While they may not have the worst record in the NBA, one could make a good argument for the Charlotte Hornets being the league's worst team. Friday's 120-84 loss to Milwaukee was the team's tenth in a row, dropping the Hornets' record on the season to 10-41. While Brandon Miller's progress has been a bright spot, poor play and injuries have limited Steve Clifford's team. Before Friday's game, general manager Mitch Kupchak offered an update on starting center Mark Williams, who hasn't played since December 8 due to a back injury, and it wasn't promising.
According to Kupchak, the second-year center will be re-evaluated in another four weeks. While he also noted that Williams is expected to return at some point this season, fantasy managers should operate as if he won't. Given how bad the team has been, putting a potential cornerstone back on the court when there's little to play for may not be the best course of action. With that being the case, it's time for more managers to add Nick Richards.
Rostered in 45% of Yahoo leagues, he finished Friday's loss with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and one blocked shot in 30 minutes. Over the past two months, Richards has been a 10th-round player in 9-cat formats. That isn't good enough for a primary center in competitive leagues, but he can be helpful to managers looking for additional depth at the position. Besides Richards, Nathan Mensah is the only healthy center on the roster. Unless he suffers an injury or is mired in foul trouble, Richards will approach 30 minutes per night. The reward outweighs the risk when considering whether or not to add him.
Let's look at a few more of Friday's top pickups:
Rui Hachimura (14%)
After going on a run of six straight games in double figures, Hachimura's production dropped off sharply after he was moved into the starting lineup. While playing in a lineup with four players who need their touches can't be easy, scoring 18 points in three games likely turned off some fantasy managers. Hachimura was much better in Friday's win over the Pelicans, finishing with 21 points, five rebounds, one assist, one block, and two 3-pointers in 37 minutes. Jarred Vanderbilt (foot) is looking at an extended absence, and the Lakers can use Taurean Prince at either forward position. That should protect Hachimura's value in deep leagues as long as he remains a starter.
Bilal Coulibaly (8%) and Corey Kispert (21%)
Washington was one of many teams left shorthanded due to trades, as they'd moved Daniel Gafford to Dallas ahead of the deadline on Thursday. With Marvin Bagley III (back) still sidelined and Richaun Holmes yet to join the team, Kyle Kuzma was moved to center for Friday's game against the Celtics. This also meant that Coulibaly was back in the starting lineup, and he finished with 21 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals, and four 3-pointers in 33 minutes. The rookie was 6-of-18 from the field, but the overall stat line was one that many category league managers would take.
As for Kispert, he continues to rack up the points off the bench. He's scored at least 23 points in three of his last four games, finishing the four-point loss to the Celtics with 24 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals, and three 3-pointers in 24 minutes. While his fantasy upside may not be as high as Coulibaly's, Kispert can provide value, especially in deep leagues.
Trey Lyles (7%)
Under normal circumstances, Lyles would not make the cut. While he has played well recently, the opportunities aren't as plentiful as one would like for a potential pickup. However, the Kings are involved in one of two games being played on Super Bowl Sunday. The schedule boosts Lyles' value, especially where there is a need for 3-point production. He hit three in Friday's win over the Nuggets, scoring 15 points with seven rebounds and one steal in 21 minutes. In five games this month, he's shot 16-of-28 from beyond the arc, scoring at least 13 points in four.
Cameron Payne (1%)
With Tyrese Maxey (illness) sidelined, Payne was pushed into the starting lineup for his 76ers debut. He took advantage of the opportunity, scoring 20 points with three rebounds, six assists, two steals, one block, and four 3-pointers in 36 minutes. Payne's fantasy value moving forward depends on Maxey's availability: if Tyrese can play in Saturday's game against the Wizards, there's little need to consider streaming Cam. If not, stream away.