There are only a couple of games left for most of the teams in the NBA which means that we’ve only got so many chances left to roster the Kyle O’Quinns, Ivan Rabbs and Khem Birches of the world before we have to deal with only “good” and “relevant” players active in the playoffs. There’s going to be a ton of value to unearth, with even more to come as injury news comes down closer to lock, so pay attention all day, refresh Awesemo’s rankings this afternoon, watch Josh Engleman and me live at 6PM Eastern on the Awesemo YouTube, there’s stuff to do to make sure you’re on the ball.
As always, the Switch and Hedge pairs best with Awesemo’s rankings, ownership projections, and Slam Dunks so watch out for those as the available player pool gets sorted out. And now onto the games:
Toronto Raptors (106.75 implied points, +0.5 on their last 10 games) at Detroit Pistons (102.75 implied points, -7.7 on their last 10 games)
The Raptors rested DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas yesterday, possibly foreshadowing some rest tonight for other starters Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. There’s been no public confirmation from coach Dwane Casey but, operating on that assumption, one would think that Fred Van Vleet (if healthy given an injury in last night’s game) and Pascal Siakam would be the biggest beneficiaries along with a slightly smaller upgrade for Delon Wright again. You could go DeRozan’s way if you want to pay a lot for a guy who may see close to his usual run but I’d focus on the younger Raptors here. The starters likely won’t get enough run to hit value at their current prices even if they’re active.
Reggie Jackson yielded minutes to Ish Smith in the fourth quarter of Detroit’s last game, allegedly due to a stomach bug. Assuming he’s good to go tonight, he can be a very good value given his recent minutes and usage. Ish Smith would be a fine play if you want to fade Jackson. Anthony Tolliver’s been a steady play lately but he can be very dependent upon real life scoring to get there and that can be uncomfortable if his shot doesn’t fall. Stanley Johnson’s been a good option more often than not lately and, on FanDuel in particular, he looks interesting to me again today.
Cleveland Cavaliers (118 implied points, +4.4 on their last 10 games) at New York Knicks (105.5 implied points, +0.7 on their last 10 games)
The Cavaliers are still technically playing for seeding and they shouldn’t have much issues versus a reeling, but somewhat feisty, Knicks squad. LeBron James is the first place to look and I see no issues with him other than the blowout risk. He’s priced highly but he’s been so good lately that it doesn’t matter much, especially if the Knicks can stay competitive. Kevin Love looks like a decent play though his recent usage suggests he may not have much upside at his current price. With Rodney Hood, Jose Calderon, and George Hill back, there’s going to be less to go around for Jeff Green and Cedi Osman and in a possible blowout with a pretty big slate it may not be worth risking those margins.
It keeps feeling like it might be time to fade Kyle O’Quinn but he’s destroyed each time out lately regardless of matchup. While his price is getting awfully high, it still seems like there’s some value to be had there given the Knicks’ lack of big bodies and he might be a nightmare matchup for the Cavs. Trey Burke has been mediocre lately but his usage has been steady and the Knicks will be without Emmanuel Mudiay again. Jarrett Jack looked substantially better than him last time out, though. Damyean Dotson would be a better play if Michael Beasley were out with a knee injury that limited him to 23 minutes versus Milwaukee. With a day to rest, Beasley could be a viable play tonight but man did he burn me when he played less than a minute the other night. Picking banged up players at this time of year is a dicey proposition.
Chicago Bulls (105.75 implied points, +5.5 on their last 10 games) at Brooklyn Nets (113.35 implied points, +2.8 on their last 10 games)
Lauri Markkanen should be suiting up, something that dings Bobby Portis and Cristiano Felicio a bit. Markkanen’s price is unplayably high on DraftKings given his limited minutes while they try to protect him from injury. Felicio looks like a fine play again, particularly if Noah Vonleh remains out; Felicio got 35 minutes with Lauri and Vonleh’s absences last time out. Sean Kilpatrick has been a fine value lately and should be considered, though the Bulls did some wonky things with his minutes in the 4th quarter in the Bulls’ last game versus Brooklyn, subbing him out during a Bulls run (the Bulls love tanking like you and I love a fine craft beer). Jerian Grant and Justin Holiday also look like decent plays tonight and David Nwaba can have a big game but he’s way too volatile to trust.
D’Angelo Russell didn’t get enough minutes to hit value due to the Nets blowing out Chicago over the weekend and, while there’s a chance of the same again, he still should be considered tonight. A few shots falling along with a few extra minutes, particularly with Caris LeVert doubtful tonight, and Russell can smash. Russell is the lone A in value and B in fantasy points in Awesemo’s rankings. Allen Crabbe’s been a strong play with DeMarre Carroll out and I’d be inclined to go with him again tonight. Spencer Dinwiddie and maybe even Joe Harris will also get some more time tonight with LeVert out and the latter has already been a strong play. Rondae-Hollis Jefferson seems too expensive to me while Jarrett Allen could be a sneaky play if the Nets don’t blow them out.
Oklahoma City Thunder (108.5 implied points, -2.5 on their last 10 games) at Miami Heat (105 implied points, -4.8 on their last 10 games)
Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony have all posted their highest usage rates of the year lately so, while this is a game versus a team who’s at the bottom of the league in pace, if the Thunder end up hitting shots, they can still get theirs. That said, Miami has limited fantasy production all year, with a few exceptions, so there’s risk. The Thunder need the game and the Heat don’t really. They may actually want to lose to get out of a 76ers matchup into one with the injured Celtics or recently middling Raptors. My point: The Thunder may be more interesting here than they seem superficially.
The Heat got blown out versus the Knicks last and no one looked good. Goran Dragic’s usage has been up so, assuming the Heat try tonight, Dragic can be a sneaky value play. There’s nothing else here I’m terribly interested in for the factors listed above and the size of the slate. Hassan Whiteside’s usage was incredibly high last time out but I can’t imagine him getting much going versus Steven Adams. It’s scraps here unless you really strain your eyes.
Memphis Grizzlies (98.25 implied points, -1.7 on their last 10 games) at Minnesota Timberwolves (114.25 implied points, +6.6 on their last 10 games)
MarShon Brooks has been one of the best plays in DFS lately and his price makes sense to keep playing tonight. His namesake Dillon Brooks has rode the tide along with MarShon and offering up some rebounds and assists to boot. Marc Gasol got big minutes yesterday and will rest tonight along with the injured Jarell Martin and JaMychal Green, meaning it’s another Ivan Rabb or Deyonta Davis night. Rabb was incredibly productive with Gasol out versus Sacramento while Deyonta Davis has been a cheaper lower upside play. Ben McLemore and Kobi Simmons have produced in spurts but they’re not as compelling to me as the Brooks Boys or Rabb despite the lower prices.
The Timberwolves maintain a tenuous grasp on the #8 playoff spot in the West and there’s a scenario where a win tonight would clinch them a spot. Taj Gibson has been on a strong roll and he’s got the most appealing price on the side in a matchup where his experience should pay off versus Rabb and Davis. Jimmy Butler’s not getting enough minutes and Karl-Anthony Towns receding a little with Butler’s return are the reasons I’d avoid them. I could see talking yourself into Jeff Teague or Andrew Wiggins given their recent performances and I don’t see a huge issue with either besides the blowout risk and fact that it’s not going to be as much of a pace-up as the game versus the Lakers was.
Orlando Magic (99 implied points, +2.4 on their last 10 games) at Milwaukee Bucks (111 implied points, -2.9 on their last 10 games)
The Magic are kind of a mess unless some guys get ruled out tonight. Shelvin Mack’s not getting enough minutes and he doesn’t play when the Magic inevitably get blown out, Nic Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, and DJ Augustin are still close to the prices for them getting normal run instead of their truncated time on the court, Mario Hezonja is a little too expensive for his volatility…it sucks here. Khem Birch has been a good value but he’s also been ineffective at times. I’m willing to rethink things if there’s some lineup news but for now, it’s pretty much only Birch who’d be interesting to me.
The Bucks are slated to get Malcolm Brogdon back tonight, which doesn’t affect much. Everyone is expensive here so, while Khris Middleton or Eric Bledsoe seem interesting, I don’t want to pay an asinine amount for them in a possible blowout game that the Bucks don’t really need. Jabari Parker’s price is getting uncomfortable for a game where Giannis Antetokounmpo is expected to be active but I’d likely have a little bit of him. It seems like you could live without everyone else here, especially given the Magic’s penchant for making games ugly lately.
Sacramento Kings (94 implied points, -1.3 on their last 10 games) at San Antonio Spurs (108.5 implied points, +2.4 on their last 10 games)
The Kings have been a surprisingly decent source of late-season value and effort, but this matchup is not one that’s going to do them a great many favors. Willie Cauley-Stein has been competent lately and also surprisingly in matchups versus the Spurs this year. The FanDuel price might be a bit much but on DraftKings he still seems like a solid and likely underowned play. The same is true of De’Aaron Fox and both of these guys have been playing well lately. The Spurs need the win but the Kings can be feisty. I’d avoid both Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic, though…Buddy in particular. There’s going to be tough defense for both of them and while their usage can overcome it, I’d rather have guys with a track record of success in this tough matchup than guys who’ll face elite wing defenders.
LaMarcus Aldridge has been filling it up for the Spurs as they make their playoff push and his price across the industry reflects that now. He’s steady but the margin for upside is getting narrower, especially with the spectre of a blowout. People may be tempted by Pau Gasol given his move back to the starting lineup but I don’t trust his minutes in a game the Spurs should be able to handle. Rudy Gay or Patty Mills would be more interesting to me as midpriced filler. Dejounte Murray has rounded into form lately and this matchup with the Kings has been good to him all year. He might be my favorite play on their side.
Portland Trailblazers (107.75 implied points, +2.3 on their last 10 games) at Denver Nuggets (111.75 implied points, -7.6 on their last 10 games)
The game means nothing for the Blazers but a lot for the barely-clinging-to-hope Denver Nuggets. A loss for the Nuggets would eliminate them from playoff contention. Damian Lillard brought it to the Spurs last time out despite his ankle injury and I’d expect the same with the matchup versus Denver. He’s the cheapest A in fantasy points on the slate according to Awesemo’s rankings. CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic have both been getting steady usage lately and this feels like a game where all of these guys may have some value. Evan Turner has been an up and down play since moving into the starting lineup and, while he feels like a match for Denver’s style of play, it’s hard to trust him even at a very affordable price.
Gary Harris is going to be a game-time decision for the Nuggets, something which would affect Will Barton a bit. Based on that fact, the slate size and matchup for Denver, I’m not into a lot here. Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap have had big games recently, together and separately, and although they can go off here, it feels like risky. Jamal Murray is a place to look given his success versus Portland this year but he’s not getting enough shots lately with all of the other mouths to feed. Any one of these guys is capable of doing more, but singling one out seems difficult.
New Orleans Pelicans (116 implied points, +3.8 on their last 10 games) at Los Angeles Clippers (108 implied points, -0.7 on their last 10 games)
Nikola Mirotic has been a stellar play since moving into the starting lineup and there’s nothing on the Clippers’ side to see that changing. Mirotic (still projected as a B in fantasy points and value in Awesemo’s rankings), Anthony Davis, and Jrue Holiday should be big considerations. A win over Los Angeles tonight gets them into the playoffs and they should be going balls out to get it done. I’m not comfortable with Rajon Rondo’s price but we’ve seen his ceiling many times. E’twaun Moore isn’t as valuable with Mirotic playing like he has, though Moore has one of the best matchups on the board on a DVP basis.
The Clippers have already ruled out Austin Rivers and Lou Williams with them banged up and the Clippers out of the playoff hunt. With those guys and Milos Teodosic out, Tyrone Wallace looks like a play that has to be made. Tobias Harris should drive a lot of offense with these guys inactive and I also like Montrezl Harrell to be a key offensive lynchpin. No love for DeAndre Jordan for me tonight, though this could be his regular season finale so I could see talking yourself into it given the extra usage opened up by Williams and Rivers’ departure.
There we have it, another slate with some big tournaments on both sites to apply all your newfound knowledge towards. Follow me on Twitter @ChrisSpags and hit me up there or in the comments with questions and I’ll see you guys at 6PM Eastern for the live before lock show with me and Josh!