Onyeka Okongwu, PF, Atlanta Hawks
Covid is rattling the NBA once again, with over 100 current cases throughout the league. That includes Atlanta Hawks power forward Danilo Gallinari, who was placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Tuesday. That gave some room for sophomore Onyeka Okongwu – who has just spent the past six months recovering from his surgery for a torn labrum in his right shoulder – a chance to show the Hawks why he was drafted number six overall. And Okongwu has done a pretty decent job so far, averaging a very efficient 10.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and two blocks per game in 22.3 minutes in his first three games of the 2021-2022 season. In fact, the Hawks were pretty impressed with his first two games, so they decided to put him in the starting lineup on Thursday, where he put up 13 points, eight rebounds, three assists, three blocks and a steal in Atlanta’s win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Hopefully Onyeka can keep this up, but he’ll have to beat out Gallinari for the starting job. Plus, when Clint Capela also returns from the Covid list, he’ll also be racking up a lot of the rebounds. When those two return from the Covid list, we’ll truly be able to tell how much faith the Atlanta Hawks have in their youngster. This is a situation to watch closely, but until the others return there is no reason for you to get rid of Onyeka Okongwu.
Edit: Onyeka Okongwu was just placed on health and safety protocols.
Malik Beasley, SG, Minnesota Timberwolves
Malik Beasley has started to heat up lately, averaging 16.7 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game over the past ten games, and an even better and 21.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and three rebounds per game in his past four matchups. His most recent game, he put up a very impressive 33 points, six rebounds, one assist, and one steal in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ loss to the Utah Jazz. Now, there’s a catch: He’s done some of this with Anthony Edwards out due to Covid. However, Malik still averages a solid 14.1 points, four rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game in his past seven games without Edwards. Even when Anthony Edwards comes back, Malik Beasley will still play a pretty large role with the Timberwolves. There’s no reason to get rid of him, since his stock his pretty low anyway.
DeMarcus Cousins, C, Milwaukee Bucks
After a 22 point performance against the Dallas Mavericks, the NBA is preaching that Boogie Cousins is back. But I’m still not convinced (from a fantasy perspective, at least) : He’s played 11 games this season and started four. In his past four games, DeMarcus averages a very good 15.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.5 steals per game, but Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bobby Portis were out for all of those games. As good as he is, I don’t know if he’ll be able to keep this up when they return. Giannis is already reportedly back and will play against the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day, and Bobby Portis is not included on the Milwaukee Buck’s injury report for Saturday either. We’ll just have to wait and see if Boogie holds priority over Portis, and can still put up numbers with Giannis on the court. He even said himself that he signed with the Bucks to be a team player, and he likely won’t be stat padding for you to win your fantasy game, which completely makes sense. Just wait a few games to see if DeMarcus Cousins can still put up solid numbers with a healthy Bucks, and if he can, then he should be a good start for a long time. If not, then you might as well cut him.
Cam Reddish, SF, Atlanta Hawks
Cam Reddish has been playing some of the best basketball in his career lately, averaging 15.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game in his past six. He also recorded an impressive 34 points, four rebounds, four assists, and two blocks in the Atlanta Hawks’ loss to the Orlando Magic. However, I wouldn’t expect that performance every week, and when most of Atlanta’s roster returns from the Covid list, his numbers – and minutes – should go way down. Now, that doesn’t mean Cam won’t be of any use fantasy wise, but he definitely won’t have as good of numbers. If you think you can somehow pull off a trade to sell high, that would be ideal. But if you can’t, there’s now harm in keeping Cam Reddish on your roster.
Deni Avdija, SF, Washington Wizards
After a long off-season of recovery of an ankle fracture, Deni Avdija had a rough start to the 2021-2022 NBA season. But over the past few games, the Israeli has stepped it up a bit, averaging 13.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, one block, and 1.3 steals per game in his past four. There aren’t significant injuries on the rest of the Washington Wizards squad, so there’s a chance that Avidja can build from this production and become an important piece of the rotation. Especially with the Coronavirus beginning to surge in the NBA, any injury that results in more playing time for him could mean a lot for his development. Although Deni Avdija isn’t a for-sure starter in fantasy, he could become one soon. I’d keep him on your bench just in case that next step up occurs.
Jordan Nwora, SF, Milwaukee Bucks
During the short absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jordan Nwora was called up to help fill that role for the short term for the Milwaukee Bucks. And Nwora did his job, averaging 18.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game through four games without Giannis. Of course, it was a given that when the Greek Freak returned, Jordan would be sent back to the bench. You might as well cut Jordan Nwora, but whenever Giannis or Khris Middleton are out, you can count on picking him up for some solid fantasy production.
Cameron Johnson, SF, Phoenix Suns
In his third NBA season, Cameron Johnson has just been playing very consistently, which is a very important quality in a fantasy player. He averages a pretty decent 14.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game this month, and he still has yet to start a game this year. It looks like Johnson could become a serious sixth man of the year candidate if he can continue this production. Cameron Johnson likely doesn’t have much fantasy value though, so why not just keep a consistent scorer on your fantasy roster?
Isaiah Thomas, PG, Los Angeles Lakers
After some notable performances in the G-league, the Los Angeles Lakers decided to sign Isaiah Thomas. When he scored 19 points, two rebounds, one assist, and one block in his Lakers debut, the NBA world thought that IT was officially back. In his next game, he scored a respectable 13 points, two rebounds, and one assist. But in his past two games, the 32 year old totals just five points, four rebounds, four assists, and one block. It looks like his stint with the Lakers might be short lived unless he can turn things around, but there’s no reason in risking it by starting Thomas. If you have a spot on your bench, you might as well keep him for another week, but otherwise I don’t see Isaiah Thomas going back to the scorer he once was.
Omer Yurtseven, C, Miami Heat
Omer Yurtseven’s path to the NBA wasn’t an easy one: After going undrafted in the 2020 draft, he spent some time with the Oklahoma City Blue, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s G-League team. The Miami Heat were interested, so they signed him. With Bam Adebayo out four to six weeks due to a thumb surgery, the Turk got some more playing time than usual. In his past four games, he averages 7.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, and one block per game. With Bam our for a little while longer, Yurtseven should be a solid utility option until he returns. Hold him until Bam is back.
Kemba Walker, PG, New York Knicks
It seems like taking Kemba Walker out of the rotation worked: Since his return, Walker averages an incredible 31.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game. Now, Kemba’s playing for his career here, so it’s obvious that he’s gonna play his hardest. I’m not saying that he won’t play well anymore, but he might not play this well. It could be time to sell Cardiac Kemba, and what better time to do it than right after a triple double? But if you can’t get a good deal for him now, then you might as well hold him for a little longer.