UPDATE: Draymond Green (heel) is out for tonight’s game vs. the Mavericks. Willie Cauley-Stein ($5,100) or Marquese Chriss ($3,700) are OK cash options.
Larger NBA slates are always the most fun, right? We’ve got 22 teams worth of players to consider and the way the price tiers shake out for tonight are very interesting. We have a lot of players who would normally be priced up, still at a discount, including Russell Westbrook ($8,600), Nikola Jokic ($8,400) and Paul George ($7,800), among others. But first let’s look at a few injury spots that we can look to capitalize on.
Right now there are a few key spots that I’d like to highlight:
— Kawhi Leonard (knee) is questionable again and we’re unsure if he’ll return for the Los Angeles Clippers’ matchup vs. the Boston Celtics. UPDATE: Leonard (knee) is reportedly expected to play tonight.
— Andrew Wiggins will be a game-time call due to an illness that has held him out the past three games.
— Kyrie Irving (shoulder) has already been ruled out for the Brooklyn Nets, his third straight game sidelined.
Okay, let’s break down all this information right quick.
First, Leonard being held out would obviously open up a good spot for George at sub-$8K pricing. The Celtics will be tough to deal with and I’d envision a playoff atmosphere that could be low scoring. I think this fits PG-13 perfectly and if Kawhi isn’t around to eat up shots, George makes for another great GPP option. Also keep an eye on Marcus Smart, who is probable but was injured Monday vs. the Suns.
Moving on to Wiggins and the Minnesota Timberwolves. If Wiggins returns, I don’t like Karl-Anthony Towns ($9,600) as much vs. the Utah Jazz. But we saw what KAT did to Rudy Gobert and Utah the other night: 29 points, 13 rebounds and five assists for 63.25 DKFP. If Wiggins remains out, I love KAT in tournaments again. Considering how heavy the slate is, he’d likely be low owned.
With Irving out, Spencer Dinwiddie ($7,200) has stepped up in the starting lineup and is coming off 28 points vs. the Indiana Pacers. The Charlotte Hornets are a much easier matchup and this game should be closer, leaving Dinwiddie as a nice core play. I also think the Nets have viable rotation players like Jarrett Allen ($5,300), Taurean Prince ($5,000) and Joe Harris ($4,900) with Irving out.
James Harden, HOU at DEN, $11,800
Part of me wants to fade Harden because the players in the $8-9K range are very enticing and I think overall lineup construction, you’ll want to lean in that direction. But I’m seeing The Beard projected at low ownership and I think that’s always a spot you want to play him in.
The Houston Rockets are on a tear right now and I don’t know if the Denver Nuggets can slow them down. If Harden was over $12K, sure, I can see fading him with Luka Doncic ($10,400) and Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,200) at better price points. But he’s priced down a bit and this game should still be high scoring.
Nikola Jokic, DEN vs. HOU, $8,400
I’m sort of considering Rockets-Nuggets a decent game stack with how players are priced. Russ and Jokic are way down and both have triple-double upside. Jokic hasn’t been the same player this season, but I think Houston will dictate the pace in this one, which should boost Denver’s players. The line is nearly a pick ‘em, so we can expect Jokic to play a full workload despite Mike Malone’s erratic rotations. You’ll be able to get Jokic likely at sub-10% ownership in most big GPPs given the variance tonight.
Jimmy Butler, MIA vs. CLE, $7,700
My only concern here is the spread being double-digits in favor of the Miami Heat. Other than that, this is Jimmy’s show and you know Jimmy is going to want to ball out. The Cavaliers likely won’t have an answer for Butler, so I think he’ll be more aggressive on the offensive end. Even if he doesn’t score, he’s been the primary distributor, racking up 32 assists over the past three games. Even in blowouts, we’ve seen Butler reach anywhere from 36-38 minutes. It’s also odd his price didn’t jump up over $8K for this matchup.
Blake Griffin, DET at CHI, $7,100
The Chicago Bulls just can’t rebound and are down another rotation player in Chandler Hutchison tonight vs. the Detroit Pistons. Griffin has been eased back into action after missing the early parts of the season, but he played close to 30 minutes vs. the Hornets and was productive with 19 points and close to 40% usage. This is a smash matchup on the boards for Griffin, so a double-double seems likely. Plus, Chicago should push the pace up, which is where Griffin should thrive.
Top Game Stack: SAS at WAS (237.5 O/U)
The OVER/UNDER on this game on DraftKings Sportsbook has been bet down quite a bit after being pushed up to 244.5 this afternoon. But I mean, still, this is highest implied point total by 4.0 points. The Bucks-Hawks game would be the other appealing game stack, but that should be dominated by two players. The Washington Wizards have been playing some of the most reckless basketball I’ve ever seen in my life.
The Wizards are dead last in defensive efficiency and rank 6th in terms of pace. Both the Wizards and San Antonio Spurs rank in the top 6 in terms of offensive efficiency while the Spurs also rank 28th in defensive efficiency. San Antonio should have a big edge on the boards so let’s look at some of the plays.
It’s not hard to fit in all three of Bradley Beal ($9,500), LaMarcus Aldridge ($7,700) and DeMar DeRozan ($8,100). Both LMA and DeMar are priced up for the matchup but still affordable given their history and ceilings. DeRozan is coming off 36 points and 53.5 DKFP vs. the Mavericks, his best game of the season. Aldridge should feast on the boards and I’d say 20-10 would be his floor.
I think Rui Hachimura ($4,800) and Bryn Forbes ($4,300) are the obvious values along with Troy Brown ($4,100). Using all six of those players leaves you with $5.7K on average to fill out the rest of your lineup. So taking another value and then a chalky play in the $7K range would make this work nicely.