Expectations are a tricky thing to quantify, but as we sit two days away from the NBA All-Star break, I think we can safely say that both the Golden State Warriors and the Portland Trail Blazers have had successful first halves of the season. Despite injury woes on both rosters, each team sits inside the top-eight seeds of the Western Conference entering play this evening and each squad has 19 victories.
Who will come out victorious on Wednesday with No. 20? Let’s break it all down from a Showdown perspective.
Editor’s note: Warriors SG/SF Kelly Oubre Jr. (wrist) has been ruled out Wednesday vs. the Trail Blazers.
Damian Lillard ($18,300 CP) - Obviously Lillard carries a massive price tag as a Captain’s pick, yet it’s difficult to argue with his viability. Not only did the guard sport an eye-popping 35.3% usage rate throughout the month of February, but Lillard’s also been averaging 9.1 assists and 16.9 potential assists per game across Portland’s last 15 contests — the latter good for the second-best mark in the Western Conference. It’s not like this is an entirely new feature for Lillard, who posted a then career-high 34.4% assist rate in 2019-20, however, his ceiling is simply at a different level with C.J. McCollum (foot) sidelined. To wit, Lillard managed two double-doubles in his first 24 starts of the season. He’s finished with six double-doubles in his past eight matchups, entering play on Wednesday.
Stephen Curry ($17,400 CP) - Curry is undoubted viable on this evening’s slate against a Blazers’ defense that surrenders the most DKFP per game to opposing point guards. Like, we don’t even really have to spend too much time talking about it. Going back to the beginning of February — even with Draymond Green ($8,800) shouldering a heavy portion of the “play-making” duties — Curry is averaging a whopping 1.53 DKFP per minute. It’s not like the former MVP isn’t dishing out his own dimes, either. Though Green does lead the Warriors in assists per game across their past six outings (9.3), Curry is right behind his teammate at 8.2 per contest. Also, in an effort not to bury the lede, there’s the matter of Curry dropping a career-high 62 points with 75.75 DKFP the last time he saw this Portland defense. I’d say that matters at least slightly.
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Value UTIL Plays
James Wiseman ($4,600) - As famed Greek philosopher Socrates once spouted, “I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.” That’s a pretty self-deprecating quote from a man who we’re still discussing today, but in Socrates’ defense, he didn’t live in a time with Enes Kanter ($9,000), because if there’s one thing that I know, it’s that anyone can score on the Blazers’ big man. Even with Sunday’s disappointing showing against the Lakers, Wiseman is averaging 0.96 DKFP per minute since returning from injury, all while rocking a .622 true shooting rate. If the rookie can log at least 20 minutes of action in this cupcake matchup, he’ll definitely play a factor on tonight’s slate.
Nassir Little ($1,600) - With so many big-name assets deserving of recognition on this slate, someone like Little might go overlooked. That’s somewhat ironic given that the forward fills the exact archetype of “cheap role player with upside” that you’ll need to fit the likes of Lillard and Curry into your build. While Little’s role can fluctuate from night-to-night it seems like he’s recently found a spot in Terry Stotts’ rotation, with the 21-year-old having logged at least 11 minutes of action in Portland’s past four games. Where’s the upside you ask? Well, the last four times Little’s played in excess of even 15 minutes, he’s averaging 28.0 DKFP. Still, no need to be greedy. I’d gladly take 8x or 9x value from the UNC product this evening.
Andrew Wiggins ($7,600) - After a rocky start to the 2020-21 campaign, as many anticipated,
Kelly Oubre ($8,400) has clearly supplanted Wiggins as the third-most important DFS asset on the Warriors. While that switch in stature has mostly been about Oubre’s improvements, let’s not be too hasty in forgetting about Wiggins’ struggles. In 15 games in February, the former first-overall pick shot just 27.3% from three-point range and an even more puzzling 64.8% from the free throw line. Simply put, Wiggins is in a huge rut at the moment and it’s a challenge to get excited about using him, especially considering his ceiling isn’t all that high to begin with. Wiggins has exceeded 40.0 DKFP only three times this season and has failed to reach that threshold in each of his past 18 starts. For the sake of comparison, Oubre has registered 40.0 DKFP four times in his last seven contests.
As mentioned above, these two teams have been eerily similar so far this season. Golden State is 8-3 ATS in its past 11 games as a favorite. Portland is 8-3 ATS in its past 11 games overall. Heck, both the Warriors and the Blazers are 6-4 SU over their past 10 contests. However, the difference lies in defense. While Portland’s allowed 118.1 opponent points per 100 possessions within that span, Golden State has the NBA’s best defensive rating (107.1). I’ll lean on Warriors’ stout identity this evening.
Final Score: Golden State 121, Portland 111
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