Basketball Pickups: That’s Payton Pritchard’s music

Friday was one of two days boasting robust schedules to end Week 23, Championship Week in many fantasy leagues. And with many teams navigating lengthy injury reports, some exciting streaming options were bound to emerge. However, the Celtics boast a reliable streamer whose value has increased after the team locked up home-court advantage throughout the upcoming playoffs. Payton Pritchard (25% rostered, Yahoo) is still coming off the bench, but injuries to key starters have given him more opportunities to shine. That was the case on Friday, as Boston played against the Kings without Jaylen Brown and Derrick White.

Playing 33 minutes off the bench, Pritchard shot 8-of-16 from the field and finished with a team-high 21 points, one rebound, three assists, two steals, and five 3-pointers. Counting Friday, Pritchard has scored at least 14 points in the last six games he’s logged at least 30 minutes. While he’s ranked outside the top 150 in 9-cat, per-game value over the past week, the Celtics guard should be rostered in deep leagues whenever the team is down a starter (or, in the case of Friday, two starters).

Unfortunately for fantasy managers, Sam Hauser (19%) failed to come through on Friday. One of two players (Al Horford) moved into the starting lineup, Hauser shot 1-of-18 from the field (1-of-13 from three) and finished with three points, seven rebounds, three assists, and one steal in 36 minutes. While this was a disappointing effort, the Celtics end Week 23 with a home against Portland on Sunday, so Hauser and Pritchard should be in play for deep-league managers needing final-day production.

Let’s look at some of Friday’s other top pickups. A few will also be valuable over the weekend. Saturday’s four-game slate is followed by a 13-game bonanza on Sunday.

Jabari Walker (16%)

Walker has started Portland’s last four games, filling the void left by injured rookie Toumani Camara. Playing alongside Deandre Ayton limits his offensive ceiling, but Friday’s win over the Wizards was a reminder of what Walker can provide as a rebounder. In addition to scoring 11 points and dishing out three assists, Walker tallied 13 rebounds (tied for most in the game with Ayton) and hit two 3-pointers in 39 minutes. Due to Portland’s many injuries, Walker has played at least 35 minutes in four straight games, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. Portland ends Week 23 in Boston on Sunday.

Scotty Pippen Jr. (8%) and Trey Jemison (1%)

Similar to Portland, Memphis has a loaded injury report. With Desmond Bane, Santi Aldama, and Jaren Jackson Jr. sidelined on Friday, Pippen and Jemison were among the low-rostered players who stepped up. Pippen finished the 108-90 win over Detroit with 16 points, three rebounds, seven assists, four steals, one block, and two 3-pointers in 29 minutes, shooting 7-of-10 from the field. And Jemison recorded his first double-double, tallying 17 points, 13 rebounds, one assist, one steal, and three blocked shots. Memphis hosts Philadelphia on Saturday, the lighter of the two weekend days. Suppose Bane, Aldama, and Jackson remain sidelined. In that case, guys like Pippen, Jemison, Jordan Goodwin, and even Lamar Stevens will be well worth the risk for managers seeking a deep-league streamer.

Julian Champagnie (3%) and Sandro Mamukelashvili (< 1%)

While Champagnie has been a fixture in the Spurs’ starting lineup since Christmas, Mamukelashvili made his first start of the season on Friday. Both played well in San Antonio‘s win over the Pelicans in New Orleans, as they were two of the team’s seven double-digit scorers. Champagnie (15/4/4/1/4 with two 3-pointers) played 38 minutes, while Mamukelashvili (15/5/2/1/1 with one 3-pointer) was filling in for Cedi Osman and logged 27. Champagnie is the safer streaming option for Sunday’s game against Philadelphia, as he will start regardless of who’s available. Also, Devonte’ Graham (< 1%) went off for 20 points, two rebounds, five assists, three steals, and four 3-pointers in 25 minutes, giving the Spurs welcome bench production with Keldon Johnson sidelined.

Tristan Vukcevic (3%)

The Wizards rookie has reached double figures in three straight games, starting the last two. Vukcevic finished Friday’s loss to Portland with 17 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, and one blocked shot in 24 minutes. His line would have been even better if not for an 0-of-5 night from three. If Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley III remain sidelined for Sunday’s game in Toronto, Vukcevic merits serious streaming consideration in deep leagues.

Dante Exum (3%)

Dallas picked up a big home victory, beating the Warriors despite not having Luka Doncic because of a sore knee. Exum was his replacement in the starting lineup, and he finished with a solid line of 11 points, two rebounds, seven assists, and one 3-pointer. The assist total stands out, as Exum last recorded seven or more in a game on December 8 (seven vs POR). He will only have value in deep leagues if Doncic remains sidelined for Sunday’s game against the Rockets, who could be eliminated from postseason contention by the end of the weekend regardless of whether or not they beat Dallas.

Javonte Green (< 1%)

We close with a player who wasn’t on anyone’s fantasy radar before Friday, but the combination of his production and two critical injuries have changed that. Green was outstanding in Chicago‘s win over the Knicks, finishing with 25 points, 13 rebounds, one assist, two steals, one block, and one 3-pointer in 33 minutes. Expecting Green to do this again on Sunday when the Bulls visit the Magic would be unrealistic. However, the Bulls watched Coby White and Alex Caruso suffer sprained left ankles during Friday’s win, with the former exiting after 14 minutes and not returning (Caruso was injured during the fourth quarter and did not return). Green may not be the preferred choice to start if White and Caruso can’t play in Orlando, but the minutes needed to offer value would be there.