NBA Fantasy: What to expect from league's top players

RotoWire discusses five top players with production increases in Yahoo leagues, and what this means in the homestretch of fantasy basketball.

Kyrie Irving is providing substantial numbers for the Mavs after a midseason trade.

It’s crunch time in fantasy basketball. There are just over four weeks left in the regular season, and things are crazy with so many injuries across the league. While there have been a lot of appealing players to add off waivers in the last week or two, we’ve also seen some increased production from big stars. Let’s discuss five of them and what to expect down the stretch.

Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers

Anthony Davis finishes with 30 points against the Grizzlies.

The Lakers pushed their chips in at the trade deadline, making moves to improve their chances of reaching the playoffs. They added D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Mo Bamba to go with Rui Hachimura, who they acquired earlier in the season. Their depth was significantly improved, and it was immediately tested with LeBron James (foot) going down. James has missed each of the last five games and is expected to be sidelined for at least another couple of weeks.

In addition to James being hurt, Russell has missed six straight games. The Lakers have leaned heavily on Davis for added production to keep their playoff hopes alive. He has responded by averaging 33.0 points, 13.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.8 blocks over his last five games while shooting 56.3% from the field.

Even with Russell expected to return Friday, the combination of James being out and the Lakers fighting for a playoff spot should leave Davis with all of the minutes and shot attempts that he can handle. As is always the case with him, though, staying healthy will be the key to his success.

Kyrie Irving, Dallas Mavericks

Kyrie Irving drops 27 points against the Pelicans.

Plenty of risks came with acquiring Irving. But with the Mavericks needing to add help for Luka Doncic, they took a chance and brought Irving over from the Nets. He has immediately provided dividends, averaging 27.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.1 steals and 3.0 3-pointers per game while shooting 50.0% from the field.

The Mavericks might need even more production from Irving moving forward. Doncic left Wednesday’s game against the Pelicans with a thigh injury that could force him to miss some time. His MRI came back clean, but he won’t be able to return until the discomfort subsides. That means Irving would be the undisputed No. 1 option for the Mavericks, with Tim Hardaway Jr. and Christian Wood left as his top running mates. Even if Doncic only misses a couple of games, Irving’s role as one of the leaders of the Mavericks is cemented moving forward.

Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers

Donovan Mitchell pours in 40 points on the Celtics to power the Cavs to a thrilling OT win at home.

Mitchell is having the best season of his career, putting up 27.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.5 steals and 3.6 3-pointers per game. He’s even shooting 47.7% from the field, nearly three percentage points higher than his previous best. The Cavaliers have made a leap with him in the fold, adding a proven scorer to their young core of Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen.

As good as Mitchell has been, he has performed even better lately. Over the last 11 games, he has averaged 30.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.5 steals and 3.5 3-pointers. The Cavaliers currently occupy the fourth seed, which would give them home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. That’s important for them because they are 28-7 at home, compared to just 14-19 on the road.

The Knicks and Nets are nipping at their heels in the standings, so Mitchell should continue to play a lot as the Cavaliers try to firm up their seeding.

Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls

Zach LaVine with 42 Points vs. Indiana Pacers.

It’s been a tough season for the Bulls, who enter Friday with a 30-36 record. However, they are only one game in the loss column behind both the Raptors and the Wizards for a spot in the Play-In Tournament. They should continue to play their stars heavy minutes, including LaVine.

With his sights set on the playoffs, LaVine has been locked in coming out of the All-Star break. Over seven games since the break, he is shooting 58.9% from the field and 52.3% from behind the arc. That has helped him generate averages of 30.7 points and 3.3 3-pointers, along with 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists. For those relying on LaVine’s offensive production for the fantasy playoffs, he is primed to come through in a big way.

Mikal Bridges, Brooklyn Nets

Mikal Bridges scores 30 Points vs. the Rockets.

The Nets completely changed the direction of their franchise by dealing away Irving and Kevin Durant. They were firmly in the playoff hunt before those moves, so much so that they are practically a lock to at least make the Play-In Tournament. They held the sixth seed entering Friday, three games up in the loss column over the Heat.

The Nets have a lot of reasons to be excited about their future. They might have a star in the making in Bridges, who is in a leading role with his new team. Across 11 games since the trade, he has averaged 25.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 2.5 3-pointers while shooting 51.1% from the field. His usage rate was only 19.2% with the Suns, but it has jumped up to 27.9% with the Nets.

Bridges also prides himself on being available and is on pace to play in every game for the third time in his career. With rest days likely not in his future, those lucky enough to have him on their fantasy squad will receive significant contributions.


Mike started covering fantasy sports in 2007, joining RotoWire in 2010. In 2018, he was a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. In addition to RotoWire, Mike has written for Sportsline, Sports Illustrated, DK Live, RealTime Fantasy Sports, Lineup Lab and