Basketball Pickups: Nikola Jovic shines in Milwaukee

Playing without one key rotation player is difficult enough. What the Miami Heat had to do in Milwaukee on Tuesday went way beyond that, as Jimmy Butler (bereavement leave), Terry Rozier (knee), and Josh Richardson (shoulder) were all sidelined. In the immediate aftermath of the team’s loss to the Celtics on Sunday, Duncan Robinson, Caleb Martin, and Jaime Jaquez Jr. were identified as worthwhile streaming targets. But two more options emerged during Miami’s 123-97 rout of the Bucks: Nikola Jovic (1% rostered, Yahoo) and Kevin Love (13%).

After not playing against Boston, Jovic was moved into the starting lineup on Tuesday. And the second-year forward answered the call, accounting for a career-high 24 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal, and five 3-pointers in 30 minutes played. Jovic was efficient, shooting 8-of-13 from the field and 3-of-4 from the foul line while not committing a turnover. As for Love, he chipped in with 19 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals, and five 3-pointers in 23 minutes off the bench.

Robinson (23%) also shot the ball well, finishing with 23 points, three rebounds, five assists, two steals, one block, and six 3-pointers, with Jaquez (39%) also reaching double figures. The rookie out of UCLA scored 12 points with three rebounds and four assists in 28 minutes. Robinson and Jaquez represent “safer” fantasy adds, but both will likely be rostered in most deep leagues by now. Of the other two Heat players mentioned here, Love wouldn’t be as risky of a fantasy add as Jovic, but the latter may have earned another opportunity to start.

Let’s look at a few more pickups from Tuesday:

Eric Gordon (18%)

Phoenix lost Bradley Beal during the first quarter of Tuesday’s win over Sacramento, as he injured his hamstring. Already dealing with a broken nose that still needs to be reset, Beal has been ruled out for Wednesday’s game against the Pistons. When he’ll be available to return is unknown, but Gordon is a solid streaming option. The veteran guard scored 20 of his 23 points in the first half, and his final line also included three rebounds, three assists, one block, and four 3-pointers in 27 minutes. The only question regarding Gordon is whether or not he’ll be given an injury management night when the Suns host the Pistons on Wednesday. If available, he’s worth rostering with Beal sidelined.

Rui Hachimura (18%)

Hachimura was solid in the Lakers‘ win over Detroit, recording a line of 15 points, five rebounds, and two assists in 30 minutes. With LeBron James stating after the game that he will not play against the Jazz on Wednesday, there should be more touches available to Hachimura, whose game hasn’t been fantasy-friendly, even after he moved into the starting lineup. While Utah is a better team than Detroit, Hachimura has an opportunity that deep-league managers should not ignore.

Royce O’Neale (5%)

After only playing 11 minutes in his Suns debut on February 10, O’Neale was far more involved in the rotation on Tuesday. He finished 30 minutes off the bench with nine points, four rebounds, five assists, four steals, one block, and two 3-pointers. The minutes are what stand out the most, as O’Neale is capable of approaching that number consistently. He doesn’t play the same position as Beal, but the star guard’s absence will impact the entire rotation beyond Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, and Jusuf Nurkic.

Bruno Fernando (1%)

We’ll finish with a deep-league option even though his team did not play on Tuesday. Clint Capela has been sidelined, and Onyeka Okongwu joined him on the Hawks‘ injury list for Wednesday’s matchup with Charlotte. Enter Fernando, a low-rostered big who only played rotation minutes recently due to Capela’s injury. Atlanta doesn’t exactly have a surplus of big men waiting in the wings, meaning Fernando won’t lack minutes as long as he stays healthy and avoids foul trouble.

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