For the better part of two decades, we’ve heard the common refrain that the Western Conference is far superior to the Eastern Conference in the NBA. As a well-known East Coast elitist, I’d rather not discuss whether or not this is true, but it’s undeniable it’s been a theme surrounding the league for some time. Well, at least for one night, it’s something none of us will have to worry about. In an odd scheduling quirk, all eight teams taking part in tonight’s four-game featured slate on DraftKings reside in the West.
So, brew that second pot of coffee. It’s going to be a long night. Let’s break it all down.
StudJa Morant, MEM vs. GS, $6,700 – The minutes are still too inconsistent to consider Morant a cash-game option, but the rookie point guard easily falls into the tournament bucket on this evening’s slate. Just look at his utilization statistics when he actually is on the court. Morant owns an eye-popping 32.7% usage rate in eight contests in November, and the 6.2 minutes of possession the 20-year-old averages per night is almost double his closest teammate. Essentially, the ball always is in his hands, and it’s why Morant’s been able to exceed 40.0 DKFP in two of his past three starts. With Memphis ranking sixth in the NBA in pace and Golden State posting basketball’s worst defensive rating (115.6), Morant has an ideal setting to hit his ceiling Tuesday.
ValueNickeil Alexander-Walker, NO vs. POR, $4,900 – As their games usually do, tonight’s Pelicans contest has the slate’s highest implied total by a wide margin. Part of that is the pace at which New Orleans plays; however, a larger aspect of the equation this evening is the fact both the Pelicans and the Trail Blazers rank inside the bottom 10 of defensive rating. So, from an opponent standpoint, Alexander-Walker has a nice opportunity to build upon his past two performances — games where the rookie played 30-plus minutes and took a combined 22 3-point attempts. Still, Alexander-Walker’s value hinges on New Orleans’ overall health. We’ll have to wait and see who of Brandon Ingram (knee), Lonzo Ball (hip) and Frank Jackson (neck) actually ends up playing. If two or more of that group are inactive once again, feel free to go back to the well with the 21-year-old.
Other Option: Ky Bowman ($4,700)
StudJrue Holiday, NO vs. POR, $8,800 – While Holiday is in a similar boat when it comes to waiting on an official injury report to determine viability, his floor is the highest of any Pelicans player. Still, you obviously would prefer his presence in your lineups if the aforementioned Ingram and Ball were sitting on the sideline. Holiday’s starting to resemble the do-it-all point guard from last season that emerged in the absence of Anthony Davis and made himself a borderline first-round pick in redraft formats this fall. In New Orleans’ past four games, the veteran is operating at a massive 31.5% usage rate and is one of only two players in the league averaging 100-plus touches within that same span. It’s not empty volume, either. Holiday’s producing 1.24 DKFP per minute in this recent run and has eclipsed 45.0 DKFP three times. Other Option: Devin Booker ($8,400)
ValueJevon Carter, PHO at SAC, $3,000 – Carter’s usefulness on this slate is entirely tied to Ricky Rubio’s ($6,900) health. Phoenix’s starting point guard was removed from the starting lineup with back spasms Monday night, and Carter was the name called to replace him. It was a pretty underwhelming performance from the West Virginia product — he scored just three points in more than 24 minutes — however, Carter almost hit 5x value despite some pretty dire circumstances. The 24-year-old’s usage rate was a microscopic 5.5%, he only attempted two field goals and the Suns scored a season-low 85 points. If given another opportunity in the starting five this evening, I think Carter does far better against Sacramento.
Other Option: JJ Redick ($5,100)
StudBogdan Bogdanovic, SAC vs. PHO, $7,100 – This is by far the highest we’ve seen Bogdanovic’s price point in 2019-20, but, as the Kings’ faux point guard with De’Aaron Fox injured, I still think he’s worth the ballooned investment. In Sacramento’s first three games without Fox, Bogdanovic has possessed a 25.0% usage rate and a well above-average 40.3% assist rate. In fact, Bogdanovic is putting up an incredible 12.7 potential assists per contest within this recent run. His volume also is locked in, as the Serbian wing has logged at least 30 minutes of action in every one of those three matchups. When Bogdanovic sees 30-plus minutes this season, he’s produced 39.6 DKFP. That would be more than enough to hit value tonight. Other Option: LeBron James ($11,100)
ValueNassir Little, POR at NO, $3,500 – It’s difficult to say if Little will be a popular play this evening. On the one hand, he easily has hit 5x value in all three of his starts for Portland this season. On the other, Carmelo Anthony ($3,900) is expected to make his Blazers debut tonight, and ownership might either slide its way to the future Hall of Fame forward or we could see his presence scare people off of Little, as they play the same position. I’m not overly concerned. The rookie’s been productive since joining the starting five and is likely still the best interior defender on Portland’s roster. Frankly, I’d be much more worried about Mario Hezonja’s ($3,400) minutes than Little’s. With Little averaging 19.2 DKFP his past three games, don’t hesitate to use him again.
Other Option: Eric Paschall ($5,900)
StudAnthony Davis, LAL vs. OKC, $9,800 – Davis’ shoulder issues and recent underwhelming production take him off the table in terms of 50/50 viability, yet, as always, he’s a perfect GPP option. The ceiling he brings each night is just so, so high. There’s also the matter of the Thunder’s suspect rebounding ability. Coming into Tuesday, Oklahoma City actually possesses the West’s lowest total rebounding rate at a paltry 47.8%. Davis’ best performances generally have aligned with the evenings he’s produced double-digit boards and, if recent history is any indication, he should own the glass against the Thunder. You probably don’t want 100% exposure, but I also couldn’t imagine myself without any pieces of the All-Star.
ValueCameron Johnson, PHO at SAC, $3,700 – Johnson’s rookie campaign started slowly due to injury, yet he’s been a vital piece of the Suns’ rotation each of the team’s past four games. Within that span, Johnson’s averaged well over 20 minutes per contest, while also putting up 12.3 points and 4.8 rebounds. The raw numbers won’t exactly blow you away, but it’s rare to see a first-year player establish such a sturdy floor 10 games into their career. Considering his workload appears safe and he’s producing 1.10 DKFP per minute going back to Nov. 10, I’m just not sure how Johnson doesn’t hit 5x value tonight.
Other Option: Kyle Kuzma ($5,300)
StudJonas Valanciunas, MEM vs. GS, $6,800 – You have to play someone at center, right? This isn’t so much a knock on Valanciunas, who has seen his per 36 numbers hover around their impressive career averages so far this season, but a commentary on the lack of a standout big man on this evening’s slate. Like, Valanciunas is a fair price and he’s produced double-doubles in three of his past four starts; however he’s yet to score 20 points in 2019-20 and he’s exceeded 40.0 DKFP only once. Quite simply, he’s a cash-game play against a Warriors squad that allows the fourth-highest opponent field goal rate in the restricted area (65.6%). In tournaments, I’d just rather pay down if you’re not using Davis at the five.
ValueJaxson Hayes, NO vs. POR, $4,900 – Of all the possible Pelicans value plays, Hayes feels like the one you have to sweat the least. The rookie produced a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double in his first career start against Golden State on Sunday and added three blocks to the mix just for good measure. He’s explosive and showing why he was considered a lottery pick just months ago. Also, center seems to be the most concrete section of New Orleans’ almost infinite injury report. Derrick Favors (back) already has been ruled out and Jahlil Okafor (ankle) is listed as doubtful to suit up. The runway is clear for Hayes.
Other Option: Dwight Howard ($4,700)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.