NBA Start/Sit: Lineup Tips for the Final Week of the Season

NBA Start/Sit: Lineup Tips for the Final Week of the Season

It's Fantasy championship week, and those still in the hunt for the top spot in their leagues couldn't ask for any better schedule breakdown. Four teams have five-game weeks and only two three-game schedules leave us with a deep player pool that should allow those setting their lineups to feel confident they're not going to leave anything on the table.

The fact that there are still a bulk of teams – including all four that have the max number of games – still jostling for final postseason positioning means there shouldn't be too much guessing in terms of which players will be active for the full slate. Of course, there's plenty of risk with teams resting stars near the end of the season, but we'll do our best to avoid most of those traps.

Team with five games: Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, San Antonio Spurs

Teams with four games: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards 

Team with three games: Detroit Pistons, Oklahoma City Thunder

Without further ado, let's examine some of the tougher start/sit decisions for the coming week:

Guards

Start: Evan Fournier, Celtics  

38% start rate in CBS leagues    

Following a bout with COVID-19, the veteran wing seems to have really hit his stride heading into the regular season's final week. As bad as he was early in his tenure with the Celtics, Fournier has gone to the other extreme over his last four games, shooting a sizzling 66.7 percent from the field, including 63.0 percent from deep on 6.8 three-point attempts per contest. The absence of Jaylen Brown (ankle) has been a factor, but Fournier has an extensive body of work that supports the notion that he'll continue offering strong numbers over Boston's final four games. The Celtics do appear destined for a play-in spot after their loss to the Heat on Sunday, but they'll still want to avoid a further slide from the No. 7 seed. They'll also likely be cautious with Brown's ankle, which could lead to more opportunity for Fournier.

Start: Tim Hardaway, Mavericks     

50% start rate in CBS leagues

The Mavericks start the week with a one-game lead over the Trail Blazers for the No. 5 seed and have four games remaining. That makes Hardaway, who's on one of his upswings in recent weeks, a viable starting consideration. The veteran wing is on an eight-game heater in which he's averaged 24.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists on 52.3 percent shooting, including 47.4 percent from behind the arc. Kristaps Porzingis' ongoing absence due to a knee injury has helped keep Hardaway in the starting five, and while there's a chance the big man plays before the regular season concludes, it appears likely he's going to miss at least another game or two. There's always an element of risk when you're dealing with a scoring-dependent player, but Hardaway's ceiling is such that he could make a significant impact during championship week.  

Also consider: Donte DiVincenzo, Bucks (33% start rate in CBS leagues); Dwayne Bacon, Magic (9% start rate in CBS leagues); Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Pelicans (4% start rate in CBS leagues)

Sit: Ben Simmons, 76ers

79% start rate in CBS leagues

Simmons has made multiple appearances in this category during the latter portion of the season, and he's back again for the final week due to a combination of injury, continued average production and the possibility the Sixers rest some stars toward the end of the week if they sew up the No. 1 seed. Simmons missed Saturday's game against the Pistons with his ongoing back issues, and he'd averaged just 10.9 points, 5.4 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.9 steals in the seven games prior, putting up a modest 7.4 shot attempts per contest in that span. With the very high possibility he misses more time this coming week, he's too big a risk for championship-week lineups. 

Forwards        

Start: Jaren Jackson, Grizzlies                              

39% start rate in CBS leagues   

Jackson is back in the starting five and the Grizzlies are still solidifying their spot in the play-in range – a favorable combination for the big man's prospects this week. Jackson has been progressively ramping up after finally making his season debut on April 21, and he's coming off of a season-high 26 minutes against the Raptors on Saturday. In that game, he posted 20 points, four rebounds, two assists, three steals and one block. He's also scored in double digits in all but one of his first eight games and is averaging 15.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.0 steal thus far. Jackson is liable to sit out one half of the Grizzlies' two back-to-backs this week, but for managers who waited out his lengthy injury absence, even a three-game week could pay dividends.

Start: Danilo Gallinari, Hawks

33% start rate in CBS leagues 

Gallinari has recently turned back the clock to his more productive days as a starter, averaging 14.7 points (47.6% FG; 44.2% 3Pt), 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 assist across his last nine games. The veteran is averaging a solid 24.3 minutes per contest off the bench during that span while putting up 9.3 field-goal attempts per game. For the season, he's boasting his highest free-throw percentage (92.4% FT) since his rookie campaign. The No. 5-seeded Hawks' final slotting is far from solidified with four games remaining, so Gallinari should remain involved for the final scoring period.

Also consider: Oshae Brissett, Pacers (33% start rate in CBS leagues); Josh Richardson, Mavericks (33% start rate in CBS leagues); Kenyon Martin, Rockets (22% start rate in CBS leagues)

Sit: Zion Williamson, Pelicans

77% start rate in CBS leagues

Williamson hasn't officially been ruled out for the season with his fractured finger, but he was given the dreaded "out indefinitely" designation late last week. There's a chance he could opt to play through the injury, though as of Monday that appears relatively unlikely, especially because the Pels could find themselves eliminated from play-in contention at some point in the first few days of the week. If you have the benefit of daily lineups, Williamson should be evaluated on a game-to-game basis, but in weekly leagues he's an extremely risky player to lock in.

Centers     

Start: Jakob Poeltl, Spurs

50% start rate in CBS leagues

The Spurs open the week at the No. 10 spot in the Western Conference with a 1.5-game lead over the Pelicans, so San Antonio's starters should be getting their regular run for most, if not all, of the five-game schedule. Poeltl therefore makes for a viable starting consideration, and he holds averages of 10.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.3 blocks in his last 12 games. The scoring production has been a bit inconsistent lately – Poeltl has five single-digit point tallies in his last eight – but he continues to be a strong source of production across the stat sheet. If he plays in all five games, he could be one of the week's most valuable big men.

Start: Mo Bamba, Magic

34% start rate in CBS leagues

Bamba is my only main recommendation at any position who isn't on a contending team, but the surging big man could well continue to start over the final week of the season while Wendell Carter deals with an eye injury. Bamba posted a 22-point, 15-rebound double-double off the bench four games ago before averaging 14.0 points, 16.5 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 4.0 blocks and 2.0 steals in his first two starts in Carter's stead. On Sunday, he ran into foul trouble against the Timberwolves and consequently played just 20 minutes in a blowout loss. But the 2018 sixth overall pick has been flashing plenty of upside since the Magic shifted into full-on tank mode. With Orlando set to be down multiple key players the rest of the way – a group that could well include Carter – Bamba should be in for plenty of minutes as the season comes to a close. 

Also consider: Daniel Theis, Bulls (15% start rate in CBS leagues); Brook Lopez, Bucks (39% start rate in CBS leagues)

Sit: Mason Plumlee, Pistons

26% start rate in CBS leagues 

Plumlee, like most of Detroit's regulars, has fallen out of favor with fantasy managers due to his increasingly frequent rest days. Factoring in that he only has three games this week, it's a no-brainer to keep him on your bench. At this juncture, it would be a surprise if Plumlee plays in more than one of Detroit's remaining games. Isaiah Stewart is the better big man to roster in Detroit, and that's been the case for several weeks now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Juan Carlos Blanco
Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for over 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, NFL, CFL and Arena Football for Rotowire.com, including serving as the beat writer for teams in multiple sports. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports as well.
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