Bogdan Bogdanovic

USA Today

For college basketball, the madness is over. For the NBA fantasy managers, the madness is just beginning.

We are two weeks away from playoffs, and people are scrambling for solutions to their team's problems. Take a look at these waiver wire picks and see who will give you that final push you need to get into the postseason and avoid the humiliation of whatever fantasy punishment you may face.


Booms

Bogdan Bogdanovic Guard/Forward Atlanta Hawks

While one Bogdanovic struggles through a subpar season in Utah, another is thriving in Georgia. Bogdan, the younger of the unrelated pair, missed 25 straight games this season due to a knee injury and had trouble finding consistent minutes on this Hawks team. This past week, he caught fire with John Collins and De'Andre Hunter out with injuries.

He is averaging 37.1 minutes, 21.5 points on 51.6 percent shooting from the field, 4.3 made threes, 4.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.3 turnovers the last four games. He is only rostered in 74 percent of Yahoo leagues but should be rostered in 100 percent.

Robert Williams Center Boston Celtics

The Time Lord continues to impress, proving that Danny Ainge made the right choice at the trade deadline to deal Daniel Theis to the Chicago Bulls. In three games last week, Williams averaged 14.3 points on 82.6 percent shooting, nine rebounds, five assists, 0.7 turnovers, one steal and two blocks.

All eyes might be on Tatum and Brown as fantasy studs, but Williams is establishing himself as a legitimate seven-category contributor in 9-cat formats.

Gary Trent Jr. Guard/Forward Toronto Raptors

Trent might not have walked into a playoff-contending team in Toronto this season, but the opportunity for production has benefitted fantasy managers. After a rocky two games, he hit his stride, averaging 23.3 points on 51 percent shooting, five made threes, and 1.7 steals.

Despite having a bad season, the Toronto Raptors are still within striking distance of a play-in spot. If they want to make it, they're going to look to Trent's shooting to help them get there.

Kelly Olynyk Forward/Center Houston Rockets

Gonzaga could've used the former Spokane stud in the National Championship Game on Monday. In the last four games, Olynyk is averaging 18.8 points on 57.4 percent shooting, 1.8 made threes, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.3 blocks.

The Rockets may be playing for the future, but Olynyk has proven to be a dependable fantasy option for the present.

Busts

Moses Brown Center Oklahoma City Thunder

After spending last week rebounding like he was Dennis Rodman, he spent this past week looking a bit more human. After averaging 16.8 rebounds last week, Brown dropped down to 10.5 and the rest of his numbers slipped as well. He averaged 9.3 points on 42.3 percent shooting and only shot 60 percent from the foul line.

He is averaging about five fewer minutes a game than he did in the previous week, which could be contributing to his drop in production. With Al Horford completely shut down and Mike Muscala hurt, he will have plenty of chances to increase his numbers

Seth Curry Guard Philadelphia 76ers

Slumping shooters are the most at risk to be on this "bust" list and this week it's the younger Curry brother. He still contributed 2.5 made threes, but he only shot 38.1 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from the free-throw line.

If shooters aren't hitting, they're basically an empty slot in a fantasy lineup. Still, Curry isn't worth dropping because of his potential to get hot, but these are the rough patches managers are going to have to deal with.

Kyle Kuzma Forward Los Angeles Lakers

With LeBron James and Anthony Davis out, now would be the time for Kyle Kuzma to shine. His star is looking more like a lantern fantasy-wise.

He did average 17.3 points last week, but he only shot 44.4 percent and 63.6 percent from the free-throw line. He's also only making 1.7 threes, grabbing 5.3 rebounds and turning the ball over three times in that same time span.

If Kuzma wanted to prove himself a star, this period of time was not that moment.

R.J. Barrett Guard/Forward New York Knicks

The former Duke player's career season hit a speedbump this past week. In the last four games, Barrett has averaged 13.3 points on 41.7 percent shooting, 1.5 made threes, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists. The Knicks have unsurprisingly lost three of those games.

Fantasy managers in a position to make the playoffs can be patient with Barrett, but those who are fighting for a playoff spot may need to look for other options.

The Lakers looked lost in the Valley

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns are just a win away from sending LeBron James home in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in the King's illustrious career.

After stating that "These shoulders were built for a reason," James referring to facing the challenge of taking on added responsibilities after Anthony Davis was ruled out for Game 5, the Lakers and LeBron disappointed in a big way Tuesday night. L.A. started off hot jumping out to a 10-5 lead behind a couple shots from James and a three from Davis' replacement Markieff Morris. But it didn't take long for the wheels to completely fall off for the defending champion Lakers as they spent most of the first half trying to remember how basketball works.

LeBron James LeBron looking on during Game 5Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Two numbers stick out in the Game 5 loss for the Lakers and those are 34.5 and 12. Los Angeles shot 34.5% from the field on Tuesday night and were minus 12 in turnover ratio. No matter who's on your team, if you can't shoot and you can't protect the ball, the outcome is already determined.

The Suns weren't simply beneficiaries of a poor performance however as the Suns put it on the Lakers early and often and they never let their foot off the pedal for 48 minutes. Phoenix ended with 15 more assists, had seven more combined steals and blocks, and outscored L.A. in the paint by 12 points. Devin Booker and Cameron Payne were spectacular and they seemed to hit big shots every time the Lakers appeared to threaten a comeback. Mikal Bridges was effective on both sides of the ball adding three steals and two blocks to help electrify his team with the defensive effort.


Keep reading... Show less

Julio Jones is trying to force his way out of Atlanta

Kevin Cox/Getty Images

The NFL's all-time leader in receiving yardage per game is looking for a new home.

Five time all-pro, Julio Jones, stated on FS1's Undisputed earlier this week that he was "out" of Atlanta and that his only focus on where he wants to play next year includes winning. This corroborates with reports back in April as Ian Rapoport indicated the Falcons were receiving calls for their star receiver prior to the NFL Draft.

It's no surprise that Jones wants out considering the Falcons have only made the playoffs once since their Super Bowl appearance in 2016. Jones is 32 now and coming off a season where nagging injuries kept him off the field for all but nine games in 2020. In those games Jones caught 51 balls for 771 yards while adding three touchdowns. Having only reached double-digit touchdowns once in his career in 2012, the volume and yardage have always been Julio's strengths. A lack of availability would certainly hurt his chances to be a major contributor for any title-contender.

According to SportsLine, the teams with the best odds to land Jones are as follows as of May 28, 2021.

  • Patriots +200
  • 49ers +300
  • Titans +400
  • Raiders +600
  • Ravens +700
  • Chargers +900
  • Colts +1000
  • Packers +1200
  • Dolphins +1400
  • Jaguars +1500
  • Cowboys +2000

Keep reading... Show less

The Nets big 3 are set for a finals run.

Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The play-ins have been a short, but wild rollercoaster and the playoffs are getting ready to set off.

The seeds are finally set, and the first-round matchups are 76ers(1) vs Wizards(8), Nets(2) vs Celtics(7), Bucks(3) vs Heat(6), and Knicks(4) vs Hawks(5).



76ers vs Wizards:

The Russell Westbrook-Joel Embiid rivalry will continue during this year's playoffs and fans cannot wait. The Wizards finished the season with a 16-6 record, and after a lackluster start this season, they have made themselves a dangerous 8th seed. While the 76ers didn't finish the season hot, I'm sure with a team-full of veterans, rest was more of a priority. The 76ers beat the Wizards three times during the season, but two of those games were very close and came early in the season.

The Wizards can definitely make this series a challenging one for the 76ers. The Wizards have shooters all around with Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans. But the 76ers have a much deeper team with guys like Danny Green, Seth Curry, and Dwight Howard providing good veteran leadership. The Wizards are riding on the health of Bradley Beal, who has dealt with hamstring tightness in the past two weeks.



Nets vs Celtics:

The Nets finally seem to be healthy just in time for the playoffs, which is dangerous for Boston. Although the Nets big three only played eight games together, the Nets still finished with a 48-24. The Nets also have a great mix of reliable veterans like Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Jeff Green, and Joe Harris. These two teams meet three times during the regular season with Brooklyn taking all three games.

The Celtics have not lived up to expectations this year. After making a conference finals last year, it was expected to carry through the regular season, but they never found their stride. Jaylen Brown will continue to be sidelined with a broken wrist, so most of the load will be carried by Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker. I see this series being an easy one for the Nets.



Bucks vs Heat:

A rematch of the heated second-round matchup last year, where the Heat upset Milwaukee, who had Giannis dealing with injuries. Interestingly enough, both of these come to the playoffs on the right side with an 8-2 record in their last 10 regular-season games. Giannis is back with more weapons on his sides like Jrue Holiday, PJ Tucker, and Jeff Teague, while also keeping their core from last year. Giannis had had another MVP-type season averaging 28 points and 11 rebounds.

The Miami Heat started the season off slow, probably because of the NBA finals hangover, but got hot after the all-star break. Miami also acquired many new weapons like Trevor Ariza and Dewayne Dedmon. The Jimmy Butler-Giannis Antetokounmpo matchup will be the most important aspect of this series.

Knicks vs Hawks

After what seems like a lifetime drought, the Knicks are finally back in the playoffs! We can all agree that when the Knicks are good, the league is in better spirits. Tom Thibodeau has turned this team around, and you can't forget about how Julius Randle has been playing this season. Possibly the most improved player, Julius Randle has proved all his doubters wrong and has taken the keys to this Knicks franchise. The Knicks have great veteran leadership with guys like Derrick Rose, and Taj Gibson who are familiar with Thibodeau. They also have great young talent with guys like RJ Barret, and Obi Toppin.

The Hawks on the other hand have turned it around since firing Lloyd Pierce and having Nate McMillan made this team do a complete 180. Trae Young and John Collins are one of the best duos in the league. With guys like Lou Williams, Danilo Gallinari, and Bogdan Bogdanovic who can get hot at any point of the game. This series can definitely go to 7 games, with last-second shots determining the outcome.