Nikola Jokic, C, Denver Nuggets
As we enter the final week of the NBA season, there is still uncertainty in terms of the MVP award. However, Nikola Jokic has made a very convincing case in his past five games, averaging an absurd 34.8 points, 16.2 rebounds, 8.4 assists, and 1.8 steals through that stretch. With just three games left in the regular season for the Denver Nuggets, there is no doubt that the Joker will give it his all, and put up some MVP numbers. I would hold him in the championship round of the playoffs.
Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers
As I said earlier, there is still no clear MVP in the last week of the NBA regular season. Alongside Jokic, Joel Embiid has a pretty good argument for the award too, with a 35.2 point, 15 rebound, 4.2 assist, and 1.8 block average in his past five games. Although it’s very unlikely, the Philadelphia 76ers could still climb to the first seed in the East, which might require Embiid to continue this production through the end of the season. Basically, hold any serious MVP candidate.
Kyrie Irving, PG, Brooklyn Nets
Because of New York’s vaccine requirement, Kyrie Irving was only allowed to play in away games for half of the season: The other half of the season he wasn’t allowed to play at all, due to the NBA’s vaccine requirement. That led the Brooklyn Nets to their current situation, as they sit in tenth place in the East. However, now that Kyrie is back full time, the Nets look like serious title contenders, despite their very low seeding. Although they currently find themselves in the bottom half of the play-in, they stand just one point behind the eighth seed Atlanta Hawks. Passing them would mean that Brooklyn would need to win one play-in game, as opposed to their current situation, where they must win two. The Nets will need Kyrie Irving to step it up through their last four games, and his recent performances tell me that he is entirely capable of doing so. Hold Kyrie for the rest of the season.
Donovan Mitchell, SG, Utah Jazz
In the last week of March, the Utah Jazz went on a five game losing streak, causing them to fall to the sixth seed. Now, with just four games left, a few wins could be the difference between playing the Warriors and the Mavericks in the first round: If Steph Curry is healthy, that difference could be huge. In his past three games, Donovan Mitchell has stepped it up a little, averaging a solid 29.3 points, two rebounds, and 5.3 assists, despite two losses through that stretch. With the way the Jazz are playing right now, it doesn’t look like they’ll be able to move up to the fifth seed. However, Donovan Mitchell is still an elite fantasy starter, so I wouldn’t trade him.
Isaiah Roby, PF, Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder are already looking to prepare for the 2022-23 season, as they fell out of contention pretty early in the season. Now, they’re just cycling in their young talent so they can gain some NBA experience. Isaiah Roby is an example of this, as he’s seen a substantial increase in minutes recently, with a 32.5 minute per game average in his past six games, compared to his 20.7 minute season average. In those six games, Roby averages 17.3 points, eight rebounds, and three assists. These numbers aren’t bad, but it’s too big of a risk to rely on a bench player in the championship round. I don’t know if you’ll be able to sell Isaiah Roby at this point in the season, but you might as well just send him to your bench.
Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Indiana Pacers
In a blockbuster trade that sent Damontas Sabonis to the Sacramento Kings, Tyrese Haliburton finds himself in a much better situation for his career. This season, Haliburton averaged a solid 14.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, 7.4 assists, and 1.7 steals per game with the Kings: But he’s improved in virtually every stat, with a 17.3 point, 4.3 rebound, 9.8 assist, and 1.9 steal average in Indiana. Recently his numbers have been even better, averaging 22.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 11 assists, and 2.3 steals in his past four games. Although the Pacers were knocked out of playoff contention a while ago, Haliburton continues to put up these numbers, and I don’t see him slowing down anytime soon. Keep the Double-Double Machine.
Zach LaVine, SG, Chicago Bulls
After a very strong start to the season, the Chicago Bulls have fallen from first place in the East, to fifth: In March, they won just five of 14 games. However, Zach LaVine has increased his scoring production lately, averaging 26.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists in his past six games. The Bulls can technically still fall down to the play-in, so guys like LaVine will need to step it up in Chicago’s last four games, especially given their hard schedule through the last stretch of the season (Bucks, Celtics, and Hornets away, and Timberwolves at home). I’d expect at least one big game from LaVine that can help you win your fantasy championship, so don’t get rid of him.
Theo Maledon, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder
As I mentioned earlier, the Oklahoma City Thunder are rotating in their younger players, so they can gain some NBA experience. Alongside Isaiah Roby, Theo Maledon is another example of this, as his average minutes have nearly doubled, from 17.8 minutes per game, to a 33.7 minute average in his past six games. Through that stretch, Maledon averages a solid 20.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.5 assists per gam. However, his nine point, four rebound, and five assist performance against the Phoenix Suns just shows me that it’s hard to trust a young rotation player in fantasy, especially in the playoffs. I would send him to the bench for the championship round of the fantasy playoffs.
Damian Jones, C, Sacramento Kings
At this point in the season, the Sacramento Kings have nothing to really fight for the rest of the season: They won’t have a great draft pick in the upcoming draft, and they were knocked out of playoff contention ages ago. However, there is plenty of hope for next year, as De’Aaron Fox and Damontas Sabonis could take them to the post-season for the first time since 2007. In the meantime, they sit at the familiar 12th seed, with both Fox and Sabonis out for the rest of the year. That allows Damian Jones to finish off the season as a starter, as he averages 17.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and two blocks in his past five games, compared to his 7.6 point, 4.4 rebound, and 1.2 assist season average. With the best two players on the Kings out for their last three games, Damian Jones is a solid fantasy utility player. Hold him for the rest of the fantasy championship round.
Obi Toppin, PF, New York Knicks
It appears that last year’s season for the New York Knicks was a fluke, as they’re back to the 11th seed, a spot they’re pretty used to. Now that Julius Randle is out for the season due to a Quadricep injury, Obi Toppin has been asked to step up, and start through the last few games of this disappointing Knicks season. And he’s done pretty well so far, averaging 20 points, six rebounds, and 3.5 assists in his past two games (with two 20 point performances in a row). It could be risky to start Toppin in the championship round, but if you don’t have a better replacement for Julius Randle, then you might want to try the risk. Otherwise, I would send him to the bench.