Fantasy Basketball 2019: Hidden Gems to Pick Up for NBA Week 23

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2019

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Tyus Jones (1) drives around Utah Jazz guard Ricky Rubio (3) in the first half during an NBA basketball game Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

There are two weeks left in standard NBA fantasy leagues, and roster attrition becomes a huge factor.

Injuries could bring instability to starting lineups, but don't hit the panic button—several options remain on the waiver wire going into Week 23.

Some fantasy owners have reached desperate times. Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon will sit out indefinitely with a minor plantar fascia tear.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Portland Trail Blazers sharpshooter CJ McCollum suffered a popliteus strain in his left knee: 

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Sources: Portland guard CJ McCollum has a popliteus strain in his left knee. He will be re-examined in a week.

Whether you plan to move those players to injured reserve or drop them, someone must fill the void. Perhaps it's time to pick up a free agent who can provide a lift in other categories. 

The hidden gems listed below are available in more than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues as of Sunday 9 p.m. EST. It's a split selection group between frontcourt assets and guards.

Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

C Robin Lopez, Chicago Bulls (46 percent owned)

Games: at PHX, vs. WAS, vs. UTA

Last Week Averages: .625 FG%, .833 FT%, 16.7 PPG, 7.0 REB, 1.7 BLK

Robin Lopez came up in buyout conversations, but he balked at the possibility in February. The 30-year-old center relishes his playing time with the Chicago Bulls, per Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson.

"I enjoy playing with these guys," Lopez said. "I enjoy being on the floor with them. Any chance I get to play, I'm looking forward to it."

Rookie center Wendell Carter Jr. suffered a thumb injury in January, and he'll likely miss the remainder of season as his team dropped to 19-52 Sunday—well out of the playoff contention.

In the meantime, Lopez continues to start and take advantage of a large workload. He's played 30-plus minutes in five of the previous seven contests. 

Don't expect Lopez's averages to hit a rut any time soon. Cristiano Felicio, the primary big man off the bench, hasn't played 20-plus minutes since early November.

If the 11th-year veteran is somehow on the waiver wire, pick him up. The Bulls center could post a double-double on any given night with impressive percentages.


MIAMI, FL - MARCH 15: Bam Adebayo #13 of the Miami Heat is seen before the game against the Milwaukee Bucks on March 15, 2019 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or us
Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

PF/C Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat (47 percent owned)

Games: vs. at OKC at SA, at MIL, at WAS 

Last Week Averages: .667 FG%, 12.0 PPG, 8.3 REB, 2.3 AST, 1.0 STL

Savvy managers may have scooped center Bam Adebayo early in the season and stuck with him through his ups and downs. It's not too late to ride the wave. Still available in 53 percent of Yahoo leagues, the 6'10" big man posted double-figure point totals in six consecutive outings. 

Adebayo moved into the starting lineup February 27 against the Golden State Warriors. Until further notice, head coach Erik Spoelstra seems comfortable with the 21-year-old in an expanded role as the Miami Heat cling to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.

As the preferred closer in most contests, Adebayo should maintain his statistical draw through the end of the season. He's a decent passer at his size, giving fantasy owners a pleasant boost in the assist category at the center or power forward position.


Jim Mone/Associated Press

PG Tyus Jones, Minnesota Timberwolves (26 percent owned) 

Games: vs. GS, at CHA, at MEM 

Last Week Averages: .520 FG%, 9.3 PPG, 5.7 APG, 1.0 STL

Jeff Teague (foot inflammation) and Derrick Rose (elbow soreness) missed the last three games, which allowed Tyus Jones to see extended time on the court. As the healthiest of the three guards, he'll likely see heavy minutes in the final stretch of the season.

In a starting role, as the primary facilitator, Jones could dish out several dimes. He logged 17 assists in his last three outings. The fourth-year point guard can also tally marks in the steals and three-point categories.

If Teague and Rose return to action, it's an obvious hit to Jones' value, but he can still produce with one of the two healthy enough to play.

Because the Minnesota Timberwolves trail the Los Angeles Clippers by 8.5 games for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference, this team may not rush its injured guards back to the floor.


David Zalubowski/Associated Press

PG Emmanuel Mudiay New York Knicks (21 percent owned) 

Games: at TOR, vs. UTA, vs. DEN, vs. LAC

Last Week Averages: 21 PPG, 2.7 3PTM, 3.3 RPG, 4.7 APG

Because of a sore lower back, point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed the last two contests; Emmanuel Mudiay took over the starting spot. As the New York Knicks inch closer to the No. 1 overall pick, we could see more of the same in the backcourt.

To Mudiay's credit, he's delivered in the scoring department in the last three games, averaging 21 points in that short stretch. Additionally, he's comfortable pulling up from beyond the arc, hitting eight triples last week; his shooting percentage could improve, but it's not terrible at approximately 46 percent for the season. 

At Madison Square Garden on Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers, the fourth-year guard had one of his strongest performances of the season. He logged 28 points, which included three triples and eight assists, and he went 9-of-10 from the free-throw line.

Mudiay is a must-start player as long as he's logging 30-plus minutes.