After a whirlwind trade deadline this past week, the NBA still has a few more days of games before the All-Star break starts this coming Friday. Some fantasy basketball sites will extend Week 18 over two weeks until Feb. 27 while others start Week 19 on Feb. 21. While it’s important to understand how your league deals with the six-day break, it’s even more important to make sure there are no obvious ways to improve your team sitting on the waiver wire. With multiple big-time players on the move, the NBA has a different look coming down the stretch with six weeks left before what should be a fascinating and action-packed postseason.
In the combined format that runs through Feb. 27, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic and the Los Angeles Lakers are the outliers with only three games over the two-week span while everyone else plays either four or five games. The Cavs and Lakers only play one time before the break while every other team has either two or three games over the four days between Monday and Thursday.
At the top of this post each week, you can find the top trending pickups who are rapidly disappearing off the waiver wire. If they are still available on your league’s waiver wire, they’re great options to consider. On the other extreme, you can find some very available deep-league options to consider at the bottom of the post. In between those two groups, you can find four highlighted sleepers who I think are good pickups trending in the right direction. Things change in a hurry from day to day at this point in 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 Davion Mitchell, Sacramento Kings
- SG/SF Chris Duarte, Indiana Pacers
- SG/SF Devin Vassell, San Antonio Spurs
- SG/SF Reggie Bullock, Dallas Mavericks
- SF/PF Darius Bazley, Oklahoma City Thunder
- PF/C P.J. Washington, Charlotte Hornets
- PF/C Marcus Morris Sr., Los Angeles Clippers
- PF/C Montrezl Harrell, Charlotte Hornets
- C Andre Drummond, Brooklyn Nets
- C Steven Adams, Memphis Grizzlies
SG Cameron Thomas, Brooklyn Nets (vs. SAC, at NY, vs. WAS, vs. BOS, at MIL)
The Nets traded away James Harden to the 76ers at the trade deadline and got back Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond. Simmons may be a ways away from contributing and Kyrie Irving is still only playing road games (meaning that he’ll only play two of the five games over the next two weeks). While Curry’s arrival could crowd Thomas a little bit long-term, there should still be plenty of work for the rookie out of LSU, who is a nice scoring complement to the specialists the Nets have built around their core.
Thomas has broken through over the past five games, scoring at least 17 points in each of those games partly due to his usage rate spiking to 28.3% after a solid 20.2% usage rate over his first 40 games this season. Thomas has averaged 23.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.2 steals per game over that five-game stretch and has shown the ability to get buckets in bunches. While there may be a point when everyone is available for Brooklyn that the 20-year-old is diminished to a bench role that makes him fantasy irrelevant, he’s definitely worth a look as an addition right now while he’s on so much of a hot streak.
SF/PF Aleksej Pokusevski, Oklahoma City Thunder (at NY, vs. SA, vs. PHX, at IND)
After a rough start to his second year in the NBA, the Thunder dropped Poku from their rotation and had him do more work in the G League. Over the past week, though, Pokusevski has re-entered a significant role for the Thunder and been very productive. Despite a game that he sat out after playing a G League game earlier in the day, he has played at least 26 minutes in three of the Thunder’s past five games.
In the four games in which he has appeared during this stint with OKC, he has averaged 13.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 1.3 assists and a steal. He has shown he can put together solid non-scoring numbers in the past as well, and he should be a solid addition if he continues to get so much playing time. The Thunder are a team clearly looking to the future, so getting their 20-year-old seven-footer plenty of exposure to NBA competition should be a priority the rest of the way.
PF Jalen Smith, Indiana Pacers (at MIL, vs. WAS, vs. OKC, vs. BOS)
Smith got a huge boost at the trade deadline by moving from the overcrowded Suns frontcourt to the rebuilding Pacers. He was a fantasy non-factor playing under 10 minutes in five of the Suns’ six most recent contests prior to the trade, but he did have a chance to showcase his upside earlier this season, averaging 15.8 points, 10.2 rebounds (including 4.7 offensive rebounds) and a blocked shot per game over a six-game stretch from Dec. 27 to Jan. 6. Smith had three double-doubles during that span and a solid 21.9% usage rate.
With his new team, Smith will compete for playing time with Goga Bitadze, Isaiah Jackson and Oshea Brissett, but Smith has a lot of upside which the Pacers will likely want to get a good look at after acquiring him in exchange for Torrey Craig. In his debut with Indiana, Smith played 21 minutes on Friday night off the bench and had a solid 12 points, three rebounds, a block plus a steal. If he keeps seeing regular playing time, he should be a very playable forward down the stretch with a very high ceiling.
PG Ish Smith, Washington Wizards (vs. DET, at IND, at BKN, vs. SA, at CLE)
The Wizards were one of the biggest sellers at the deadline, shipping out Montrezl Harrell, Aaron Holiday and Spencer Dinwiddie in three separate deals. With Bradley Beal (wrist) also out for the season, there should be a ton of usage available. Beal led the team with a 29.7% usage rate, Harrell ranked third among players with at least 10 games played with a 20.4% usage rate, and Dinwiddie was just behind him with a 20.3% usage rate. The only guard the team acquired in those deals was Smith, who spent the past two seasons with the Wizards before signing with the Hornets before this season.
His role with the Hornets was extremely limited, as he was only averaging 13.8 minutes per game. Ish did have 18 points, seven assists, a steal and only one turnover in his only start of the season, and he also had a strong showing on Jan. 28 against the Lakers when he posted a season-high 22 points in 26 minutes. In his first game of this season with the Wizards, he played 20 minutes off the bench and produced nine points, five assists, three steals, a blocked shot and a rebound. It wouldn’t be surprising if he eventually works his way back into the starting five for the Wizards or at least offers enough assist and steal production off the bench to be a very nice PG contributor. Smith is still available in about 90% of leagues, so he’s definitely an option to consider if you need help in the backcourt.
Other options to consider
- PG Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago Bulls
- PG/SG/SF Javonte Green, Chicago Bulls
- SG/SF Jeremy Lamb, Sacramento Kings
- SF/PF Danilo Gallinari, Atlanta Hawks
- SF/PF Dorian Finney-Smith, Dallas Mavericks
- SF/PF Brandon Clarke, Memphis Grizzlies
- SF/PF Jonathan Kuminga, Golden State Warriors
- PF Justise Winslow, Portland Trail Blazers
- PF/C Maxi Kleber, Dallas Mavericks
- PF/C Marvin Bagley, Detroit Pistons
- PF/C Oshea Brissett, Indiana Pacers
- PF/C Thaddeus Young, Toronto Raptors
- PF/C Onyeka Okongwu, Atlanta Hawks
- C Goga Bitadze, Indiana Pacers
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