Caris LeVert solid in spot start

Two nights removed from a four-point victory over the Heat in Miami, the Cleveland Cavaliers played the rematch without starting point guard Darius Garland. A late addition to the injury report, Garland was sidelined by a right quad contusion, which opened up a spot in the starting lineup for Caris LeVert (30% pitched, Yahoo). His fantasy basketball status took a significant hit with the Cavs’ acquisition of Donovan Mitchell, with spot starts being the way he could get some value back.

In 27 starts this season, LeVert is averaging 15.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.3 blocks and 2.3 3-pointers in 34.5 minutes, shooting 40.2% from the field and 76.0% from the foul line. As a reserve (36 appearances), he is averaging 8.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.3 blocks and 1.0 3-pointers in 26.6 minutes of shooting 42.4% from the field and 67.6% from the foul line.

The spot start was expected to boost LeVert’s value Friday, but no one expected an explosion. He finished the 119-115 loss to the Heat with 16 points, three rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block and four 3-pointers in 39 minutes. It’s obviously not the greatest stat line, but it’s not the worst either. Mitchell, who took 30 shots (he scored 42 points) as the de facto point guard also had an impact. But LeVert did enough to merit streaming consideration the next time Garland sits. Ricky Rubio (2%) was unlikely to be on anyone’s streaming radar for Friday’s games, but he dished out eight assists on a team-high eight points, three rebounds and two 3-pointers in 25 minutes off the bench .

With the end of the regular season a month away, many fantasy leagues have either already begun their postseasons or are close to doing so. The timing means there should be some “silly season” stars lurking on waiver wires, due to injuries or the dreaded “injury management” designation. The pickings on Friday’s slate were slim, but there were some names worth noting.

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Daniel Gafford (38%)

Gafford has been a fixture in the Wizards’ starting lineup since just before Christmas, but he’s still listed in less than 40% of Yahoo leagues. And the inconsistent production has a lot to do with it. In the four games following his 18-point effort in a March 2 win over Toronto, Gafford averaged 7.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.8 steals and 0. 3 blocks in 24.0 minutes. Being part of a lineup with three ball-dominant scorers does Gafford no favors, but he was able to crack double figures in Friday’s loss to the Hawks. He played 29 minutes and finished with 13 points, eight rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot, shooting 6-of-7 from the field. A decent return for managers who held onto Gafford, but he’s not a player fantasy managers should be actively seeking out at this point.

Jeremy Sochan (37%)

Aside from Khem Birch (knee), the Spurs rotation was the healthiest it’s been in a while Friday night. Sochan was back in the starting lineup after missing Sunday’s drubbing at the hands of the Rockets, and the rookie had a good night. After playing 32 minutes, Sochan finished the Spurs’ 128–120 win over Denver with 19 points, eight rebounds, three assists and one steal. The four turnovers weren’t great, but the overall line was. What works in Sochan’s favor, besides the Spurs giving their young players time to make mistakes, is the schedule. San Antonio will finish the season with a 4-4-3-4 schedule in Weeks 21 through 24 after playing just two games this week.

Austin Reaves (33%)

The return of D’Angelo Russell gave the Lakers a welcome boost Friday night as he went 5-of-5 from the field in the fourth quarter to lead them to a 10-point victory over the Raptors. But that didn’t immediately spell doom for rotation players whose roles were bigger when D’Lo was sidelined. Reaves is one of those guys, as he played 32 minutes off the bench and accumulated 18 points, two rebounds, five assists and a blocked shot.

The same can be said for Dennis Schröder (46%), who posted a 23/1/7/4 (with three 3-pointers) stat line in 33 minutes off the bench, but the focus here is Reaves. Between LeBron James (ankle) being sidelined, and Troy Brown Jr. didn’t give the Lakers much production, Reaves’ value appears to be protected for now. After Sunday’s game against the Knicks, the Lakers finish the regular season 4-3-3-4 over the last four weeks.

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Royce O’Neale (23%)

The Nets have a surplus of wings, making it difficult to reset other than Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson. But O’Neale, who was an unsung fantasy hero in the early part of the season, has seen his minutes increase recently. He has played 32 minutes or more in three of his last four appearances and finished Friday’s overtime win over the Timberwolves with 12 points, 15 rebounds, two assists, three steals and three 3-pointers in 36 minutes off the bench. Nets coach Jacque Vaughn played nine, but only seven hit double figures in minutes. If O’Neale can get forward 25 minutes per night, he might be worth keeping for a while. Brooklyn finishes its season 3-4-3-4 in Weeks 21 through 24.

Gabe Vincent (6%)

We end with a man who had already fallen off the fantasy radar despite starting on a consistent basis. Vincent has started Miami’s last 15 games due to the absence of Kyle Lowry (knee), and he entered Friday averaging 5.6 points on 29.8% shooting over his last eight. Between Vincent put up another pedestrian stat line (six points, one rebound, three assists and one steal in 22 minutes), and since it was reported after Friday’s win over the Cavs that Lowry is expected to play in Saturday’s game in Orlando, there’s no need the few remaining holdouts to keep him on the roster.

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