Well, tonight promises to be another interesting collection of basketball in the world of COVID-19, as what once was a seven-game featured slate on DraftKings is now down to six games. However, one cancellation isn’t the biggest news for this evening’s contests, it’s instead the team’s that being forced to actually play on: The Heat.
With Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic all out on Tuesday due to health and safety protocols, who will emerge as the slate-breaking value on Miami’s roster? Will there even be such an asset? Let’s go position-by-position and answer some of these questions.
Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana Pacers at Golden State Warriors, $8,600 - Nate Bjorkgren is the first NBA addition to the “Nick Nurse Coaching Tree” and if there’s a specific place where that tutelage is showing in 2020-21, it’s in Bjorkgren’s minutes distribution. Take Brogdon for example. After averaging 30.9 minutes per game last season, the guard currently sits third in the league in MPG at 37.5 — with one of the two players in front of him being his Pacers teammate Domantas Sabonis ($9,300). That type of volume matters in a contest that carries the second-highest implied total on the slate. Golden State sporting the ninth-worst defensive rating (111.2) doesn’t hurt, either.
Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat, $5,500 - Yes, Maxey’s salary continues to rise, yet he remains viable with the likes of Tobias Harris, Seth Curry and Shake Milton all expected to be out for the next few days due to health and safety protocols. The rookie has started the past two contests for the 76ers and has averaged 27.0 points in 37.3 minutes, all while maintaining an eye-popping 28.1% usage rate. His role will shrink a little with the anticipated return of Ben Simmons ($8,900; knee); however, his DFS ceiling is still much higher than a $5.5K price tag would suggest.
Tyler Herro, Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers, $6,700 - Herro is about to be chalkier than a pre-2014 LeBron James player introduction, but that doesn’t really matter if he delivers. Miami’s roster situation is dire, with Dragic, Butler and Adebayo — the top three qualified players by usage rate on the team — all out due to COVID tracing protocols. That will likely leave Herro as the Heat’s first and second option on offense, something the sophomore should enjoy with his always quick trigger. Herro’s also due for some positive regression, as he’s shooting just 28.6% from three-point range through eight games.
Max Strus, Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers, $3,000 - Depending on how injuries shake out, Miami will have only eight or nine active players for tonight’s matchup. While I’m sure that some of that roster crunch will be addressed by leaning heavily on the Herro’s of the world, don’t be shocked if that means someone like Strus gets some serious run, especially if things get out of hand in the second-half. The Heat’s player development program is second to none and they liked Strus enough in December to sign him to a two-way deal. The DePaul product averaged 18.2 points per game in the G League last season, so he can get his shot off.
Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets vs. Denver Nuggets, $7,600 - With so much other value on the board, don’t forget about everyone’s favorite Kyrie Irving (personal) replacement. LeVert saw an understandable dip in production with the return of Kevin Durant ($9,400) on Sunday, yet the guard still took 17 shots in his 35.5 minutes of work, finishing up the loss with 35.0 DKFP and a 24.4% usage rate. Honestly, that sort of feels like LeVert’s floor and I’d expect a better performance in tonight’s matchup with a Denver squad that owns the NBA’s sixth-worst defensive rating (112.2).
Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder, $5.400 - While LaMarcus Aldridge ($6,300) saw his expected volume bump with DeMar DeRozan (personal) out of the lineup on Sunday, Walker was also a beneficiary, scoring 25 points and 39.25 DKFP on 9-of-19 shooting. The third-year wing is already managing the largest role of his NBA career — he’s started all 10 of the Spurs’ games this season — but his production is undoubtedly higher with DeRozan off the court. To wit, Walker is averaging 0.65 DKFP per minute played with the former All-Star in 2020-21 and 1.17 DKFP in the 57 minutes he’s logged without him.
Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers at Golden State Warriors, $9,300 - As mentioned above, Sabonis is currently second in the NBA in minutes per game (37.8) and it’s leading to some ridiculous production for the 24-year-old. Not only is Sabonis putting up 22.2 points, 12.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists per contest, but he’s also ranked first in the league in touches per game (105.0). Very few big men are as involved in their offensive system as Sabonis and he should be able to dominate the paint and the glass against a Warriors team that sits dead-last in total rebounding rate (47.4%).
LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder, $6,300 - I’ve been somewhat weary to use Aldridge this season, as it’s clear we’ve reached a point where he’s well past his prime; yet the veteran being able to log 37 minutes on the second-half of a back-to-back is encouraging. Aldridge also has a 30.6% usage rate when playing without DeRozan so far this season, which should prove useful in tonight’s matchup with the Thunder. In fact, Oklahoma City is allowing 20.7 made opponent field goals per game in the restricted area — the most of any team in the NBA. Don’t overthink this one.
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat, $9,700 - While Nikola Jokic ($11,000) is always a viable play, using Embiid to bring back a Heat stack makes a lot of sense, as a competitive script would lift all ceilings. Honestly, Embiid might not even have to play the fourth quarter to bring back value, as he’s been able to average a whopping 1.55 DKFP per minute played so far this season. With no Adebayo, the Heat will be attempting to defend the All-Star center with the undersized tandem of Kelly Olynyk ($5,300) and Precious Achiuwa ($3,100). I doubt they have much success in that endeavor.
Precious Achiuwa, Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers, $3,100 - Another obvious value play from the Heat, but it’s not like I’d recommend fading the rookie big man. Olynyk (groin) will probably prove to be the asset with a larger role and higher upside if he’s able to play through his probable designation, but don’t let that sour you on Achiuwa, who is averaging 17.3 points and 10.4 rebounds per 36 minutes through eight games. The 21-year-old has a notable 21.7% usage rate in 2020-21, so it’s not like he’s been afraid to look for his own shot in his brief NBA career.
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