Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire: Pickups to help secure a championship

We're at the midway point of Championship week, and it's about to get real for those still vying for a title. The Week 23 schedule is unkind in the back half of the week, with 10 games on Wednesday, 13 on Friday and 13 Sunday — which doesn't leave many opportunities to stream players off waivers. Still, I want to offer up some teams worth targeting through Sunday. Let's jump right in.

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers are on the cusp of becoming the Portland Trail Blazers. When I say that, I mean they will give you a glimmer of optimism that their stars might play, but then they don't. The Pacers are in 12th place in the Eastern Conference and 3.5 games outside the Play-In Tournament; their season is over with only six games remaining.

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The fact that Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield and Myles Turner all missed their previous game tells me all I need to know — they're resting their stars because there is nothing more to play for. Haliburton's already been ruled out for Wednesday, and just as I'm writing this, Hield, a player who wasn't on Wednesday's injury report, has been ruled out with a non-COVID-related illness. The Pacers should make it easier on us by downgrading Turner from questionable to out; it'd complete the trifecta, allowing fantasy managers to pivot to other options in Indiana sooner rather than later.

Here are the Pacer pickups I'm prioritizing:

T.J. McConnell (30% rostered)

McConnell's averaging 13.7 points with 8.3 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 1.8 steals while shooting 60.1% from the field in 16 games without Haliburton in the lineup this season. He'll face the Bucks, Thunder and Cavaliers the rest of the week, and while two of those teams are among the league's best in Defensive Rating (Cavs are first, Bucks are second), you can't rule out the possibility of either team resting their stars.


Either way, the Pacers are comfortable rolling with McConnell, and with Haliburton's season in doubt (similar to Damian Lillard), McConnell is a player you must roster for the rest of the week, for his ability to rack up assists and steals with strong peripherals in 9-cat leagues.

Andrew Nembhard (25% rostered)

The rookie is in a similarly advantageous position as McConnell with Haliburton and Hield being out; he'll get a nice boost in minutes across both guard spots. Nembhard's been a top-80 player in 9-cat leagues over the last week, providing fantasy managers with a solid 15 points with 5 assists and 1.5 3s, while shooting a robust 59% from the field. If he can get to the foul line as an 80% free-throw shooter, he'll climb even higher in the rankings (however, he hasn't gone to the line in five straight games).


He and McConnell will be the engines of the offense for the rest of the way.

Isaiah Jackson (24% rostered)

Turner has yet to be ruled out for Wednesday's contest, but it's only a matter of time. On the other side, Jackson's been playing well in only 20 minutes and won't have much competition for minutes at the center position down the stretch.

He's averaging 10 points with 8 rebounds, 1 block and 1 steal over his previous five games, so imagine his production when he starts seeing 30+ minutes. As long as Jackson can stay out of foul trouble, he should be a solid source of points, rebounds and blocks for the final three games of Week 23.


Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies are one of two teams that have clinched a playoff spot coming into Wednesday and have begun resting their players. Desmond Bane, Tyus Jones and Jaren Jackson Jr. are all out for Wednesday's matchup, and who knows if that continues with the Grizz unlikely to catch the Nuggets for the 1-seed while the Kings are unlikely to leapfrog them for the 2-seed in the West.

So who stands to gain?

Luke Kennard (35% rostered)

He was eating before three of Memphis' starters were scheduled to miss Wednesday's game, so Kennard is a priority addition for the rest of the week. He's hit at least 4 triples in 6 of his last 10 games, including knocking down 10 3s against the Rockets a few games ago.


He's done more than that in the past couple of contests, too, showcasing his rebounding and assist potential, tallying 12 boards and 7 assists across those games.

With two matchups versus his former Clippers team and the Bulls to close out the week, he'll continue to cook for Week 23, so pick him up now!

Xavier Tillman (36% rostered)

Memphis' depleted frontcourt has Tillman producing as a top-60 player over the past week. He's played a crucial role in the Grizzlies reeling off seven straight victories, and here's him talking about how his teammates are putting him in positions to succeed:

He delivered a career-high 20 points with 9 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block across 35 minutes in Monday's win over the Magic, and before that, he posted a 15/8/3/3/2 line that gives you a sense of how much he can contribute across categories.


He's questionable for Wednesday's game with a sprained ankle, but I'll still feel comfortable rostering him against the Clippers and Bulls — two teams with defensive liabilities in the frontcourt.

Portland Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers have already decided their fate before technically being officially eliminated from playoff contention (that actually happens if they lose tonight versus the Kings), but that doesn't mean there isn't value to extract from their situation. Here are two players worth adding:

Drew Eubanks (28% rostered)

If you're feeling left out, don't worry; you're welcome to join Eubanks' block party. He's the best option if you're looking to ante up in the blocks category and will have limited competition for minutes, with Jusuf Nurkic likely done for the season. Eubanks' registered at least one block in 5 of his last 6 games and has low-end double-double appeal.


The Blazers play the Kings on Wednesday and Friday and end the week on Sunday against the Timberwolves, which means that his size is necessary to combat the likes of Domantas Sabonis, Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert. The Blazers are looking at their youth to carry them the rest of the way, and the 26-year-old Eubanks fits that criterion.

Keon Johnson (4% rostered)

Johnson is likely the deepest deep-league streamer at under 5% rostered, but he's hit double figures in three straight games and is seeing a healthy dose of minutes with Cam Reddish injured. If his role stays intact, you can expect 15 points with a couple of 3s and five assists, as he's provided over these past three contests.


However, outside of one 4-steal game, he has yet to do much defensively for fantasy managers. Still, with the Blazers desperately needing some offense, Johnson could help fantasy managers for the rest of the week nonetheless.

New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans are the only team to play on Thursday and Saturday's two-game slates for the rest of the week. Every game matters for the Pelicans as they're currently the eighth seed in the West, with one game in the loss column separating them from the 11th-seeded Mavericks.

They face the Nuggets on Thursday and the Clippers on Saturday (their second night of a B2B set), so they'll need W's if they want to play beyond April 9. That being said, getting low-end production on days with only a couple of games can be the difference between a tight race at the finish. Here are a few players who I'd consider picking up:


Josh Richardson (20% rostered)

I'm not expecting him to light up the box score but double-digit points, a few rebounds and assists with a steal are reasonable expectations for Richardson despite him coming off the bench. Remember, you're only picking him up for counting stats.

Larry Nance Jr. (12% rostered)

Give Nance a look if you want to pad some rebounds and steals. His minutes are erratic, but he's still in the rotation. If Jonas Valanciunas gets into foul trouble, he could provide serviceable minutes with his energy and ability to get some hustle stats.

Naji Marshall (3% rostered)

Although he's rostered in fewer leagues than Nance Jr., Marshall offers more cross-categorical appeal. He's been the backup point guard for the Pelicans lately, and now that he's in the driver's seat of the second unit, he's been averaging 9 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists over his past five games.

If he keeps that up, those numbers could certainly help bridge the gap or provide the bump you need to separate from your opponent. It also helps that you can play him twice out of a single transaction — which may differ for some players mentioned above.