Remember when your grandparents used to sit down at the dining room table every Saturday morning and clip coupons out of the newspaper? Well, that’s sort of what this article is, but with less old people and scissors. We’re here to find the best value plays on tonight’s massive 11-game slate. It’s pretty simple stuff.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
SG/SF Lamar Stevens, Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Dallas Mavericks, $3,700
Though it wouldn’t seem like Stevens would be directly impacted by the absence of Evan Mobley (ankle), the Cavaliers are just running out of warm bodies. Jarrett Allen (finger) remains sidelined, Dean Wade (knee) is out for the rest of the season and Cedi Osman ($3,500) was a DNP-CD in Monday’s win over the Magic. J.B. Bickerstaff is simply running out of options.
In fact, due to injuries, there’s a very good chance that Kevin Love ($6,900) will have to make just his fifth start of 2021-22 this evening, which would basically leave Stevens as the team’s No. 1 scorer off the bench in a tough matchup against the Mavericks. It’s a role that no one would have envisioned for Stevens back in October, yet it’s one he’s certainly grown into the past couple of weeks. The wing is averaging 26.9 minutes across his past four games, while he’s also managed to exceed 20.0 DKFP in four of his last five appearances. It’s a stretch where Stevens has maintained an impressive .660 true shooting rate to go along with a 21.0% usage rate, proving he’s got what it takes to be an NBA rotation piece.
SF/PF Taurean Prince, Minnesota Timberwolves at Toronto Raptors, $3,700
Picking which of the Timberwolves cavalcade of bench options is going to go off on a given slate has been a difficult proposition all season long, as few teams utilize their reserves more than Chris Finch’s squad. Still, things got a lot easier when Jaden McDaniels (ankle) sustained an injury a couple weeks back, and Malik Beasley (ankle) suffering a similar ailment last Friday against the Mavericks streamlined the team’s rotation even more.
It’s all left Prince as Minnesota’s de facto sixth man, and he’s stepped into the role nicely. The veteran has registered double-digit points in eight straight games entering play on Wednesday, a span of time where Prince possesses a .623 true shooting rate and has posted a more than respectable 1.04 DKFP per minute logged. Jaylen Nowell ($3,500) is another name in an expanded role to keep an eye on going forward, but it’s Prince who has my attention in what should be yet another uptempo script for the league leaders in pace.
SG/SF Josh Christopher, Houston Rockets vs. Sacramento Kings, $3,900
Houston is among a small group of teams that I think would benefit from just forfeiting the final couple of weeks of the regular season. Though, I will admit, the Rockets’ tanking efforts have been far less embarrassing than the likes of the Thunder, the Blazers and the Pacers, so at least they have that going for them. Anyway, heading into tonight’s tilt with Sacramento, Houston will be without Christian Wood (hamstring), Dennis Schroder (shoulder) and Eric Gordon (groin) — with Wood and Gordon finding out this morning that they’ve been shut down for the remainder of the year.
That’ll leave a lot of playing time for the kids, particularly the team’s third first-round pick this season: Josh Christopher. The Arizona State product’s minutes have been doled out far more sparingly than the likes of Jalen Green ($6,500) or Alperen Sengun ($6,900), but Christopher has had his moments to shine. In fact, in the team’s most recent contest against the Spurs, the rookie led the Rockets in bench minutes (30.1), using that expanded opportunity to drop 20 points and 42.0 DKFP. His success won’t always be that linear, but it’s hard not to expect good things on Wednesday in this matchup. Houston and Sacramento are both top 10 in pace and rank 29th and 28th, respectively, in defensive rating. This is going to be a track meet.
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