It's time for playoff fantasy basketball. For managers entering the postseason, ride with key players but keep an open mind about the utility and bench spots.
At this stage in the regular season, clubs fall into three categories: playoff squad, mathematically alive for the postseason or preparing for a long summer.
Teams in developmental mode could help strengthen a fantasy roster. Oftentimes, younger talents see a significant spike in minutes. As always, keep an eye on the injury report.
The Los Angeles Lakers announced guard Lonzo Ball (ankle) and Brandon Ingram (arm) will miss the remainder of the season. LeBron James will play with a minutes restriction going forward. Managers should flock to the waiver for role players expected to see more time on the court.
As reality and fantasy hoops head into crucial periods, we'll highlight some of the top contributors emerging for winning and non-playoff teams. Who should you start, sit and add?
PF/C Dwight Powell, Dallas Mavericks
Once the Dallas Mavericks traded center DeAndre Jordan to the New York Knicks and forward Harrison Barnes to the Sacramento Kings, the extra minutes to go around had to benefit someone in the frontcourt.
Right now, Dwight Powell seems like the top big man to own on this roster. He's started the last seven contests and logged 30-plus minutes in six of those outings.
More importantly, the 27-year-old has produced with an increased role, averaging 16.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists over the last two weeks. On good days, the 6'11" forward will swipe a couple of steals.
With 20-plus points in two of his last four games and at least six rebounds in nine consecutive contests, Powell belongs in starting lineups.
PG/SG Derrick White, San Antonio Spurs
Guard Derrick White had a slow start to the season, but the second-year pro hit his stride on both ends of court in recent outings.
He can help owners in most categories and doesn't turn the ball over at a high frequency, though he's not a three-point shooter.
White has averaged 12 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.2 blocks over the last two weeks. He also converted 47 percent from the field in that span.
If you've placed White on the bench following his six-game absence because of heel soreness in February, plug him into your lineup with confidence as we go through March.
He's the Spurs' secondary playmaker with the ball in his hands. The 6'4" guard should finish the 2018-19 campaign on a strong note.
PF/C Joakim Noah, Memphis Grizzlies
Center Joakim Noah posted solid numbers in February, averaging 12.6 points, eight rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.2 blocks per contest. He's lost some steam over the last week, failing to score double figures in three of the last four games with eight turnovers.
Now 28-40, the Memphis Grizzlies will likely curtail Noah's minutes. He's 34 years old on an expiring contract. The 12th-year veteran has played more than 23 minutes once in the last six contests. The Grizzlies have a two-game schedule in the upcoming week; don't expect to see much production from the big man.
Unless your lineup desperately needs a sprinkle of blocks, Noah belongs on the bench until further notice.
SG/SF Dion Waiters, Miami Heat
Dion Waiters came a long way to return to action after undergoing ankle surgery in January of last year. He's played his way back into head coach Erik Spoelstra's rotation with the solid performances in February, but the 27-year-old has taken a few steps back over the last week.
Spoelstra has provided guard Goran Dragic 16-25 minutes upon his return from knee surgery. Lately, he's been hampered because of a calf strain. Still, the lineup changes have seemingly thrown Waiters off his mark.
In mid-to-late February, Waiters notched double figures in points for seven consecutive outings. Over the last two weeks, the 27-year-old has averaged 9.1 points while shooting 38 percent from the field and 60 percent at the free-throw line.
As Dragic suits up consistently, Waiters' value will likely drop even further down the stretch. Barring a spark in the next few contests, keep him tied to the bench or consider a waiver-wire swap.
PF Moritz Wagner, Los Angeles Lakers (16 percent owned)
As mentioned, the Lakers will finish the season without Ball and Ingram, and the coaching staff will begin to preserve James.
Kyle Kuzma should return from an ankle injury in the near future, but new faces should see more time on the court in the last 16 games.
Rookie forward Moritz Wagner started his first NBA game against the Boston Celtics Saturday and logged 22 points, six boards, three assists, a block and knocked down all seven of his free throws. He isn't known for solid defense, but he established himself as a smooth scorer with range at Michigan.
Wagner will likely move to the bench once Kuzma returns, but he played 27 minutes in a reserve role against the Denver Nuggets Wednesday.
Owners willing to roll the dice on the first-year forward could benefit in the points, triples, rebounds and percentage categories. He's an attractive target with a four-game slate for Week 22.
SG Luke Kennard, Detroit Pistons (38 percent owned)
As the Detroit Pistons battle for playoff position, Luke Kennard has found his stroke. Over the last two weeks, he's recorded 16.6 points and 3.1 triples per game while shooting 54 percent from the field.
The second-year guard isn't a starter, but he's averaging 27.8 minutes post All-Star break. Kennard's range helps stretch the floor on offense. With his shots falling at a high rate, he'll continue to fill the sharpshooter role.
For the year, Kennard shoots 40 percent from beyond the arc. It's rare to find that type of efficiency on the waiver wire late in the season, but he's available in 62 percent of leagues—add him, especially for triples.