Today’s edition of the game-by-game article will be a bit different. With 11 games on tap and a handful of games I’m not interested in, I am going to be simply providing my top three plays from each team in each contest.
*Updates will be provided periodically throughout the day in the premium Slack channel
Detroit Pistons @ Orlando Magic
At the moment, Detroit is the one team that truly isn’t on my radar tonight. Derrick Rose and Svi Mykhailiuk should be back tonight, which takes away from both Reggie Jackson and Bruce Brown, who have been priced up. Orlando plays at a bottom-three pace and remains an above average defensive team, so the matchup isn’t even that great anyway. And Jackson and Rose have only shared the court together without Andre Drummond for 18 minutes this season, making the sample size very, very difficult to trust.
-Nikola Vucevic is priced right around his ceiling at $9,000 on DraftKings after his near triple-double the other night. I’m not crazy about the price in a game that I am not crazy about but the matchup is solid, as the Pistons are coughing up 1.20 points per possession to the roll man out of the pick and roll this season, the second-most in basketball. They are also surrendering the fourth-most points per game to the play type (8.9), as well as the fourth-highest field goal percentage (56.7%). Vucevic, meanwhile, currently ranks third in the NBA in points per game as the roll man on the year (5.9), while his 5.2 such possessions per game are the second-most in basketball.
– If Aaron Gordon continues to play power forward, he’ll be more interesting for fantasy purposes. Gordon has hauled in at least nine rebounds in four of his last five games, scoring at least 40 fantasy points in three of those outings. He is also priced right around his ceiling tonight, making him a “meh” play at best.
Atlanta Hawks @ Cleveland Cavaliers
Injury report: Kevin Love (Q)
– Trae Young is my top overall play of tonight’s slate. He is expensive but the matchup favors Young in every single way possible. For starters, the Cavaliers are coughing up the third-most points per possession to opposing pick and roll ball-handlers this season (0.94), as well as the second-highest field goal percentage to the play type at 46.3%. Young, meanwhile, is second in the league in points per game as the ball-handler out of the pick-and-roll (15.2), while his 52.5 percent frequency rate off the play type is the third-highest mark in the league. Cleveland has also been an atrocious transition defense this year, surrendering the second-most such points per game this year (22.9), while Young’s 5.5 transition points per contest this season are good for the seventh-most in basketball. These Cleveland guards have no shot at defending Young tonight, who is also second in the league in drives per game this year (20.0), while the Cavs are coughing up a league-leading 54.4 paint points per game.
– If looking for some value tonight, give Dewayne Dedmon a look. In two games since being traded back to Atlanta, Dedmon has logged 33 and 28 minutes, averaging a respectable 12 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game during that stretch. He should play 27 or 28 minutes tonight in a solid matchup, especially with the Cavs having two traditional centers that will be in the game regardless tonight. The Cavs are also allowing a 66 percent field goal percentage at the rim this season.
– Finally, the price has really, really high, and I’d probably only look to him in game stacks. But the potential for John Collins is high tonight, facing a Cavs defense that is coughing up 9.4 points per game to the roll man out of the pick and roll (9.4), as well as a league-worst 1.21 points per possession against the play type. That bodes well for Collins, who is second in basketball in points per game out of the pick and roll (6.4).
– Regardless of who is in or out for the Cavs tonight, I really like Collin Sexton in this spot. The guy is averaging nearly 23 real points per game over the last month of play and is in a great spot. Atlanta is allowing the eighth-highest field goal percentage to the short mid-range (around the free throw line) this season at 41.3 percent, which is where 30 percent of Sexton’s shot attempts are coming from. This is a game where Sexton can get out and run, as the Hawks are also allowing 22.9 transition points per contest, tied with the Cavs for the second-most in the league. Sexton is sporting a usage rate north of 28 percent with Kevin Love off the floor this season, who is questionable to play tonight with an Achilles injury. Young and Sexton are arguably the two worst defensive point guards in basketball so I could see them going at each other a bit here.
– In his first game with the Cavs, Andre Drummond played 29 minutes in an absolute blowout, attempting 17 shots. He did his usual thing, scoring 19 points and adding 14 rebounds, resulting in 48 fantasy points. In a game with a relatively high total and close spread, Drummond should be able to get to 34 minutes or so tonight, especially if Love is sidelined. The matchup is fantastic, as Atlanta is coughing up the second-most paint points per contest this season (53.6), as well as the third-most second chance points per game (14.7). The Hawks are also allowing 7.5 outback points per game, the second-most in the league, while Drummond’s 4.0 putback points per game are the second-most in basketball.
– If Love sits, Larry Nance becomes my third option for Cleveland. His rebounding rate jumps to 29 percent with Love off the floor, while averaging 0.90 fantasy points per minute. However, if Love plays, give me some Kevin Porter Jr. at $4,300. He’s sporting a solid 24 percent usage rate over the last two weeks and his 18.1 percent frequency rate in transition is the second-highest mark on the Cavs, which can be advantageous against an awful fast break defense like the Hawks.
Washington Wizards @ New York Knicks
– Bradley Beal is coming off an underwhelming game on Tuesday night and is now on the second end of a back-to-back. I still like the price at $9,600 on DraftKings, especially with Beal ranking third in the NBA in usage rate over the last 10 games. And during that same span, Beal is averaging a gaudy 24.4 shot attempts per game. I personally would rather go down to a player like Devin Booker at a cheaper price but many might feel that same way, making Beal, who has immense upside, underowned tonight.
– I really like this spot for Davis Bertans tonight. He was very underwhelming last night and only played 24 minutes but on the second end of a back-to-back, it is possible the Wizards limit one of Rui Hachimura or Mo Wagner, who just recently came back from a long absence. The matchup is great for Bertans, as the Knicks are allowing over 36 percent of their points from beyond the arc, one of the highest marks in basketball. They are also surrendering a 37.9 percent field goal rate on non-corner threes, which are triples from above the arc, the highest rate in basketball. That bodes extremely well for Bertans, as 69 percent of his shot attempts this season have come from that part of the floor, the third-highest rate in the league. Bertans is always a preferred play on DraftKings due to his three-point prowess and sneaky shot-blocking ability.
– If you want to save a bit of money, you could look to Hachimura at $5,100, compared to Bertans at $5,800. Hachimura is averaging a solid 15.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 steals per game in the four games since returning from injury, logging 26, 29, 25 and 32 minutes during that span.
– Over the last 10 games, Elfrid Payton is seventh in the NBA in touches per game (93.1) and time of possession per game (7.5 minutes). During that same span, Payton is also third in assist points created per contest (23.8), while leading the league in potential assists per game at 18.7. The floor has been very solid for Payton as of late and although the price is up, I’m still comfortable with him in this spot, facing a Wizards team that already plays incredibly fast and will likely be a bit tired in their second game in as many nights.
– Julius Randle remains expensive but there is still plenty of upside. Washington is a bottom-10 post-up defense on the season, while Randle’s 3.0 post-up points per contest are good for the 12th-most in the league. Randle is averaging 56 fantasy points per game in two meetings with the Wizards this season, making him a very viable GPP play tonight.
– Finally, I don’t hate taking a shot on R.J. Barrett at $4,500. His minutes have been limited since returning from injury but if he can get up to 27-30 minutes tonight, he could be worth the risk, especially in this matchup.
Milwaukee Bucks @ Indiana Pacers
Injury report: Giannis Antetokounmpo (O), George Hill (O)
Just play both Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton on FanDuel. You have to. Their prices did not move since last game and Giannis remains away from the team for the birth of his son. Bledsoe touched the ball 84 times in Milwaukee’s last game, handling the ball for 7.3 total minutes. That is up from his 55.8 touch per game average over the course of the season. Of course, he and Middleton seemingly always go for 45-50 fantasy points when Giannis sits, which was the case last game. With Giannis off the floor this season, their numbers are incredibly similar. Bledsoe is sporting a 32.8 percent usage rate with 1.50 fantasy points per minute, while Middleton is at a 33.3 percent usage rate and 1.48 fantasy points per minute. Meanwhile, Bledsoe is also sporting assist and rebound rates north of 20 percent with Antetokounmpo off the floor. You can argue fading them at their elevated price tags on DraftKings, which is still risky, but it is going to be incredibly difficult getting away from them over on FanDuel. Meanwhile, Ersan Ilyasova is sporting a 32 percent rebounding rate with Giannis off the court this season, as the MVP is sixth in the NBA in rebounding chances per game (20.2).
– I really like this spot in tournaments for a guy like Domantas Sabonis, but the near $10,000 price tag on DraftKings is scary, especially on a slate where there are a ton of strong options in that price range. It should be a pace-up spot for the Pacers, though I’d imagine Milwaukee plays slower without Giannis, who leads the league in transition points per game. The Bucks do allow a league-leading 9.8 points per game to the roll man out of the pick and roll, while Sabonis leads the NBA in such points per game at 6.4. He’s the best in the game at reading where the defender goes after the screen is set and adjusts accordingly. We know he has triple-double potential on most slates so I have some GPP interest tonight.
Other than that, no one else on the Pacers really stands out. Everyone is priced accordingly, while Victor Oladipo can’t buy a bucket right now. He’s still capped at 27 or 28 minutes and with the All-Star break looming, there is zero reason to believe that limit is increased tonight.
Toronto Raptors @ Brooklyn Nets
Injury report: Marc Gasol (O), Serge Ibaka (Q), Kyrie Irving (O)
– We need to know if Serge Ibaka is in or out. He missed Toronto’s last game with an illness and as a result, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson stepped in and smashed, scoring 21 points in 34 minutes, adding six rebounds and three steals. With both Gasol and Ibaka off the floor this season, RHJ is sporting a healthy 25 percent rebounding rate, while averaging right at a fantasy point per minute. And although he only hauled in six boards, Hollis-Jefferson saw 22 rebounding opportunities in that last game, a top-five number in basketball for that evening. Assuming Ibaka sits again, consider RHJ one of the better plays of the entire slate.
– O.G. Anunoby went off for 25 points and 12 rebounds last game. And although the rebounds were a tad fluky, as he only saw 15 rebounding chances and one contested rebound, Anunoby is still sporting a rebounding rate just north of 20 percent with Ibaka and Gasol off the floor this season. He’d still be in play at $5,200 but Hollis-Jefferson would be the better option for me.
– Finally, although he’s expensive, Pascal Siakam would have 60-point upside if Ibaka were ruled out tonight. He is sporting a gaudy 32.5 percent usage rate, 19 percent rebounding rate and nearly 1.40 fantasy points per minute with Gasol and Ibaka off the court this season.
– The matchup isn’t great but Caris LeVert continues to start and play 32 or 33 minutes. And after a poor showing, his price has dipped back below $7,000, which has me intrigued, especially when you consider that he is ninth in the league in usage rate in the four games since he’s entered the starting lineup (31.1%), while also averaging just under 18 shot attempts per game during that span.
– Spencer Dinwiddie has been much better over the last two games, posting identical lines of 21-11-6. He’s still sporting a 32 percent usage rate and 22 percent assist rate with Irving off the floor this season and remains under $8,000 on DraftKings, keeping him in play. He isn’t a core play but a viable secondary option.
– I also don’t hate Taurean Prince here. He’s just $4,800 on DK and is locked into solid minutes right now. Prince remains the only consistent spot-up shooter on this Brooklyn team, which is notable when facing the Raptors, who are allowing more points per game to opposing spot-up shooters than any other team in basketball (32.4), while their 30.5 percent frequency rate off the play type is the highest mark in the league. Prince, meanwhile, is averaging a healthy 5.4 spot-up points per game on the year, the fifth-most in basketball.
Charlotte Hornets @ Minnesota Timberwolves
– Putting any faith in this Charlotte guards terrifies me but the spot is very favorable. Minnesota is coughing up the second-most real points per game to opposing point guards this season (26.1) and their defense has gotten worse since the trade deadline. Devonte’ Graham has been much better over his last three games, recording three consecutive double-digit assist games. This is still a guy playing big minutes and is now fifth in the NBA in touches per game on the season (90.7). At $7,400 on DK, I hate to say it, but I do have interest in Graham tonight. Minnesota is allowing a 36.5 percent field goal percentage non corner threes on the year, the fourth-highest mark in the league, while 55 percent of Graham’s shot attempts are coming from that part of the floor, the 12th-highest rate in basketball.
– Terry Rozier is also extremest viable at $6,100. He gets the same great matchup as Graham but Minnesota is also bottom-five in points per game allowed to opposing two-guards, so no matter where Rozier is playing tonight, the spot will be favorable. Minnesota is also surrendering the most points per game off of screens this season (6.7), as well as the third-highest field goal percentage off the play type (44.1%). Rozier, meanwhile, is 15th in the league in points per game off screens.
– P.J. Washington has occasional rebounding upside and should be locked into big minutes again. He is only $4,400 on DK.
– This is a massive pace-down spot for the Wolves but there is still no one on this Charlotte team that will be able to match Karl Anthony-Towns. Charlotte is bottom-five in rebounding rate this season, while also surrendering the eighth-most points per possession (0.96) to the post on the year, as well as the fourth-highest field goal percentage to the play type (53.4%). Towns, meanwhile, is averaging a healthy 4.5 post-up points per contest this season, good for the sixth-most in the league, while shooting 52 percent out of the post.
–D’Angelo Russell sported a usage rate of around 30 percent in his first game with the Timberwolves, while touching the ball 84 times. He’s a fine play at his current price tag but not a most. Finally, I don’t hate Juancho Hernangomez or James Johnson as value plays tonight.
Portland Trail Blazers @ Memphis Grizzlies
– As scary as it seems, Carmelo Anthony might be my favorite Portland player tonight. He is very affordable at just $5,500 on DK and is locked into big minutes with how depleted Portland’s frontcourt is. Melo is fifth in the NBA in post-up points per game this season (4.7), while ranking fourth in the league in post-up frequency rate at 29.9 percent. The Grizzlies, meanwhile, are allowing the third-most points per possession to the post this season (0.98), as well as the sixth-highest field goal percentage (52.6%).
–Damian Lillard has (predictably) cooled down as of late but is still in a pace-up spot against a bad point guard defense. He isn’t my favorite play in the $10,000 range but he remains someone I want some exposure to most nights, especially in tournaments.
-Finally, give me some Hassan Whiteside tonight. His minutes came down to the 27-minute mark in last game’s blowout but was still smashing. The Grizzlies play at a top-10 pace, which should give Whiteside, who is third in the NBA in rebounding chances per game (23.2), even more opportunity. Memphis is also coughing up 7.2 points per game off cutbacks this season, the third-most in the league, as well as the second-most points per possession off the play type (1.23). Whiteside, meanwhile, paces the league in putback points per contest (4.1).
The Grizzlies are all pretty fairly-priced, making them viable options, though more so in game stacks for me. Ja Morant is coming off his first career triple-double and is now priced right around his ceiling, the same going for Jonas Valanciunas. You know, outside of the triple-double thing. My favorite Memphis option is probably Dillon Brooks, who is the cheapest of the main four options. He is averaging the fourth-most points per game off handoffs this season, while Portland is coughing up the fifth-most handoff points per game this season (6.2), as well as the fourth-highest field goal percentage (44.2%).
Sacramento Kings @ Dallas Mavericks
Injury report: Marvin Bagley (O), Richaun Holmes (O)
I really only have two players on my radar tonight from this game. Luka Doncic will return from his ankle injury and while it is possible he could be limited in his first game back, Doncic is also at a massive discount on both major sites. And with him back in the lineup, I am off the rest of this Dallas team, especially with their prices now up from Luka’s absence.
Meanwhile, De’Aaron Fox is sporting a 32 percent usage rate with both Marvin Bagley and Richaun Holmes off the floor this season, while averaging a solid 1.23 fantasy points per minute. He is still at a very reasonable price tag on DraftKings at $7,700.
Miami Heat @ Utah Jazz
Injury report: Tyler Herro (O), Meyers Leonard (O)
Legitimately, this game is tough for me. Pretty much everyone is priced where they should be, while no one’s matchup really stands out too much. Jimmy Butler being back for Miami takes away from guys like Kendrick Nunn and Goran Dragic, who continue to eat away at each other’s production. Butler is very much in play at $8,000, especially if he runs the pick and roll for Miami, as the Jazz are coughing up the most points per game to the ball-handler out of the pick and roll this season (26.1). Meanwhile, Bam Adebayo should have to play plenty of minutes tonight and is now under $8,000. As for the Jazz, everyone is appropriately priced but in a less-than-stellar matchup, none of them really stand out at the moment.
Golden State Warriors @ Phoenix Suns
Injury report: Deandre Ayton (D), Aron Baynes (O)
I’m not in love with Golden State tonight. Ky Bowman could be an intriguing value plat at $4,000 if the minutes get back up to where they were against the Lakers, though he has started each of the last two games. And despite being the only show in town with the Warriors, Andrew Wiggins’ touches have actually been down, as well as his usage, so forgive me if I’m not jumping at the bit to pay nearly $8,000 for him tonight. Meanwhile, if Draymond Green gets to 32 minutes, he’ll probably give you 40 fantasy points but there is still risk that he only sees 26 or 27.
– Devin Booker is one of my favorite plays of the night. He is too cheap at $8,400 on DraftKings and now should see more usage with Deandre Ayton doubtful. With Ayton and Baynes off the floor this season, Booker is sporting a healthy 29.9 percent usage rate to go along with nearly 1.20 fantasy points per minute. The Warriors are coughing up 7.5 points per game off isolation this season, tied for the fourth-most in basketball, as well as the fourth-most such possessions per game (8.0). Booker, meanwhile, is top-15 in isolation points per contest on the year.
-With Baynes and Ayton out last game, the Suns had no choice but to turn to Cheick Diallo for a whopping 39 minutes. His production was solid but struggled rebounding the basketball against the Lakers frontcourt. He has a 26 percent rebounding rate with both Baynes and Ayton off the floor this season, while averaging a little under a fantasy point per minute. Diallo has been priced up to $5,000 on DK but the Suns still have no one else to play big minutes at center for them tonight, keeping him in play.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Denver Nuggets
Injury report: Will Barton, Michael Porter Jr., Mason Plumlee (O)
Los Angeles is at full strength tonight, which means only LeBron James and Anthony Davis are on my radar tonight. I prefer Davis of the two because he’s cheaper and could take advantage of Denver’s depleted frontcourt. Both are interesting options in that loaded $10,000 range tonight, however.
– Jamal Murray is sporting a near 31 percent usage rate in the four games since returning from his ankle injury and the production has followed, averaging just over 42 fantasy points per game during that stretch. I really like his $7,000 price tag on DK tonight, especially with Murray sporting a 28.8 percent usage rate with Barton, Porter and Plumlee off the floor this season. The Lakers have been a stout defense this season but have been vulnerable to shooters off handoffs, surrendering the seventh-most points per possession off the play type (0.95), as well as the sixth-highest field goal percentage off handoffs (43.9%). The Nuggets run handoffs as much as any team in basketball, while Murray is tied for first in such points per contest (3.0).
-The matchup isn’t great but Nikola Jokic should have to play big minutes to combat Los Angeles’ size, especially with the Nuggets so banged up at power forward and center. He hasn’t been good in this spot so far this season but it is still hard for him to fail when he leads the NBA in touches per game (98.4).
- Trae Young
- Collin Sexton
- Davis Bertans
- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Honorable Mentions (x3):
- Dewayne Dedmon
- Terry Rozier
- Eric Bledsoe