Wired: Top Pickups Week 21

Steve Alexander
Wired: Top Pickups Week 21
Dr. A breaks down Week 21, Week 21-24 schedules, remaining back-to-backs, and hot pickups (Amir Johnson) in Waiver Wired

Games Played Week 21

4 Games: ATL, BRK, CHI, CLE, DAL, DEN, IND, MIA, ORL, PHI, PHX, TOR, WAS

3 Games: BOS, CHA, DET, GSW, HOU, LAL, MEM, MIL, MIN, NOP, NYK, OKC, POR, SAC, SAN, UTA

2 Games: LAC

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Playoff Weekly Schedules


Here is how the schedules break down over the final four weeks of the NBA season. Each number represents how many games each team plays in Weeks 21-24.

Great/Good

ATL – 4-4-4-4

BRK – 4-4-4-4

DET – 3-4-4-4

IND – 4-4-4-3

MIA – 4-4-4-4

MIN – 3-4-4-4

TOR – 4-4-4-3

Average

CLE – 4-4-3-3

CHI – 4-3-4-3

DAL – 4-3-4-3

DEN – 4-3-4-3

HOU – 3-3-4-4

LAL - 3-4-4-3

MEM – 3-4-4-3

NOP – 3-4-4-3

OKC – 3-4-3-4

PHI – 4-3-4-3

PHX – 4-4-3-3

*POR – 3-5-3-3

SAS – 3-4-4-3

SAC – 3-3-4-4

WAS – 4-3-4-3

Poor

BOS – 3-3-4-3

CHA – 3-3-4-3

GSW – 3-2-4-3

LAC – 2-4-4-2

MIL – 3-3-4-3

NYK – 3-4-4-2

ORL – 4-3-3-3

UTA – 3-4-3-3

Keep in mind that while the Blazers land under the “Average” category, they do play five games in Week 22. The Clippers and Knicks both have a pair of four-game weeks, but L.A. plays just two games in Weeks 21 and 24, while the Knicks play two games in Week 24. And that two-gamer in Week 22 for the Warriors is going to be a tough one on a lot of playoff teams.

Another thing to consider is back-to-backs the rest of the way, as guys like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Eric Bledsoe and all of the Spurs, Nets and other aging teams could find themselves sitting when their team goes on in back-to-back nights. Here’s a rundown of remaining back-to-back games on the schedule.

Remaining back-to-backs (with notes)

ATL – 4 – March 17/18, 23/24, 26/27, April 11/12

BOS – 3 - March 16/17, 30-31, April 11/12 - Rajon Rondo is very iffy for all three.

BRK – 5 - March 23/24, April 1/2, 4/5, 8/9, 15/16 - Deron Williams, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett all could be impacted.

CHA – 1 - April 11/12

CHI – 4 - March 21/22, 30/31, April 4/5, 13/14 - Carlos Boozer, Kirk Hinrich and Joakim Noah could all be impacted, but the Bulls will be fighting for playoff seeding, which helps.

CLE – 4 – March 22/23, 25/26, April 4/5, 11/12 - Luol Deng, Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao are all candidates to sit.

DAL – 1 – March 16/17 - Maybe someone will sit on Monday, but it looks like the Mavs are in the clear as far as back-to-backs go.

DEN – 3 – March 23/24, April 9/10, 15/16

DET – 4 – March 21/22, 28/29, April 4/5, 8/9

GSW – 3 - April 1/2, 10/11, 13/14 - As if the bad games-played schedule wasn’t enough, Stephen Curry, David Lee and Andrew Bogut could be in some jeopardy late.

HOU – 4 – March 16/17, April 1/2, 8/9, 11/12 - James Harden or Dwight Howard could get a night off at some point, but not guaranteed.

IND – 2 – March 21/22, 30/31 - This is good news for Indy with no April back-to-backs.

LAC – 4 - March 16/17, 26/27, April 2/3, 15/16 - Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford and DeAndre Jordan are at some risk, but the two two-game weeks may offset it. They should be pretty rested.

LAL – 3 – March 27/28, April 1/2, 13/14 - All their old guys are already out except for Pau Gasol, and he should be considered at risk for all three back-to-backs.

MEM – 3 – March 21/22, 30/31, April 13/14

MIA – 5 – March 18/19, 21/22, 28/29, April 8/9, 11/12 - With all those four-game weeks and the history of sitting LeBron James and Dwyane Wade late in the season, this could be a disaster in the making.

MIL – 3 – March 23/24, April 4/5, 11/12

MIN – 5 - March 19/20, 23/24, 30/31, April 4/5, 8/9 - Kevin Love has a history of not playing a lot of games down the stretch and all these back-to-backs have to be a little worrisome. Additionally, Nikola Pekovic was out on Sunday and he’s officially a shutdown candidate.

NOP – 3 – March 21/22, 28/29, April 11/12

NYK – 3 – March 25/26, 30/31, April 15/16 - Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton and Carmelo Anthony are all candidates for a miss or three.

OKC – 6 – March 16/17, 20/21, 24/25, April 3/4, 8/9, 13/14 - It’s bad enough that Russell Westbrook isn’t playing on Sunday, but with so many back-to-backs remaining, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka could miss a game or two, also. As for Westbrook, it looks to me like you can chalk him up for about five more missed games down the stretch, making him almost useless in weekly leagues.

ORL – 4 – March 18/19, 22/23, April 4/5, 13/14 - Jameer Nelson is the guy I’m worried most about at this point.

PHI – 3 – March 21/22, April 4/5, 11/12 - Thaddeus Young might have earned a night off, but the rest of these kids should play if healthy.

PHX – 3 - March 16/17, 23/24, April 11/12 - Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe could get a couple nights off, but could be worse.

POR – 1 - March 24/25 - Good news for LaMarcus Aldridge, as long as he’s healthy enough to play.

SAC – 3 – March 28/29, April 8/9, 12/13 - DeMarcus Cousins was a surprise scratch due to knee tendinitis on Sunday and you have to wonder if he’ll go on back-to-back nights the rest of the way. Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas are also candidates for a random night off.

SAS – 4 - March 21/22, 28/29, April 2/3, 10/11 - Greg Popovich should be a huge factor for all eight of these games. And you can take it to the bank that Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will all miss at least one, if not more, of these games.

TOR – 5 – March 18/19, 25/26, 30/31, April 4/5, 13/14 - That’s a lot of back-to-backs and the Raptors have a great schedule the rest of the way. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are at the most risk, along with Amir Johnson’s ankles, but the good news is the Raps should be fighting for playoff position until the end.

UTA – 3 – March 16/17, 30/31, April 11/12

WAS – 4 - March 20/21, 28/29, April 4/5, 11/12 – The Wizards are going to the playoffs and might want to get John Wall, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza and Marcin Gortat some rest, but they’re going to be fighting for playoff position as well, so it will depend on how the coaching staff prioritizes their playoff opponent vs. rest.

Top Potential Free Agents

DeMarre Carroll F ATL – I’m not even going to get into his numbers. The Hawks have a great schedule and Carroll’s been getting it done all year. He should be owned in all leagues.

Kendall Marshall/Jordan Farmar G LAL - While it looked like Farmar might be the guy, we’ve seen Marshall re-emerge over the past couple weeks. He’s averaging just 5.8 points over his last five games, but also 3.4 rebounds, 9.2 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.2 3-pointers and 25.6 minutes over that stretch. Farmar has had some nice scoring games lately, but is checking in at 12.0 points, 1.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.0 steals, 2.4 3-pointers and 21.8 minutes over his last five. If you don’t mind the drop in scoring, Marshall looks like the better play as long as Mike D’Antoni doesn’t change his mind.

Danny Green G/F SAS – Green is in action as I write this, and going into Sunday, had scored between 12 and 15 points in three of his last four games. He also had a 10-minute, 0-point dud mixed in there, which is always a risk with Spurs. But given his youth and Pop’s tendency to randomly rest his older players, Green could really take off over the next month. He’s also usually good for threes, steals and blocks, also known as ‘fantasy gold.’

Amir Johnson F/C TOR – Patrick Patterson is still out with his elbow injury and Johnson has been rolling, averaging 16.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.6 blocks over his last five games. He’s not shooting 3-pointers like he was early in the season, but he’s shooting it very well from the floor and getting 34 minutes a night right now. And the Raptors have a great playoff schedule.

Terrence Ross G/F TOR – Ross has been inconsistent all season and had 22 points and four 3-pointers on Sunday. He scored just seven and nine points in his previous two games, but has also hit 11 3-pointers over his last five. With his starting job, sweet schedule and consistency in 3-point shooting, I like the idea of owning him the rest of the way.

Reggie Jackson G OKC – Russell Westbrook is out on Sunday and could miss as many as five more games, if the Thunder really hold him out of back-to-back situations. And if that happens, Jackson is going to be worth starting, for at least five more games. And in his last three games with Westbrook starting for the Thunder, Jackson is averaging 10.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, a steal and a 3-pointer, but those numbers could be going up if Westbrook is not playing in the second game of their five remaining back-to-backs.

Tony Wroten G PHI – James Anderson left Saturday’s game with a thigh injury and if he’s going to miss time, Wroten is going to see a boost. Anderson isn’t expected to travel for Monday’s game at Indiana, making Wroten look like a strong play in that one. Even sharing time with Anderson, Wroten is still averaging 16.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 2.0 steals, but hasn’t made a 3-pointer since March 2.

Gerald Green G/F PHX – Despite the return of Eric Bledsoe, Green seems to still be holding his own, for the most part. While he had just eight and four points on Wednesday and Friday, he scored 28 points with five 3-pointers on Sunday. He’s no longer a reliable, must-start player, but if he was dropped in your league, he’s probably still worth holding.

Dorell Wright G/F POR – LaMarcus Aldridge got good news on his back injury and is expected to return sooner than later, but it’s possible he could still miss some upcoming games with the injury. Especially since we can’t write a blurb about him right now without talking about crutches and wheelchairs. And if he happens to sit out Week 22, when the Blazers play five times, Wright could end up being a difference maker. He had 15 points and four 3-pointers in Friday’s start for Aldridge and plays again on Sunday night. If he plays well in that one, we’ll know he’s the man, while Thomas Robinson is also worth a close eye on Sunday night.

Marcus Thornton SG BRK – We saw good Thornton again on Saturday night when he had 19 points and five 3-pointers on 7-of-11 shooting. His game log scoring line now reads: 19, 5, 5, 27, 4, 20, 3, 25 and 10 points in his last nine games. He’s as inconsistent as they come, but could put together his first hot streak of the season at any time.

John Henson F/C MIL – Ersan Ilyasova’s ankle is acting up again and he missed Sunday’s game. Henson had 12 points and seven boards in that one and is now averaging 10.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 0.8 blocks over his last five. He’s not going to be a fantasy dynamo, but could fill a void if you need a big man. Jeff Adrien has cooled off for the Bucks, but is also worth a look if you’re in a real deep league.

Kyle O’Quinn C ORL – O’Quinn has been playing well for some time now and is averaging 8.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks over his last five. If you need a center, you could certainly do worse. I’d rather own him than any of the centers in Dallas.

Moe Harkless F ORL – Harkless is starting over Tobias Harris and refuses to go away, averaging 9.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.4 steals, 1.0 blocks and 1.2 3-pointers over his last five. He hit just 1-of-6 shots for two points on Wednesday, and 3-of-5 shots for six points on Friday, but is still getting 30 minutes a night. He’s going to be better as long as he sticks in the starting unit.

Kyle Singler G/F DET – Singler racked up 11 points, seven rebounds, three assists, five steals, a block and two 3-pointers on Tuesday and is averaging 36.4 minutes, 8.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.0 3-pointers over his last five. The minutes are there and the occasional big games tend to buoy his limited value.

Chris Andersen F/C MIA - Andersen is worth a deep-league look if you need blocks and boards, and can live without a scorer. He’s averaging 7.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.8 blocks over his last five games, and on nights when the Big 3 are getting a rest, we should see plenty of Birdman.

Evan Turner G/F IND – Turner has somehow held some value in Indy and had 20 points, five rebounds, two assists and a 3-pointer on Saturday. But before that game, he had scored a total of 18 points in his previous four. He could see a boost in minutes if the Pacers choose to limit the starter’s minutes down the stretch, and can play several positions, including PG, SG and SF.

Drew Gooden F/C WAS – Gooden somehow broke free with his best game of the season on Saturday with 21 points, nine rebounds, a block and a 3-pointer in 26 minutes. He was getting around 17 minutes per game prior to that one, but was still managing to score. He’s averaging 10.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.0 blocks over his last five, and will also hit the occasional 3-pointer. If you’re in a real deep league, give him a look.

Avery Bradley G BOS – Bradley had 12 points, two rebounds and two assists prior to overtime on Sunday and hit 4-of-12 shots for nine points on Friday. He was out with an injury prior to those two games, and while he’s not going to be a must-own player, he’s at least going to hurt the value of Jerryd Bayless going forward. Bayless scored just six points on Sunday (pre-overtime) and five points on Friday, mainly due to the return of Bradley.

Jordan Crawford G GSW – If the Warriors due decide to give Stephen Curry some rest for his thigh injury, or on back-to-backs, Crawford could become relevant. He had 19 points and three 3-pointers on Tuesday, but failed to score on Wednesday and only scored five points on Friday. Again, he’s only worth a look if something goes wrong with Curry.

Gorgui Dieng C MIN – Dieng has six points, three rebounds and three blocks on Sunday night, but Minnesota is still playing as I write this. He started in place of Nikola Pekovic, who is out with an ankle injury. Pekovic is worried about his ankle and is a legitimate shutdown candidate. And if it happens, Dieng could be a sneaky deep-league pick up down the stretch.