Fantasy Basketball Pickups: Josh Green and Jaden Hardy benefit from absences

By Raphielle Johnson

Friday's NBA schedule was loaded, with 28 of the league's 30 teams in action. Some blowouts can result in inflated stat lines that are little more than "fool's gold." However, in the case of the Dallas Mavericks, two legitimate streaming options emerged ahead of the team's second blowout of Portland in three days. With Dante Exum (heel) already sidelined and Luka Doncic (ankle) joining him, a second void opened alongside Kyrie Irving. Josh Green (3% rostered, Yahoo) remained in the starting lineup, filling in for Exum, while Jaden Hardy (2%) stepped in for Doncic.

Both played well in Dallas' 139-103 victory, with Hardy offering the better line. In 32 minutes, he tallied 19 points, nine rebounds, nine assists, one steal, and three 3-pointers, shooting 8-of-14 from the field. The line negative for Hardy was the turnover count, as he racked up four, but the overall line minimized the damage done. As for Green, he finished with 14 points, five rebounds, five assists, and one steal in 25 minutes, making seven of his eight field goal attempts.

Streaming Green or Hardy paid dividends on Friday, but will either have any staying power? Dallas hosts Minnesota on Sunday, and the hope is that Doncic will return for that showdown. Dealing with swelling in his ankle, Doncic appears closer to a return than Exum, which would favor Green regarding sustaining one's streaming value. Let's look at a few of Friday's other top fantasy basketball pickups, beginning with a backup big man in Orlando.

Moritz Wagner (12%)

Wagner is back! With Wendell Carter Jr. (knee) and Goga Bitadze (illness) ruled out for Friday's game in Denver, Wagner was left to take on the unenviable task of being the lone available center in the rotation. And he played well against Nikola Jokic, tallying 19 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two 3-pointers in 38 minutes, helping to lead the Magic to the 122-120 victory. Earlier this season, Wagner provided solid value while Carter was recovering from a broken finger, so him playing well wasn't a surprise. Orlando returns home to host the Hawks on Sunday, so Wagner's status as a solid fantasy pickup may be short-lived.

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Dario Saric (23%) and Trayce Jackson-Davis (37%)

Fantasy managers being upset with the state of the Warriors' rotation cannot be blamed, especially if the frontcourt has been the focus of their ire. Kevon Looney was in the starting lineup for a second straight game, but again, Saric and Jackson-Davis proved to be more valuable fantasy options. Saric played 22 minutes, scoring 17 points with three rebounds, one assist, and three 3-pointers. As for Jackson-Davis, he tallied 11 points, nine rebounds, and one blocked shot. Managers needing defensive production may favor TJD, but Saric should not be overlooked due to his offensive ability.

Kevin Love (21%)

The Heat have been hit hard by the injury bug recently, especially in the frontcourt. Love played 20 minutes off the bench in Miami's loss to Phoenix, finishing with 20 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and three 3-pointers. While the veteran forward is unlikely to provide defensive stats, the points, rebounds, and 3-pointers can be helpful, especially in deep leagues. Love is worthy of consideration in deep leagues, while the Heat remain without Jimmy Butler, Caleb Martin, and Haywood Highsmith.

Duop Reath (2%)

Portland was down multiple big men for their rematch with the Mavericks, as Deandre Ayton, Jabari Walker, and Moses Brown were all sidelined due to injury. That left Reath and Ibou Badji to handle the center position, with the former having a productive night. Reath finished with 16 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and one 3-pointer in 27 minutes. If Ayton and Brown remain sidelined for Sunday's game in Brooklyn, Reath would be worth a roll of the dice.

Sam Hauser (6%)

Boston's blowout of the Jazz was the first of a back-to-back, so Al Horford was held out for rest reasons. While the presence of Kristaps Porzingis likely led many fantasy managers to look elsewhere for a frontcourt streamer, Hauser's 3-point production made him worthy of consideration in deep leagues. He shot 5-of-10 from the field in 23 minutes, scoring 13 points with five rebounds, one assist, one steal, and three 3-pointers. Hauser scored eight points during the first half, so this wasn't the case of a player cleaning up during "garbage time." With none of Boston's starters exceeding 27 minutes, they could have a full rotation for Saturday's game against the Pacers, limiting Hauser's streaming value.

Bilal Coulibaly (8%)

The Wizards' lottery pick from France played 36 minutes in Friday's loss to the Cavaliers, finishing with 15 points, seven rebounds, one assist, one steal, three blocks, and two 3-pointers. Coulibaly played 33 and 36 minutes in Washington's two losses to Cleveland, and we could be approaching the point where he consistently hits (or exceeds) 30 minutes. Both games were blowouts, but Coulibaly played 18 minutes in both halves of Friday's defeat. At a minimum, track him with an eye toward "silly season."