Caris LeVert solid in spot start

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Two nights removed from a four-point win 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% rostered, Yahoo). His status in fantasy basketball took a significant hit with the Cavs’ acquisition of Donovan Mitchell, with spot starts being the way in which he could recoup some value.

In 27 starts this season, LeVert’s 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’s 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, shooting 42.4% from the field and 67.6% from the foul line.

The spot start was expected to boost LeVert’s value on Friday, but no one was expecting 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. Obviously, that isn’t the greatest stat line, but it isn’t the worst, either. Mitchell taking 30 shots (he scored 42 points) as the de facto point guard certainly had an impact as well. 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 did dish out a team-high eight assists to go along with eight points, three rebounds, and two 3-pointers in 25 minutes off the bench.

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With the end of the regular season a month away, many fantasy leagues have either already begun their postseasons or are getting 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 remains rostered in less than 40% of Yahoo leagues. And the inconsistent production has a lot to do with that. In the four games that followed 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, finishing with 13 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and one blocked shot, shooting 6-of-7 from the field. A decent return for managers who stuck with Gafford, but he isn’t a player that fantasy managers should actively seek out at this point.

Jeremy Sochan (37%)

Other than Khem Birch (knee), the Spurs rotation was the healthiest it has been in quite some time Friday night. Sochan was back in the starting lineup after missing Sunday’s drubbing at the hands of the Rockets, and the rookie had himself a good night. 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 good, but the overall line was. What works in Sochan’s favor, in addition to the Spurs giving their young players the time to make mistakes, is the schedule. San Antonio finishes the season with a 4-4-3-4 schedule in weeks 21 through 24 after playing just two games this week.

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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 win over the Raptors. But it did not immediately spell doom for rotation players whose roles were larger 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 one 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. not giving the Lakers much production, Reaves’ value appears to be protected for the time being. After Sunday’s game against the Knicks, the Lakers finish the regular season with a 4-3-3-4 over the final four weeks.

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Royce O’Neale (23%)

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The Nets have a surplus of wings, which makes it difficult to zero in on anyone beyond Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson. But O’Neale, who was an unsung hero in fantasy during the early portion of the season, has seen his minutes increase recently. He’s 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 digits in minutes. If O’Neale can get 25 minutes per night moving forward, he may be worth holding onto for a bit. Brooklyn finishes its season with 3-4-3-4 in weeks 21 through 24.

Gabe Vincent (6%)

We close 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 providing another pedestrian stat line (six points, one rebound, three assists, and one steal in 22 minutes), and with it being reported after Friday’s win over the Cavs that Lowry is expected to play in Saturday’s game in Orlando, there’s no need for the few remaining holdouts to keep him rostered.

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