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Making the most of the final games of the NBA season

How to milk all the fantasy points you can out of the remaining games of the season.

Denver Nuggets v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Only two teams in the NBA have 10 games remaining on their schedule: the Denver Nuggets and the Portland Trail Blazers. This is absolutely awesome news because A) the Nuggies and the Blazers can get you high value, B) they’re both competing for seeding in the playoffs, with Denver just one game back of Golden State for the #1 seed in the West, so they will be playing hard down the stretch, C) Denver’s daaaaaamn fun to watch, and very, very good, D) Portland and Maestro Dame Lillard have been quietly, intensely badass this year (Dame’s 9th in scoring this season, 8th in assists since 1/1/19, and the Blazers have the 7th best winning percentage in the NBA, right after the Rockets), and E) the Nuggies play most of their remaining games against playoff teams, meaning they’ll be pushed to produce in those games (the Blazers have an easier schedule, but they’re lower in the standings than Denver, so Portland will also be playing hard down the stretch).

If you’re looking for valuable adds during your fantasy basketball playoffs, please look towards the Denver Nuggets first. Will Barton and Golden Gary Harris are both 50+% owned, but they’re both rounding into form; if they’re available, you should add them. The other Nugs, like Malik Beasley (who hasn’t missed a game with a 3PM since February ended), should be very available (sub-10% owned), and their sheer volume of minutes may make them more valuable down the stretch, at least as available streamers.

Portland, meanwhile, has a very available Al-Farouq Aminu (the Chief Has Arrived is sub-20% owned). So long as CJ McCollum remains out for the Blazers, Aminu/Chief will likely receive more shot attempts and minutes (his last game was one of, if not the, best games of his season, with 22 points on 13 attempts).

9 Games Remaining

There are 13 teams with nine games left: Charlotte, Dallas, Detroit, Golden State, the Lakers, Memphis, Miami, Minnesota, OKC, Orlando, Philly, Sacramento, and Utah.

The good news is that most of those teams will play hard down the stretch (Dallas and Minnie don’t want to win, so they’ll have more unknown players getting minutes, but those are the exact guys who will play hard and try to obtain stats to impress possible future employers). Even the non-playoff teams, like the Lakers, Memphis, and SacTown, have reasons to play well and try hard in these remaining games. The veteran starters on the Lakers, like Rondo and JaVale McGee, are probably playing for new contracts elsewhere next season, while the young guys are still just trying to play. Memphis doesn’t know how to not play hard, and even though Mike Conley may get rested, the team will still play competitively (Delon Wright, sub-5% owned, should be useful as Conley’s backup PG). The Kings are young and need to develop their young players, so you’re goddamn right they’re gonna play hella hard to finish the season. Sacramento could be an incredibly significant spoiler this year because they play Houston twice, the Spurs, the Jazz, and the Trail Blazers. The Kings have a tiny chance of making the playoffs, still, but it would require a major injury on another team, or the Clippers just packing it up and intentionally tanking. Regardless, be aware of Kings streamers like Bogdan Bogdanovic (40% owned).

8 Games Remaining

14 teams are in this group: Atlanta, Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Indiana, the Clippers, Milwaukee, the Knicks, Phoenix, San Antonio, Toronto, and Washington.

The Celtics, Nets, Rockets, Pacers, Clippers, Bucks, Spurs, and Raptors are all playoff teams, so they’ll obviously still be competitive as seeding is still up for grabs in both conferences (and, seeding will DEFINITELY matter in this year’s postseason; homecourt is crucial for team’s like the Spurs). The players you’ve been depending on, or streaming, on these playoff teams are still the players to target.

What about the sucky teams, though? Cleveland, Dallas, Minnie, Magic, and the Fightin’ James Dolans: what of they?

The Knicks remain an elegant timepiece of foreboding, like an atomic clock counting down to zero. Who in their right minds supposes that all will go well for the Knicks this offseason, and they’ll enter the 2019-20 season with Zion, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Knox, and Boogie Cousins? I, a person with a working knowledge of the Knicks that extends past five minutes ago, predict that none of those players will play for New York next season, not even Knox, lol. I think they’ll include him in some panicked trade after they don’t get a good lottery pick, they don’t get Kevin Durant (is his new NYC business venture in Manhattan? Or, Brooklyn?), they don’t get Kyrie, and Boogie decides to sign with the Lakers along with Kemba.

As for right now, the players who’ve played the most total minutes for the Knicks over the past two weeks are Damyean Dotson (#1 total minutes, 15% owned), Emmanuel Mudiay (#3, 14% owned), and Mitch Rob (20% owned, and blocked another 3 shots last game).

Meanwhile, a slumping Jonathan Isaac on the Magic is still getting you 9 and 6, which will be valuable in volume down the stretch, and he’s sub-20% owned, so you can probably stream him. Terrence Ross is also under 20% owned, if you need shooting, along with cheap and available guys like Danny Green (sub-15% owned), Langston Galloway (sub-5%), and Wayne Ellington (sub-5%). Eric Gordon (sub-50% owned) has also sunk a bunch of threes over the past two weeks.

In Minnesota, Jeff Teague is out for the season, so you should look into Tyus Jones (sub-5% owned) who has taken over for him, and is fourth in total minutes over the past 15 days. Josh Okogie and Dario Saric are also Timberwolves that may be streamable over the final 10 games.

Jalen Brunson, Dwight Powell, Max Kleiber, and Justin Jackson are all in the top 7 in average minutes on the Mavericks, and now that Tim Hardaway, Jr. is out for the season, there are even more minutes to go around. All of those players are under 60% owned, and the latter two are under 10%. These are players who will play the hell out of their minutes because they’re auditioning for next season, whether in Dallas or somewhere else. I know Dallas wants to lose so they can add a good lottery pick next to Luka and Kristaps, but these guys might be hungry, and the Mavs play four straight games against non-playoff teams during the remaining schedule. The Mavs are a bad team that will play hard, is what I’m trynna say.

Why is Kevin Love even playing in Cleveland? To up his possible trade value? I guess. Man o man, would I not risk that. He’s playing well, though. Cedi Osman and Brandon Knight are also getting big minutes in Cleveland, and Knight’s been totally not bad! Larry Nance, Jr. is back from injury, though Lord knows how much playing time any of the Cavs bigs will get. This is a team for guards and wings right now. Only one Cavs opponent, the Suns, is a pushover during this final stretch of games.

Meanwhile, Atlanta, Chicago, Phoenix, and Washington are bad teams with at least 8 games remaining. Big deal, you say. “Mediocre, Injured and Garpax, Bad and Sarver, Horror Show and WTF.”

True! I’m very wary of these teams going forward. Atlanta could start shutting people down (though, Trae Young’s been sensational in 2019, he’s still suuuuuper young, and there’s no real reason to run him ragged down the remainder of the season); Chicago’s injured as hell and has no reason to play out the string; Phoenix is the NBA equivalent of a Rolls Royce with an FTL drive, but without tires, mounted on cinder blocks in front of a trailer; and, Washington is exactly the same as it always is: untrustworthy and astonishingly incapable of competence. Beal’s great, but this franchise should be sent to the Negative Zone.

Having said all that, Taurean Prince (24% owned) and Dewayne Dedmon (21% owned), both Hawks, are worthy additions. Prince is just a solid player and should be rostered; Dedmon’s been doing a Brook Lopez impersonation recently, and hell, maybe he should be rostered, too.

Robin Lopez, on Chicago, is second in minutes on the Bulls over the past 2 weeks, and he’s only 15% owned. Wes Matthews (13%) hysterically has the most minutes for the Pacers; Mikal Bridges (7%) has the second most minutes on the Suns; and, Tomas Satoransky, who is a very useful IRL player to have, is second in minutes on the Wizards, and is only 37% owned, and he’s been a top 50 player over the past month in ESPN basic. If he’s available, I do recommend picking him up.

7 Games Remaining

Only one team has seven games left, the New Orleans Pelicans. Owners with Pels, you should be aware that Elfrid Payton’s reign as MVP will come to an end sooner than were he on one of the other NBA teams. You shouldn’t drop him, of course, but perhaps don’t depend on streaming Pellies too much.

Most importantly, please keep your eye on valuable streamers, like Ed Davis of the Nets, 5% owned, who can help you win individual stat cats during these playoffs. Big Ed D averages as many rebounds per game as Julius Randle and LaMarcus Aldridge, even though he plays in far fewer minutes (under 20 for Ed, over 30 for Randle and LMA). Rondo is averaging more assists per game over the past month than Kyrie, Ben Simmons, and De’Aaron Fox (and, Rondo should continue to get minutes as the rest of the Lakers disintegrate before our very eyes).

The end of the season is, much like the beginning, a time of uncertain rotations and new faces. Attentive owners (and, who isn’t paying attention during the fantasy playoffs???) will be rewarded with savvy pickups who could be the difference between becoming a champion, or being thrown into an active volcano in the traditional sacrifice of the Runner Up. Who dares wins, so good luck out there!