Fantasy Basketball: Four NBA players who could be league winners
We're in the thick of the fantasy basketball playoffs, and an early congrats to those who were able to weather the load management and injury storms all year to get to this moment — the chance to win a fantasy hoops championship. A lot is still to be determined, but some players have already shown to be critical assets for fantasy managers during this playoff stretch.
And it for damn sure isn't Isaiah Livers (smh).
Many highly rostered stars would’ve easily made this list, and ascending players like Mikal Bridges are warranted, too. But instead of keying in on the prominent figures, I’ll highlight several other players who can lead you to victory.
Before getting into the list, I want to acknowledge that Tyus Jones would have been included, but in a stunning turn of events, Ja Morant will be eligible to return to the Grizzlies on Monday after receiving a backdated eight-game suspension from the NBA.
Jones had all the makings of a league winner when Morant's return was in doubt. He's been averaging 17.4 points along with 3.8 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 2.2 threes,1.8 steals and only 1.2 turnovers across 33.8 minutes per night since becoming the Grizzlies starting point guard five games ago.
News of Morant's return will clearly impact Jones' playing time, but I wouldn't drop him in 12+ team leagues yet. He remains a fantastic H2H fantasy player off the bench and will provide double-digit points and tally up enough assists, steals and threes for fantasy managers in the weeks ahead. For Morant managers, this is excellent news, as you can deploy him back into your lineups for the final weeks of the regular season.
With that out of the way, here are the four players with league-winning potential the rest of the season:
The Jazz have a demanding schedule in Week 21, but if THT hits your waiver wire, he's a player you'll definitely want to roster for Weeks 22 and 23. The Jazz play four games in both weeks, but more importantly, he's holding onto the starting role with Collin Sexton (hamstring) and Jordan Clarkson (finger) out of the lineup. The knock against Horton-Turnover is just that, the turnovers.
However, if you're punting turnovers, he's a top 50 player over the past week, averaging 23.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 8.7 assists, 1.7 threes and 0.7 steals with 49/39/91 shooting splits. If you're not punting turnovers, he's probably not the guy for you since he's given the ball up almost four times per game over the past week (and since the All-Star break).
Still, he will continue seeing a ton of minutes, and his usage is up to 28.6% in March — a good indication that he'll have plenty of opportunities to pile up stats when fantasy managers need it the most.
I know it's been a while since he's been under 50% rostered, but the rookie has been one of the best fantasy players after the All-Star break. Take a look at the splits:
Pre-All-Star: 12.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 0.9 threes and 1.2 steals with 1.6 turnovers
Shooting splits: 51/32/75
Post All-Star: 21.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.4 threes, 2.0 steals with 1.6 turnovers
Shooting splits: 59/47/84
For a rookie to improve their efficiency with more volume is special. He ranks 83rd in per-game value this season, but he's been a top-15 player over the past month.
With Shai Gilgeous-Alexander a candidate to rest (or get shut down, let's be honest), J-Dub should flourish for fantasy managers vying for a fantasy basketball championship.
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It's hard to believe that Kyle Anderson was only 48% rostered in Week 19, but those in shallow leagues made a move at the right time, considering his recent play. He notched triple-doubles in his last two outings, but he's been an underrated fantasy asset all season. He's ranked in the top 60 since December 1 and refuses to downshift into "Slo-mo."
The trade deadline was the best thing to happen to Anderson, as he's seen boosts in his PPG (+2.9), REB/G (+2.6), AST/G (+2.4), FG percentage (+8.5%) and 3PT % (+7.4%). He's risen to 32nd in per-game value over the past seven days, and Anderson will continue to produce with Karl-Anthony Towns still, reportedly week's away from returning to the court.
The Timberwolves play three games in Week 22 (Mon/Wed/Sun), and despite that three-day lull between games on Wednesday and Sunday, I'd hold Anderson because he will be crucial for championship week. Of course, you have to win to get there, but his versatility can't be understated for the amount of rebounds, assists, steals and blocks he piles up in fantasy. The Timberwolves are a game out on the 6th seed in the West, so they will need him as they make a playoff push.
The Spurs are beyond frustrating, employing varying resting tactics late in the season. Still, Zach Collins is in a prime position to punch some fantasy championship fantasy tickets with news of Charles Bassey (knee) sustaining a potentially season-ending injury on Tuesday night. While no Spur is absolved from load management, Collins played in 35 straight games before missing a game on March 5, the second night of a back-to-back set. He'll also miss tonight's contest, but fortunately, the Spurs only have one back-to-back left this season.
The Spurs play four games in Week 22 and three in Week 23, and despite having some tough matchups, Collins has been performing great in the latter half of the season. Since the trade deadline (when I advocated for picking up Collins when he was 30% rostered), he's averaged 15.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.7 threes, 1.2 steals and 0.8 blocks with 49/44/83 shooting splits. Those numbers put him just outside the top 40 in fantasy over the span. And more recently, he's ranked 26th in per-game value in the past 14 days.
Collins' offensive skill set is perfect for fantasy as he can stretch the floor and dish out assists as a big man. He has double-double potential every night in his current role, and he's been one of the best value pickups since February. I didn't anticipate Collins being a potential league winner, but here we are!