We are approaching the final three weeks of the NBA regular season. Whether you play in a head-to-head league or a rotisserie format, taking advantage of the schedule could be key to helping you win a title. Let’s look at teams with some of the best and worst remaining schedules from a fantasy perspective, and what it means for the players on those squads.
It has been a disappointing season for the Bulls, who enter Friday on the outside of the Play-In Tournament in the Eastern Conference. Lonzo Ball (knee) has missed the entire season, and they haven’t been the same without him on the floor. However, they still have three top fantasy players in Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic.
The perfect storm might be brewing for fantasy managers who roster any of the Bulls’ top trio. They are in the hunt for a Play-In spot and owe their first-round pick in the 2023 Draft to the Magic if it falls outside the top four. Since that pick is likely to convey, the Bulls will push hard to make the playoffs. They play four games in each of the final three weeks, so with no rest days likely in sight for their key players, they could help lead fantasy managers to a title. For those who need steals, it could be worth streaming Alex Caruso. He’s not a reliable scorer, but he is averaging 1.6 steals over 24 minutes per game.
Like the Bulls, the Grizzlies also play four games in each of the final three weeks. Unlike the Bulls, the Grizzlies are in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot. They are a half-game behind the Kings for the second-best record in the Western Conference. They do have motivation to keep playing their starters, though. They are 28-5 at home this season compared to 13-22 on the road. If they can finish as the second seed, having home-court advantage through the first two rounds could be the difference in whether or not they can advance to the Western Conference finals.
Another bit of good news for both the Grizzlies and fantasy managers is that Ja Morant is eligible to return from his suspension on Monday. He is expected to miss some time beyond that while he works his way back into basketball shape, but since the point guard has only missed about two weeks of action, he shouldn’t be out for too long. Getting him back for possibly the final 10 games could be huge for fantasy managers. However, those who have been enjoying the production from Tyus Jones in Morant’s absence will need to look elsewhere.
The 76ers are the third and final team to play four games in each of the last four weeks. They also have seeding left to play for. They currently occupy the third seed in the Eastern Conference, one game back of the second-seed Celtics and three games back of the top-seeded Bucks.
Another essential thing to keep in mind with the 76ers is that Joel Embiid is on a tear as he tries to win the MVP. Since the All-Star break, he has averaged 35.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.5 blocks while shooting 55.9% from the field. He has already missed 13 games this season, so he won’t want to miss too many more if he wants to improve his chances. Getting so many games from him down the stretch with how he is playing gives him the potential to be a league-winner for those lucky enough to have him on their fantasy roster.
Although he’s not playing for MVP, James Harden is also finishing the season on a high note. Across the last 18 games, he has averaged 23.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 10.6 assists, 1.1 steals and 3.1 3-pointers. With so many games upcoming for him, production like that presents tremendous potential.
The Heat have the worst remaining schedule. They only play two games in Week 23 and follow that up with three games in Week 24. The lone saving grace is that they will play four games in the final week of the regular season. That schedule benefits the team, though, since they have so many veterans that could use the added time off.
Since it’s win-or-go-home time in fantasy, difficult decisions must be made regarding the players on the Heat. None of them are probably worth starting for their two-game week. Only Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro make sense for their three-game week. If you roster anyone else on the Heat, it’s time to drop them for a player with more opportunities to contribute.
The Cavaliers play three games in each of the final three weeks of the regular season. While they avoid the dreaded two-game week, they are the only team not to play four games in at least one of the final three weeks. They should at least deploy their starters as usual as they try to hold onto the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and home-court advantage in the first round. They are 28-8 at home but just 16-20 on the road.
Three games each week is still plenty to feel confident about starting Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland and Evan Mobley in fantasy leagues. The same would be said for Jarrett Allen if he can return from his eye injury in time. However, outside of deep leagues, no one else on the team is worth rostering in fantasy.
It’s a bit of bad news, good news regarding the Pistons’ remaining schedule. They play just two games in Week 23, meaning most fantasy managers shouldn’t be starting anyone from the team. However, they do follow that up with four games in each of the final two weeks.
The problem with the Pistons is that players have moved in and out of the lineup as they continue to march toward a top pick in the 2023 Draft. We may have already seen the last of Bojan Bogdanovic (Achilles) and Isaiah Stewart (shoulder), while Marvin Bagley III is also dealing with an ankle injury that is expected to sideline him for multiple games. Killian Hayes, Jaden Ivey and James Wiseman have been playing well, and along with Jalen Duren, could be worth starting the final two weeks of the season. However, expecting each of them to play all eight of those games might not be wise.
Mike started covering fantasy sports in 2007, joining RotoWire in 2010. In 2018, he was a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. In addition to RotoWire, Mike has written for Sportsline, Sports Illustrated, DK Live, RealTime Fantasy Sports, Lineup Lab and KFFL.com.