The regular season is finally here, with the traditional doubleheader getting things going on Tuesday. One game can be too small of sample size in figuring out which players are worth grabbing off of waiver wires, but Tuesday’s games provided at least one obvious choice. Lakers forward Taurean Prince, who shined as a starter during the preseason after Jarred Vanderbilt went down with a heel injury, was one of his team’s best players in their 119-107 loss to the Nuggets.
In 30 minutes played, Prince shot 6-of-8 from the field and 2-of-2 from the foul line, scoring 18 points with three rebounds, one assist, one blocked shot, and four 3-pointers. A career 37.2% shooter from beyond the arc, Prince made just over 38% of his attempts with the Timberwolves last season. Playing in a lineup that includes LeBron James and Anthony Davis stands to get Prince an ample supply of clean looks, and he showed on Tuesday that he can take advantage of those opportunities.
Fantasy managers in need of a forward who can supply 3-pointers would be wise to look into adding Prince, and he’s readily available. Rostered in 10% of Yahoo leagues before the start of Tuesday’s game, that number is up to a still-manageable 14%. Rui Hachimura, who was also competing for the right to start during the preseason, finished Tuesday’s loss with six points and three rebounds in 15 minutes, shooting 3-of-10 from the field (0-of-3 3-pointers). He’s rostered in 29% of Yahoo leagues and did little to convince fantasy managers to add him; feel free to leave Hachimura on the waiver wire for now. Prince is the play here, and that could remain the case after Vanderbilt is cleared to play.
Let’s get into a few more pickups in the first Pickups of the Day of the season, sticking with players currently rostered in fewer than 40% of Yahoo leagues.
Josh Okogie (12%) – fifth starter
Fantasy managers hoping to get value from an unheralded Suns player in the aftermath of Bradley Beal (back) being ruled out would have been best served to add Okogie. Due to being a starter, regardless of what happened with the Suns’ new addition, Okogie was already worth picking up. And he played well, finishing Tuesday’s win over the Warriors with 17 points, five rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one 3-pointer in 32 minutes. Okogie’s rostered percentage is too low, especially with Nassir Little only playing three minutes
and Keita Bates-Diop being a DNP-CD.
Yuta Watanabe racked up eight points, four rebounds, one block, and two 3-pointers in 18 minutes, but that’s unlikely to be enough for anyone to pick him over Okogie in fantasy leagues. Eric Gordon (10%) and Grayson Allen (8%) were somewhat popular streaming targets, but they combined to score 10 points (all by the former) on 4-of-22 shooting from the field.
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Nickeil Alexander-Walker (1%)
The Timberwolves have ruled out Jaden McDaniels for their season opener against the Raptors, as he’s dealing with a strained left calf. Who will receive
the starting nod hasn’t been announced, but Alexander-Walker could be in the mix. While he didn’t start any of the 23 games he appeared in after the Timberwolves acquired him from the Jazz last season, NAW’s role within the rotation expanded after Minnesota lost McDaniels ahead of the playoffs to a broken hand.
That could play into Chris Finch’s thinking as he determines who will replace McDaniels in the starting lineup. However, Toronto has bigger wings than most teams, which could open the door for Kyle Anderson (41% rostered) to fill the void. His ability to facilitate offense could boost his fantasy value as a spot starter, but he’d be sharing the court with Mike Conley and Anthony Edwards. In that case, there’s the potential for Anderson’s impact to be muted.
Xavier Tillman Sr. (32%)
This was an obvious move immediately after the Grizzlies announced that Steven Adams would undergo season-ending knee surgery earlier this week. And then it was announced Tuesday afternoon that Santi Aldama will miss Wednesday’s game against the Pelicans with a sprained right ankle. Tillman is still rostered in fewer than 40% of Yahoo leagues, and he has eligibility at power forward and center. He’ll be worth holding onto for the long haul, regardless of what his stat line is in Wednesday’s game.
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Caris LeVert (16%)
Darius Garland is questionable for the Cavaliers’ game against the Nets with a strained left hamstring. There were no reports of such an injury during the preseason, so this may have only happened recently. With this only being the first game of the regular season, will that influence the Cavaliers’ decision in how they handle their star point guard? It wouldn’t be a terrible idea to add LeVert even before a final decision is made regarding Garland. Ty Jerome isn’t even rostered in 1% of Yahoo leagues, but it would take a lot more than Garland being sidelined for him to be relevant in fantasy leagues.
Nicolas Batum (2%)
Four days after Clippers coach Tyronn Lue revealed that Terance Mann will be the team’s fifth starter, he was ruled out for Wednesday’s game against Portland with a sprained left ankle. That opens the door for Batum to move into the starting lineup. In 19 starts last season, the veteran forward averaged 7.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 1.9 3-pointers in 26.7 minutes. Robert Covington (3%) is another possibility, and when at his best, he offers a higher fantasy ceiling than Batum. Neither is a great fantasy target for the long haul, but the spot starter will have streaming value in deep leagues.