NBA Fantasy Waiver Pickups & Schedule (Week 21): Brook Lopez, Anfernee Simons Injury Pivots, More
Abbie Parr/Getty Images. Pictured: Brook Lopez #11 of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Madness might be starting for the college players this week, but it has been in full swing for the NBA.
Joe Dellera and Dan Titus break down how they are viewing the top players to watch and note how to benefit on worthwhile player prop angles fantasy trends and scheduling quirks for Week 21.
Read below to see where they are finding small edges this week.
Fantasy Basketball Schedule — Week 21
- Four Games:ATL, CLE, DEN, LAL, OKC, PHI, PHX, POR, SAC, SAS, TOR, UTA, WAS
- Three Games:BOS, BKN, CHA, CHI, DAL, DET, GSW, HOU, IND, LAC, MEM, MIL, MIN, NOP, NYK, ORL
- Two Games:MIA
Fantasy Friendly Teams in Week 21
- Suns (@NOP, @HOU, CHI, @SAC)
- Hawks (POR, @CHA, MEM, NOP)
- Trail Blazers (@ATL, @NYK, @BKN, @IND)
- Thunder (CHA, @SAS, @MIA, @ORL)
- Spurs (MIN, OKC, NOP, @GSW)
Honorable mentions: The Pistons play three games on lighter slates this week (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday). The Magic (Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday) play three games as well but the best opportunity to stream Magic players would be on Tuesday and Thursday.
In daily head-to-head leagues, get an edge on your opponent by allotting a portion of your weekly transactions to the smaller slates.
You’ll likely have to make start/sit decisions on the larger game slates (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) but with only four games on Tuesday, one on Thursday, and four on Saturday, these are prime opportunities to collect more stats so take advantage of the schedule.
Number of Games played Each Day
- Monday: Nine games
- Tuesday: Four games
- Wednesday: 12 games
- Thursday: One game
- Friday: 12 games
- Saturday: Four games
- Sunday: Nine games
We mentioned this in last week's column: Try to break up your waiver transactions between early and late week pickups. Analyze your opponent and focus on the categories you typically win and dig into those.
For example, don’t worry about picking up an assists guy if after two nights you’re down by 50 assists. Remember, you only have to win 5-4, so hone in on the winnable categories!
If you’ve earned a bye week, start looking ahead to Week 22 where you’ll want to avoid teams like the Clippers, Kings, and Spurs because they only play two games that week.
- Guards: Brandon Williams, Immanuel Quickley, Ish Smith, Cory Joseph, Alex Caruso, Markelle Fultz, Aaron Holiday, Malik Beasley, Tre Mann, Chris Duarte, Josh Christopher
- Forwards: Trendon Watford, Josh Hart, Darius Bazley, Jae Crowder, Aleksej Pokusevski, Chuma Okeke, Isaiah Jackson, Bruce Brown, Justise Winslow (stash), Oshae Brissett, Keon Johnson, Trey Lyles, Corey Kispert
- Centers: Hassan Whiteside, Drew Eubanks, Marvin Bagley, Jaxson Hayes, Isaiah Hartenstein, Brook Lopez (stash), Jalen Smith, Chris Boucher, Isaiah Roby
Players to Watch
Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks
We got our Sunday Woj Bomb when it was announced that Brook Lopez would be returning on Monday after undergoing back surgery. Lopez has played just one game this season and his return is much more important for basketball reasons than fantasy reasons.
Considering the injury, it should be expected that Lopez will be eased back into the rotation. His minutes likely will cut into Bobby Portis’ but Portis has been incredible this season and I doubt he sees his minutes slashed immediately.
Fantasy Impact: In 70 games last season, Lopez averaged 12.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in about 27 minutes per game. He’s not necessarily someone to rush to grab considering they play just three games this week but if you have the luxury of a bye it may be worth grabbing Lopez for his strong percentages and all around contributions.
Aside from Lopez, the Bucks lifted the injury designation for George Hill who has missed the last 16 games. His return dramatically improves their depth at the guard position and gives them a capable facilitator off the bench. While Hill is not a pickup, he likely impacts Wesley Matthews’ and Grayson Allen’s minutes.
Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers
Anfernee Simons was having an incredible season and had flourished without Damian Lillard by his side. He just had an MRI on Thursday that confirmed a mild patellar tendinopathy on his left knee.
Considering he will be re-evaluated in two weeks it’s entirely possible Simons misses the rest of the fantasy playoffs, especially given that the Blazers are very clearly in the midst of a tank. If you’re in a league that does not have IL spots, Simons is going to be tough to hold throughout the fantasy playoffs.
Fantasy Impact: In his absence, the Blazers have turned to Trendon Watford, Brandon Williams, and Josh Hart. Hart just had a career night with 44 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and four steals against the Wizards on Saturday. It was an otherworldly performance for Hart and it’ll be interesting to see how the Blazers manage his minutes (if at all) as they develop their younger talent.
Watford has been a stud. Over the last five games he is averaging 17 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists while shooting 50% from the field. He’s a must pick up especially considering the Blazers four-game week with no back-to-backs.
Brandon Williams has also been impressive — 16.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists — over this same stretch. When I say impressive I’m really referencing their volume and the stats that are likely available on your waiver wires, not that these stats are translating to real world wins.
With a matchup against the Hawks’ porous defense on Monday, these two may be players to target for player props as well.
Check out our free NBA odds page, which automatically surfaces the best line for every game.
Jonathan Kuminga, Golden State Warriors
Jonathan Kuminga has burst onto the scene the past few games and he’s played over 20 minutes in five straight games. While Draymond Green is expected back soon, Kuminga’s emergence may allow Green to rest just a bit more.
Over his last five games, Kuminga has averaged 17.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists on 55.9% shooting while hitting 40% of his 3-point shots. He’s a well rounded player and he may steal some minutes from Otto Porter Jr. as well.
Alperen Sengun, Houston Rockets
It seems as if we have been waiting for a breakout for this rookie, but with Christian Wood dealing with a variety of ailments, we may have the opportunity down the stretch.
Over the last two weeks (eight games), Sengun is averaging 10.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 2.0 stocks in about 23.5 minutes per game. He plays significantly more minutes as a starter, but he’s a valuable asset either way.