Pickups of the Day

Corey Kispert, Delon Wright step up on Friday

by Raphielle Johnson
Updated On: April 1, 2023, 9:13 am ET

Outside of leagues that run in concert with the NBA's regular season calendar and end on April 9, Friday was the second-to-last big day in fantasy basketball, with 13 games on the schedule. With some teams appearing to be willing to do everything possible to avoid the play-in tournament and instead improve their draft lottery odds, the door has been opened for other rotation players to become viable fantasy options. Washington is one place where that's true, as the Wizards are three games behind 10th-place Chicago in the loss column with five to go after a 116-109 home loss to the Magic. 

With Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma already ruled out due to injury, Kristaps Porzingis was a late scratch due to illness. The absence of the latter coincided with the return of starter Daniel Gafford (28%), while Delon Wright (24%) and Corey Kispert (13%) remained in the starting lineup as fill-ins for Beal and Kuzma. All three players offered solid value or better on Friday, with Kispert recording career-highs of 27 points and nine 3-pointers. He didn't offer much else beyond that, grabbing three rebounds, but points and 3-pointers are why deep-league managers roster Kispert to begin with. 

Wright and Gafford are better all-around fantasy options, as both are capable of providing full stat lines (or close to it). Wright finished Friday's loss with 21 points, nine rebounds, four assists, one steal, and two 3-pointers. What will also enhance his value heading into Sunday's game against the Knicks was the ankle injury that ended fellow starter Monte Morris' night after 13 minutes. There may be other guards who we'll see more of if Morris sits (hello, Johnny Davis), but Wright is the best available option. Gafford recorded a line of 18 points, 13 rebounds, one assist, one steal, and two blocks in 33 minutes and is of higher value when Porzingis is sidelined. 

Let's take a look at a few other players who proved to be solid pickups on Friday.

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Jalen Smith (32%) and T.J. McConnell (30%) 

Once again, the Pacers were without Tyrese Haliburton and Myles Turner due to injury. The absence of the former enhanced the values of McConnell and Andrew Nembhard (29%), and both played well in the Pacers' 121-117 win over the Thunder. McConnell scored a team-high 21 points off the bench to go along with nine rebounds, eight assists, and one steal, with Nembhard putting up 18 points, three rebounds, six assists, and three 3-pointers. As for Smith, he received the starting nod at center and logged 29 minutes, going for 12 points, 15 rebounds, one assist, one block, and one 3-pointer. He was more active on the glass than backup Isaiah Jackson (25%), who finished with 13 points, four rebounds, one steal, and two blocks in 19 minutes. All four of these Pacers will be valuable to fantasy managers on Sunday when they visit the Cavaliers. 

Luke Kennard (34%) 

Kennard's been quite the asset for fantasy managers looking for 3-point production, as he's averaging 4.1 per game since going 0-of-3 in a March 13 win over the Mavericks. While that run includes his 10-of-11 performance in the March 24 blowout of the Rockets, Kennard's made at least three 3-pointers in eight of his last 10, including Friday's 108-94 win over the Clippers. Shooting 6-of-11 from the field, he scored 17 points with six rebounds, one assist, and five 3-pointers (on 10 attempts). Memphis finishes Week 23 Sunday afternoon in Chicago, and the Bulls allow the third-most 3-pointers per game (13.2) on the season. 

Drew Eubanks (27%) 

There haven't been many constants within the Portland rotation recently due to injuries and the front office pulling the plug on the season. Still, Eubanks has largely been a reliable presence. He hasn't missed a game since December 3 and has scored in double figures in three of Portland's last five games. Playing 28 minutes, Eubanks accounted for 18 points, 10 rebounds, one assist, two steals, and one blocked shot in Portland's home loss to Sacramento. With the Blazers looking to get Jabari Walker more run, Eubanks isn't going to hit 30 minutes on most nights, but he can have an impact with 25-28, as we saw on Friday. That said, the final game of Week 23 (at Minnesota on Sunday) is not a great one for him matchup-wise. 

Sandro Mamukelashvili (9%)

No Zach Collins meant a spot start for Mamukelashvili, and he had a good night in the Spurs' 130-115 loss to the Warriors. Shooting 6-of-12 from the field and making his lone free throw attempt, Mamu finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, one steal, and one blocked shot in 29 minutes. He sits just outside the top 100 in 9-cat, per-game value over the last two weeks and has played 22 minutes or more in eight of San Antonio's last 10 games. Of course, Mamukelashvili's value is higher on nights when Collins isn't available, but he's been solid on nights when he's asked to come off the bench as well. San Antonio finishes its Week 23 slate in Sacramento on Sunday. 

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Raphielle Johnson
Raphielle has been writing about college sports for more than a decade for multiple outlets, including NBC Sports. Focuses have included game recaps, columns, features and recruiting stories. A native of the Northeast, he now calls Pac-12 country home. Raphielle can be followed on Twitter @raphiellej.