Fantasy Basketball 2019: NBA Pickups to Watch After December 18

Theo SalaunContributor IIIDecember 19, 2019

Atlanta Hawks forward De'Andre Hunter (12) dunks over Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22)and forward Duncan Robinson (55) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019, in Miami. The Heat won 135-121 in overtime. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

We are in the thick of the NBA season, and there are injuries aplenty. Some fantasy contributors are out, while others have lost value with the return of rehabilitated players. 

Maybe you lost Mike Conley to his hamstring injury or the return of Marvin Bagley has dented your Richaun Holmes pickup. Whatever the case, we've got a variety of waiver presents to consider moving into the holiday season—with three particularly notable deeper adds.

For those of you in shallower leagues, consider players like Luke Kennard (67 percent owned), Isaiah Thomas (43 percent owned) and Dillon Brooks (36 percent owned), who are each playing, and scoring, well as starters. Kevin Huerter (37 percent owned) also returned as a starter and has serious upside. Finally, Dennis Schroder (65 percent owned) and Norman Powell (53 percent owned) are both eager bucketeers who have been getting a run with their teams' second units. 

As for those of you in deeper leagues, the three most interesting pickups owned in under 33 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues are Darius Garland, De'Andre Hunter and Kevin Knox

                     

PG Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers (20 percent owned)

Like your favorite rom-com, Garland has been, and continues to be, a "will they, won't they?" storyline. The fifth pick of this year's draft, Garland is an inconsistent, raw point guard—but his moments of flash are dazzling. Those moments are enough to keep him in mind as the season progresses.

In December, Garland has only scored double-digit points in three of nine games and only shot better than 37.5 percent from the field twice. That floor is rocky, to say the least. But his leash is loose, and 28.4 minutes per game over that span is encouraging.

More encouraging is that Garland is finally hitting some threes and landing some assists. Over his past four games, he is averaging 2.3 threes and hasn't had a game with under five assists. He doesn't get to the line much, but he is shooting 86.2 percent from the stripe when he does this season. 

The Cavaliers are a mess, as Garland has certainly contributed to, but his opportunity should continue, and the 19-year-old is talented enough to keep an eye on as he acclimates to his new workplace.

                   

SF De'Andre Hunter, Atlanta Hawks (32 percent owned)

A more polished rookie, Hunter has shown exactly what we saw from him as a collegian. The 6'7" 22-year-old is long, mobile, strong and in possession of a comfortable looking jumper. Like Garland, he has also been inconsistent and unable to assert himself at will.

Hunter is also averaging 31.8 minutes per game this season and seems to be one of the lone, steady fixtures on a chaotic, middling Hawks team. Rebounds, assists and defensive stats have been rare for the rookie to find, but he's had his moments as a contributor.

Against the Miami Heat on December 10, Hunter played 40 minutes and pitched in 28 points (with five threes), four rebounds, three assists and one block on 64.7 percent shooting from the field. He is likely to remain involved for heavy minutes all season, so once the game slows down, his production should become more consistent. 

Consider Hunter similar to Garland but with a higher floor because of his role and a lower ceiling because of the latter's potential. 

                    

SF/PF Kevin Knox, New York Knicks (5 percent owned)

Does it hurt that Knox is a sophomore and his evaluation is strikingly similar to Hunter's? A little bit.

Knox has every tool. He is a 6'7" bulldog with a pretty jump shot, surprising bounce and the touch and handle you don't usually see from a prospect with his build. But at 20 years old, maybe he is proof that we should not assume the game will slow down anytime soon for Garland or Hunter.

After playing 28.8 minutes per game and starting 57 contests as a rookie, Knox found himself in David Fizdale's doghouse and relegated to just 19.9 minutes and three starts this season. That restraint has not helped much, as his field-goal percentage only increased by 1 percent (to 38 percent) while both his points and rebounds per 36 minutes dropped. 

Instead of learning from Marcus Morris Sr., Knox seemed demoralized and remained a wild card, just in spottier minutes. But Fizdale is gone, and the Knicks are a new team. Knox's minutes have risen in each of the past four games, leading up to a 24-minute stretch against the Hawks on Tuesday that meant 17 points (including three threes) on 50 percent shooting, two rebounds, two assists, three steals and one block. 

If his minutes continue rising, then his production should, too. Knox could end up playing the role for a resurgent Knicks team that fans of talent thought he would.

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