It’s the second to last night of the NBA regular season and it looks like we might have a shot at seeing Philadelphia’s reborn son Markelle Fultz grabbing the helm of the Sixers as they try to lock down the #3 seed in the East, an exciting little plot twist to close out the year. Along with that, we’ve got a bunch of injured and “injured” dudes and precious few value spots that are getting less valuable now that everyone knows about them.
But have no fear, between the Switch and Hedge, Awesemo’s rankings and ownership projections, and Slam Dunk picks, we’re going to pan for gold on your behalf. You only have so many chances to make a good first impression and, with most NBA teams on their 81st or 82nd game of the year, we’re really running out of chances for that to ring true for our daily fantasy teams.
Tune in to the Awesemo.com live before lock show with me and Josh Engleman for more analysis as news trickles in throughout the day, check back later for updates to Awesemo’s rankings and ownership projections, and now let’s get to our penultimate NBA slate:
Charlotte Hornets (106.25 implied points, -9.6 on their last 10 games) at Indiana Pacers (107.75 implied points, +1.1 on their last 10 games)
The Hornets kept their starters out fully in the fourth quarter of their last game versus the Pacers, although in a matchup where the Hornets fell down 20 points. One would assume Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, and Nic Batum will see more of the same tonight on the road in Indiana. Malik Monk and Guillermo Hernangomez are the guys to look at here and both guy’s prices still have 7x upside with an extra minute or two breaking their way. Frank Kaminsky is a little lower upside but has a fine price while the other guys getting minutes late aren’t of much use. If Marcus Paige got minutes I like his potential to do something useful but otherwise Monk and Hernangomez are the guys to use here.
Victor Oladipo, Thad Young, and Bojan Bogdanovic have been ruled out and Myles Turner and Darren Collison’s minutes have been muted with the Pacers needing some playoff rest, meaning we’re firmly entrenched in Lance Stephenson Chalk Night. I’m a guy who loves Lance and his multi-category upside so I’ve got no problem there. Turner has been a very productive per minute player in limited action without Bojan, Oladipo, and Thad on the court but he’s not likely to see over 25 minutes. Domantas Sabonis and Glenn Robinson seem like the other places to look and, while I’d understand going there, Cory Joseph has proven he’s mostly disappointing. He can hit value but it likely wouldn’t be much fun to root for.
Philadelphia 76ers (114.5 implied points, -3.1 on their last 10 games) at Atlanta Hawks (106 implied points, +7.9 on their last 10 games)
Ben Simmons is currently questionable with an illness and, if he sits, this is Markelle Fultz’s time to shine. At $4,000 and under industrywide, he would likely be one of the most popular and enjoyable plays to root for tonight. Normally there isn’t a ton of underdog interest in a #1 overall pick, but with Fultz’s mysterious injuries and/or shaken confidence, it would be a really fun capper on the season to see him get some run in a winnable matchup versus Atlanta. The 76ers are playing for the #3 seed though so this is a key injury to watch as we get closer to lock. Simmons is a good but incredibly overpriced play tonight if active and Fultz along with TJ McConnell would be really strong plays if not. Dario Saric has been the best per-minute player this year with Simmons and Joel Embiid out but his role has been absorbed a bit by Ersan Ilyasova. Ilyasova, JJ Redick, and Marco Belinelli are at better prices than Saric and Robert Covington and there’d be some interest for me there but I’m way more concerned about the Fultz/Simmons situation from a roster construction standpoint.
The Hawks’ rotations were changed around for no real reason last time out with Taurean Prince back getting 39 minutes of run. DeAndre Bembry and Damion Lee were the only guards to get a decent run of minutes with Bembry moving into the starting lineup. John Collins and Dewayne Dedmon also got the run for the bigs and they would seem like plays to revisit tonight. I’d avoid the point guards with Josh Magette sucking up some more minutes with his return from the G League playoffs but if you think these minutes aren’t a mirage, Prince, Collins, and Dedmon can all be fairly low owned plays with upside tonight in their season finale at home and Collins receives a B in both fantasy points and value according to Awesemo’s rankings.
Boston Celtics (99 implied points, -2.5 on their last 10 games) at Washington Wizards (106.5 implied points, +5.3 on their last 10 games)
The Celtics are going to play all of their starters for “a good amount of minutes”:
— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) April 10, 2018
Which likely means in the neighborhood of 24-28 minutes per starter. That pretty much renders all of them unplayable unless you think Marcus Morris fills it up on his twin brother. Jabari Bird has shown a little bit of upside lately and he could be another cheap fill-in with mild upside. Besides that, Shane Larkin is the only guy I would consider here unless Stevens decides to rule someone out late.
The Wizards can win their way into a higher seed and it seems like they’ve played with that intention with Bradley Beal, John Wall, Marcin Gortat, and Otto Porter getting some of their biggest runs of minutes in their recent games. Beal and Wall look the best to me, and Wall is one of precious few As in fantasy points in Awesemo’s rankings, though Otto Porter has also been stellar versus the Celtics. A win tonight pulls them even with the Heat for the #7 seed with both teams having one game to play AND this game versus the Celtics would be the matchup they’re playing for. Overall, it seems like a safe spot to consider the stars on a slate desperately lacking that opportunity.
Phoenix Suns (102.75 implied points, +4.3 on their last 10 games) at Dallas Mavericks (105.75 implied points, +5.5 on their last 10 games)
There is a chance of a high-paced season finale for these two defensively bereft squads. And we need some news here on the availability of TJ Warren and Marquese Chriss with Elfrid Payton, Devin Booker and now Josh Jackson already ruled out. Jackson on the sidelines helps make Tyler Ulis and Danuel House’s egregiously high prices palatable enough to play. Alex Len’s minutes are generally less stable when Chriss is active so, while he can be a good play either way, he’s less risky if Chriss sits. Much like Alex Len, Dragan Bender is an okay play if Chriss is active but a better one if he sits. Again, watch the news closely here, as everyone often does with late season Phoenix Suns injury developments. Integral part of the basketball watching experience.
Harrison Barnes is resting and that opens up a couple of places to consider. Johnathan Motley’s run of crushing value came to an end versus Philly as Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell took some minutes away from him. Motley’s price is super high given the instability but it’s tough to totally fade him versus a team like Phoenix. Historically, Barnes resting has meant that Jalen Jones should be another cheap guy to add to consideration. In two games Barnes has missed recently, Jones has put up over 25 DK points each while putting up 15 shot attempts. Dennis Smith is really the guy to look at here. He’s going to be able to run all over the Suns and doesn’t even have a healthy backup who’ll take minutes off of him with JJ Barea out and Kyle Collinsworth dinged with Achilles issues. I have a lot of interest in Smith, a little confused interest in Powell and Motley (Awesemo grading both as a B in points and an A in value makes it a little less confusing), and some risky interest in Jalen Jones and Maxi Kleber.
Golden State Warriors (102 implied points, -4.8 on their last 10 games) at Utah Jazz (109.5 implied points, -1.6 on their last 10 games)
The Warriors are playing for nothing while the Jazz currently have a chance of dropping from the #4 to #7 seed depending upon a few breaks so they do have a little something to play for. The Warriors’ starters got their usual run last time out as they try to get into playoff rhythm and there are cases to be made for the Warriors trying in this game or blowing it in the hopes that they can help themselves avoid a tough Jazz team in the first round. My gut says they play it straight but it’s still going to be a tough matchup for all of their stars. Kevin Durant took a backseat to Klay Thompson and Draymond Green last time out but, on a slate with questionably motivated or available studs, he should be considered. I don’t have a ton of love for Klay or Draymond, though Draymond has had a much higher than usual usage rate lately. I would consider Quinn Cook with Jazz point guard defense slipping down the stretch with Ricky Rubio’s health issues and Dante Exum on the court (and a little narrative street with his new Warriors contract) but not much besides that.
The Jazz seem to be trying to keep Ricky Rubio healthy, only playing him 18 minutes last game after sitting out the fourth with the result mostly under control. Even if this game is competitive, it’s tough to imagine Rubio getting enough time to pay off his value. Joe Ingles was highly efficient with Rubio reeling and he should be considered again tonight with his recent performances and how he picks up some playmaking duties from Rubio, even though I don’t begrudge you not wanting to pay his price on both sites. Donovan Mitchell also picked up some of the point guard slack and will be a popular play tonight coming off a big game versus LA. I see nothing wrong with it though I could see a world with him being steady but not crushing value in the matchup. Jae Crowder got a lot of shots last time versus the Lakers and would be interesting if he got anywhere near as many this time. Derrick Favors has a chance to hit value but no one else here jumps off the page.
Houston Rockets (112.75 implied points, +5.8 on their last 10 games) at Los Angeles Lakers (105.25 implied points, -1.2 on their last 10 games)
The Rockets have the least out of anyone to play for on tonight’s NBA slate but Coach Mike D’Antoni said that he’ll likely rest or limit minutes on Wednesday rather than tonight. Given the Lakers’ defensive proclivities lately, I would normally be very in on playing Chris Paul in the spot and he’s tempting despite his price not showing much upside based on his recent performance. James Harden’s allowed Paul to do more of the playmaking lately, something that has added value to Paul’s role but taken some away from Harden’s. I could see Clint Capela having a decent game but his price is too steep for the risk. Eric Gordon could be a good lower owned play to make given his price and recent usage, especially on FanDuel, but he’s a bit of a crap shoot.
On the Lakers’ side, they’re sort of in between downshifting and playing their usual guys. Based on his run of minutes and usage, Julius Randle should have a shot to do something here and the Rockets have been ineffective on a per-minute basis against power forwards as the season nears a close. Both he and Josh Hart would be helped quite a bit by Kyle Kuzma being ruled out. If I had to guess, I could see Kuzma and Lonzo Ball, both currently questionable, sitting here before maybe getting on the court for the Lakers’ finale versus the Clippers in a back-to-back tomorrow. But that’s totally a guess. UPDATE: Both guys just got ruled out, my guesses are the strongest in the industry. With Ball sitting, Tyler Ennis looks like a solid play who also happens to own one of his biggest games versus the Rockets. He looks good but is likely someone who’ll find a ton of ownership.
There it is, our second to last NBA slate of the season in the books. Make sure to tune in to the Awesemo YouTube tonight at 6PM Eastern for the live before lock show with me and Josh Engleman (subscribe now so you know when we go live), follow me on Twitter @ChrisSpags, and let’s try to get a big win to close out the year.