It’s a battle of two teams headed in opposite directions this evening, as the Brooklyn Nets travel south to take on the Dallas Mavericks. It’s also a battle of two teams decimated by the injury bug. Though Dallas is coming out of a month where it owned the second-best net rating in the Western Conference (6.9), it’ll be missing two starters Thursday night in the form of Kristaps Porzingis (knee) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (hamstring). It’s not like the Nets will have any sympathy, though. They’ll still be without Kyrie Irving (shoulder) and Caris LeVert (thumb), while Garrett Temple ($6,000) comes in questionable with a knee ailment. Yikes.
We’re sort of obliged to begin all Mavericks-based conversation by mentioning Luka Doncic ($20,100 CP). The sophomore is the most expensive Captain’s Pick on the board by more than $5K; however, that’s generally the price you pay for the player with simultaneously the highest floor and highest ceiling on a given slate. Honestly, this seems like a pretty nice spot for Doncic. While Brooklyn does sport the league’s third-best defensive rating across its past 10 contests (102.1), they’ve paired that distinction with the NBA’s third-fastest pace (102.6). In a game that should remain competitive, I have no issues paying up for Doncic in an up-and-down setting. His 40.9% usage rate with Porzingis off the court is pretty enticing, too.
Spencer Dinwiddie ($14,700 CP) is your main option on the Nets’ side of the ledger. This shouldn’t come as a surprised if you took in even 10 minutes of Brooklyn basketball during December. In the month, Dinwiddie went supernova, averaging 27.0 points and 6.8 assists per contest, all while rocking 35.3% usage rate. Specific to tonight, it definitely doesn’t hurt Dinwiddie’s value that the Mavericks rank dead-last in the league in turnovers forced per game (12.7), as the guard has coughed up the basketball four or more times in four of his past five starts.
With injuries to two key players, Dallas has many possible avenues for value amongst its mid-tier pieces. Maxi Kleber ($6,800) drew the start in Porzingis’ absence on Tuesday and proceeded to pick-up a 14-point, 14-rebound double-double in 35 minutes of action. This isn’t exactly a new phenomenon, either. Kleber’s amassed at least 5x value in each of his past five opportunities to be in the starting five. Jalen Brunson ($3,000) looks equally appealing as a low-cost possible starter; though he’s often suffered the most from playing alongside the ball-dominant Doncic. It might just make more sense to plug in Seth Curry ($4,800) in a similar role, as it’d becoming clear that the veteran is a vital part of Dallas’ rotation. In fact, Curry’s minutes, points per game and usage rate all climbed to season-highs in December.
Taurean Prince ($7,200) finds himself in an intriguing position this evening, especially if Temple’s aforementioned injury creates a few extra minutes for the former Atlanta Hawk. The Mavericks lack much of a defensive presence on the wing and that team-need is apparent when you consider Dallas has conceded the fifth-most DKFP per contest to opposing small forwards. Prince should be one of Brooklyn’s main secondary scoring options on Thursday, which is a great trait to combine with the fact that the 25-year-old has grabbed double-digit rebounds in five of his last 10 games. Joe Harris ($6,600) is another viable option on the wing, one with huge set-in-stone minutes and the second-highest scoring average of any active member of the Nets (14.6).
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