It’s the last day of the NBA season and after weeks of tracking lineups, feigned injuries, and every backup’s backup, we’ve got one day left of complete and utter roster nonsense to wade through. But we do have one super important play-in game in the Western conference and a few games that are key for seeding purposes so it’s not as bleak as it seems in a world of Shaquille Harrisons at 30% ownership deciding tournaments.
There’s going to be a lot more news throughout the day so keep an eye on your media sources as well as updates to Awesemo’s rankings and check back later for his Slam Dunk picks and ownership projections. You should also subscribe to the Awesemo YouTube and tune in to Josh Engleman and my live before lock show tonight at 6:30 PM Eastern to see what things I get incredibly right and what guys get ruled out after lock and ruin my day — smdh Dennis Smith — with us! Now, without further adieu, let’s finish the season strong and get into the slate.
Toronto Raptors (98.5 implied points, -9.3 on their last 10 games) at Miami Heat (103 implied points, -1.2 on their last 10 games)
The Raptors are going to play all of their starters but it’s hard to expect much from them due to the matchup, team totals, and how little the game matters for both teams. The starters are all non-starters for me (feel free to insert your own rim shot here) and even though Fred Van Vleet being questionable could be a help to Delon Wright, I’m pretty cool going elsewhere tonight. OG Anunoby and Wright may win someone a tournament tonight but the data doesn’t make sense and we don’t know how much the Raptors’ starters are going to take off the table for the young guys in a matchup that should theoretically limit fantasy points.
The Heat will likely be without Goran Dragic, currently doubtful for tonight, something that historically has most benefitted Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson. Those two are the only ones I’m considering here given the recent minutes and the matchup. We’re going to have better plays at better prices in other games and it’s sort of as simple as that for me. My goal is to have a super tiny player pool tonight of guys I know I can trust and I don’t see a lot that fits that criteria here.
New York Knicks (103 implied points, -1.7 on their last 10 games) at Cleveland Cavaliers (117.5 implied points, +4.8 on their last 10 games)
Frank Ntilikina played 40 minutes with a 20 percent usage rate last game versus Cleveland and he looks like the best Knicks to consider tonight. Tim Hardaway and Enes Kanter will be out, something that’s benefitted Michael Beasley and Kyle O’Quinn recently. Beasley looks like an okay play tonight while O’Quinn completely receded into the background last time out versus the Cavs and, at his price, there’s some serious risk if he does that again. Damyean Dotson would be a better play if Courtney Lee, currently questionable and chucking up a ton of shots for no reason lately, were ruled out. That’s about it for me here.
The Cavs are playing for the #3 seed in the East still and they are not projected to have any starters sitting. LeBron is at a playable price but there is a little risk attached even if he plays 38 minutes like he did in their last game. You’ll need someone to soak up the salary from all of the value plays you’ll have on your roster so LeBron is viable for that reason but it’s hard to imagine him going nuts in this matchup. Kevin Love seems playable to me but everyone else on the side is iffy, unless DraftKings and FanDuel are suddenly allowing bonus points for wildly inappropriate adultery allegations. Then Tristan Thompson is a must-play.
Milwaukee Bucks (106.5 implied points, -5.6 on their last 10 games) at Philadelphia 76ers (113 implied points, -4.9 on their last 10 games)
The Bucks are playing for seeding and are slated to have Giannis Antetokounmpo back for the matchup. His price is much more appealing on DraftKings. Khris Middleton looks interesting but overpriced, as does Eric Bledsoe. Weirdly, Jabari Parker might be a better play tonight than he was with Giannis sitting last time out since Shabazz Muhammad is currently questionable. Muhammad has siphoned some of Parker’s opportunity when he’s been the starter but, off the bench with no one breathing down his neck, it’s possible that Jabari rebounds here.
JJ Redick was one of the best plays on the slate last night and he’s in another interesting spot versus Milwaukee. I’ll definitely consider him tonight. You also have to think about Ersan Ilyasova given his recent performance and how banged up Dario Saric has been. Given his recent performances and usage, I could also see considering Marco Belinelli here. I don’t love the prices or spot for Robert Covington or Ben Simmons, though Simmons can fill it up if minutes were to break his way (I’m dubious about that given how many minutes Markelle Fultz and TJ McConnell got yesterday). Amir Johnson had a big game versus Atlanta and it feels like point chasing to look his way again, although this is a stellar on-paper matchup for him.
Denver Nuggets (105.75 implied points, -8.3 on their last 10 games) at Minnesota Timberwolves (109.75 implied points, +2.8 on their last 10 games)
And here we go, our lone Win And You’re In playoff implication game on the slate. Nikola Jokic has left it all on the line in his last few games and his price on DraftKings is way too good to ignore even though he’s struggled versus Karl-Anthony Towns a bit this year, at least relative to others. I want to like Paul Millsap and Will Barton tonight but the former struggled badly versus Taj Gibson last time out and the latter feels a little riskier with how many shots Jamal Murray and Gary Harris will want to put up tonight. And with the offense flowing through Jokic, it’s hard to trust those guys, especially Murray, to get the peripherals he need to balance out his scoring dependence.
Jeff Teague has been gunning down the stretch to get the Wolves into the playoffs and he’s the most interesting guy on this side to me. Karl-Anthony Towns is not the same Towns with Jimmy Butler back, neither is Andrew Wiggins, and Butler’s 22 minutes per game isn’t exactly making me die to play him. Taj Gibson is coming off a neck injury but had a big game in this spot versus Denver a week ago. Taj and Teague, putting the Ts in T-wolves for me tonight.
Memphis Grizzlies (97.5 implied points, -1.3 on their last 10 games) at Oklahoma City Thunder (114 implied points, +3.6 on their last 10 games)
The Thunder will be bringing it tonight since a win gives them a chance to climb all the way up to the #4 seed. And that doesn’t bode well for a Grizzlies team lacking in anything good. MarShon Brooks was a disappointment last time out vs Minnesota but posted his second highest usage rate and minutes in the game. I’m back on him tonight and hoping his one dud scared people off. Dillon Brooks also looks interesting to me given his recent usage. Ben McLemore got 41 minutes last game and it’s possible he comes close to that again with a very similar roster being rolled out tonight. I have a faint interest in Ivan Rabb since the matchup doesn’t seem like it should be a great one for him but not much else.
Russell Westbrook and Paul George look like great plays to me for Oklahoma City and the elevated team total means there should be room for both guys and maybe even Carmelo Anthony to get some decent production tonight. Westbrook has excelled in every spot since the Thunder’s backs went up against the playoff wall and Paul George is shooting more than enough to hit value versus a Memphis team who’s leaky everywhere defensively right now. I could also see a world where Steven Adams gobbles up the Grizzlies’ many misses and the game gets out of hand like that but that seems like a less likely outcome for me.
San Antonio Spurs (104 implied points, -3 on their last 10 games) at New Orleans Pelicans (107.5 implied points, -5.2 on their last 10 games)
The Spurs can go up in seeding or drop based upon the result of this game but, if anyone were to not care about a potential playoff matchup, it’s coach Gregg Popovich. LaMarcus Aldridge is the first place you’ll look and, even though he’s struggled versus the Pelicans this year, his usage is so high that there’s still potential there. Dejounte Murray got benched versus the Kings last game and, while that’d be an awful outcome tonight, he’s in a great spot to recover here. Rudy Gay, Patty Mills, and Kyle Anderson look like more steady but moderate upside, something that honestly could come in handy with the minutes risks all over the slate.
The Pelicans can drop all the way to the 8th spot with a loss but it’s a tough matchup for them. Anthony Davis can do Anthony Davis things always but it’s going to be tough versus the defensive fronts the Spurs will throw at him. Nikola Mirotic has been on a tear lately and, while I like him tonight, it’s easy to imagine that run coming to an end in this matchup. Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo have had big games versus the Spurs this year but it’s tough to fully trust either guy in a matchup like this with a mediocre team total.
Washington Wizards (104.75 implied points, +1.3 on their last 10 games) at Orlando Magic (99.25 implied points, +2.7 on their last 10 games)
The Wizards are slated to be without John Wall and Otto Porter, something that’s resulted in 1.2 fantasy points per minute for Bradley Beal throughout the year. The Wizards can climb to the sixth seed with a win along with Heat and Bucks losses but it’s hard to tell how motivated they are to do so with their banged up squad. If Beal gets in line with his recent run of minutes, he’s a killer play (and he projects as a B in points and value in Awesemo’s rankings). Anything less, as is currently rumored for him, and you’re screwed. Kelly Oubre will be a more popular play and he looks fine to me, although he can definitely throw up a stinker or middling performance that might warrant fading him given his likely popularity. Mike Scott might be a sneakier play; he’s averaged 24 fantasy points in games where Porter hasn’t played.
Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, and DJ Augustin are reportedly getting their minutes limited to some degree. The Wizards have not been as active on defense over their last 10 games but it’s hard to tell who’s going to benefit on the Magic’s side. Khem Birch has been the best young guy for the Magic and he might be the only play to trust here. Mario Hezonja can be considered but there is a chance they sit him for minutes for a younger guy who’s gotten less run over the year like Wes Iwundu, Rodney “The Purv” Purvis, or Jamel Artis. Terrence Ross is taking 10 minutes from someone and honestly this all looks pretty craptastic.
Brooklyn Nets (104.25 implied points, -5.8 on their last 10 games) at Boston Celtics (103.25 implied points, +1.7 on their last 10 games)
The Nets will be without Spencer Dinwiddie and Joe Harris, something that gives an immediate theoretical boost to Caris LeVert, D’Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Crabbe and Russell played out of their minds versus the Bulls and the Celtics should be a tougher haul despite resting some players. That said, how much tougher is hard to say. Crabbe and Russell’s usage was so absurdly high that they could backslide a little due to the Celtics’ more competent defense and still have monster games. LeVert’s foot injury worries me a bit but if he’s going to get the minutes, he can have value.
Al Horford and Terry Rozier are confirmed to rest tonight and there’s a chance other starters get their minutes limited. Shane Larkin’s minutes have been limited at points this season but one would assume he’ll get more time at point guard tonight, making him a big consideration. Greg Monroe should be too given his performances with Horford out and the cherry matchup versus Brooklyn. It’s completely possible Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum get high usage in semi-limited minutes tonight but I’m not trusting it. Monroe and Larkin for me and maybe some Jabari Bird but there’s not much else you can bank on here.
Detroit Pistons (107.25 implied points, -1.5 on their last 10 games) at Chicago Bulls (103.75 implied points, +3.2 on their last 10 games)
The Pistons will be without Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, and Dwight Buycks for their last game, each loss more important than the last there. Reggie Jackson is the first place to look given how godawful the Bulls have been on defense and how high his usage rate has been. I see no issue with him. Eric Moreland and Luke Kennard also look like good plays with the injuries and their recent opportunities while Anthony Tolliver looks okay but less interesting with how much his price has risen since Blake went out. Stanley Johnson can do a ton of things to add value and always gets overlooked. He’s not as sure of a thing as I would consider Kennard or Moreland, both As in value in Awesemo’s rankings along with teammate Henry Ellenson, but he’s sneaky.
The Bulls’ lineups continue to be mostly stupid and no one is getting enough minutes to be particularly interesting. Sean Kilpatrick continues to be the most appealing one, playing for a future role rather than the Bulls’ uncomfortably bad present. David Nwaba might be useful, ditto Cristiano Felicio, but I don’t like either guy as much as some of the other value out there. Justin Holiday’s minutes are down so he’s got to be productive in around 22 minutes…he can do it but it’s a narrow margin.
Utah Jazz (98.5 implied points, -15.1 on their last 10 games) at Portland Trailblazers (102.5 implied points, -0.1 on their last 10 games)
The Jazz curbstomped the Warriors yesterday and can get to the #3 seed with a win here. How much the #3 seed means to either of these teams is questionable, though, and this is a brutal combination of tough matchup, questionable minutes, and elevated prices. As a result, I’m not seriously looking at anyone here besides Jae Crowder. I could see playing Donovan Mitchell and I’d be interested in Alec Burks if Dante Exum is ruled out but this down team total plus the other factors..big time nope.
If the Blazers are going to do anything tonight, it’s going to happen on the back of Damian Lillard. Lillard had a mediocre game versus Denver where he saw 40 minutes and one would think he’ll want to close a season where he took a real leap as a player in a strong fashion. CJ McCollum is getting enough usage to be solid, even if he hits 30% of his shots like he did versus Denver. Jusuf Nurkic has also been on a tear lately, even in tough spots. People will be afraid of the matchup with Rudy Gobert but Nurkic is playing so well lately that it may not matter.
Houston Rockets (103 implied points, -3 on their last 10 games) at Sacramento Kings (99.5 implied points, +5.4 on their last 10 games)
The Rockets will be resting some folks with no confirmation on who’s active and who’s not. It seems to me like the safe play here is likely Gerald Green if Chris Paul, James Harden, and Eric Gordon (currently questionable) all end up sitting. A guy like Tim Quarterman might also end up being hugely important. Who’s Tim Quarterman? Great question. This guy:
He’s got a little bit of MarShon Brooks in him and, if we know he’s getting minutes, he’s got to be interesting. Markel Brown could get a look but I’m iffier on that and the RJ Hunters of the lineup don’t do much for me. Tarik Black could be something but I want some news here before I think too much about some of these guys.
De’Aaron Fox, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Buddy Hield are the main plays to look at on the Kings’ side. All three have been strong down the stretch run with a solid run of minutes. Nigel Hayes would be interesting if he got the start over Jakarr Sampson but otherwise it’s that big three (lol) and a couple guys not getting enough run to be valuable.
Los Angeles Lakers (107.25 implied points, +3.5 on their last 10 games) at Los Angeles Clippers (109.7 implied points, +3.5 on their last 10 games)
And we end the regular season in a meaningless Battle of Los Angeles that could end up being a good source of value. Andre Ingram got 29 minutes in his NBA debut, a feel-good story after Ingram has spent ten years in the NBA’s developmental leagues:
As @TurnerSportsEJ would say, this story is "good for the soul."
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 11, 2018
He’ll likely find some ownership tonight and he should be considered versus a Clippers team who’s got nothing to play for. You can’t play Julius Randle, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, or Brook Lopez tonight since they’re likely only getting two quarters worth of work. Josh Hart should get his full run so he seems fine while Tyler Ennis isn’t getting enough minutes to be a lineup building block but a little of him is fine. Ivica Zubac is the only other place to look on the side with a chance of him being a key guy under $4,000 tonight.
The Clippers are supposed to get Austin Rivers back while Lou Williams has been ruled out. Rivers should get enough minutes to be useful as the lone viable point guard on the roster. Tyrone Wallace was the nominal point guard last time and did nothing with the shot. He’s not a good enough value to me to be in play but I could imagine him being better with Rivers shouldering the playmaking load. Montrezl Harrell is currently questionable and that’s a huge bit of news to keep out for. He’s a big time play if he’s in, currently a B in points and A in value in Awesemo’s rankings, and would mean a bigger shot for Boban Marjanovic if he’s out. Tobias Harris will get a shot to be productive tonight but I don’t know how motivated he’ll be. I would look Sindarius Thornwell’s way again tonight with how he took advantage of his chance last game, although expecting a similar performance with Rivers back seems like it could be an error.
And there it is. Basketball. We’ve got our last NBA regular season live before lock show on the Awesemo YouTube at 6:30 PM Eastern so join Josh Engleman and me to learn about what stupid player I go on a tirade about tonight who ends up making me look stupid. Follow me on Twitter @ChrisSpags and of course check back on Awesemo’s rankings as news comes out, keep an eye out for ownership projections and Slam Dunks later in the day. Good luck tonight! We can survive! I believe in us!