Fantasy Basketball 2021: NBA Pickups to Watch After Mar. 17

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 18, 2021

Fantasy Basketball 2021: NBA Pickups to Watch After Mar. 17

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    Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    The best fantasy basketball waiver-wire pickups at this juncture of the NBA season are the players pushing for more minutes on struggling teams.

    Most of the top playoff contenders are set in their rotations, and barring any significant injuries, we know who the top contributors on those squads are.

    In the past week, Jaylen Nowell, Kevin Porter Jr. and Aleksej Pokusevski received increased opportunities to showcase their abilities to their respective coaching staffs.

    If they play at a consistent rate for the next few weeks and months, they could turn into solid depth pieces on the fantasy basketball level, which is why the time is now to add them.

Jaylen Nowell, SG, Minnesota

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Nowell exploded for 28 points in his first game out of the All-Star break.

    Since then, he posted three more double-digit performances and earned at least 25 minutes of playing time.

    Nowell's numbers are boosted by extra time on the hardwood and his three-point shooting ability. He knocked down six shots from downtown on March 11 and has 14 triples in the last four games.

    With D'Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley out of the lineup, the Minnesota Timberwolves have relied on Nowell and Anthony Edwards to provide more scoring in the backcourt.

    If Minnesota continues to trend toward the best NBA draft lottery odds, it could be more inclined to keep the 21-year-old in the lineup to see if he fits in the future plans.

    As of Wednesday, Nowell is rostered in 11 percent of Yahoo leagues, per FantasyPros. His production over four games should be enough to add him as a depth piece at shooting guard.

    Like other young players on struggling teams, Nowell should not be a frequent fantasy starter, but he may be good to use as a second guard or a streaming play in the coming weeks.

Kevin Porter Jr., SG, Houston

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    Troy Taormina/Associated Press

    Kevin Porter Jr. flew from the G-League bubble right into the Houston Rockets starting lineup.

    Porter has been taking shots at a remarkably high pace since arriving in the team's rotation March 11. 

    The 20-year-old shooting guard averaged 17.4 field goal attempts over a five-game stretch for the struggling Rockets. He hit the 20-point mark in three of those contests.

    Because he is firing off at least 10 field-goal attempts per game, Porter has to be considered a must-add if he is still available on the waiver wire in your leagues.

    Porter's shooting numbers will level out once Christian Wood, Victor Oladipo and John Wall return to the lineup, but if he can refine his three-point game, he would still be a viable fantasy asset.

    The 2019 first-round pick knocked down a season-high three shots from deep on Wednesday and he has multiple threes in his last three appearances.

    As long as he continues to make multiple deep shots, Porter should provide fantasy value for the rest of the season, even if his field-goal rate drops.

Aleksej Pokusevski, SF, Oklahoma City

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    Mark Black/Associated Press

    Pokusevski is more of a boom-or-bust waiver-wire candidate than Nowell and Porter right now, but his volume suggests that consistent totals are in his future.

    In four games since the All-Star break, the 2020 first-round pick has played at least 29 minutes in each of his four games.

    Additionally, Pokusevski attempted over 10 field goals in three of those four contests. He made a season-high seven shots on Sunday versus the Memphis Grizzlies.

    Even if he does not score, Pokusevski will contribute rebounds and assists to make him a serviceable streaming option at small forward. He has 33 rebounds and 10 assists in the past week.

    If he becomes a more consistent scorer in the coming weeks, Pokusevski will carry more fantasy value as a solid backup to the league's top small forwards.

    With that in mind, it is worth picking up Pokusevski now while he is widely available before he turns the high shot volume into a run of double-digit outings.


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