Not that injury reports aren’t crucial to every NBA slate, but possible absences are definitely magnified on a three-game schedule, like we have on Tuesday night. Of particular interest this evening? The Mavericks. Luka Doncic ($10,900; ankle), Kristaps Porzingis ($7,600; knee) and Tim Hardaway Jr. ($5,500; knee) all have their statuses up in the air, which means we’ll be waiting on Jason Kidd all afternoon to set our lineups.
Until then, let’s go position-by-position and break down what we can.
Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs vs. New York Knicks, $9,500 - We’ve basically reached the point where Murray is a must-play if his price tag dips below $10K. Prior to dishing out 14 assists on Monday night — one short of his career-high — Murray had scored at least 45.0 DKFP in eight of his last nine starts. It’s not hard to figure out where these fantasy points are coming from, either. Not only does Murray lead the Spurs in usage rate (26.5%) and minutes per game (34.8), he also leads the team in potential assists per contest (15.2) and is second on the team is rebounding chances per contest (14.6). He’s a triple-double waiting to happen every night.
Cam Thomas, Brooklyn Nets at Dallas Mavericks, $3,300 - There’s not a ton of obvious value at point guard on Tuesday, and while that might change depending on how the Mavericks’ IR develops, as of now, Thomas is a viable punt play. The rookie has logged in excess of 20 minutes in three of the Nets’ past five games, averaging 20.3 DKFP in those opportunities. Thomas’ ceiling isn’t very high, but he’s shown the ability to carve out 5x or 6x performances.
Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers, $6,000 - Smart would be a slightly more enticing asset if Jaylen Brown ($8,500; hamstring) were to miss his third straight contest on Tuesday. Still, even if Brown is back in the mix, Smart is viable with how he’s been playing the past few weeks. Across his past nine games, the former lottery pick is producing a respectable 0.98 DKFP per minute to go along with a 58.7% true shooting rate. Smart’s also an above-average contributor in assists and steals, giving him numerous paths to hitting value.
Evan Fournier, New York Knicks at San Antonio Spurs, $4,700 - We’re only dealing with a two-game sample, but it seems like Fournier might be slowly earning back the role he was playing in October for the Knicks. The veteran averaged just 26.4 minutes per contest in November, yet that figure has risen to 34.1 minutes so far in December. This recent bump in playing time has also coincided with Kemba Walker ($4,500) being removed from the team’s rotation, opening up more opportunity in the backcourt. I’ll side with the recent trends at a price tag below $5K.
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Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets at Dallas Mavericks, $10,800 - If you’re only spending up on one asset for Tuesday’s slate, I think it has to be Durant. Not only has the multiple-time All-Star been hyper-efficient so far in 2021-22 — Durant’s producing a robust 1.35 DKFP per minute — but the forward has also been logging some really heavy workloads. Obviously the season-long absence of Kyrie Irving (personal) has changed some plans in Brooklyn, but over the past six games, Durant leads the Eastern Conference in minutes per contest (39.6). I wasn’t expecting that sort of volume from the 33-year-old in early December. Was anyone?
Doug McDermott, San Antonio Spurs vs. New York Knicks, $4,000 - This is a low-risk, high-floor type of value play. McDermott’s been able to exceed 20.0 DKFP in each of the Spurs’ past three games. The common denominator in those contests? Devin Vassell ($4,200; thigh) was injured. If Vassell is once again sidelined on Tuesday, McDermott should be a lock to play 25-30 minutes. It isn’t all that sexy, but it’s enough.
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers, $9,400 - There’s really not a lot to decipher here. Among qualified players, no one is averaging more points per game across their past 10 contests than Tatum (27.5), who is also grabbing 9.1 rebound a night within that same span. Tatum’s usage rate is well over 30% with or without Brown in the lineup, so there’s no real need to sweat Boston’s injury report, either. The best part? This is the cheapest Tatum’s been on a classic slate since all the way back in Oct. 27.
Grant Williams, Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers, $3,700 - Honestly, we’re just playing the waiting game in this spot. Williams has logged huge minutes for the Celtics with Brown out of the lineup the past two games, and he would be viable if the All-Star is missing once again. Meanwhile, the outlook for both Maxi Kleber ($4,400) and Dorian Finney-Smith ($4,300) is hinging on who ends up active for Dallas. You’ll have to react to the breaking news when looking to save some salary at power forward.
Julius Randle, New York Knicks at San Antonio Spurs, $9,100 - Much like the aforementioned Tatum, the most-enticing thing about Randle on Tuesday is his price. Despite the fact that Randle’s exceeded 45.0 DKFP in five of his last seven starts, the All-Star is the cheapest he’s been on a slate since late October. Randle’s recent results have been very encouraging, as the big man is averaging 26.0 points, 9.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists over the Knicks’ past three contests. Randle’s also shot 55.7% from the field within this span with a 31.6% usage rate.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Brooklyn Nets at Dallas Mavericks, $5,700 - Since Nov. 17, Aldridge is third on the Nets in usage rate (21.8%) and he’s averaging nearly 1.00 DKFP per minute played (0.96). His price tag has slowly risen across this three-week stretch, but I think the veteran is still viable in a fantastic matchup against the Mavericks. Dallas has surrendered the third-most DKFP per game to opposing centers in 2021-22, with an inability to control the glass a huge reason why. In fact, Dallas is conceding 47.6 opponent rebound per 100 possessions — the second-worst mark in the NBA.
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