The NBA got 2022 off to a fast start last week, and there’s another busy week ahead as we move into the middle of January. It’s a slightly lighter schedule than last week since Monday only features seven games, and only Saturday has double-digit games on the schedule. For season-long leagues, you’ll want to stay aggressive and keep churning that roster as players' availability and value continue to shift. Since it’s a relatively balanced schedule, you can be aggressive to make your roster improvements for season-long leagues. Eighteen of the 30 teams play three times, with the other 12 teams each scheduled for four contests. With multiple important injuries. along with players checking in and out of protocols, things change in a hurry from day to day, so check out my Twitter account @ZT_sports if you are looking for single-game streaming options, along with cheap DFS plays on a daily basis.
At the top of this post each week, you can find the top trending pickups, who are rapidly disappearing off the waiver wire and probably rostered in your league. If available, they’re great options to consider. At the bottom of the post each week, you can find some deep-league options 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 are good pickups and are trending in the right direction.
Top Trending Players
- PG/SG Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers
- PG/SG Coby White, Chicago Bulls
- PG/SG Malik Monk, Los Angeles Lakers
- PG/SG De’Anthony Melton, Memphis Grizzlies
- SG/SF Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers
- SG/SF Max Strus, Miami Heat
- SG/SF Gary Harris, Orlando Magic
- SG/SF Terrence Ross, Orlando Magic
- SG/SF Hamidou Diallo, Detroit Pistons
- SF/PF Herbert Jones, New Orleans Pelicans
- SF/PF Cameron Johnson, Phoenix Suns
- PF/C Marcus Morris Sr., Los Angeles Clippers
- PF/C Hassan Whiteside, Utah Jazz
- C Omer Yurtseven, Miami Heat
- C Nicolas Claxton, Brooklyn Nets
SF/PF Cedi Osman, Cleveland Cavaliers (at SAC, at UTA, at SA, at OKC)
The Cavaliers have a great four-game schedule this week, with favorable matchups against the Kings, Spurs and Thunder. The Jazz will be tough, and the fact that all are road games make them a little challenging, but it still sets up good scenarios for Osman, who is barely rostered in 10% of leagues at this point after his six-game layoff in the league’s health and safety protocols.
Osman returned from that absence on Friday and logged 30 minutes off the bench in Cleveland’s 13-point win vs. the Trail Blazers. He had 14 points, including four 3-pointers, and added three rebounds and a steal. He has played at least 27 minutes in five of his past seven games and scored at least 13 points in each of those games. Without Ricky Rubio on the floor, Osman has produced 20 points, 3.4 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 3.7 3-pointers per 36 minutes. Since he’ll have to help carry the playmaking load with Rubio out for the season, he should produce when given opportunities. Those chances should definitely come his way this week with Isaac Okoro (elbow) sidelined and Lamar Stevens still in the starting lineup. Osman could start over Stevens or remain critically involved as part of the second unit. Either way, his fantasy prospects for this week look bright.
SF/PF Brandon Clarke, Memphis Grizzlies (vs. GSW, vs. MIN, vs. DAL)
Clarke is still available in over two-thirds of fantasy leagues and is starting to find a more regularly involved role with Memphis. Just as he was working into a larger role, he missed 11 games with knee soreness. Since returning, though, he has played just under 20 minutes per game and reached double-digit points in six of eight contests, including five straight. He doesn’t bring any 3-point upside, but his scoring, rebounding and blocked shots are definitely worth considering if you need a boost in the frontcourt. He has attempted at least nine shots in four straight and should definitely be worth rostering if he stays involved to that degree.
His best game of the stretch was Saturday vs. the Clippers. He logged 28 minutes in that game partly due to the absence of Steven Adams (health protocols) and partly due to the departure of Dillon Brooks with an ankle injury, which could keep him out for a while. Clarke stepped up with 18 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks. If Brooks is out, there could be expanded work for Clarke, giving him very attractive upside.
SF Jordan Nwora, Milwaukee Bucks (at CHA, vs. GSW, vs. TOR)
The Bucks are shorthanded coming into this week with Donte DiVincenzo (ankle) out due to injury while Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, George Hill and Pat Connaughton all start the week in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. The Bucks also parted ways with DeMarcus Cousins, who had been playing a significant role, so there should be chances for Nwora after he cleared protocols himself and is ready to contribute once again.
The second-year player has started each of his three games since returning from protocols. He had 17 points, six rebounds and two assists vs. the Raptors and followed that with 13 points and two boards vs. the Nets. On Saturday, he had only three points and three rebounds but still logged 31 minutes. He shot a woeful 1-for-11, but based on his 42.4% field goal percentage before the game, he should bounce back fine from the rough outing. With Milwaukee managing the workload of its stars and Nwora there to put up big games when given more run, he should be a very roster-able fantasy asset the rest of the regular season, especially while so many wing options are sidelined.
PF/C P.J. Tucker, Miami Heat (at ATL, vs. ATL, vs. PHI)
With Bam Adebayo (thumb) and Dewayne Dedmon (knee) still both out due to injury, Tucker’s return from health and safety protocols has landed him a very involved role in the Heat rotation. He had a monster double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds on Wednesday in his return to the starting five. He also added six assists, a steal and a block while playing 36 minutes.
That kind of monster game isn’t the norm from Tucker, but he can give you great non-scoring production. In his six games before entering protocols, he had also picked up his scoring, averaging 13.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 0.8 steals and scoring at least eight points in each of those contests. He isn’t a primary offensive option when Miami is healthy, but he’s a solid addition for now while Miami tries to figure out exactly what everyone’s role will be when they’re back at full strength.
Other options to consider
- PG Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks
- PG Rajon Rondo, Cleveland Cavaliers
- SG/SF Kevin Huerter, Atlanta Hawks
- SG/SF Lance Stephenson, Indiana Pacers
- SG/SF Talen Horton-Tucker, Los Angeles Lakers
- SG/SF Caleb Martin, Miami Heat
- SG/SF Garrison Mathews, Houston Rockets
- SF/PF Jae Crowder, Phoenix Suns
- PF/C Mason Plumlee, Charlotte Hornets
- PF/C Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings
- PF/C Onyeka Okongwu, Atlanta Hawks
- C Thomas Bryant, 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.
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