The NBA regular season heads into the second half of December with another busy week of action, highlighted by the Christmas Day showcase next Sunday to finish out the week. There are zero games on the schedule on Saturday, making for a quiet NBA Christmas Eve. As a result, Friday has 14 games with only two teams not in action. Wednesday is also busy with 11 games on tap before just two games in the showcase matchups on Thursday.
With the uneven schedule, there is more of a disparity between the teams schedules as well. While the vast majority of the teams (20 of 30) play three games this week, the Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets each only two games. On the other extreme, the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns play four games. Especially if you’re looking for a player to make a short-term impact, it’s important to look closely at how many games they play this week.
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 Monte Morris, Washington Wizards
- PG/SG Donte DiVincenzo, Golden State Warriors
- SG/SF Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies
- SG/SF Will Barton, Washington Wizards
- SG/SF Caris LeVert, Cleveland Cavaliers
- SG/SF/PF Herb Jones, New Orleans Pelicans
- SG/SF Max Strus, Miami Heat
- SF/PF Gordon Hayward, Charlotte Hornets
- SF/PF Brandon Clarke, Memphis Grizzlies
- SF/PF Dani Avdija, Washington Wizards
- PF/C Jalen Duren, Detroit Pistons
- PF/C Walker Kessler, Utah Jazz
- PF/C Larry Nance Jr., New Orleans Pelicans
- PF/C Mo Wagner, Orlando Magic
C Thomas Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (at PHX, at SAC, vs CHA, at DAL)
Bryant already appeared in this post a few weeks ago, but he’s still owned in under 15% of leagues coming into Sunday. He is growing into a larger role with the Lakers and could be set up for a major bump in responsibilities if Anthony Davis (foot) is sidelined or limited for a few games. The Lakers have a juicy upcoming schedule this week, and Bryant could be set up for a breakout.
On Friday, Davis left with his foot discomfort and Bryant stepped up with a season-high 21 points to go with six rebounds, two assists and a steal. He shot an impressive 9-of-11 from the field and even added a three-pointer in 24 minutes. He also played 32 minutes in a spot start a couple weeks ago, producing 16 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks.
In the three games in between those two contests, though, he only totaled 24 minutes, 12 points and four boards. There is risk that he’ll stay in that reduced role if Davis comes back and absorbs all the minutes in the middle, but he’s worth a pickup in case that isn’t the case since he would be an instant difference maker whenever Davis is limited or out.
SG/SF Quentin Grimes, New York Knicks (vs. GS, vs. TOR, vs. CHI, vs PHI)
Grimes has been locked back into the Knicks’ starting lineup and has a nice four-game slate upcoming to help your team out in the coming week. The second-year player has logged at least 28 minutes in nine consecutive games, averaging 33.2 minutes per contest and contributing 12.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.0 steals per game while averaging 2.3 made three-pointers per game.
He has made at least four three-pointers in three of his past five games including knocking down five shots from long range on Friday night in a win over the Bulls in Chicago. He piled up 22 points in that game for his second game with over 20 points this season, both of which have come over the past 10 days.
Grimes is still available in over 80% of leagues coming into Sunday, and if you need some solid production on the wing with nice three-point potential, he’s a strong pickup to consider.
PG Jaylen Nowell, Minnesota Timberwolves (vs. DAL, vs. DAL, at BOS)
Like both Grimes and Bryant, Nowell is available in over 80% of leagues but is surging into fantasy relevance. Normally, Nowell is the point guard of Minnesota’s second unit but with Karl-Anthony Towns (calf) and D’Angelo Russell (knee) dealing with injuries he has had a chance to step up his production across the board.
Nowell has scored at least 13 points in three straight games and in seven of his past 10. He has averaged 24.8 minutes off the bench in those 10 contests, producing 15.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 0.8 steals per game.
Over those 10 games, he has shot 47.2% while averaging 12.7 field goal attempts per contest. Nowell doesn’t offer quite the three-point or pure scoring potential of Grimes, but he can give you solid point guard production while getting so many shots per game.
SG/SF Josh Okogie, Phoenix Suns (vs. LAL, vs. WAS, vs. MEM, at DEN)
Nowell’s former teammate, Okogie signed with the Suns this offseason and has worked his way into the rotation. He only appeared in 18 of the Suns’ first 22 games, averaging a meager 6.2 minutes. Since then, though, he has logged over 20 minutes in five of his seven most recent contests coming into Saturday night’s matchup, while averaging 20.1 minutes per game per game over that stretch. With Deandre Ayton (ankle) and Cameron Payne (foot) hurt and no return in sight for Cam Johnson (knee), Okogie should continue to get good run in the coming week.
Okogie showed off his ceiling with a 28-point performance against the Celtics and has averaged 10.7 points per game over his past seven contests. He also contributes strong non-scoring numbers with 5.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.3 steals over that span. He had three games of multiple steals and a pair of games with 10 rebounds as well.
While he doesn’t have the potential explode out of the box score in any one category, Okogie can solidly contribute in every category across the stat sheet and in four good matchups can give your team a nice boost this week. He’s available in over 90% of leagues coming into Sunday.
Other options to consider
- PG Jordan Goodwin, Washington Wizards
- PG Dennis Schroder, Los Angles Lakers
- PG/SG/SF Alec Burks, Detroit Pistons
- SG/SF Luke Kennard, Los Angeles Clippers
- SG/SF Corey Kispert, Washington Wizards
- SG/SF Naji Marshall, New Orleans Pelicans
- SG/SF Jalen Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder
- SG/SF Austin Reaves, Los Angeles Lakers
- SF/PF Jalen McDaniels, Charlotte Hornets
- SF/PF Joe Ingles, Milwaukee Bucks
- SF/PF Yuta Watanabe, Brooklyn Nets
- PF/C Jonathan Kuminga, Golden State Warriors
- PF/C Trendon Watford, Portland Trail Blazers
- C Jock Landale, Phoenix Suns
- 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.