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Fantasy Basketball Pickups: Trying to fill the void with Ben Simmons hurt and other waiver wire options

By Alex RikleenRotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

Week 19 was busy, but Week 20 will be even busier. No teams play twice. Only 10 teams play three times. 20 teams play four games. In many situations, a player with three games will cause problems for a lineup! 

The games are spread out, so there should be a lot of streaming options every day (except Thursday). While there are only four games Thursday, every other day has between six and 11 games. 

Let’s dive into the top pickups for the week:

Norman Powell, Raptors (34 percent rostered)

Next week’s games: at Suns, at Warriors, at Kings

It’s past time to get Powell back on your roster. No need to overthink this: he’s inside the top-65 for the season and might return as soon as this weekend. 

Harry Giles, Kings (25 percent rostered)

Next week’s games: Wizards, 76ers, at Trail Blazers, Raptors

I love it when a plan comes together. I’ve long been a gigantic Giles booster, though I must admit my faith began to wane when the Kings declined the fourth-year option on his rookie contract back on Halloween.

But, now that they’ve finally given Giles some meaningful minutes, it seems it was the Kings’ decision making process that was spooky. In eight starts since both Marvin Bagley (foot) and Richaun Holmes (shoulder) got hurt, Giles is averaging 11.4 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists in just 22.3 minutes per game. Within that window, his minutes increased since the Kings traded away Dewayne Dedmon. And, finally, over the past three contests, Giles is putting up a dominant 15.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists, despite still averaging only 26.7 minutes per game. 

Giles was a possible No. 1 overall draft pick before his career got sidelined by a series of knee injuries late in high school and in college. He redshirted his would-be rookie season. But from the moment he stepped on the court last season, he has been a well-rounded per-36 monster. He can score, rebound, pass, rack up defensive stats and shoot efficiently. With Bagley and Holmes expected to miss at least one more week, and probably several more, Giles should continue to pile on the stats. 

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Shake Milton, 76ers (20 percent rostered)

Next week’s games: at Lakers, at Kings, at Warriors

Ben Simmons (back) is out, and we have no idea how bad it is. If we’re reading between the lines, there seems like a lot of evidence that it could be pretty  bad – some tweets, ranging from Adrian Wojnarowski to other reporters to Simmons’ own sister, imply that he could be out a while.

In his absence, Milton has returned to the starting lineup, where he had success for a spell earlier in the month. Milton is averaging 15.3 points, 4.7 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 3.3 threes in 31.7 minutes in his three games since the Simmons injury. During Josh Richardson’s six-game absence before the trade deadline, Milton averaged 12.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.7 threes in 28.0 minutes. His earlier success gives us some confidence that Milton is worth an add in most leagues (i.e., he’s not just on an unsustainable hot streak), and the concern over Simmons’ long-term health means that Milton could stick in lineups for a while.

With Ben Simmons battling a back injury, Shake Milton should get consistent minutes with the 76ers for the foreseeable future. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Jerami Grant, Nuggets (33 percent rostered)

Next week’s games: Warriors, at Hornets, at Cavaliers

Paul Millsap has been back for six games, and Grant’s value hasn’t taken nearly the hit that many (myself included) expected. His workload has decreased, but Grant is still averaging 28.0 minutes over that stretch, up from 23.0 per before Millsap’s injury in early January. Grant was a top-75 player in 2018-19 -- though that came in 32.7 minutes per game and as a member of the Thunder – so we know he can produce big numbers if given the opportunity. I’m still cautious, but his weird combination of rebounds, threes and blocks will be a perfect fit for some rosters.

Speaking of Nuggets’ wings, Michael Porter (32 percent rostered), listed below, is a massive breakout candidate. Mike Malone has kept his minutes limited, but he’s one of the most talented players who is widely available. If the Nuggets decide to increase his minutes, he could be a fantastic rest-of-season pickup. There’s a lot of risk, which is why he gets an “oh by the way” shoutout here instead of his own blurb, but his ceiling is higher than most waiver prospects.

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P.J. Washington, Hornets (44 percent rostered)

Next week’s games: Spurs, Nuggets, Rockets

Is Washington back? He was electric out of the gate, ranking inside the top-60 for the first several weeks of the season. But the rookie’s production slowed, and he’s back to being widely available. Maybe it’s just a small sample size, but he’s up to 13.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.5 threes and 1.3 steals over his last four games. When things are going right, he is a multi-category dynamo. TBD on whether he’s re-found himself or if this is just a short blip.

Other recommendations: Damion Lee, Warriors (28 percent rostered); Cam Reddish, Hawks (32 percent rostered); Gorgui Dieng, Grizzlies (33 percent rostered); Eric Paschall, Warriors (31 percent rostered); Jae Crowder, Heat (46 percent rostered); Trevor Ariza, Trail Blazers (28 percent rostered); Michael Porter, Nuggets (32 percent rostered); Kevin Porter, Cavaliers (24 percent rostered); Juancho Hernangomez, Timberwolves (17 percent rostered); James Johnson, Timberwolves (20 percent rostered); Mo Bamba, Magic (9 percent rostered)

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