Unexpected Stars Of The Stretch Run

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Matt Stroup
·6 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.


This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.


Every season there are names that emerge late and help win our fantasy leagues for us.

Today, I’m taking a look at eight players who are starting to look like the guys we never would have imagined would be indispensable to our title hopes, and now we can barely imagine life without them.

Chuma Okeke, PF, ORL

Okeke did it again on Thursday night — eight points, 10 rebounds, four dimes, a steal and two blocks in 34 minutes — giving the fast-emerging forward averages of 15.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.8 bpg and 2.0 3s (52.2 FG, hasn’t missed a free throw) since the NBA trade deadline.

This is the ideal intersection of I hope the team gives this guy more playing time, and the team actually thinking the same way.

Steve, if you’re reading this: I’m strongly considering an Okeke shirsey if/when I win the 2nd Annual Luka Doncic Free Throw Challenge.

Moses Brown, C, OKC

With Al Horford pulling off The Ultimate Shutdown, Moses Brown has stepped into a massive opportunity and is suddenly putting up Clint Capela-caliber stats: 14.0 ppg, 14.8 rpg, 1.0 spg and 1.6 bpg in 32 minutes a game over his last five (60.0 FG / 61.1 FT). Things are getting more ridiculous, not less ridiculous, in Oklahoma City — as proof, I recently picked up Svi Mykhailiuk in one league, and dropped Ty Jerome to get him — so it’s fair to say we should have very few concerns about the shelf life of Moses Brown’s opportunity.

While we’re in Oklahoma City, we could easily write up Aleksej Pokusevski and Isaiah Roby and other players as well, but we’re not going to let this team’s organized chaos monopolize an entire column. So let’s move on to...

Nickeil Alexander-Walker, SG/SF, NOP

Different story here, as it would seem Alexander-Walker’s glorious run (most recently he had 31 points on Thursday night) is set to expire as soon as Lonzo Ball returns (and as of this writing he hadn’t yet been ruled out for Friday).

But as I think about it more, what if it doesn’t mean the end for NAW? Lonzo clearly isn’t going to lose his minutes once healthy. And maybe Eric Bledsoe isn’t going to either. However, Bledsoe would be the avenue I’d be looking at, as the veteran has shot just 34.9 percent from the floor (averaging 8.5 ppg) the last month. NAW is clearly a more explosive player right now, and it’s not particularly close, as he’s averaging 20.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.7 apg, 0.8 spg, 1.0 bpg and 3.8 3s across his last six starts. The Pelicans are still hanging around on the fringes of the playoff picture, which in theory could skew minutes toward the veteran Bledsoe, but it’s hard to argue at this point that Alexander-Walker isn’t a better option regardless.

Jaden McDaniels, PF, MIN

Word is mostly out on the McDaniels breakout — he’s now rostered in 37 percent of Yahoo leagues — so we won’t spend a lot of time here. There also isn’t a lot (in a good way) that needs to be said. After scoring 18 points with five boards, three dimes and four triples in 36 minutes on Wednesday night, JMD is now averaging 14.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.8 bpg and 2.8 3s (in 36 minutes a game) over his last four. In writing those numbers out, I’m suddenly hit with a powerful pang of regret that I didn’t proactively get McDaniels in any of my leagues.

Kevin Porter Jr., SG/SF, HOU

On Friday’s episode of the Roundball Stew radio hour, we talked about John Wall as a serious shutdown candidate for the Rockets. Meanwhile, after his hot start and a brief injury-related hiccup, KPJ is trending back upward quickly in Houston, posting 18.3 ppg, 4.3 apg and 1.7 3s in his last three games. It’s worth noting that he doesn’t have a single steal or block in his those three (after averaging 1.8 spg / 1.0 bpg in his first five Rockets appearances), but overall things should be set up very nicely for Porter Jr. to thrive down the stretch.

Terance Mann, SF, LAC

It’s not spelled Terrence, it’s not spelled Terrance, it’s Terance. And the second-year player from Florida State has been a really solid real-life player for the Clippers lately — though slightly less thrilling for fantasy.

The good news is that Mann has averaged 14.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.6 apg and 0.8 3s — while shooting 54.5 percent from the field — in his last eight games. My main issue with his stat line is that he only has two steals and one block total across that eight-game stretch, good for 0.3 spg / 0.1 bpg. On a positive note, he does have exactly six dimes in two of his last three games, and should be able to get closer to 1.0 spg if he continues getting this kind of run (last year, Mann averaged 1.1 spg per 36 minutes).

Ultimately, there are clear reasons why Mann is only rostered in 11 percent of Yahoo leagues, but I like him as a streaming option who has some river potential.

Editor’s Note: Drafting is only half the battle! Get an edge on your competition with our NBA Season Tools - available in our EDGE+ Roto tier for $3.99/mo. (annually) or $9.99/mo. (monthly) - that are packed with rankings, projections, a trade evaluator, start/sit tools and much more. And don't forget to use promo code WELCOME10 to get 10% off. Click here to learn more!

Hamidou Diallo, SG/SF, DET

Diallo is currently sitting out back-to-backs for the Pistons, who by my count have six back-to-backs remaining this season, which is definitely a bit annoying for Diallo’s prospects. What’s not annoying is that before sitting out on Thursday, he had posted 19.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.5 bpg and 1.5 3s in his previous two games.

We talked about Diallo in some detail on Friday’s podcast, and basically the place we landed was that Diallo is worth rostering given the upside he’s flashed for the Pistons, and at times for the Thunder. At the same time, we should be prepared for the possibility that deficiencies in shooting (3s and FTs) — along with the potential for sitting back-to-backs — could render him a slightly frustrating guy to rely on down the stretch.

Mo Bamba, C, ORL

I believe I said on a recent podcast something to the effect of: I’ll believe Mo Bamba when I see it.

We are officially starting to see it.

Yes, Bamba is only playing limited minutes — 22, 17, 18 and 17 his last four games — but he’s showing he can produce, even in a limited role. Those four games have yielded 11.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.3 bpg and 1.0 3s. By no means is Bamba (13 percent rostered) a must-add, but the No. 6 overall pick from 2018 could easily work his way into 25ish minutes before this season is out, and I’m adding him wherever I have open roster spots to see what transpires.