We’ve got ourselves a nice-sized eight game slate tonight, a whole slew of injuries, and some star players in tough matchups. Who do you turn to in your time of need?
No, not Batman. You turn to Awesemo.com, Awesemo’s player rankings, our new hire Josh Engleman and his awesome YouTube breakdown videos, and the NBA Switch and Hedge. We’ve got a ton to work through here and only so many relevant mini Simpsons clips to deploy so let’s cut to the chase and get right to this pretty big night of NBA action:
San Antonio Spurs (102 implied points, -1.1 on their last 10 games) at Washington Wizards (100 implied points, -6.2 on their last 10 games)
The price is pretty uncomfortable now for LaMarcus Aldridge but it’s hard to argue his value lately. He’s really the Spurs’ only offensive weapon and he owns a 50 DK point game versus the Wizards within the last week> He’s not going to crush with upside or make you feel particularly secure rostering him, but LMA looks good to go. Pau Gasol got 24 minutes last game but I don’t see how you can roster him with any confidence. He played crunch time, the entire fourth quarter actually, versus Milwaukee but hasn’t done that at all lately. I’d wait to see if this is a lasting rotation shift before considering Gasol at any volume. Kyle Anderson looks okay in the matchup, with limited upside, and that’s about as far as I’d look for the Spurs here on a slate this big.
Every Wizard besides Kelly Oubre had dreadful games versus San Antonio a week ago and I don’t see a ton of reason to think it’s going to be different today. Bradley Beal can shoot himself into a game but he really hasn’t been enough of a ball hog lately to justify investing in him in a tough matchup like this. His price is the lowest it’s been since John Wall went out though so if you’ve got the gumption, that’s a real low-owned high upside play if he shoots like he did not too long ago.
Denver Nuggets (108.4 implied points, -8.3 on their last 10 games) at Toronto Raptors (117 implied points, +1.7 on their last 10 games)
The Nuggets are coming off a tough loss versus Philadelphia and a trip to the North isn’t going to be much easier for them. Nikola Jokic owns a triple double versus Toronto much earlier this year, also at a substantially lower usage rate than he’s posted lately. I wouldn’t expect a recreation given how the roster has shaken out since then but it’s good to know that he’s capable of it in the matchup. Will Barton and Jamal Murray aren’t in particularly great spots either but both shoot more than enough to excel despite the matchup and are at prices who still have some upside. Paul Millsap has been up and down lately and while I don’t mind having some of him, I’d be more inclined to look elsewhere on an eight-game slate given the depressed Nuggets total.
Kyle Lowry’s been getting a solid 37 minutes a game in his last two outings to lead the team and the matchup with Denver at home should play into what he does best. As he showed in his last game versus the Clippers though, he does have some downside at his current price. DeMar DeRozan continues to be awful and eventually he won’t be awful. This isn’t a bad matchup for him, particularly with Gary Harris out, but it’d be a brave call to focus in on him a lot given how he’s blown equally good or better opportunities lately. Jonas Valanciunas has one of the best spots on a DVP basis today but at 20 minutes a game that’s not much to bank on. Maybe he gets a few more minutes to try to corral Jokic? Fred Van Vleet has been a great sorta value play lately but the downside of playing someone off the bench was a little more obvious last game with Van Vleet dropping to 20 minutes thanks to CJ Miles’ return. This matchup fits him extremely well but you can’t bank on him at his current price.
Portland Trailblazers (110.5 implied points, -0.8 on their last 10 games) at New Orleans Pelicans (111.5 implied points, +5 on their last 10 games)
Portland faces a pace-up game versus the #3 pace in the league Pelicans so the relatively flat scoring average is a little confusing. CJ McCollum has been on a tear lately hitting more shots while also upping his usage rate to almost exactly match Damian Lillard. There’s no reason to think the Pelicans will stop that run. If the equal split continues, Lillard loses some appeal but he can still get 5x and then some at his current price industrywide. Jusuf Nurkic faces what’s theoretically the best DVP matchup with New Orleans’ recent performance versus centers and, although he always carries some risk, you’d assume he would assume he would be an asset in this game to eat up space versus Anthony Davis. He hasn’t played particularly well versus New Orleans this year but those were all matchups with Boogie Cousins still available. Mo Harkless is in a good spot again and has mostly played well lately, as has Al-Farouq Aminu. Can all of these guys hit value at once? Possibly, but it’s a stretch so pick your poisons well.
Rajon Rondo and Nikola Mirotic are both currently questionable for the Pelicans and their absences would mean boosts for both Jrue Holiday and Cheick Diallo. Assuming them missing the game versus Houston was more precautionary, Rondo would be a potentially solid play in this matchup, particularly given the elevated total meaning more chance for him to score and dish the ball around. With a strong defensive team like the Trailblazers, Rondo’s deft passing could be a key for the Pelicans. Mirotic put up over 2 fantasy points per minute in a matchup versus the Blazers earlier this year back before he was traded from the Bulls. He’s at an interesting price given his usage lately and the return from a hopefully non-serious injury. Anthony Davis is the big place to look with the Pelicans’ elevated total. He’ll likely see Al-Farouq Aminu defense, which can be stifling, but AD’s length can be enough to get going shooting over the top of him all day. It’s not an easy matchup but it is one that can be overcome.
Chicago Bulls (100 implied points, -5.1 on their last 10 games) at Houston Rockets (114.5 implied points, +4.2 on their last 10 games)
It may shock you to hear there’s a blowout risk with this game but, yes, the Bulls stand a decent chance of being blown out on the road versus a top NBA team in the Rockets. The Bulls are going to be without Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, although they may have Denzel Valentine and Lauri Markkanen after both looked likely to be ruled out. Both Valentine and Markkanen would be playable if active. Cameron Payne and Jerian Grant should be the main guys there to run out the string and help the Bulls somehow get to 100 points and I’d be more likely to look Payne’s way for ownership percentage reasons given how Grant excelled last time. Cristiano Felicio took a slight ding with Robin Lopez eating into his minutes while Noah Vonleh returned to the starting lineup and had a fine game in the blowout versus Detroit but Lauri Markkanen’s return would crush his shot at exceeding value outside of a blowout. Both Vonleh and David Nwaba have some interest but their prices, particularly on Draftkings, aren’t super appealing with them mostly having adjusted to the various Bulls injuries.
Chris Paul, Gerald Green, and Eric Gordon all should pick up a ton of interest with James Harden out. Green’s at a good price on DraftKings and an AWESOME price on FanDuel that will likely get him an ungodly amount of ownership, particularly after his big game last time out. Paul is the real stud though, averaging just under 1.9 DK points per minute with Harden, Clint Capela, and Luc Mbah A Moute out this year. Gordon will also get more looks, especially on FanDuel where he remains hilariously underpriced. There may be some temptation to go to Trevor Ariza or Joe Johnson here and I think that may be a logical pivot if you want to stack the Rockets while avoiding the Gerald Green and Eric Gordon potential gold rushes (or adding to them, it is a game with an increased total versus a godawful defense after all).
Cleveland Cavaliers (112.25 implied points, -5.1 on their last 10 games) at Miami Heat (109.25 implied points, -4.2 on their last 10 games)
Cleveland has been the LeBron Show lately and Kevin Love has fit in extremely well so far in his return with the Cavaliers picking up four straight wins with him. A lot is going to depend on how Miami approaches this matchup-wise with Bam Adebayo now ruled out. James Johnson on LeBron and Kelly Olynyk on Love would be a great boon for Love’s value but the Heat could opt to try Josh Richardson on LeBron to allow Johnson to suffocate Love while Kelly Olynyk goes to play with flowers in right field on defense like the bad kid on the team in Little League. The down team totals make me think the Heat may figure the defensive part of things out so I’m a bit less interested in paying up for LeBron or Love as a result.
Bam Adebayo will join Hassan Whiteside on the injury report, a lineup Butterfly Effect that has resulted in Kelly Olynyk averaging 1.3 DK points per minute, Goran Dragic averaging 1.2 DK points per minute, and James Johnson averaging 1.1 DK points per minute in 2018. I’m buying into Olynyk and Johnson’s potential moreso but it’s interesting to note that performance along with the uptick to a 28% usage rate that Dragic has enjoyed with those two bigs out. Josh Richardson is also at a price where he can have upside, particularly with the chance of increased defensive usage in the matchup. And this is technically Dwyane Wade’s first matchup with the Cavs since his trade back to Miami so maybe some sort of revenge narrative can be spun if you’re feeling like he’s got some hate in his heart.
Dallas Mavericks (100 implied points, -6.9 on their last 10 games) at Sacramento Kings (102.5 implied points, +1.9 on their last 10 games)
Dennis Smith Jr didn’t explode versus Charlotte in his return from a brief DL stint for an ankle injury but with JJ Barea sidelined due to a personal issue for a few games, he’ll have a chance again against a defensively hideous Kings team. Both teams play at league low paces so there’s some risk with a high-octane point guard like Smith but Sacramento has shown a ton lately that they have no fear giving up big scoring performances to slumping point guards in need of a signature game:
Terry Rozier gave us the offensive spark we needed in Sacramento. His career night pushed us to a 104-93 win over the Kings. https://t.co/QZVuWiDNCK
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 26, 2018
Dwight Powell and Dirk Nowitzki are both questionable while Nerlens Noel is a candidate to sit for “injury management purposes” in a back-to-back for the Mavs. If Noel sits, Salah Mejri will likely play, but not enough to do much for you. Harrison Barnes seems like a solid play regardless of who’s active; he’s had competent fantasy scoring days lately despite bad shooting performances. If his scoring picks up, Barnes can really excel. Yogi Ferrell also gets better shots at playing time with Barea out and he should be in consideration, but at a price that’s not going to make you feel super confident.
The Kings don’t have much more going for them on their side. Buddy Hield has been the star attraction lately and he hit almost a 40% usage rate last time out versus Boston. His price is way more appealing on DraftKings but he should be the best offensive performer on the Kings’ side today. In the Kings’ last game, Willie Cauley-Stein took the most shots he’s taken in a month> At his price if he does that again, Cauley-Stein may actually be good at fantasy basketball for the first time in a while. Skal Labissiere has been a more steady contributor with Zach Randolph out and, while his price isn’t great, he can be solid salary filler. De’Aaron Fox has been brutal lately and one would think if he were going to have a good game in him, it should be in a plus defensive matchup versus a player taken ahead of him in this year’s NBA Draft. Bogdan Bogdanovic hasn’t played well recently but did notch 34 minutes coming back from an injury last game so there’s a shot he can do more of his usual in this much easier matchup.
Milwaukee Bucks (111 implied points, -1.9 on their last 10 games) at Los Angeles Clippers (114 implied points, +2.4 on their last 10 games)
Giannis Antetokounmpo rolled his ankle in a game last week versus the Clippers, resulting in him playing only 16 minutes in a game where he was putting up a 38% usage rate. Milwaukee gets a big pace-up in the matchup versus the Clippers and Giannis is at a price, particularly on DraftKings, where he’s recently flashed almost 7x upside. Khris Middleton’s been one of the steadiest plays in the league lately and the Clippers don’t offer enough resistance at his position to think that’d stop today. No one else on this side is particularly interesting to me although John Henson’s recent uptick in minutes and usage might be interesting given how Los Angeles has allowed increased production to the position lately.
DeAndre Jordan had one of his best games this year last week versus Milwaukee, putting up 25 points and 22 boards on 9-13 shooting. That performance again would be 7x value on both sites so even if he falters some, DeAndre seems like a rock solid play to me. Lou Williams has been hot again lately and although the Eric Bledsoe matchup isn’t great, their team total and his recent usage is. The other Clippers options seem middling at best, though Wesley Johnson could be a sneaky very cheap flyer whose defense will be needed versus the lengthy and athletic Bucks.
Indiana Pacers (103.25 implied points, +1.2 on their last 10 games) at Golden State Warriors (97.75 implied points, -6.3 on their last 10 games)
Victor Oladipo’s been shooting more lately and Nick Young is mostly, what many would call, a very godawful defensive player. Given Oladipo’s tendency to rise to the occasion for big games this year, he might be a lower owned play to carry his team in a solid matchup. The Pacers have slowed down some higher paced teams recently, one of few teams to keep the Pelicans under 100 points recently along with the Jazz and Spurs, and there’s reason to think that they may try to do the same versus the Warriors. Besides Oladipo, Bojan Bogdanovic and Thaddeus Young seem like better plays than Myles Turner to me, but the injured Warriors have allowed some boost in usage to centers lately so there may be some opportunity there.
Quinn Cook has been the steadiest thing on the Warriors since the injury bug derailed their last few weeks. The Pacers have done their best work versus point guards lately but no team has fully been able to contain him since he took over the starting job. Draymond Green was slated to return before getting downgraded literally as I wrote this and he’s also played well when Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Steph Curry miss. His price is better than before he went out after taking a knee to the groin and he’ll have the chance to do whatever he wants in a matchup where his ability to drive the offense will be needed…assuming he suits up. If he doesn’t play, Jordan Bell is a place to go again despite how he let a lot of folks down when Steve Kerr decided he didn’t make sense as a starter versus Utah. It sucks to get burned like that but with a more logical matchup with Indiana, Bell is a place to look tonight. Nick Young saw 37 minutes last game and, even though he did little with them, those kind of minutes on the floor for a shooter like Young are all you need to know.
And there we have it, another NBA slate and uncomfortably long column in the books. Follow me @ChrisSpags and let me know how your lineups are looking, make sure to check back later for Awesemo’s Slam Dunks and ownership rankings, and good luck out there!