Fantasy Basketball 2021: Hidden Gems to Pick Up for NBA Week 9
Injuries, sicknesses and (sometimes correlated) breakout performances will constantly keep 2021 NBA fantasy managers on the watch. Dropping headfirst into Week 9, there's no better time to shore up your roster with upsurging talent.
Whether you're in a points or categories league, these three players are not only widely available (rostered in 50 percent or less of Yahoo fantasy leagues, per FantasyPros) but they also possess long-term upside.
If you're more concerned with plugging a hole with someone who can put up some short-term production, players such as the San Antonio Spurs' Jakob Poeltl (45 percent rostered), Orlando Magic's Michael Carter-Williams (21 percent) and Memphis Grizzlies' Grayson Allen (11 percent) are also on most waiver wires.
Darius Bazley, SF/PF, Oklahoma City Thunder (50 Percent Rostered)
The Darius Bazley fantasy situation is absolute malarkey. While his minutes fluctuate and he plays for a weak Oklahoma City Thunder roster, the upside is far too great—and far too all-encompassing—to be ignored.
On the season, the 20-year-old is playing nearly 31 minutes per game and filling those with 11.7 points and 7.6 rebounds to go along with 1.4 threes, 1.6 assists and 0.8 blocks per game. The second-year, 6'8" forward isn't incredibly effective or consistent, but he's playing a lot of basketball and touching a variety of categories.
If you have an open roster spot and can afford the blow to your field-goal percentage (he's at 38.6 percent on the year), then Bazley can give you quality points and rebounds, alongside some threes and blocks.
As a bonus, his free-throw rate (75.9 percent) isn't back-breaking, but he could improve as the year progresses.
Bazley's teammate, Luguentz Dort, has also been heating up lately and is more widely available (rostered in just 20 percent of leagues).
Josh Jackson, SG/SF, Detroit Pistons (50 Percent Rostered)
Josh Jackson is a riskier proposition than Bazley given playing-time inconsistencies, but his 2021 explosion cannot be ignored.
The Detroit Pistons bench wing has put up eight consecutive games with double-digit scoring and has notched multiple 20-point games in February alone, including two with 20-plus points and eight-plus rebounds.
Jackson's ceiling is evident and he appears to have gained head coach Dwayne Casey's trust. If you're willing to ride the hot hand, he's regularly getting opportunities and making the most of them.
For managers in deeper leagues or with more forward-looking tendencies, rookie teammate Saddiq Bey is rostered in just 15 percent of leagues and has the potential to be a huge asset.
His minutes are sparse, but he's the starter when Blake Griffin is out and may have opened some eyes with a 30-point, 12-rebound night against the Boston Celtics on Friday night.
Kendrick Nunn, PG/SG, Miami Heat (42 Percent Rostered)
Like Jackson, Kendrick Nunn is a previous underperformer whose 2021 form cannot be denied.
The 25-year-old guard falls closer to the category of players with short-term upside dependent on roster health (given Goran Dragic and Avery Bradley's injuries), but that doesn't mean his form can't last.
Nunn has hit double-digit points in 12 straight games and is averaging 17.0 points (bolstered by 2.8 threes), 4.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game in February. He's playing great basketball and doing so rather efficiently, shooting a career-high 47.6 percent from the field.
If you're in need of help at the guard position, Nunn is worth a look. His contributions in the steals department could prove valuable. And, if the 2020 playoffs are any indication, he can retain a legitimate role off the bench even when Miami gets healthy.