Welcome everyone to another day of the internet’s number one extremely wordy NBA slate breakdown, the Switch and Hedge. We’ve got a big 10 game slate ahead of us with lots of value, guys coming off injury, and guys I personally despise and may need to adjust my world views on in order to survive in DFS (looking at you, Jeff Teague).
As always this column is going to work best for you if you also look at Awesemo’s rankings and ownership projections so you can fully understand the games in front of you while you’re tinkering with your lineups. But for now, onto the slate.
Los Angeles Clippers (106 implied points) at Indiana Pacers (110 implied points)
According to Vegas’ projection, the Clippers are facing a substantial decrease on their last 10 games while the Pacers are getting a big 10 point boost on their recent games. DeAndre Jordan has been on a run lately and excelled with a lot of ownership in a plus-matchup versus the Bucks the other night, putting up 25 points and 22 boards. Even at his price, Jordan can continue his run of value crushing versus the Pacers. Lou Williams still has upside at his price but he’s deferred some usage to Austin Rivers and Milos Teodosic. Both of those guys currently seem like better plays than Lou Will, which hurts me a little inside.
Victor Oladipo recovered ever so slightly versus the Pelicans earlier this week and with the Pacers’ total on the rise, it might make sense to look his way again. There’s a shot at some of the defensive stats Oladipo can rack up in a matchup versus the Clippers as well as a generally lax defense at his position. Myles Turner also should be in play versus DeAndre Jordan. He should have a ton of open jumpers at Jordan’s expense. Darren Collison returned to the normal up-and-down Collison you’d expect from earlier this year. I’d look elsewhere on a slate this big but he has a shot to hit value for you. Thaddeus Young was solid but unspectacular versus New Orleans and I’d expect more of the same here. He’s good at good shot at getting you to 5-6x value but likely not a ton more with Turner, Collison, and Oladipo also on the floor.
Denver Nuggets (107.25 implied points) at Washington Wizards (109.75 implied points)
The Nuggets are getting a projected huge decrease on their recent performances while the Wizards are getting a decently sized boost on theirs. The Nuggets have scored over 130 points in both of their last two games but the Wizards have done a good job all year of limiting fantasy production. That said, it seems more likely that they’d be able to defend the Nuggets’ guards and wings than it does the bigs. Both Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap present matchup problems for Washington’s bigs. Millsap is scheduled to be active despite an illness and is coming off of a big game versus Chicago which has made his price a bit less appealing industrywide but he’s still got a great shot at exceeding value if he plays. Nikola Jokic and Will Barton have also been priced down a bit and, even though the matchup isn’t great, the similar pace of Denver and Washington means that both players should get close to their usual numbers. Wilson Chandler also may deserve a look again after two straight great games and a matchup that feels Wilson Chandlery. Just remember that Wilson Chandler is fantasy basketball’s Rubik’s Cube and you are far from this guy:
I’m impressed and all but it’s hilarious that he wears athletic gear for it.
The Wizards face a much more profitable fantasy defense in Denver. Bradley Beal has been oh so quiet lately and he’s shown the kind of upside that can completely change the face of a game and DFS slate. His usage has been down a bit lately but fading him entirely scares me a little in this matchup. Tomas Satoransky’s price is a little high, especially on FanDuel, but he does a good job getting peripherals (he had 18 DK points versus San Antonio despite not scoring an actual point). Given Denver’s lax defense, he could be a beneficiary on the scoring end. Otto Porter seems to have the best combination of price plus upside plus matchup. He put up 46.5 DK points in 32 minutes during his lone matchup versus Denver this year and has a style of play that should convert well. Kelly Oubre went off last game versus the Spurs with some increased minutes and usage thanks to Jodie Meeks’ illness ruling him out. Oubre is interesting again and also fits the style of play. If Meeks misses, Oubre’s minutes floor is much more secure. Without that, it’s a risk.
Minnesota Timberwolves (116.75 implied points) at New York Knicks (109.25 implied points)
The Timberwolves and Knicks are both receiving a similarly sized decent boost on their recent point totals. Karl-Anthony Towns looks like the best play on the Wolves side and a game in MSG seems like it fits his MO. The Knicks have not a single player who can defend him, although a few who may keep him off the boards. Jeff Teague has continue to excel in spite of my bias against him and there’s no reason to doubt that’ll continue versus New York. His price is rising though and with a historically inconsistent player, that can be a time to jump off the bandwagon. Similarly, a lot of people will be tempted to look Andrew Wiggins’ way again tonight after he finally had a game befitting his price and pedigree versus the Clippers. And I’m going to stay mostly far aware there. Nothing really changed last game besides his shot falling more than usual along with a few rare blocks and for a pure points-dependent fantasy scorer like Wiggins, the chance of sinking your lineup is real even against a mediocre Knicks squad. Nemanca Bjelica yielded some minutes to the surging Jamal Crawford (and seemingly Taj Gibson) in their last game. Crawford has looked good with a ton of usage lately and in a sorta maybe revenge game at such a cheap price, I’m intrigued.
The Knicks’ rotations continue to be exceedingly confusing. Enes Kanter notched over 30 minutes for the first time in a month, Michael Beasley got 33 minutes, it’s unclear if these are due to the divisional matchup or some sort of internal rationale but there isn’t a ton of safety there. That said, Beasley did prove the Spiteful Rondo narrative is true for him too with his massive scoring output before the game versus Miami got out of hand. And who did Michael Beasley play for after being traded by Miami?
Beasley has averaged around 1.2 DK points per minute in games versus the Timberwolves in his various stops since leaving the squad. If he does get to that 30 minute threshold, that’s a great low-owned bit of value with upside if the Knicks avoid the blowout. Enes Kanter also would be great if he played enough minutes. But will he play? That’s the million dollar question that you simply cannot trust.
Phoenix Suns (107.75 implied points) at Cleveland Cavaliers (121.25 implied points)
The Suns are getting a four point boost on their last 10 games while the Cavs are getting a five point boost on theirs. Devin Booker is currently questionable with his hand injury and sat out the Suns’ most recent practice but says he’ll return when he feels healthy enough to do it. You have to imagine he’d like to be on the floor against LeBron given how Booker gets up for these sorts of matchups but even if he is suited up, that hand injury on a pure shooter is not the best. Josh Jackson’s price is very high but with TJ Warren likely out again, he still seems like a good play. Alex Len finally got some minutes versus Detroit with Tyson Chandler officially ruled out for the year and crushed; it’s unclear if Andre Drummond being on the floor is what necessitated that but Len really should get another shot at the same versus Cleveland. Elfrid Payton seems completely checked out and ready for his free agency so I wouldn’t look his way regardless of the situation or price until proven otherwise. If Booker is out, Troy Daniels should be worth a look again, albeit with a limited ceiling.
LeBron has played best with Larry Nance out these last few games, scoring over 70 DK points each time, but Nance is slated to return tonight. There is a blowout risk but with a lack of stud options on the slate, LeBron should draw a lot of ownership and can still hit value given the high pace expected and team total. Kevin Love has looked great since returning from his injury and he seems much more comfortable without Isaiah Thomas drawing so much usage on the court. The game has to stay close enough for him to get enough minutes, but Love can easily keep it going versus the Suns. George Hill finally had a good game last time out and if you want to look his way, this is the type of game to do it again. But I’d rather save money elsewhere with less risk.
Brooklyn Nets (105.5 implied points) at Toronto Raptors (117.5 implied points)
The Nets are facing a substantial decrease on their last 10 games’ scoring while the Raptors get a minor boost on theirs. The Nets have ranged from being competitive versus the Raptors to being completely blown out and Vegas seems to think this is going to be more of the latter. I think the Nets can keep it close though, especially since their two main usage players in D’Angelo Russell and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson have played well versus Toronto this year. DeMarre Carroll is coming off a bad game but has shot a ton and hit value all over lately. It’s his first game in Toronto in a few years too so there are some revenge narrative yarns to be spun. Caris LeVert has also been shooting a lot lately and is at a price where he can provide some upside.
DeMar DeRozan’s shot selection fits what the Nets like to allow defensively but Kyle Lowry has been the better play lately and versus the Nets. Both players can provide value at their price points though, either separately or in concert, even though Lowry’s is a little more apparent right now. Jonas Valanciunas is in the prime Centers Vs the Nets spot that’s been so beneficial but, at 20 minutes per game currently, he might not be able to do enough with his price sky high industrywide, even in a matchup versus the higher paced Nets. Jakob Poeltl might though and a Poeltl-Van Vleet blowout stack could make sense based upon the Vegas line.
Miami Heat (105.25 implied points) at Oklahoma City (111.75 implied points)
The Heat receive a big 10 point drop on their last 10 games’ scoring average while the Thunder get a minor boost on theirs. The matchup looks pretty unappealing overall given both teams’ propensity for limiting fantasy production but there should be a few pieces of value to unpack. Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson would be the first two spots to look at given their previous strong play in tight matchups with Hassan Whiteside out. Olynyk can have upside at his price and it’s tough to see who would be able to defend him on the Thunder’s side. Johnson also does enough of the little things to have value in a matchup versus Oklahoma City where his defense and grittiness can convert to peripheral stats and easy buckets. Josh Richardson’s defense may also aid him in that end with a shot to put up some offense on the other end versus a Thunder team weak on the wing defensively since Andre Roberson went out.
The Thunder should also have some issues with production but they have one player whose usage goes through the moon whenever times get toughest and that’s Russell Westbrook. He tends to underperform in down pace matchups, and the Heat are currently a bottom team in pace, but Westbrook’s athleticism can be all he needs to get the Thunder the win. Steven Adams can also do some damage on the boards versus a weaker Heat interior without Hassan Whiteside but I wouldn’t have a ton of confidence there.
Milwaukee Bucks (111.25 implied points) at Chicago Bulls (105.75 implied points)
The Bucks get a very slight decrease on their recent scoring while the Bucks get a slight boost on theirs. The Bucks are without Giannis Antetokounmpo, historically a spot where Khris Middleton excels. But he’s been good even with Giannis lately so his price doesn’t allow the value increase it did in spots like when Middleton filled in for Giannis and put up a 61 DK point triple-double versus Philadelphia. He still looks like a solid play with a good chance to hit or exceed value. Jabari Parker looks like a better one; he’s averaged 1.14 DK points per minute with Giannis off the floor. Sprinkle in a little “hometown team” narrative and Jabari is going to be one of the highest owned, highest upside value plays of the night. Eric Bledsoe will also get a boost with Giannis out but at his price and usage, he’s the least interesting of the trio. Shabazz Muhammad should also see a few minutes without Giannis and, if the game blows out, could be a good low-owned option to fill it up.
Cameron Payne should have an even bigger run of minutes thanks to Antonio Blakeney being ruled out for the year. He has yet to excel since taking over for the injured Kris Dunn but one of these games, it can happen and, with his upside, end up as a key to win the night. Denzel Valentine’s price keep going up and the Bucks give up a TON of threes. I still love the guy since he’s been there for me a lot this season but I won’t blame you for being scared off by his price and minutes insecurity due to the Bulls getting blown out so often. Lauri Markkannen thinks he’ll be back, which hurts Bobby Portis, Noah Vonleh and Cristiano Felicio a bit. Markkannen has upside in the matchup but the minutes relative to price are a little scary. David Nwaba seems back in the rotation and, though he has proven he can do a lot when he gets minutes, he looks mostly like 5x value salary filler.
Utah Jazz (95.75 implied points) at San Antonio Spurs (99.25 implied points)
The Jazz get a big nine-point decrease on their last 10 games’ scoring while the Spurs get a minor decrease on theirs. The Jazz have been a great spot for value lately and, while the Spurs are a daunting matchup on paper, there can still be places where they’ll excel. But the implied points being down so far means Vegas doesn’t have a ton of faith and, as a result, neither should we. Donovan Mitchell has put up as many jumpers in his last few games as many players do in a day at the gym during the summer. Versus San Antonio with Danny Green and Kyle Anderson, those shots are going to be a lot harder to hit. Ricky Rubio has been fantastic against the Spurs this year and might have the best shot at doing the same here at really low ownership here with the Spurs’ weakest DVP spot coming at point guard. Joe Ingles has been on a tear lately and his price came down a bit to adjust for the Jazz matchup. The usage is there enough for him to hit value even with the tough defense and he has one game just short of 40 DK points versus San Antonio earlier this year.
The Spurs have been LaMarcus Aldridge’s team even more than usual of late and the big man has responded, helping push the Spurs more safely towards the playoffs with three straight 50-plus DK point games. He owns a 50 DK point game earlier this year versus Utah and seems like a decent shot to do the same again, with the bonus of a price drop due to the matchup. There isn’t a ton else to love here, though Danny Green and Patty Mills have both seen minutes and shots on the rise of late.
Boston Celtics (98.25 implied points) at Portland Trailblazers (104.75 implied points)
The Celtics get a big 10.5 point drop on their recent scoring while the Trailblazers receive a large seven point drop on theirs. As a result, this matchup is going to be one you may want to avoid simply to avoid risk on a slate this big. With Kyrie Irving still out, there should be some value on the Celtics though. Jayson Tatum has been the biggest beneficiary so far and despite the tough matchup versus Portland can have upside at his price. His price is getting up there though and there are more affordable safer places to look. Terry Rozier has put up a good number of shots but hasn’t rebounded and assisted as competently as he did during his last stint as starter. If it were a more favorable matchup, Rozier would be more interesting but currently he should be just mildly considered. Al Horford has one big game versus Portland this year, also with Rozier starting in place of Irving, but he hasn’t been there lately. Greg Monroe has been a better play but there’s some risk at his price with the Blazers’ tendency to go small when Jusuf Nurkic lineups aren’t working out.
Damian Lillard’s been quiet lately after a torrid run and some regression to the mean seems due, even in a theoretically tough matchup. Jusuf Nurkic has had two straight strong games and is currently questionable for the game. If he plays, he’s a potentially strong low-owned tournament play. Al-Farouq Aminu has been great in several games in a row in a bunch of different kinds of matchups and flashed huge upside. It feels like a bit of a Wilson Chandler game of three card monty to guess if it can continue but I have to point it out. Mo Harkless has played well in concert and is a cheaper option to try to wring value out of.
Atlanta Hawks (105.5 implied points) at Golden State Warriors (115.5 implied points)
The Hawks are in line with their recent scoring while the Warriors get a Steph Curry-sized nine point boost on theirs. Dennis Schroder is slated to return after missing last night’s game and there are going to be a lot of folks afraid to roster him due to the late scratch. Between that and his increased price, Schroder looks like a real sink or swim option. Taurean Prince has had two straight dud games where his usage has cratered back down to Earth. I’d wait for him to prove he can do it again with Schroder back before rostering him tonight. John Collins is currently questionable but if he’s ruled out with enough notice, Dewayne Dedmon looks like a solid play with some upside. Damion Lee had his first solid game as a starter for the Hawks and, while he’ll have less upside with Schroder back, could be a good punt on tonight’s slate.
The Warriors get the return of Steph Curry and there isn’t a large sample size of time with him on the floor without Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green. But it seems safe to say he’ll see a ton of shots as well as the chance to facilitate the offense, maybe even slightly better than Quinn Cook did in his stead. Curry looks like a great play, especially on FanDuel. In a limited sample size, Andre Iguodala plays a lot better with the other guys off the court and Steph on the court so that’s something to note. Nick Young should also get better looks than he did versus San Antonio, with a comparable usage rate. Last but not least, Jordan Bell is an Awesemo Slam Dunk and is at his best when Draymond Green is off the court. Now that he’s healthy, he should do a good job in a very beatable matchup versus Atlanta.
And there we have it, another unconscionably long slate in the books. Tweet me @ChrisSpags and let me know any questions or feedback you have and I’ll see you guys tomorrow with more picks! And less sore typing fingers.
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