It has been a week of larger than average NBA slates, and that trend continues on Wednesday night. We’ve got six games and a whole lot of injury concerns, with the statuses of LeBron James ($11,000; knee), Dejounte Murray ($10,300; wrist), Trae Young ($9,900; shoulder), Jimmy Butler ($9,400; toe) and Cade Cunningham ($7,600; hip) all currently up in the air.
Sounds like fun, right? Let’s dive in and go position-by-position.
Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors vs. Chicago Bulls, $8,800 - When in doubt, just go with VanVleet. With so much uncertainly on this slate, the veteran is a welcomed stabilizing force. VanVleet’s exceeded 40.0 DKFP in each of his past six starts — a span of time where the diminutive guard leads the league in minutes per contest (42.2) and ranks third in touches (100.3) per contest. That’s an insane amount of implied volume in a matchup with a Bulls team that’s struggled to defend in recent games. To wit, Chicago’s allowing 117.5 points per 100 possessions over their past five.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, Atlanta Hawks vs. Phoenix Suns, $4,900 - We’re waiting on several dominoes to fall on this slate and the aforementioned Young is among the most important. However, if the All-Star is unable to play through his questionable tag, that would open the door for Bogdanovic to run the show. The guard didn’t start Monday’s loss to Toronto, yet he did finish as one of three Atlanta players with over 30.0 minutes of action. His 24.1% usage rate was second on the team, while his 16 field goal attempts ranked first. That’s quite the workload for an asset priced below $5K.
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns at Atlanta Hawks, $9,300 - While Bogdanovic’s viability hinges on Young being inactive, I would suggest that Booker’s fate is the opposite. Not only is Booker’s ceiling the highest in a competitive script — which one would assume requires the Hawks to have their All-Star — but Young drives the pace for Atlanta and is a horrible defender. Still, let’s not overlook that Booker’s incredible in a vacuum. The Kentucky product is averaging 37.1 minutes and 32.0 points across his past 10 games. Needless to say, he’s on fire.
Frank Jackson, Detroit Pistons vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, $3,800 - I’m intrigued by Jackson’s role since the guard returned from an extended injury absence in late January. In the four games he’s played, Jackson’s mustered a notable 25.4% usage rate. This includes a team-high 32.6% usage rate in Detroit’s loss to New Orleans on Tuesday. Cunningham left that contest with a hip issue and was only able to log 21.0 minutes. If the rookie is unavailable on Thursday, Jackson has to be strongly considered at his modest price.
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Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves at Detroit Pistons, $8,000 - Has Edwards had back-to-back underwhelming performances? Undoubtedly. Yet, at the same time, he’s still managed to exceed 60.0 DKFP twice in his last five starts. The sophomore has huge upside playing in an uptempo system, as the Timberwolves lead the NBA in pace across their past 10 games (101.9). Combine that with an awful Pistons defense and it’s not hard to see why Minnesota owns the second-highest implied team total on the slate.
Javonte Green, Chicago Bulls at Toronto Raptors, $3,700 - While Green won’t even be a high-usage asset playing alongside DeMar DeRozan ($9,200), Nikola Vucevic ($9,100) and Zach LaVine ($8,900), the fact of the matter is Chicago still doesn’t really have a bench. Injuries forced Green into the Bulls’ starting five, and with Derrick Jones Jr. (finger) sidelined, there’s not much depth in the frontcourt. That pretty much guarantees Green 25-30 minutes per game, which is why he’s managed 25-plus DKFP in each of his last two contests. This is a floor play.
Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors vs. Chicago Bulls, $9,000 - There’s no mid-tier at power forward on this slate. Seriously. Up top, you’re either paying $9K or $6K. There’s no in between. That creates a dynamic where I will again lean towards the volume and elevated floor of a Raptors’ asset. Siakam is averaging 48.6 DKFP over his last six starts. In January, while logging more than 40 minutes per game, Siakam produced 22.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 6.4 assists across 16 starts. With Chicago lacking a rim protector, I think Siakam keeps the good times going on Thursday.
Jerami Grant, Detroit Pistons vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, $6,500 - I don’t want to say that Grant didn’t have any restrictions in his return from injury on Tuesday — he only logged 28.6 minutes — but he looked solid, racking up 17 points and shooting 50.0% from three-point range. I’d expect slightly more volume from the forward on Thursday, especially if Cunningham isn’t able to suit up. That plus an uptempo matchup makes Grant viable, though I’d rather pay all the way up at this particular position.
Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs, $8,400 - There’s a lot to unpack in this game. First and foremost, the Heat have huge rotational question marks, with Butler, Kyle Lowry ($7,300; personal), P.J. Tucker ($4,100; knee) and Caleb Martin ($3,400; Achilles) all questionable. But Bam’s playing and Bam’s coming off a huge performance, with a double-double and a season-high 32 points in Tuesday’s loss to Toronto. Also working in Adebayo’s favor? The Spurs are fresh out of centers, as both Jakob Poeltl and Jock Landale are in the concussion protocol. With little resistance available, look for Adebayo to dominate.
Drew Eubanks, San Antonio Spurs vs. Miami Heat, $3,300 - Eubanks is basically the last man left. I guess there’s a chance the Spurs break out the seldom used Thaddeus Young ($3,000) for some minutes at the five, but Eubanks should start and get the first crack. The only thing to maybe keep an eye on is the status of Zach Collins ($3,000). The former lottery pick has been playing significant minutes in the G League, so he should be able to have an impact if he’s activated for this contest.
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