Do you like MVP caliber basketball players? Well, I guess tonight’s six-game NBA slate isn’t for you. That’s not to take a shot at all the great players around the league who happen to be healthy, but it is staggering to see so many big names coming into Tuesday’s action on the IR. LeBron James (ankle), Joel Embiid (knee), Kyrie Irving (personal), Stephen Curry (tailbone), Kevin Durant (hamstring) and Anthony Davis (calf) have all already been ruled out; while James Harden ($11,000; neck) is questionable to suit up against Portland.
Still, at least there’s going to be a lot of value available this evening on DraftKings. Where can you find it? Let’s break that down position-by-position.
Russell Westbrook, Washington Wizards at New York Knicks, $10,800 - Generally speaking, the Knicks are the type of opponent you want to be picking in on DFS, as they own the fourth-best defensive rating in the NBA (108.3) and they pair it with the league’s slowest pace (96.5). Still, with all the aforementioned injuries, the top of the point guard position is pretty barren. Also, Westbrook has been on absolute fire as of late. The former All-Star comes into Tuesday with four triple-doubles in his past five starts, a span that’s seen Westbrook average 38.8 minutes per game and an eye-popping 71.0 DKFP. I think I’ll make an exception.
Tyler Johnson, Brooklyn Nets at Portland Trail Blazers, $3,100 - Johnson’s role with the Nets this season has been inconsistent, yet he seems to have recently settled in Steve Nash’s rotation. To wit, Johnson’s appeared in each of Brooklyn’s past eight games, logging in excess of 16 minutes on seven of those occasions. Tonight, with Irving and Landry Shamet (ankle) out, I’d expect Johnson’s opportunities to grow — not to mention the possibility of even drawing a start if Harden’s also eventually ruled inactive.
Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors vs. Philadelphia 76ers, $6,600 - Trusting Wiggins in any capacity tends to lead to heartbreak, yet his price tag still hasn’t adjusted enough for the absence of Curry. In the two games that the former MVP has missed due to a tailbone injury, Wiggins has registered 1.49 DKFP per minute with a massive 31.6% usage rate. Again, it’s difficult to trust the forward will continue playing at that particular level; however, that’s essentially the profile of a $9K asset. You can’t ignore the Canadian on tonight’s slate.
Bruce Brown, Brooklyn Nets at Portland Trail Blazers, $4,200 - Add Brown to the list of Brooklyn players who will have to take on extra responsibilities this evening if Harden is ruled out. Brown isn’t going to blow anyone away with his modest usage rate, however he has found success with volume in the recent past. In fact, the last six times that Brown’s been forced to log over 25 minutes, the veteran has averaged 33.1 DKFP. Portland’s awful defensive rating doesn’t hurt, either.
Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic vs. Denver Nuggets, $6,900 - You’d be forgiven for overlooking Gordon on tonight’s slate — especially with a “stars and scrubs” build so obviously in play — yet the former lottery pick appears to back at full-health for the Magic. Gordon’s logged at least 30 minutes in each of his past three games, a stretch where the 25-year-old is back to playing point-forward. In fact, Gordon’s averaged 7.7 potential assists and 38.3 DKFP per contest. Again, he isn’t necessarily a must-play, but I do think he’s undervalued.
Talen Horton-Tucker, Los Angeles Lakers at New Orleans Pelicans, $5,500 - The sophomore has seen a massive jump in price since the Lakers last played on Sunday, but the stats paint a pretty clear picture as to why that happened. With James unavailable, Horton-Tucker logged 28.4 minutes, finishing the loss to Phoenix with team-highs in field goal attempts (16) and usage rate (33.7%). It’ll be interesting to see if Horton-Tucker can surpass 30 minutes going forward, as he’ll need a little more volume to reach his absolute ceiling, but that’s not yet an issue with his salary remaining below $6K.
Julius Randle, New York Knicks vs. Washington Wizards, $9,900 - When I say Randle has been doing everything for the Knicks across their past five games, I mean everything. In that span of time, the forward is playing an NBA-high 41.3 minutes per contest, which has led to Randle averaging 24.0 points, 11.2 rebounds, 9.2 assists and 58.1 DKFP. Maybe the All-Star won’t be racking up 15.8 potential assists per game with Immanuel Quickely ($5,800; ankle) and Elfrid Payton ($5,200; hamstring) likely back in the mix, but he’ll still be a usage monster in a fantastic matchup.
Jeff Green, Brooklyn Nets at Portland Trail Blazers, $4,300 - Let’s round out our trio of Nets bargain assets with Green, who might end up as Brooklyn’s no. 2 scoring option behind Joe Harris ($5,400) if Harden is forced to sit this evening. Green logged at least 30 minutes in six of his last nine contests, and while Blake Griffin’s ($4,900) presence could eventually limit the veteran’s role, it’s clear in the immediate future that the former Piston is going to need some time to get into game shape. If Green can muster anything close to 1.00 DKFP per minute on Tuesday, we could be looking at 6x or 7x value.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets at Orlando Magic, $10,700 - Why not? I guess there could be some worry that this contest gets too lopsided for Jokic to see his full allotment of minutes — it happened last week against the Hornets — but barring that, there isn’t a single reason to not play Jokic this evening. You’ll likely have the salary available, as there’s value almost everywhere you look on this slate, and the big man is averaging 1.61 DKFP per minute for the season as a whole. Heck, he’s probably now the MVP front-runner with the recent injuries to Embiid and James. Not too shabby at all.
Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns at Miami Heat, $5,900 - I honestly did a double-take when scrolling through the pricing list at center. Ayton for less than $6K?! It’s the first time all season that the big man has fallen below this threshold, the result of inconsistent minutes and production from the former first-overall pick. Still, even with that said, Ayton’s exceeded 30.0 DKFP in 10 of his last 15 starts, and you’d expect his size will be needed against Bam Adebayo ($8,100) in tonight’s matchup with the Heat. He is averaging 1.07 DKFP per minute in 2020-21. It’s not like he’s been awful.
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