It’s an interesting slate tonight, one in which the most important matchups features one team on an exceedingly rare back-to-back-to-back schedule. As a result, you’re going to have to make some tough choices all over the board, ones that may make you question every single moment that got you to this point.
But that’s what this column, along with Awesemo’s Slam Dunks, rankings, and ownership projections are here for. We’re gonna dig deep to uncover some value tonight, the kind of tasty bits of gold that you normally only find when an eccentric candy company owner and his team of little people assistants decide to have a contest which leads to many ironic twists of fate. So without further adieu, let’s get to the night of scintillating NBA action in tonight’s Switch and Hedge:
Philadelphia 76ers (111 implied points) at Orlando Magic (103.5 implied points)
The 76ers get a Vegas-projected minor decrease on their last 10 games’ output while the Magic get a significant boost on theirs. And nothing here seems particularly interesting to me on the Sixers’ side. Maybe Robert Covington might be able to exceed value given how Orlando will give up some threes and rebounding on the wing but, no matter how great they are, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid seem a bit too high priced in a back-to-back game that may end up as a blowout (the spread has moved upward as I started to write this). Dario Saric bounced back a bit and has potential to put up stats fast. I wouldn’t have a ton of confidence there but it’s a potentially low-owned place to look for a shot at value.
On the Magic side there does seem to be a bit of value to wring out with Jonathan Simmons and Jonathan Isaac slated to miss the game due to injury. Aaron Gordon should be a good stylistic match for the 76ers as long as the Magic stay in the game; the Sixers were giving up a strong performance to a similar player in JaMychal Green last night before that game got out of hand on the scoreboard. Mario Hezonja, DJ Augustin, and Shelvin Mack should pick up a bit more production and usage as a result of Simmons being out but with the limiting risk of the game getting out of hand, something the applies more to Augustin and Mack than Hezonja, an Awesemo Slam Dunk pick for tonight.
Memphis Grizzlies (101.5 implied points) at Charlotte Hornets (111 implied points)
The Grizzlies get a slight boost on their recent scoring while the Hornets get a similarly sized slight boost on theirs. The Grizzlies ALLEGEDLY will get Tyreke Evans back after his late scratch rest and much more appreciated ample notice rest yesterday. And as much as it hurts me deep inside to have to keep looking Tyreke’s way when he keeps playing games with my heart, with my heart:
He seems like a potentially great play tonight. The Hornets will be undermanned without Dwight Howard and Nic Batum out of the lineup so Tyreke, whose price hilariously has gone up despite missing two games, can keep them in the game while racking up a ton of stats thanks to Gasol’s absence. I know I’m way too emotional about this but playing Tyreke is starting to feel like an abusive relationship within the last week. Deyonta Davis had a bit of a coming out party after some mostly quiet games with ample opportunity to shine. He’s been inconsistent all year but he’s tough to avoid if Ivan Rabb misses the game tonight as well. JaMychal Green has also played well when Marc Gasol sits out and will have a lot of room to operate versus a Hornets team severely lacking in size. Maybe this game isn’t so…grizzly after all. Thank you thank you, I’ll be here all week.
The Hornets will also need some increased production from Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb, Frank Kaminsky, and Guillermo Hernangomez (particularly if Cody Zeller remains out) to keep the game afloat, let alone score more than they have previously. The tanking Grizzlies have given up increased fantasy production across the board and all of these players are at prices where there should be some upside. And although it’s a limited sample size, Marvin Williams has tended to perform well with both Dwight Howard and Nic Batum off the court with 1.1 DK points per minute this season. Even at 22 minutes, that could get him to 6x value.
Los Angeles Lakers (114 implied points) at New Orleans Pelicans (116 implied points)
The Lakers get a decent boost on their recent scoring while the Pelicans get a much bigger boost on theirs. And the Pelicans are also on a rare back-to-back-to-back, making the Lakers’ comparatively fresh legs seem even more appealing than they may have already looked in a great matchup. Every Laker seems interesting but Lonzo Ball stands out as a player who can really break the slate tonight. A triple double seems within reach given how the Pelicans tend to give up strong peripherals to point guards. Brook Lopez has been a hidden gem over the last few weeks and, while his price has risen, he still should have big upside in the matchup. The Hornets have been at their worst versus small forwards; when you pair that with the insane minute Kyle Kuzma has seen, he looks like a must play. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope gets enough minutes that he should be worth a look, even if far less of a lock than the others names so far. Julius Randle seems to have the toughest spot to me and he’s really struggled to hit value twice this year versus New Orleans. His rugged style of play against a jelly-legged team can overcome that but he seems to have the biggest chance of falling short of value at his price. And I’m not particular into Isaiah Thomas tonight but he can fill it up in this matchup with his remorseless, borderline socially inappropriate commitment to shooting whether the buckets fall or not.
Anthony Davis has had two stellar games versus Los Angeles this year. He also has previously resembled Samuel L Jackson in Unbreakable with his penchant for getting knocked off the court. Since DeMarcus Cousins was lost for the year, Davis has done his best to stay on the court and, even when he’s headed to the locker room, he’s answered the bell each time. The back-to-back to back IS worrisome but you can get tougher as a player and Davis seems to be working towards that end. Jrue Holiday didn’t do a whole lot in his return from illness yesterday. With another day to recover, he may show some improvement but I wouldn’t bank on him in this spot. E’twaun Moore has been shooting a ton lately, likely due to the downtick in Jrue’s health, and if he keeps that going tonight, he can be a great low-owned value play. Ditto Cheick Diallo, who’s seized some Emeka Okafor minutes and been steadily above value in his last three games. Assuming Rajon Rondo doesn’t get one of those late rest rule-outs today, he also looks like he’s got a great spot in a matchup that plays right into his hands. And the Celtic in him seems to have carried over with him exceeding value on a per-minute basis in each of his most recent matchups versus the Lakers.
Detroit Pistons (100.25 implied points) at Houston Rockets (112.75 implied points)
The Pistons are in line with their recent output while the Rockets are also in line with theirs. Reggie Jackson is back and will reportedly get slightly more minutes than his last game. I get you see the starting role and salary and there may seem like there’s some appeal but there isn’t any proof of him currently having the upside needed to be viable at so few minutes. Blake Griffin has played well lately but with his price on the rise and a tough matchup versus Houston that is a real blowout risk, it’s not the safest play in the world. Ditto Andre Drummond, who may be getting a bit run down by the Pistons’ extended road trip. He is not going to be thrilled dealing with Houston’s screens, switches, and Clint Capela’s general activity levels. Ish Smith has been playing substantially better lately, coincidentally with Reggie Jackson back nipping at his heels. Even if Ish only gets 25 minutes, he can still exceed value at his current price.
The aforementioned Clint Capela should really excel given the spacing of the matchup versus Andre Drummond and the Pistons’ road trip-weary legs. Capela rebounds, blocks, and steals at a high rate, all things that play into the Pistons’ DVP performance. He’s projected as a B in fantasy points tonight in Awesemo’s rankings but I’ve got much higher hopes. There’s no reason to think James Harden can’t continue his roll of 60 DK point games and that ceiling would get way higher if Chris Paul’s questionable tag results in him being ruled out, as is currently expected. Harden is one of Awesemo’s Slam Dunks for the night and his usage without Chris Paul means he’s got to hit value whether the Rockets run away with this one or not.
Utah Jazz (103.25 implied points) at Dallas Mavericks (95.25 implied points)
Utah is projected to perform slightly below their last 10 games’ output while the Mavericks are expected to be significantly underneath theirs. The game is one the Jazz need to win for their playoff hopes after a costly loss versus Atlanta at home. Donovan Mitchell shot an outrageous 28 times last game, hitting only nine of them, and will likely continue his vintage Carmeloesque heroics to will the Jazz to the 8th spot. Ricky Rubio should also be able to do what he wants versus the Mavericks and he’s flashed serious upside earlier this year when he’s fully orchestrating the offense. Joe Ingles has been as steady as they come and there’s no reason to see that stopping tonight other than the Jazz simply running away with it. Rudy Gobert didn’t get to the line as much as he has recently, hurting his value last game. But he should still be a consideration against a Mavs team that will play into the things he does best defensively.
On the Mavs’ side, JJ Barea still has interest as Dennis Smith’s fill-in despite the tough matchup. He had a stellar game against these Jazz just a few weeks ago and with him not exceeding value at high ownership, many people will be off of him in a theoretically tougher spot tonight. Harrison Barnes had played well up until last game and I’m not sure I see the Jazz as the best matchup for him tonight either. He’s had two complete duds versus Utah this year and should have even more defensive focus on him tonight. Nerlens Noel may be able to continue his solid run of value since, as previously mentioned in this column, Rudy Gobert actually allows more individual production to centers due to his role as anchor of the entire team defense.
Atlanta Hawks (105.5 implied points) at Sacramento Kings (107 implied points)
The Hawks are expected to go slightly under their recent scoring while the Kings are expected to be significantly above theirs. Dennis Schroder exploded at a cheap price to low ownership in the Hawks’ last game versus Utah and, though he’s been marked back up a bit, he still offers huge upside in this game versus Sacramento. These are two bad teams who should play tight and with Kent Bazemore off the floor, Schroder has re-embraced his role as leader and gobbler of usage. Dewayne Dedmon also looks like a strong play after taking over a ton of the minutes and performance that John Collins was receiving before his injury. A Dedmon-Schroder stack during their last game would have been hugely profitable for you. Sacramento allows a lot of threes and that means a great chance for Taurean Prince to get back on his roll as well as Mike Muscala to do more with his minutes than he did in a far tougher matchup versus Utah. Tyler Dorsey and Damion Lee likely can’t get enough production to help you out given all these other guys but there is a chance for them to have value as punts who can put up some solid real-life points in their time on the court.
Buddy Hield’s price is up to reflect his recent wave of steady, unHieldlike performance but there’s no reason to think he can’t keep it going versus Atlanta tonight. Having Bogdan Bogdanovic back after missing last game due to injury may prove to be an asset since the Pistons really keyed in on Buddy at times where Bogdan could have helped space the floor. Bogdan should also get a look given the Hawks’ boost to wing performance and his very affordable price. With Zach Randolph ruled out, Willie Cauley-Stein will seem like a better chance to hit value than he may normally. Skal Labissiere would also have some interest there but he mostly stinks so I don’t have a ton of faith in his prospects. De’Aaron Fox and Frank Mason both have mild interest to me but the upside isn’t there as much either. Buddy and Bogdan look the most appealing on this side by far.
And there we have it, another slate where you now know everything that’ll happen so why even watch? A column so accurate it’s like a window into the future, that is absolutely what you’re getting here and I say that without even a hint of sarcasm, self-deprecation, or self-loathing (a writer’s holy trinity). Follow me and tweet me @ChrisSpags with questions and feedback and I’ll see you guys tomorrow with more of the overanalyzation of large athletic men throwing a ball in a hole.