rate. He brings very nice scoring upside as part of Boston’s second unit and gets starter-type playing time coming off the bench. He actually led Boston with 27 points in Saturday’s win over the Knicks and seems to be locking in his role as an instant-offense sixth man who can knock down shots from outside and add decent peripheral numbers.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Josh Richardson has been placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
SG David Duke Jr., Brooklyn Nets (vs. WAS, at POR, at LAL)
The Nets are another team that was wiped out this past week by COVID-19 with all of their high-usage superstars landing in the protocols. The peripheral options that they have counted on like Bruce Brown, James Johnson and DeAndre’ Bembry have also been sidelined, which has given some young players a chance to step up and show that they can be contributors. While Cam Thomas and Kessler Edwards have also been impressive, Duke has been the best of the bunch to this point and could ultimately earn a look as a replacement for Brown and Johnson’s minutes down the road.
At least for now, though, Duke is worth adding for the next few games given what he has shown in his three games in a bigger role. In each of his three starts, he has logged well over 30 minutes. He had 10 points and 13 rebounds in his first start Tuesday, was a little quieter Thursday and then bounced back with 18 points and 14 rebounds in an impressive contest on Saturday. His rebounding is outstanding for a guard, and he should be heavily used until the Nets get back to full strength.
SF/PF Herbert Jones, New Orleans Pelicans (vs. POR, at ORL, at OKC)
With the return of Zion Williamson (foot) moving even further off into the distance, Jones should be locked into an extremely involved role for the Pelicans. The second-round pick from Alabama is a little undersized but has still made plenty of impact in his rookie season. He has started 19 of his 28 games while playing an average of 27.4 minutes with a 12.5% usage rate. While he doesn’t take a ton of shots, he’s very efficient and chips in good numbers across the board outside of 3-point shooting.
Jones has reached double-digit points in four of his past seven games, averaging 10.6 points per game while adding 3.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.6 blocks and 0.9 steals in his 31.0 minutes per game. His defensive numbers come from logging so many minutes, and the Pelicans should continue to give him plenty or run in the coming weeks to see how he can fit into their future plans.
Other options to consider
- PG Gabe Vincent, Miami Heat
- PG Isaiah Thomas, Los Angeles Lakers
- PG/SG Frank Jackson, Detroit Pistons
- SG Cameron Thomas, Brooklyn Nets
- SF Jordan Nwora, Milwaukee Bucks
- SF/PF Nicolas Batum, Los Angeles Clippers
- SF/PF Cedi Osman, Cleveland Cavaliers
- SF/PF Jae Crowder, Phoenix Suns
- SF/PF/C Precious Achiuwa, Toronto Raptors
- PF Chimezie Metu, Sacramento Kings
- PF/C P.J. Tucker, Miami Heat
- PF/C Dean Wade, Cleveland Cavaliers
- PF/C Hassan Whiteside, Utah Jazz
- PF/C Isaiah Hartenstein, Los Angeles Clippers
- C Robin Lopez, Orlando Magic
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