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The Playlist: Week 15 fantasy basketball waiver pickups and lineup advice

Welcome to The Playlist: my weekly column that lets you know who and what to play — when it comes to music or other things in my rotation — for the upcoming week in fantasy basketball.

Each week, you'll see a compilation of the pickups you need to make, lineup notes (who's in and out of rotations), followed by key takeaways on the schedule.

So press play and shuffle through the latest fantasy basketball info.

🏀 Week 14 wrap up:

  • Between Rivalry Week and the anniversary of Kobe Bryant scoring 81 points in a game, the scoring output in Week 14 was historic. Luka Dončić (73), Joel Embiid (70) and Karl-Anthony Towns (62) broke their franchise records for points scored in a game, while Devin Booker also dropped 62 points in a loss to the Pacers on Friday.

  • Knicks F Julius Randle is out indefinitely with a dislocated shoulder

  • Evan Mobley is back!

  • Doc Rivers is the new head coach for the Milwaukee Bucks

  • Anthony Edwards makes another case for the best in-game dunker in the league:

"Cot damn" - Clipse

🏆 Top performer

Joel Embiid takes the top spot for the week, delivering 104.1 fantasy points in a win over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, Jan. 22. That was the fifth-highest fantasy points scored in a game since 1970. That topped Luka's 73-point performance because Embiid added 18 rebounds, five rebounds and two stocks.

Statmuse says it was 1950, but they're wrong because a couple of Hall-of-Famers (Wilt Chamberlain & Elgin Baylor) had several games in the '60s that would've made the list 🙂

"Legend" - Benny the Butcher

🗣️ Rumor mill

Mark Stein reported on Sunday that trade talks between the Lakers and Hawks regarding Dejounte Murray have stalled because of the Lakers' reluctance to include Austin Reaves in any deal and D'Angelo Russell's recent play.

D'Lo is ninth in per-game value over the last 14 days — insane production.

🗓️ Schedule things you need to know

  • 22 teams play four games

  • The ideal streaming days are Tuesday (five games), Thursday (four games), and Saturday (six games)

  • The Lakers, Knicks and Sixers play on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

  • The Celtics, Jazz and Pacers play on both Tuesday and Thursday

🎧 WHO'S IN MY ROTATION: players to pick up on waivers who are less than 50% rostered in Yahoo leagues. Editor's note: Josh Hart and Nick Richards were rostered in under 50% of leagues before publishing.

Top shallow league streams for Week 15

Josh Hart - SF/PF, New York Knicks (51%)

With Julius Randle facing (at minimum) a multi-week absence, the Knicks have no choice but to turn to the undersized but versatile forward to replace their All-Star player. He's one of the best rebounders on the team (and league) relative to his size and can create while also locking up on defense. He played 32 minutes on Saturday night and finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and five assists. He's a must-add in any format for however long Randle is out.

"Lock it up" - Nascent, Duckwrth, Saba

Harrison Barnes - SF/PF, Sacramento Kings (46%)

"I'm a skeptic but I'm still quite the optimist." Well, I was a skeptic but now, I'm an optimist.

I watched Barnes unexpectedly light up the Warriors on Thursday night for a career-high 39 points, and one thing is clear: he's on one right now. He's averaged 30 points with four rebounds over his last three outings. The Kings play four games — strike now while he's still being aggressive offensively.

"Time" (feat Jack Harlow)- Statik Selektah

Nick Richards - C, Charlotte Hornets (52%)

OK, what are we doing, people? Richards should be well over 50% after notching a 26-point, 13-rebound double-double with four blocks in Saturday night's loss to the Jazz. The 26 points were a career-high, but it's also encouraging that A) he played 37 minutes and B) Mark Williams remains out with no timetable for his return. Richards is among the best bigs widely available on waivers in shallow points and category leagues.

Marvin Bagley III - PF/C, Washington Wizards (47%)

Make room for Marvin, as he's strung together six straight games of scoring 13+ points and he has three double-doubles in as many games with the Wizards. Daniel Gafford rarely plays 30 minutes, and he's been effective in only 20 minutes per night.

If you're considering Bagley in category leagues, be mindful of his inconsistent free-throw shooting; otherwise, he's been efficient and can get a steal as well.

"Marvin's Room" - Drake

Aaron Nesmith - SF/PF, Indiana Pacers (42%)

The Pacers have a great schedule in Week 15, playing on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, which means one transaction can get three games for a player like Nesmith. He's still in the top 90 in per-game value for the season and is vibing with Pascal Siakam well. In six games since Siakam arrived, Nesmith has averaged over 14 points with six rebounds, three assists, two threes and only one turnover per game. His role is secure as he's started the last 15 games for Indy and has seen 31 minutes a night since the Siakam trade.

Additional shallow league streaming options in Week 15:

  • Al Horford - PF/C, Boston Celtics (51%)

  • Kelly Oubre Jr. - SG/SF, Philadelphia 76ers (38%)

  • Markelle Fultz - PG/SG, Orlando Magic (50%)

  • Caris LeVert - SG/SF, Cleveland Cavaliers (47%)

  • Jaden McDaniels - SF/PF, Minnesota Timberwolves (47%)

  • Dillon Brooks - SF, Houston Rockets (38%)

Deep league streams for Week 15

Jarred Vanderbilt - PF, Los Angeles Lakers (23%)

The Lakers are rumored to be making moves by the deadline, but fortunately for Vando, his defense will keep him relevant and in high regard for the Lakers. Vando is averaging over three steals per game over his last three games. He's also scoring and rebounding at a rate worthy of streaming in fantasy.

Vando finished Week 14 as the 42nd-best player in category leagues, but if he can continue putting up double-figures with at least six boards and the stocks, he could be an add for points leagues, too, with the Lakers playing four games this week.

Luke Kennard - SG/SF, Memphis Grizzlies (32%)

Make sure Kennard wasn't dropped in your 12-team league after he missed two of Memphis' last three games. He played 30 minutes on Friday and produced a 15/5/6 line with five threes and a steal, so the numbers are there. Sunday was a rest day for him as the Grizzlies have a Sunday/Monday back-to-back set. Check the injury report to ensure he's good to go, but Memphis plays four games this week, and after Monday, they won't play until Thursday, giving Kennard plenty of time for more rest if needed. He's a player I'd be looking to hold for the rest of the season if he can stay healthy.

Quentin Grimes - SG/SF, New York Knicks (7%)

Part of the Randle fallout will help Grimes get more minutes for the Knicks and Week 15 presents a prime opportunity to deliver for fantasy managers. The Knicks play on Monday — plus each lighter slate day (Tue/Thurs/Sat) — and he's played well in his last two games, averaging over 15 points with five boards and two threes. He's a very good defender, so he can get steals too, once he regains some of the confidence lost in being relegated to a minimal role over the past couple of months.

Jabari Walker - SF/PF, Portland Trail Blazers (27%)

Walker's minutes have been climbing over the past five games; he's averaging almost 32 minutes in that span, an increase of over 10 minutes compared to his season average. And to no surprise, his fantasy production has also increased — he's posted over 26 fantasy points per game in his last five contests. I wouldn't be discouraged by the previous two duds, considering he continues to start at PF with the Blazers inching closer to tank mode.

Ayo Dosunmu - SG, Chicago Bulls (24%)

The third-year guard finished Week 14 ranked in the top 100 in per-game value thanks to a couple of injuries to Bulls starters Zach LaVine (ankle) and Patrick Williams (foot). I'd pick up Ayo on Monday so you can take advantage of the Bulls playing a Tuesday/Wednesday back-to-back set. Their next game will be on Saturday, so you can drop him for another stream on Thursday if needed.

However, there's some staying power here, considering LaVine can't stay healthy and is on the trade block. Dosunmu has hit double figures in seven straight weeks while also being a solid contributor in stocks over the past two weeks.

Other deep league streaming options in Week 15:

  • Jalen Smith - PF/C, Indiana Pacers (12%)

  • John Konchar - SG, Memphis Grizzlies (14%)

  • Andre Drummond - C, Chicago Bulls (32%)

  • Andrew Nembhard - Indiana Pacers (32%)

  • Taurean Prince - SF, Los Angeles Lakers (10%)

  • Kelly Olynyk - PF/C, Utah Jazz (25%)

  • Santi Aldama - PF/C, Memphis Grizzlies (26%)

Watchlist for Week 15:

  • Cam Whitmore - SF, Houston Rockets (13%)

  • Ausar Thompson - SG/SF, Detroit Pistons (45%)

  • Sam Merrill - SG, Cleveland Cavaliers (13%)

  • Keyonte George - PG, Utah Jazz (15%)

  • Matisse Thybulle - SG/SF, Portland Trail Blazers (16%)

Rotation news:

Knicks are optimistic F Julius Randle's shoulder injury will be measured in weeks, not months

The play: Josh Hart is the add with Quentin Grimes also in play as a deep league option. 

Pacers G Tyrese Haliburton (hamstring) expected to play on Tuesday

The play: Andrew Nembhard has been filling in admirably for the injured All-Star, posting 18 points with eight dimes in 31 minutes per night over his last four games. He's outplayed TJ McConnell too as the backup PG in Indy. I'd hold Nembhard in deep leagues because of the Pacers' favorable schedule. McConnell can be dropped though.

Nets G/F Ben Simmons (back) expected to return on Monday

The play: If he's on waivers, it's worth taking a flier on him since he can stuff the stat sheet across the board. However, with his storied injury history, I wouldn't depend on him for the long haul.

Cavaliers PF/C Evan Mobley (knee) beat his timetable to return and is expected back on Monday

The play: Take him out of IL and load him up. Mobley's return will impact Jarrett Allen's ridiculous run as a second-round value over the past month and change. Still, Allen should remain a top-40-50 player. Mobley should play 20 minutes as he's eased back into game shape.

Suns C Jusuf Nurkić is questionable Monday with a thumb injury

The play: Drew Eubanks got the start in place of Nurkić on Sunday, but according to Suns HC Frank Vogel, Nurkić has a shot to play through the injury if the swelling and inflammation subside.


Schedule breakdown:

Daily Games Played:

  • Monday: 12

  • Tuesday: 5

  • Wednesday: 10

  • Thursday: 4

  • Friday: 10

  • Saturday: 6

  • Sunday: 9

22 teams play four games: 76ers, Bucks, Cavaliers, Celtics, Clippers, Grizzlies, Heat, Jazz, Kings, Knicks, Lakers, Magic, Nuggets, Pacers, Rockets, Spurs, Suns, Thunder, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, Warriors and Wizards

Eight teams play three games: Hawks, Nets, Bulls, Mavericks, Pistons, Warriors, Pelicans and Raptors

Teams with back-to-backs:

  • Monday/Tuesday: None

  • Tuesday/Wednesday: Bulls

  • Wednesday/Thursday: Cavaliers

  • Thursday/Friday: Pacers, Grizzlies

  • Friday/Saturday: Hawks, Warriors, Kings, Spurs

  • Saturday/Sunday: Bucks