For many of you, the playoffs begin now. This week, as usual, I’ll fill you in with players to watch out for, players to add, an injury report, and I’ll fill you in on some superstars around the league to keep an eye on that might possibly start sitting games down the stretch to rest.
4 Games: ATL, BOS, BKN, CHA, CLE, DAL, DEN, DET, GS, IND, LAC, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, NO, NY, OKC, ORL, PHI, POR, SAC, SA, TOR, UTA, WSH
3 Games: CHI, HOU, PHO
Greg Monroe has been great all season for the Pistons, teaming up with Andre Drummond down low. Drummond is dealing with a concussion problem and may miss some time down the stretch, which would allow Monroe to pick up the slack down low. Over the last 15 days, Monroe has averaged 18.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, just under two steals and just under three assists per game. He’ll also chip in a block or two each night.
DeMarcus Cousins has been an absolute beast this season. Whether it’s because he’s just that good, or because he’s just the best option on a bad team in Sacramento, he’s benefitting either way. Boogie is averaging 24.1 points and 12.5 boards per game in the last two weeks and getting 1.3 blocks, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He’s also shooting a whopping 80% from the line during that time span, which is better than most guards in the league, much less big men. He even chipped in with a three pointer on March 3rd at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks. However, I wouldn’t expect any more of that from the former Wildcat.
Andrew Wiggins, just like the rest of his former team in Kansas, has been ice cold offensively recently. This past week, Wiggins has only been able to score 13.3 points, 4.7 rebounds per game and is shooting a lousy 36% from the field. The only positive from this past week from the former number one pick in the draft is that he’s hitting 86% of free throws, a category that he has struggled in all season long (73% on the season). It appears that Wiggins is still dealing with some growing pains in his rookie season for the Wolves, just as Anthony Davis did for New Orleans during the beginning of his career. Wiggins might not be able to make the jump to the level of stardom that Davis has in just his third season, but anything close to that would be a huge success and I wouldn’t count it out of the question.
If you own Wiggins in a keeper/dynasty league, he’s worth hanging on to because the ceiling is higher than just about any other player in the league right now. As for this season, Wiggins is likely going to continue dealing with the same issues he’s had all season and will be an inconsistent player shooting the basketball, which has led to the Wolves leaning on Kevin Martin and scoring by committee for the time being. Wiggins is the focus of that franchise and should be valued very high in fantasy leagues just as he his to the Wolves. However, I wouldn’t expect anything more this season that what he’s been doing all year long.
Monta Ellis has been in a bit of a funk lately for the Mavericks, shooting just 38% and averaging 16 points per game over the past two weeks. The Mavericks seem to have lost their touch offensively lately, which has led to the drop off in fantasy production from the rest of the team. This is likely a funk that he will shoot his way out of, however, I would avoid him or wait for the correct matchup before using him in a daily lineup. The Mavericks don’t play the Knicks or the Sixers this week though, so it might be a little bit longer.
Did you know that Andrea Bargnani was once the number on pick in the NBA draft? He’s been next to invisible for the past couple of seasons, which seems to happen to everyone that plays for the Knicks not named Carmelo Anthony. However, since the All-star break, Bargnani has been the Knicks leading scorer at 16.4 points per game and shooting 47% from the floor. He’s proven to be the key guy in New York for the time being, and even though it wont last very long, it should be taken advantage of now.
Nikola Mirotic has been the primary beneficiary of Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler being out of the lineup, coming off of the bench and scoring just under 20 points per game over the past two weeks. He’s contributing in just about every category across the board. His price tag in daily leagues is likely not at a price to be considered a steal, but he’s definitely as good of an option as it gets for that price when you see the consistency he’s had.
Khris Middleton has averaged 20.5 points and 2.6 threes per game for the Bucks over the past 15 days. Middleton has been their go-to scorer with their full roster on the floor, minus the injured rookie Jabari Parker. Middleton is likely to maintain this production for the rest of the season anyway with Parker out, making him a great option in daily leagues until he gets to be too expensive or if he’s still available to pick up in your league.
Tony Parker is likely owned in your standard league, but Parker has been going old school TP of late, averaging 22.5 points and 4.8 assists per game while shooting 56% over the past two weeks. Look to see if for some reason Parker is available in your league, and he should be gobbled up in daily leagues until his price tag gets to be up there with the other elite point guards.
Serge Ibaka has missed the past two games and should be considered questionable for Monday’s game against the Mavericks with a knee injury.
Jimmy Butler hasn’t been able to return to practice because of his elbow injury making him doubtful to return to the Bulls lineup for another week or two at the least.
Brandon Knight has missed three games because of an ankle injury. The Suns are desperate for wins and would love to get him back in the lineup as soon as possible, making his return more of a possibility sooner rather than later.
Rudy Gay missed the Kings game on Saturday with a knee injury and should be considered questionable for Monday’s game against the Hawks. He likely won’t be out for an extended period of time based on what they know about his injury so far, but there’s always that possibility that it lingers or is worse than they originally thought.
Mike Conley hasn’t played since he came back and finished the game against the Celtics on Wednesday. He likely will miss Monday’s game against the Nuggets. However, I would keep monitoring his situation.
Wesley Matthews will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing successful surgery to repair his torn Achilles tendon.
Jamal Crawford is without a timetable to return to action for the Clippers with a calf injury. JJ Redick will continue to benefit in the meantime until he gets back.
Al Jefferson injured his knee and is considered day-to-day for the Hornets.
Kevin Durant will likely return to the Thunder lineup in the next few days, or possibly in the next week. The Thunder originally said that he would just miss a week or two but it has stretched out to be longer than expected. Russell Westbrook has benefitted from the reigning MVP being out, but the Thunder need their leader back in the lineup if they’re going to make any noise in the playoffs.
There is a great possibility that some players rest on teams that are locked into the playoffs in both the Eastern and the Western conference. Over half of the Warriors, Grizzlies, Hawks, and Cavaliers starting lineups have sat due to rest over the past week sporadically, even with the race in the west being so tight. Make sure to check all the way up to game time to make sure your players are playing that night, especially if you’re in a daily league.