Once again value ruled the day last night with spot starters opening up all sorts of opportunities to load up on stars. We’ve got just three games in Sunday’s main slate of NBA games — clearly Adam Silver’s schedulers know not to cross Vince McMahon’s WrestleMania weekend, something that Dana White and the UFC had to learn the hard way — so the value is going to be less obvious. But I’ll try to weed through our available options for you to help us all capitalize on other’s apathy to maybe win some tournaments. I’ve scored over 340 points on DraftKings the last two nights with precious little to show for it so let’s WRITE ANGRY. Grrrrrrrr.
I’m so adorable when I type angrily. As always the Switch and Hedge pairs best with Awesemo’s rankings, ownership projections, and Slam Dunks so keep an eye out for those when they come out throughout the day. And now onto the slate.
Orlando Magic (99 implied points, +4.2 on their last 10 games) at Toronto Raptors (111.5 implied points, +3.9 on their last 10 games)
Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, and bizarrely the injured almost all year Terrence Ross are expected to play for the Magic today, completely ruining all the things we’ve learned about their lineups over the last few games. Neat. It feels like sort of a “third trimester senior” thing where these guys will get their last meaningful run of the year before yielding for their final two games. Keep an eye on injury news closer to lock but I’d project Vucevic and Gordon to not get enough minutes to be of use. There’s also a blowout risk, which hurt guys like Shelvin Mack and Mario Hezonja last game vs Charlotte when they didn’t get the expected end of game run despite being two key young guys. I still like Mack some, Hezonja a bit less so just due to him yielding some usage to all of the main guys and Terrence Ross being back. Khem Birch is okay but he’s shown some of his downside as a per-minute player. Everyone else is hard to trust, though Jamel Artis has found his way to over 30 minutes in his last three games and been fairly productive with the opportunity. Not something to trust but something to consider, that’s Jamel Artis on a three game slate today.
Serge Ibaka has been the best play on the Toronto side lately and, knowing him, me saying that out loud means he is going to colossally fail tonight. It’s a great spot though and I’m interested. Kyle Lowry has sucked bad lately but his minutes and usage haven’t fallen off down the run. I’ll definitely have some of him on this slate. DeMar DeRozan’s price sucks on DraftKings but he should be considered tonight given the team total and his recent usage. Both of these guys can definitely bounce back tonight and, because of recent performances, you can get them both at lower owned than they should be on a slate this size versus a godawful team. The Raptors’ bench mob could have value if the game blows out early but their minutes have not been as secure lately as they were for stretches of the year. Solely from a game theory perspective, I imagine a lot of folks are going to go Fred Van Vleet or Delon Wright instead of Lowry or DeRozan and that seems foolish to me. Shame on you, theoretical people I’m imagining will do that who may not exist.
Utah Jazz (109.25 implied points, -1 on their last 10 games) at Los Angeles Lakers (101.75 implied points, -5 on their last 10 games)
The Jazz losing a point despite going against the fast, defensively bereft Lakers? Confusing! Not confusing: The Lakers’ point guard defense being the worst in the league, meaning you need to have Ricky Rubio OR Dante Exum tonight depending upon who’s active. Exum should be deeply considered on FanDuel whether Rubio starts or not having been highly productive per minute already without the benefit of a matchup with Los Angeles. Exum becomes a must-start if Rubio were to be ruled out. If active, Rubio should also be considered, though his hamstring injury is a serious risk if he suits up and it doesn’t feel up to snuff. He’s left games early and not returned multiple times with injuries. Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell both look like steady and ultimately not particularly enthralling plays, ditto Derrick Favors and Joe Ingles. Everyone here besides the point guards looks solid but not likely to crush value.
Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma are questionable here and a lot hinges on their availability. Ball would be an interesting play, as well as one who could really keep the Lakers in this game given some of Utah’s recent point guard defensive deficiencies, the only spot they’ve really slipped down the stretch. One would assume Lonzo could see a minutes limit if he suits up but he could be productive enough to make it work. Julius Randle’s price is tough but, on a slate like this, he might get you 5x despite a difficult matchup and that means he should be considered. Josh Hart looks like an okay source of value for minutes although his usage is unlikely to stay as high as it was last game if Kuzma is active. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope can go either way; he doesn’t get enough usage to trust but he can be a good tournament play, especially if Kuzma sits. Ivica Zubac could be a sneakyish play given his recent run of minutes and how he’s unlikely to see much of Rudy Gobert off the bench. Tyler Ennis would be a decent play if Ball sits.
Golden State Warriors (115 implied points, +12.4 on their last 10 games) at Phoenix Suns (101.5 implied points, +2.1 on their last 10 games)
Kevin Durant continued his war against Blog Boys/run of monster usage last night in a loss versus the Pelicans as the Warriors try to find their rhythm down the stretch. Durant’s going to be highly owned as the lone stud on tonight’s slate but he looks like he’s in a great spot to rack up points at high efficiency with a team who plays at just as high of a pace as the Pelicans, but with worse defense. Draymond Green has been good versus the Suns all year, has a great on-paper matchup, and is at an uncomfortably high price on both sites. He may end up overlooked and can fall short of value but he does have a decent ceiling versus Phoenix. As does Klay Thompson, who definitely doesn’t deserve to be the price he is based on his performance but can definitely still fill it up if the game breaks his way. Quinn Cook also looks like a decent shot at 5x value and his usage has been solid despite so many Warriors returning. There is nothing to fear defensively on Phoenix’s side but I don’t see Kevin Looney as a great play. He’s tempting given the price and the start but he just had a mediocre game one week ago in the same spot.
Josh Jackson is questionable with an injury and, if he plays, you need to really consider him. His biggest game of the year came versus Golden State and he posted a Durantian 44% usage rate in the Suns’ last game. Tyler Ulis is not looking as must-play with a big price up on both sites, but his minutes and usage have been steady without Devin Booker and Elfrid Payton active. Shaq Harrison was big off the bench last time out and he seems like a good source of value on a tight slate. Alex Len got run off the floor versus New Orleans and the pace of this game is likely to end the same, meaning Dragan Bender might be a viable play again. He owns a 30 DK point game versus Golden State this year and has been pretty good lately. Marquese Chriss is also questionable with an injury right now and if he plays he looks good. Danuel House was a huge disappointment last time out but he’s proven he can get it done versus Golden State and even at his elevated price, has shown that he can provide a lot of upside. I wouldn’t be afraid to look his way tonight.
And there we have it, another NBA slate in the books. Follow me on Twitter @ChrisSpags and hit me up with any questions, check back later for Awesemo’s rankings, projections, and Slam Dunks, and I’ll see you tomorrow for the last week of NBA regular season action!