Basketball Pickups: Royce O'Neale shines in spot start

The NBA buyout market tends to have a few notable veterans, but those players rarely have much of an impact on fantasy basketball in their new homes. Royce O'Neale, who's rostered in eight percent of Yahoo leagues, may be an exception. He has played 24 minutes or more in four of his last five games with the Suns and has provided 6th-round value in 9-cat formats over the past two weeks. With Bradley Beal (hamstring) and Eric Gordon (groin) sidelined for Sunday's game against the Lakers, O'Neale was moved into the starting lineup and made the most of his opportunity.

In 37 minutes, O'Neale tallied 20 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block, and six 3-pointers, shooting 6-of-10 from beyond the arc. The fit of player and team has been excellent, with O'Neale providing solid wing defense and better catch-and-shoot ability than any of the Suns' holdovers (Josh Okogie and Nassir Little being two). The upcoming schedule works against O'Neale in the short term, as Phoenix won't play its first game of Week 18 until Thursday. But he should be on your radar as the fantasy playoffs approach in most leagues.

Let's look at a few more of Sunday's top pickups, focusing on players rostered in less than 50% of Yahoo leagues:

Ayo Dosunmu (48%)

Dosunmu's rostered percentage is getting closer to that 50% threshold, and nights like Sunday will help push him over the line. One of three 20-point scorers in the Bulls' win over New Orleans, he accounted for 21 points, three rebounds, eight assists, three steals, and three 3-pointers in 39 minutes. With Patrick Williams (foot) done for the season and Zach LaVine (ankle) possibly headed in that direction, Dosunmu represents a valuable addition in standard leagues where he's still available.

Nick Richards (47%)

Richards is in a similar position to Dosunmu in that he was backing up a player who could be finished for the season. Mark Williams (back) hasn't officially been ruled out, but there hasn't been much transparency regarding his ability to return before April. Richards will remain the starter until that time comes, and he finished Sunday's win over Portland with 21 points, 10 rebounds, two steals, and three blocked shots in 33 minutes. Also, Charlotte went small when Richards needed a breather, so there's no need to feign concern over the potential impact of the recent signing of Marques Bolden (DNP-CD).

De'Andre Hunter (41%)

He may not play the same position as Trae Young, but there is a trickle-down effect of the star point guard's finger injury to consider. While Dejounte Murray, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Jalen Johnson stand to benefit the most regarding fantasy value, that will also impact Hunter. He's scored 18 points or more in four straight, finishing Sunday's win over Orlando with 18 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two 3-pointers in 28 minutes. What also helps is the absence of backup center Onyeka Okongwu and starter Clint Capela being on a minutes restriction, as Johnson spending some time at the five frees up additional minutes for Hunter.

Bennedict Mathurin (45%)

Mathurin's game may not be fantasy-friendly, but he did more than score in Sunday's win over Dallas. While he only shot 5-of-14 from the field, the second-year wing accounted for 14 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and three 3-pointers in 33 minutes. He has started Indiana's last two games due to the absence of Aaron Nesmith (ankle), who is not expected to be available for Monday's game against the Raptors. So, there's the ability to derive additional value from rostering Mathurin in the first of four games Indiana will play during Week 18.

Norman Powell (38%)

Usually, Paul George or Kawhi Leonard being sidelined would result in Tyronn Lue moving Amir Coffey into the starting lineup, keeping Powell in his customary sixth-man role. Lue switched things up for Sunday's loss to the Kings, with Powell filling the void left by George. Shooting 8-of-17 from the field, he accounted for a team-high 21 points with two rebounds, two assists, one steal, and five 3-pointers in 37 minutes. While Coffey's numbers have improved when he's had the opportunity to start, he doesn't offer Powell's offensive upside. The Clippers don't play again until Wednesday against the Lakers, and that may be enough time to get George back on the court.

Caris LeVert (37%)

This pick is more about the managers who, due to the matchup, did not rush to drop LeVert once Donovan Mitchell (illness) was cleared to return after a two-game absence. Playing the lowly Wizards, Caris chipped in with 18 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, and one 3-pointer in 28 minutes off the bench. Cleveland plays four games during Week 18, beginning with a Tuesday/Wednesday back-to-back, so it makes sense to hold onto LeVert if you have him rostered.

Cam Whitmore (16%)

Before Sunday's loss to the Thunder, Rockets coach said Tari Eason and the team were seeking additional opinions on his left leg injury, and there is no timeline for a return. While Amen Thompson is the preferred fantasy choice, fellow rookie Whitmore should not be overlooked, especially with Houston trending in the wrong direction. His stat line was modest, as he accounted for 12 points, three rebounds, one steal, one block, and one 3-pointer in 17 minutes. But there may come a time when his minutes shoot well past 20, especially with Houston trailing 10th-seed Golden State by five games in the loss column.