Basketball Pickups: Jalen Johnson soaring high for Hawks


In my best Sam Ehlinger voice, we’re baaaaaaaack! There have been a few Pickups of the Day columns already, but this is the first one that I’ll be writing for this season.

For those that are new, these columns will come everyday after all of the games have wrapped up. They’ll highlight players that are widely available (over half of Yahoo leagues) that should be considered for your fantasy squad’s roster moving forward. That could be for the rest of the season, as a streamer for a few weeks, or just a great option for one game.

Now, we get it. These won’t apply to everyone. You may play in an ultra-competitive league where none of these guys are available. That happens! However, these players are rostered far too little for our liking. Hopefully there are at least a few at the end worth considering in the deeper leagues.

After an 11-game Friday with plenty of fun action, let’s dive into the players that could make an impact for your team as the first week of the fantasy season starts to wrap up.

Gordon Hayward (49% rostered in Yahoo leagues)

Hayward always feels one injury away from being a drop candidate, but he’s been awesome to start the season. With averages of 14.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.0 triple, he should be rostered. Sure, if he gets hurt, then you can drop him. However, he’s been too good to let sit on the waiver wire. His field goal percentage has been poor, and he has turned it over quite a bit, but he has been at least average in every other category.

Jalen Johnson (37%)

I was pretty surprised that Johnson was still this available. I’d be even more surprised if he isn’t starting soon. Atlanta is sitting at 0-2, and while it isn’t time for them to panic, Johnson has been clearly one of their best players this season. After playing 29 minutes on Wednesday, Quin Snyder played him 30 minutes on Friday. Even if he continues to come off the bench, he’ll be playing a massive role for the Hawks.

Cole Anthony (27%)

After a really good performance in the season opener, Anthony’s numbers dropped slightly in game two. He’s averaging 19 points, six rebounds, two assists and two triples thus far, and with Jalen Suggs in the starting unit, Anthony is the sixth man and the primary ball handler for the bench unit. That role suits him perfectly.

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Kevin Love (24%)

Love didn’t shine on Friday, but after recording a double-double in the opener, he had nine points, nine rebounds and two triples against the Celtics. Caleb Martin (knee) missed Friday’s game, so he may not be able to play against Minnesota on Saturday, which is the second night of a back to back for the Heat. That will just mean more minutes for Love, and they’ll need him to compete with Minnesota’s bigs.

Isaac Okoro (21%)

Through two games, Okoro has been awesome. He has started both and averaged 14 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.0 block and 1.5 triples. He should continue to start on Saturday against the Pacers, even if Darius Garland (hamstring) is back in the lineup.

Eric Gordon (13%)

Devin Booker is aiming for a return to the lineup on Halloween, and Bradley Beal has already been ruled out for Saturday’s game against the Jazz. Gordon isn’t great for fantasy, but he can fill it up from deep.

Andrew Nembhard (11%)

Tyrese Haliburton (illness) is questionable for Saturday’s game. If he can’t play, Nembhard, who had 10 assists in the season opener, should slide into the starting unit.

Chris Duarte (3%)

Duarte was actually pretty bad on Friday, which will make most shy away. Honestly, it’s understandable if you do. However, Kevin Huerter was worse. Duarte ended up playing 26 minutes, while Huerter played just 16 and Malik Monk played 18. Mike Brown moved Duarte into the starting unit during the preseason, but he got hurt during that game. Don’t be shocked if Duarte moves into the starting unit soon.

Jordan Goodwin (2%)

Much like Gordon, Goodwin benefitted from both Booker and Beal being out of the lineup. He had 14 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals on Thursday.

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