Basketball Pickups: Marvin Bagley III returns to starting lineup

Sunday was the final day of Week 22, and for some fantasy managers, that prompted a mad dash to the waiver in search of a player (or players) capable of making the difference between elimination and advancing to championship week. And with ten games on the schedule, there was no shortage of players who had the potential to be difference-makers in fantasy leagues. Let’s look at some of Sunday’s top pickups.

Marvin Bagley III (45%)

Due to Richaun Holmes being sidelined, Bagley was back in the Wizards starting lineup on Sunday, and he had a solid night in a loss to the Heat. He played 26 minutes, finishing with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and two steals. Even if Holmes is cleared to return, Bagley will have value in fantasy leagues. Also benefitting from Holmes’ absence was Anthony Gill, who accounted for 18 points, four rebounds, and one 3-pointer. However, he did not provide any defensive stats on Sunday, and there will be better options than Gill on the waiver wire of most leagues.

Miles McBride (44%)

McBride has played 40 minutes or more in seven straight games, including Sunday’s loss to the Thunder. Deuce played 46 minutes, finishing with 19 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals, and four 3-pointers. Also noteworthy from Saturday’s game was Tom Thibodeau revealing beforehand that OG Anunoby (elbow) has not taken any contact in a practice setting since he’s been sidelined for injury management reasons. That doesn’t sound like an update for a player who will be cleared to return to action soon. Add in Julius Randle (shoulder), who still lacks a timeline for return, and McBride is well worth the risk in standard leagues.

Grant Williams (26%)

Williams may not have been on the radar for most fantasy managers before Sunday’s game against the Clippers, but Steve Clifford’s rotation management makes him worthy of a look. While nine Hornets saw action, only seven hit double digits in minutes played. Williams was one of those seven, playing more (33 minutes) than starters Tre Mann (26) and Nick Richards (25). Shooting 8-of-10 from the field, Williams finished with 18 points, five rebounds, five assists, and two 3-pointers in 33 minutes. While Charlotte has not officially ruled out Mark Williams for the rest of the season, few expect to see him in uniform. As a result, now is a solid time to consider adding Grant Williams in some standard leagues.

Taylor Hendricks (16%) and Brice Sensabaugh (2%)

With Lauri Markkanen joining the list of injured Jazz players, Sensabaugh moved into the starting lineup on Sunday, joining fellow rookies Hendricks and Keyonte George. Sensabaugh had his best game as a pro in Utah’s loss to Sacramento, finishing with 22 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and five 3-pointers in 34 minutes. Hendricks was also productive, amassing 18 points, three rebounds, one assist, and four 3-pointers, playing 32 minutes. Markkanen is expected to miss at least two weeks, which means Sensabaugh is worth holding onto (or adding) for the remainder of the season. Hendricks is also worth a look wherever he’s available, as the Jazz are better served getting extended looks at their three first-round picks.

Reggie Jackson (13%) and Christian Braun (3%)

The Nuggets were again without Jamal Murray, who continues to recover from multiple lower-body injuries. That locked Jackson into the starting lineup, and he finished Sunday’s win over Cleveland with 19 points, three rebounds, three assists, and five 3-pointers in 23 minutes. Also notable about the Nuggets rotation was the decision to have a second lead guard receive minutes. This approach boosted Braun’s value, even if he finished with just one assist. Playing 28 minutes, Braun finished with 10 points, six rebounds, one assist, one steal, one blocked shot, and two 3-pointers. How much value Braun and Jackson will have during a three-game Week 23 schedule for the Nuggets will depend on Murray’s availability.

Cam Whitmore (8%)

Houston’s win streak ended on Sunday, but the good news was that Whitmore returned from a knee injury. Sidelined since March 10, the rookie forward played 22 minutes in the loss to Dallas, accounting for 13 points, five rebounds, one assist, three steals, and two 3-pointers. Before the loss, Rockets coach Ime Udoka said Whitmore would be restricted to 20 minutes, as he is essentially playing himself into game shape. Whitmore’s stat line may not jump off the page, but he can provide deep-league value in 20 minutes per night. Houston plays four games in Week 23 with a midweek back-to-back, so Whitmore could be looking at a three-game week.

Malaki Branham (5%) and Cedi Osman (15)

San Antonio was down two starters for its game against the Warriors, with Jeremy Sochan and Devin Vassell sitting due to injury (valuable reserve Keldon Johnson was also out). Branham and Osman were the replacements in the starting lineup, and while neither had a spectacular night, they weren’t exactly liabilities, either. Branham offered more in categories other than points and 3-pointers, as he finished with 12 points, three rebounds, four assists, and one 3-pointer.

On the other hand, Osman shot the ball much better than Branham and finished with 18 points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal, and four 3-pointers. Their fantasy potential moving forward depends on the availability of Sochan and Vassell, with the latter being ruled out for Sunday’s game that afternoon. And while nothing was concretely reported on Sochan’s status for the rest of the season, he may be further away from a return than Vassell. Branham and Osman will have increased value in deep leagues if those two remain sidelined.