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Best lineup strategy for Timberwolves vs. Trail Blazers NBA Showdown

Assuming Karl Anthony Towns can’t go, there is all sorts of value to be found in this late-night slate

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE 12/21: Carmelo Anthony has been ruled OUT for tonight’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

This final slate of Saturday night is a tough one to evaluate because of one body part. Will Karl-Anthony Towns’ knee allow him to play against the Trail Blazers after missing Friday night’s game? How the slate breaks down hinges on this one simple question, but for our purposes, we will assume he is out one more game. Check Twitter throughout the evening to determine KAT’s status. If he’s available, he’s a must play, although maybe not as the Captain. As for the rest, let’s dive into the top available plays:

CAPTAIN OBVIOUS

Hassan Whiteside, C, Portland ($16,500)

Pity the Timberwolves is KAT can’t go. Whiteside has been straight up crushing it all month, scoring at least 41 DK points in 7 of his past eight games and topping 49 points four times. With the Blazers cruising to an easy victory on Friday night, Whiteside should have plenty in the tank to attack a frontcourt missing its essential piece. Only the possibility of a blowout and a lengthy fourth-quarter rest is likely to keep Whiteside from adding to his gaudy December totals.

CAPTAIN COURAGEOUS

Gorgui Dieng, C, Minnesota ($11,100)

This is an ideal slate to fit as many as four “top” players into your lineup by taking a discount in the Captain slot. With KAT unavailable, Dieng is going to get the start at center to try and keep Whiteside from going off. That should result in heavy minutes, and Dieng has been producing thus far as the emergency starter.

FLEX MEN

CJ McCollum, G, Portland, ($10,000)

Damian Lillard is always going to be the more popular play, and deservedly so, especially after dropping 61 DK points on Golden State earlier this week. But McCollum, who is priced $1,600 less than his backcourt mate, has been putting up massive numbers himself lately. It’s quite possible to fit both of them into lineups on this slate, but the savings might be enough to tip the scales in C.J.’s favor.

Skal Labissiere, PF/C, Anthony Tolliver, PF/C ($1,000), Portland

Both of these plays hinge on the availability of Carmelo Anthony, who was forced out of Friday’s game against Orlando with a knee contusion. If Anthony is unable to go, one or both of these reserves could end up playing meaningful minutes in a potential blowout scenario. At their minimum prices, they would allow for all sorts of top-heavy lineups without sacrificing production at the bottom.