The fantasy basketball regular season is winding down, which means the waiver wire is heating up. Are there players available who we term “sleepers” for the last third of the NBA season? Sleepers usually mean rookies or players who are finally, at long last, actually getting some playing time to showcase their skills.
In the land of fantasy basketball, Minutes are the Sun under which all else grows.
So, with those two things in mind, let’s look at who’s been playing the most over the last 30 days, and who played the most in last night’s games, the first after the All Star Break. Obviously, not everyone team played, but we’ll update you next week regarding the minutes breakdown over the weekend. For now, this is just a quick primer on who you should look at on the wire before they’re snatched up.
So, who’s played the most over the past 30 days?
Will Barton, Denver Nuggets, 38.1 minutes per game, 78.2% owned
I mention Barton because he, and the Nuggets, have looked hella fun this month past. Since January 22nd, the Nuggets are 9-3, and they’ve been led by their awesome young core: Jamal Murray, Golden Gary Harris, Nikola Jokic, and Will Barton. Barton’s played the most out of that foursome (38 minutes over the past month, 3rd in the NBA during that time), but he’s also the oldest...at 27 years old. Over this time frame, Barton’s had a line of 16.5 points per game (including 2.3 3 pointers made), 5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and over a steal a game. EVERYONE in fantasy basketball could use that kind of player. Barton’s been a top 75 player in my league, right around the same value as Baron Markkanen and Eric Bledsoe. If you can buy low on him from another owner, you should consider it (Bledsoe is 93% owned and the same age). Paul Millsap’s return to Denver might somewhat devalue the other four Golden Nuggets at first, but this team is getting really good all at the same time, so a rising tide might lift all boats vis a vis Denver fantasy play. I absolutely love this team. They’ve beaten the Golden State Warriors twice this season, by the way.
Austin Haunted Rivers, 35 MPG, 29.8% owned
Ahhh, the point guard of my fantasy team. I warned you before the season began that Austin would probably be the starting PG for me at year’s end, for I am most definitely haunted by waters. Rivers is in a weird spot, though, and his situation has clearly changed from the season’s get-go.
He’s now on a team with the following guards: Milos Teodosic, Lou Williams, Avery Bradley, and, of course, the injured Patrick Beverley. That’s...a lotta guards. The Clippers also have Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell in their backcourt. (Meanwhile, The Boban Marjanovic can’t get a goddamn minute of playing time in this man’s league. I don’t get it, I really don’t. The Boban is 7’3”, is fun to watch, seems like a good dude, got signed for actual money, and he still can’t crack a team’s rotation for a measly coupla minutes per game?? I know he’s not ideally suited for the New NBA, but THE DUDE IS 7’3”! He’s also a pretty goddamn good offensive player. This sucks for him. I know he’s making millions of dollars to just sit on the bench, but I hope he reaches a team that will actually play him sometime. I don’t know if that’s in Europe or here in the NBA, but the dude should be playing. He’s certainly not a unicorn, but it’s also hella fun to watch someone that tall play basketball.)
Anyway, lots of guards on Los Clippers. “Fortunately,” (?) Pat Bev is currently injured, and Avery Bradley has some kind of injury as well, which is maybe why LA didn’t trade him at the deadline? Doc Rivers said Bradley would be day to day for the rest of the season; uh oh. Something tells me that Avery’s free agency pay check is going to be a LOT lower than he expected just last season.
Lou Williams just got extended and has been maybe the funnest dude to watch in the NBA this year.
And, Milos Teodosic, the Clipper’s “rookie,” is one of the best passing point guards on the planet. He dishes dimes that make your head spin. It’s AWESOME watching him play.
But don’t worry, Austin Rivers’ dad is the coach of the Los Angeles Clippers. He’ll be fine. Know how I know that? Over the last 30 days, Coach Rivers’ son has averaged more minutes than Blake Griffin. Hahahahaha! “Up yours, Blake! I choose Austin! Ubuntu, funny man! Have fun playing for Mr. Smiles, Stan Van Gundy!”
Austin has been top 20 in minutes over the last month (most on the Clippers), and the Clippers are one game back of the 8 seed in the Western conference playoffs. This is a WEIRD team, but they’re playing okay. If they actually ubuntu it and mesh over the next month, then they could be a dangerous team in the playoffs, especially if Danilo Cincinnatus Gallinari stays healthy.
Fantasy wise, Austin Rivers is getting more minutes than three dudes who are 90%+ owned. Rivers is sub-30% owned. You might wanna snatch him up if he’s avails.
Josh Richardson, 34 MPG, 58.4% owned
I talked all about JRich a few days ago, but here’s the TL;DR version: He’s 24, he’s one of the best players in the NBA, he will only improve, and he plays more minutes than Klay Thompson. IF HE’S AVAILABLE, ACQUIRE HIM.
Reggie Bullock, 33.4 MPG, 15% owned
Bullock benefited from the Blake trade, and he’s getting over 12 shot attempts per game recently. He’s hitting three 3PM per game, and gets you some rebounds, too. If you need a cheap shooter for the stretch run in your fantasy league, you could do worse than Bullock. He’s probably not owned in your league, but he plays more than Otto Porter, Jr., who’s 97% owned. Reggie’s points aren’t fake, either: he’s got a 64 true shooting percentage this season. That’s TENTH BEST IN THE ENTIRE NBA. GO GET HIM.
Nic Batum, 32.5 MPG, 67.4% owned
I mention Batum here just because you may be able to buy low on him since he’s a frustrating player to have on your fantasy team. He’s shooting 42% over the last month, with 14 points, 5 dimes, and 4 boards, all good stuff. But, Batum is almost like Fooled me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Who hasn’t been burned by Batum before? (Buncha alliteration today, strangely.) His games go up and down because he’s definitely behind Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard in the pecking order, but he gets minutes, which means opportunities. If you can buy him off an owner who’s looking for draft picks or younger players, then go for it.
And, here are other players outside of the top 50 who have averaged 30+ minutes over the last month and might be available on your wire (in descending order of minutes). If you’re looking for a cheap add with upside, check them out: