The NBA graciously gave college hoops’s championship game its time to shine yesterday by running no games at all. And much like an overenthusiastic child, they couldn’t come back and slowly ramp things back up, maybe a nice six or seven-game slate to ease back into the world of professional basketball. But no! Let’s throw 13 games on the fire, that’s way more logical. The good news? This is a lot like the MLB slates you might be currently playing with some of our guidance at Awesemo.com. The bad news? My fingers may atrophy and fall off by the end of breaking down so much basketball action.
I’m going to try to focus in on the guys I find most appealing to keep my word count down here but let’s strap in and get ready. As always, the Switch and Hedge pairs best with Awesemo’s NBA rankings, ownership projections, and Slam Dunk picks so check back as they roll out closer to the games beginning. Now onto the games:
Brooklyn Nets (108.75 implied points, -1.1 on their last 10 games) at Philadelphia 76ers (116.25 implied points, -0.2 on their last 10 games)
D’Angelo Russell looked en route to rebounding nicely after his disappointing high owned game last week only to wilt down the stretch versus Detroit. He owns two games over 35 DK points versus Philly this year and the usage is there for him to do that again, though it’s safe to question his upside with Caris LeVert’s reemergence. LeVert has gotten over 30 minutes in two straight games, eating into Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie’s allotment respectively, and it seems likely that will continue today. Jarret Allen got over 30 minutes for the first time in a month versus Detroit and provided solid value. With the Sixers down to backups inside, that’s a spot to consider tonight. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson went for 45 DK points his last time out versus Philly he’s shown upside at his current price when given the minutes and usage he’s received lately. DeMarre Carroll has had two down games and seems due for some regression. He’s more interesting at a $500 cheaper price on FanDuel but there could be something worthwhile there.
Ben Simmons has been tearing it up with Joel Embiid and now Dario Saric banged up over the last few games. The Nets have given up big games to point guards lately so even though Simmons’ price is pretty unappetizing, with the total and his recent outings, he should be a big consideration tonight. Robert Covington smashed in the Sixers’ last game without Dario and he’s put up 1.2 DK points per minute with Embiid and Saric off the floor. His price is up thanks to that performance but he’s still got a lot of upside. Ersan Ilyasova picked up the start last game with Dario out and didn’t do much with the shot. Brooklyn should be a better matchup but there’s some risk with where his price is now relative to his usage. Marco Belinelli looks like the better play of the two; he averages just under 1 DK point per minute with Embiid and Saric off the floor and has gotten a noteworthy uptick in usage. Amir Johnson is crazy cheap on DraftKings and affordable on FanDuel and he’s in the famous Centers Vs the Nets spot. He got 30 minutes last game and, though he doesn’t have a high ceiling, he’s worth considering due to the price and spot. He also came in as an A value in Awesemo’s rankings for the slate.
Toronto Raptors (111.5 implied points, -1.1 on their last 10 games) at Cleveland Cavaliers (110.5 implied points, -1.3 on their last 10 games)
DeMar DeRozan snapped out of his funk versus Boston, posting his best game in almost a month. He’s struggled versus Cleveland this year but in a matchup that should be competitive, the usage can be key here. Kyle Lowry is priced better on FanDuel for the matchup and even though the Cavaliers have picked it up versus point guards lately, Lowry’s shown a lot of upside in a variety of matchups. There will likely be better spots to consider but in a projected close game, Lowry might be lower owned than he should be. With everyone else on the Raptors on the higher end of their price range, I’m not interested in much else here. Jonas Valanciunas could do something but with him getting just 25 minutes for the first time in weeks last time out, it’s risky on a slate this big.
LeBron completely smoked the Raptors in their last matchup in Toronto and now he gets them at home as an underdog. George Hill will be out, which doesn’t really affect anything but opens up slightly more playmaking for LeBron. Kevin Love is questionable with an illness and, if he doesn’t suit up, that makes LeBron even more interesting while also giving a moderate boost to Jeff Green. This is a LeBron game though and no one else is getting consistent enough minutes here to trust if Love is out. You can consider the Jordan Clarksons, Rodney Hoods, and JR Smiths of the world but they’re flotsam at best on a slate this size.
Atlanta Hawks (98 implied points, -4.2 on their last 10 games) at Miami Heat (109.5 implied points, -0.1 on their last 10 games)
The Isaiah Taylor train finally went off the tracks in the Hawks’ last game in Orlando with Taylor’s role being slightly muted with him yielding some minutes to Josh Magette. The good news? Josh Magette is in the G League tonight for their Eastern Conference finals, the Hawks’ biggest playoff moment in years. The bad news? Taylor draws the Miami Heat, one of the least interesting spots defensively, but the potential minutes load makes him a consideration. Tyler Dorsey will see extra minutes ballhandling as his backup and he could be an interesting punt with the blowout risk. Dewayne Dedmon has been a much steadier play and, even though the Heat have been competent inside, something tells me Hassan Whiteside may not be much of a factor this game:
Hassan Whiteside isn't happy about his reduced minutes. pic.twitter.com/f2XQ8k4wm2
— ESPN (@espn) April 1, 2018
Nevermind that Whiteside has looked like he’s been playing in quicksand all year, there’s some real disharmony there and a pro like Dewayne Dedmon can take advantage of subpar effort. Mike Muscala and John Collins had good games versus Orlando but it’s going to be much tougher sledding for them versus Miami. I’m not interested. I am mildly intrigued by Taurean Prince, who completely let me down last time but he has had two solid games versus Miami this year (with all of his teammates healthy) and his athleticism and size has proven to be one thing that Miami struggles with defensively.
If Hassan Whiteside were to get a “statement game” or an “Erik Spolestra placates his whiny $100 million center who doesn’t fit in the modern NBA” game, Atlanta is the spot to do it. They’ve been really bad versus centers and gave up a career high game to Karl-Anthony Towns within the last week. It’s not something to trust but that could be an interesting flyer to take, at least theoretically. Josh Richardson has shot the ball about 15 times each in his last three games and Atlanta will allow him to do a lot of the defensive things that help him add value. Richardson looks like a great play to me. Besides Justise Winslow, who’s looked really solid lately, everyone else on this side looks pretty unappealing due to their prices despite the cake matchup. Goran Dragic simply doesn’t bring it versus crappy teams enough to trust him, James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk still have sky high prices from Whiteside’s injury. I’d stick to the young guys here.
Orlando Magic (104 implied points, +9.1 on their last 10 games) at New York Knicks (105 implied points, -3.2 on their last 10 games)
I swear every time Orlando has a total that seems really high only for them to end up scoring like 90 points. I have been all over Nikola Vucevic lately only to watch him shoot 5-16 and 3-19 in easy matchups versus Chicago and Atlanta and he seems to be the sole reason they’re not hitting these values. He’s going to snap out of it and, when he does, he has 7x upside. New York has been decent at center defensively all year but I have to think Vuc can get something going versus Kyle O’Quinn and Luke Kornet. Mario Hezonja should move into the starting lineup with Jonathan Isaac ruled out and the Knicks have been atrocious versus small forwards lately. His price is a bit high but he’s worth a look. Aaron Gordon has failed to capitalize on good spots lately even more than Vucevic has. He should be considered but not trusted. Lastly, DJ Augustin has been a steady source of value recently with secure minutes and shots. The Knicks aren’t as good of a matchup at point guard as they may seem but the usage is there and, even though his price is a little high, Augustin looks fine.
Trey Burke has had steady minutes and usage lately and Orlando should be a spot where that could really pay off. Burke went for 50 DK points versus Detroit, not a tough matchup but definitely better than Orlando, and even though his price is high, he’s shown a ton of upside above that. Kyle O’Quinn got 30 minutes last game filling in for Enes Kanter and, considering he should get that again tonight, he’s about as much of a lock as you can get on a slate this big. O’Quinn is an A value in Awesemo’s rankings for the day. Michael Beasley is currently questionable with an illness but, if he plays, he looks like he’s an awesome spot too. You could even talk me into some Tim Hardaway here but really Burke and O’Quinn are the dudes.
Washington Wizards (103.5 implied points, -0.6 on their last 10 games) at Houston Rockets (111 implied points, +2.1 on their last 10 games)
Not a very high total for this game, which is a little surprising given the firepower on both sides. John Wall looked rock solid in his return to the lineup and a matchup versus Houston seems like a good litmus test of where he’s at. His price is super tempting on DraftKings, an A in value and fantasy points in Awesemo’s rankingso, and somewhat tempting on FanDuel but there’s always some risk against the Rockets given how they can run away with things. Otto Porter had a great game with Wall back versus Charlotte but his usage generally takes a dip with Wall on the court. There’s some risk but he’s an interesting play in this Houston matchup. Bradley Beal’s price is getting interesting, particularly on DraftKings. This could be a very interesting low owned spot for him, especially if Chris Paul, currently questionable but expected by Coach D’Antoni to play, is out and there’s more focus needed on John Wall as a result.
For the Rockets, it really hinges on Chris Paul’s availability. With Paul playing, he’s priced too high to be of interest and he also kills some of James Harden’s usage. I’d consider Clint Capela in the matchup given his athleticism advantage over Marcin Gortat but the cagey veteran might be able to do some things to limit his impact. There’s not a lot to love here since even the potential Trevor Ariza fill-ins are way too overpriced for what they can do.
Boston Celtics (102.75 implied points, +0.8 on their last 10 games) at Milwaukee Bucks (103.75 implied points, -12.6 on their last 10 games)
Terry Rozier was just ruled out for the Celtics, joining Shane Larkin on the sideline for the game. The Celtics do not currently have a point guard behind him to get big minutes, meaning some playmaking onus will fall to Al Horford and Jaylen Brown. Jayson Tatum’s been getting a ton of usage as well and Milwaukee has been beatable on the wings. He looks solid to me. Aron Baynes has been a solid value lately but the matchup versus Milwaukee might be one that puts him on the sideline due to the lack of a threatening center like the Celtics’ last two versus Toronto and Utah. Greg Monroe has looked good versus his old squad in Milwaukee this year but, at his price with his sub-20 minutes load, it’s not a great place to go.
Jabari Parker’s minutes have been up a bit and he exploded versus Denver, in part thanks to Giannis getting ejected in a game that went to OT. His price is compelling but it’s a tough spot and feels like a bad points chase on this big of a slate. Eric Bledsoe’s been on a tear lately, shooting over 20 times in the Bucks’ last two games and in which he scored 63 and 51 DK points respectively. The Celtics are not as generous to point guards defensively as the Nuggets and Lakers are, something that could bite Bledsoe badly at his sky-high price. Giannis Antetokounmpo has had some of his steadiest performances versus the Celtics this year with two games above 60 DK points and a 40% usage rate in two out of three matchups. His length is tough for the Celtics to match and as a “cheap stud” he could have some interest. Khris Middleton would be interesting to me at his cheaper price on FanDuel than his high one on DraftKings but it should be a tough matchup for him with Jaylen Brown and Tatum back on the wings.
Golden State Warriors (108.25 implied points, +6 on their last 10 games) at Oklahoma City Thunder (112.75 implied points, +0.8 on their last 10 games)
Kevin Durant takes a break from drunkenly ranting about “blog boys” on Bill Simmons’ podcast to return to his former home base in Oklahoma City, a place where he had one of his worst fantasy performances of the season earlier this year. The Thunder now have no one to effectively make it hard on him with Andre Roberson sidelined and, when you pair that with the Warriors’ depth issues at his position with Andre Iguodala and Kevon Looney out, Durant seems interesting to me. I question his mental toughness a little going back to OKC again as the one who has to drive the offense but he’s a great player and if people don’t want to pay up for him in this spot, that can represent some serious LeBron-pivot opportunity. Klay Thompson is back doing mediocre Klay Thompson fantasy performance things; if he gets hot there’s upside, if there isn’t welcome to 5xish purgatory. Quinn Cook also seems vaguely interesting to me given the Thunder needing to put their competent bodies on Durant and Klay and Russell Westbrook’s lack of interest in defense lately. He’s expensive but he showed that he can get his even when Durant and Klay are getting theirs.
On the Thunder side, Russell Westbrook is the one we’re looking at. He’s been putting up some vintage Russ fantasy performances lately and you know there’s going to be some desire to stomp out the Warriors one more time en route to the playoffs. Paul George has been shooting a ton lately and he also owns two games above 50 DK points versus the Warriors this year. Steven Adams:
I need that price to drop or some dudes to be out or something because Adams has shown zero upside lately. Carmelo Anthony may be the last place to look here. He’s been back shooting a ton lately and the Warriors need to focus all their resources on George and Westbrook. Ol’ Stretch Four Melo might be able to get some jumpers going in a home game where his legs got some rest.
Charlotte Hornets (110 implied points, -1.4 on their last 10 games) at Chicago Bulls (105.5 implied points, +6 on their last 10 games)
The Bulls are very bad and now officially without Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and my man Denzel Valentine for the rest of the year. The Hornets are also pretty bad and without Nic Batum for the game. The young guys have gotten more run for the Hornets lately, with Malik Monk posting 30 and 40% usage rates in his last two matchups where he also saw run for the entire fourth quarter. These Bulls are so very bad against point guards and give up a ton of threes. If Monk gets any extended run, he can be a massive play at very cheap. Guillermo Hernangomez and Frank Kaminsky have seen similar but less noteworthy boosts since Dwight Howard is hanging onto his minutes like a dying breath. The combination of these factors and the decrease in usage and minutes load would make me look away from Dwight and Kemba Walker tonight despite the cake matchup. It feels a little risky because if they play with any sort of effort, and the Hornets’ lineup adjustments are more the result of their last matchups getting away from them, they can have monster games. But really I’d only look at Monk and Jeremy Lamb, in for Nic Batum and benefitting from guys like Dwayne Bacon and Treveon Graham being out, and maybe Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
The Bulls have been tanking even by tanking standards, sitting their young players in the starting lineup like Cameron Payne and Lauri Markkanen in the fourth quarter of games to play proud Villanova product Ryan Arcidiacono, a player who should currently not be on an NBA court outside of a fan excursion or Make-A-Wish scenario. It’s all just kind of a joke and one where you can’t trust the Bulls starters to hit value. The good news is that per-minute superstar Sean Kilpatrick becomes playable as he too has been getting that end-of-game Bulls run with Arcidiacono and a series of rotating other parts. You can consider Jerian Grant as he seems to have a steadier minutes load but, besides that, I’d avoid a lot of these guys unless someone like Robin Lopez is ruled out, opening maybe enough minutes for Noah Vonleh or Cristiano Felicio to do some damage.
Portland Trailblazers (108.25 implied points, flat with their last 10 games) at Dallas Mavericks (99.75 implied points, -2.3 on their last 10 games)
The Trailblazers will be getting paced down versus a bottom three pace team in Dallas and that’s been a tough situation even for fantasy locks like LeBron lately. Damian Lillard is in a fine spot and Dennis Smith/JJ Barea’s defense is nothing that he should have to worry about. His price is way better on DraftKings but he looks good on both sites. CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic have both been solid plays, though they’re at positions which Dallas has generally limited production at. I’d be more inclined to go Nurkic’s way given his recent run of games and the bodies Dallas has to defend him. Stupid Evan Turner looked good last game and his usage has leveled out a bit. You know he can sink a lineup but I get wanting to go his way as salary filler with a moderate bit of upside. Al-Farouq Aminu has the best on-paper DVP matchup versus Dallas and while he hasn’t flashed the same upside he’s showed recently in the last few games, he’s shown he can do it.
Harrison Barnes’ price dropped despite one of his best games in recent weeks versus Cleveland. Portland is a tougher matchup but Barnes’ usage is so steady that he should be considered. Dennis Smith got back above 30 minutes last game and even though JJ Barea is slated to return, Smith’s usage has been insanely high lately. He’s had two games around 40 DK points versus Portland this year and his price is low enough that he could be really interesting if he gets the same amount of run. Nerlens Noel is getting suspended five games for violating the NBA’s drug policy, though it’s unclear if he’ll start that suspension tonight; if he does, I don’t see much else to love or even tolerate here.
Indiana Pacers (104.75 implied points, +0.5 on their last 10 games) at Denver Nuggets (107.75 implied points, -9.2 on their last 10 games)
Victor Oladipo had a massive game versus the Clippers and his price is up around the industry to show for it. I wouldn’t chase those points today even though Denver does offer a similar matchup opportunity (conveniently Oladipo also owns a 70 DK point game versus Denver earlier this year). Darren Collison has a decent matchup and price though he hasn’t really shown a big amount of upside since returning to the starting role. Myles Turner looks good and owns one big performance versus Denver earlier this year. At his price, he should be in consideration. Everyone else here seems iffy or overpriced, which stinks because Thaddeus Young in particular seems interesting. But not for $7,000. Not today my friend.
The Nuggets are going down a bit in pace to play the Pacers, although you know they’ll try to push it with the Pacers coming to Denver to play at altitude. Paul Millsap’s been killing it lately for Denver and his price hasn’t fully risen to show for it. Indiana defends power forwards well but Millsap’s usage and rebounding should keep him viable. Nikola Jokic has also been on a tear at a position Indiana has been the weakest against. Both Jokic and Millsap have been able to hit value in concert lately with both posting solid usage, making them viable to play together. Will Barton’s been the most affected by Millsap’s rise and, as a result, would be a good way to fade Millsap if that’s a direction you want to go (which would be more helpful on a slate Millsap would be expected to get a ton of ownership). Jamal Murray’s been gunning lately and continues to be a fine boom or bust play, although Indiana can limit point guard production some.
Los Angeles Lakers (99.25 implied points, -5.6 on their last 10 games) at Utah Jazz (110.25 implied points, +0.8 on their last 10 games)
The injury-enfeebled Lakers without Lonzo Ball or Brandon Ingram are in for a brutal matchup against the Jazz. Alex Caruso picked up the start and did nothing with the opportunity so, even though he’s at punt price likely starting again tonight, there’s still a lot of risk there. It’s hard to imagine Julius Randle getting going with Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert inside. Brook Lopez seems like a better matchup to stretch Gobert on the floor but he’s currently questionable. Kyle Kuzma back in his college state of Utah for maybe a little narrative value or a flyer on Kentavious Caldwell Pope is all I can think of here. It’s not great.
The Jazz should smoke the Lakers and, if they do, it’s likely going to be at the hands of Ricky Rubio. Rubio’s been been an underrated play all year and the Lakers have been at their worst versus point guards. Dante Exum’s gotten steady run behind him and looks good too, particularly if playing a potential blowout. Donovan Mitchell’s been off track a bit lately but, if anything would help, it’s a matchup versus a bad team playing at the fastest pace in the league. Joe Ingles and Derrick Favors also both look like fine plays with less upside than their two backcourt mates. And it seems like Rudy Gobert should be able to get what he wants from this matchup versus Los Angeles, though the Lakers pace-up spot has been a challenge for some centers to keep up with this year.
Sacramento Kings (105.5 implied points, +6.9 on their last 10 games) at Phoenix Suns (104.5 implied points, +5.6 on their last 10 games)
Both teams get big boosts and the Kings should get a big pace-up versus the fast moving Suns squad. The Suns are bad across the board defensively so that means we should be looking at the usual Kings, De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Willie Cauley-Stein. Cauley-Stein had some foul troubles last game but the increased team total and pace likely means a good shot at hitting value for all of these mid-priced stars of awful Western Conference basketball. Fox will likely go underowned but he’s posted fat usage rates lately as we head down the end of the season. There is nothing here defensively for him to worry about going against Tyler Ulis so I’d take a real hard look at him.
For the Suns, Marquese Chriss has been on a stellar run since Devin Booker, TJ Warren, and Alex Len went down with injuries. He looks like a great play again tonight who can hit value a number of different ways. Josh Jackson continues to be a steady value with upside if he hits more than 30% of his shots. His price is up there but he’s still an okay place to look. Tyler Ulis’s price is getting ugly on DraftKings, less so on FanDuel, but he remains playable on both sites. His usage is so high and he’s been great with Booker and Elfrid Payton off the floor and injured/completely giving up on the season, respectively. Danuel House took a lot of Troy Daniels’ minutes last game and had his best game of the year with the opportunity. He’s at the minimum and will almost definitely go unnoticed on this big slate.
San Antonio Spurs (104.25 implied points, -0.3 on their last 10 games) at Los Angeles Clippers (102.75 implied points, -6.8 on their last 10 games)
Yuck. LaMarcus Aldridge will likely do LaMarcus Aldridge things to the tune of around 50 DK points tonight and not much more. I’m okay with him. Besides that, it’s the usual Spurs soup. The Clippers have been best against point guards lately and paying over $6,000 for him in the matchup seems silly with this many games. Danny Green got up more shots last game versus Houston but I wouldn’t trust that. Ditto Rudy Gay, who has some upside if minutes shake out his way but not enough to risk the downside. Patty Mills has gotten a lot of minutes but, again, big slate. Don’t stake it all on Patty Mills.
For the Clippers, can I just not take anyone? Danilo Gallinari’s price is awesome on DraftKings and okay on FanDuel but I don’t want to play a guy coming off injury against the Spurs’ lengthy and crafty wings. DeAndre Jordan isn’t some Spurs beater and Lou Williams is going to have a tough night finding his shot, though his usage makes him the most appealing. I could see wanting to use Tyrone Wallace but his price is pretty high for who he is and the matchup. Austin Rivers could pull a big game out of some orifice and that plus his price makes him of a little interest but, really, I have zero trust in anyone on this side.
And there we have it, 4,000 words for you to read one hour before lock! Yay for you! Follow me on Twitter and let me know how your lineups are doing, thanks for reading, and good luck tonight!
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