It’s crunch time in the NBA as teams are jockeying for postseason position down the stretch, and Fantasy clubs are likewise duking it out for their league championships. We have plenty of injuries around the league at the moment as well, which helps inform several of our Start suggestions on a week where the four-game teams slightly outpace those with three-game schedules.
Each week, we’ll aim to highlight a pair of Start candidates for your Fantasy rosters – usually from teams with four games — that may shape up as some of the more challenging calls of the week to make, with the focus generally being on players with a start rate (when available) or roster rate of 50% or less in Yahoo leagues.
Likewise, we’ll spotlight one Sit candidate at each position that would typically not be a consideration for a spot on your bench, with the focus there often on players with fewer game opportunities during the coming week.
TEAMS WITH FOUR GAMES: Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards
TEAMS WITH THREE GAMES: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Toronto Raptors
TEAMS WITH TWO GAMES: Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat
Without further ado, let’s examine some of the tougher start/sit decisions for Week 23:
Start: Andrew Nembhard, Pacers
29% roster rate
Nembhard has enjoyed a fine rookie season overall and comes into Week 23 benefitting from the ongoing absence of backcourt mate Tyrese Haliburton (knee). Haliburton could miss at least one more of Indiana’s four games this week and potentially more, while Nembhard checks in averaging 18.8 points, 4.6 assists and 2.2 rebounds across his last five games, a stretch where he’s shooting 52.1%, including 45.8% from distance. The second-round pick could be in for another busy week that sees him with more ball-handling responsibility than usual, making him a viable start.
Start: Tre Jones, Spurs
41% start rate
Jones has missed time recently due to an illness, but he’s averaging 10.7 points, 6.7 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals over his first three games back. The third-year pro is capable of better production as well, considering his season averages sit at 12.5 points, 6.2 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals per contest. While Jones isn’t going to typically contribute difference-making scoring numbers, his ability to pitch in on assists and steals is desirable, as is his four-game schedule this coming week.
ALSO CONSIDER: Malik Monk, Kings (37% start rate); T.J. McConnell, Pacers (35% start rate)
Sit: Tyler Herro, Heat
65% start rate
Herro comes into the Heat’s two-game week offering decreased production, as he’s been under 20 points in four of the last five games while shooting just 30.8% from three-point range. Although Herro rarely fails to provide a solid line at minimum, his production is replaceable by a three or four game option of similar caliber.
Start: Cameron Johnson, Nets
48% start rate
Johnson is offering steady across-the-stat-sheet contributions and enjoying a particularly productive March, averaging 16.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.2 steals across 32.1 minutes over nine games. The versatile forward is also shooting an impressive 39.3% from three-point range overall, and he’s quickly found his stride as part of Brooklyn’s intriguing, revamped starting five. The Nets continue in a full push for the postseason, and Johnson should be an integral part of their efforts during the upcoming four-game week.
Start: Talen Horton-Tucker, Jazz
44% start rate
Horton-Tucker has made good use of an expanded role of late, averaging 16.3 points, 5.6 assists and 5.1 rebounds across 28.5 minutes over his last 10 games — all starts. He’d also put up 13.8 points, 7.0 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in the five games prior to that stretch while clocking 25.8 minutes per contest off the bench, so his ability to contribute in both roles is corroborated. Horton-Tucker will have a full schedule to work with this scoring period, and with Collin Sexton (hamstring) and Jordan Clarkson (finger) still out to begin the week Monday night against the Kings, Horton-Tucker’s prospects are increasingly bright.
ALSO CONSIDER: Jonathan Kuminga, Warriors (27% roster rate); Aaron Nesmith, Pacers (27% roster rate)
Sit: Aaron Gordon, Nuggets
60% start rate
Gordon is saddled with a two-game schedule this week and has been offering just adequate production of late, putting up 13.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists over his last 11 games. His three-point shooting has also gone in the tank throughout that period, as he’s drained only 15.4% of his attempts from distance. Given the light schedule and replaceable numbers, consider giving Gordon a seat for this week.
Start: Onyeka Okongwu, Hawks
46% start rate
Okongwu’s season-long apprenticeship behind veteran Clint Capela has gone very well, with the third-year big averaging career highs in points (9.6) and rebounds (7.2) over 23.5 minutes per contest. Okongwu comes into the new scoring period on a nice four-game run where he’s averaged 15.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks, and he’s logging minutes in low 20s at minimum on most nights. With three-category potential and a four-game week that includes favorable positional matchups against the Pistons, Pacers and Grizzlies, consider Okongwu if you have a need at center.
Start: Zach Collins, Spurs
45% start rate
Collins’ start rate in Yahoo leagues remains surprisingly modest for a player who’s averaged 16.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.2 steals across 29.2 minutes during his current 14-game starting run following the trade of Jakob Poeltl to the Raptors. Finally getting a chance to show what he can do with a full-time starting opportunity, the 2017 10th overall pick should continue seeing plenty of run as the Spurs play out the string on a non-contending season. Consequently, there’s no reason not to roll with Collins, especially considering his ability to check off every box on the stat sheet and that he’s already compiled five double-doubles during his aforementioned stint with the first unit.
ALSO CONSIDER: Xavier Tillman, Grizzlies (37% start rate); Nick Richards, Hornets (23% start rate)
Sit: James Wiseman, Pistons
48% start rate
Wiseman has been doing an admirable job in his starting run at center and came through nicely as a Start suggestion last week (16.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.0 blocks over four games). However, it’s an entirely different matter this week, as his opportunities are cut in half to just two contests. If you have no other choice but to roll with the young big, you should get a decent boost in your scoring and rebounding, but a four-game option in a similar role would still presumably give you better cumulative numbers.
Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for over 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, NFL, CFL and Arena Football for Rotowire.com, including serving as the beat writer for teams in multiple sports. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports as well.