With the NBA trade deadline looming Thursday and big deals with multiple moving pieces already going down, Wednesday should be an interesting fantasy basketball slate with nine matchups on the main slate. The Nuggets visiting the Jazz and the Clippers hosting the Heat are a couple of highlights on the schedule lined up for later in the evening. In the earlier matchups, the Raptors host the Pacers in a matchup of Eastern Conference playoff hopefuls and D’Angelo Russell ($8,400) is back in Brooklyn to face his former team.
With 18 teams in action, multiple key injuries and players unavailable due to being traded, there will definitely be plenty of value options to consider. If you decide to go low at a position or two to allow you the financial flexibility to pay up at other spots, start your bargain bin shopping with these four in play for under $4K.
PG/SF JARRETT CULVER, MIN vs. ATL, $3,900The Timberwolves and Hawks are both involved in the four-team megadeal, according to reports, and both teams could be short-handed as they go head-to-head. Minnesota is sending out Shabazz Napier ($6,300) and Robert Covington ($5,800) and getting Malik Beasley ($3,300), Evan Turner ($3,100), Juancho Hernangómez ($3,100) and Jarred Vanderbilt ($3,000). Even if the deal does get finalized before this game starts, they likely will have to lean heavily on Culver, Josh Okogie ($4,000) and Kelan Martin ($3,300) at least for this matchup.
Culver was the No. 6 overall pick in the past draft and the rookie has shown some nice upside when he has been asked to step into a bigger role. He has started 17 of the past 18 games for the Timberwolves but has played under 30 minutes in each of his past seven. His numbers over those seven games haven’t been great, but in the 11 previous contests, he averaged 15.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.4 steals and 30.0 DKFP. The Timberwolves could still have further deals in play, but one of their priorities appears to be unlocking Culver’s potential and giving him room to grow in the backcourt. He should be very busy in a great matchup against the Hawks, making him a great value option on this slate.
SF/PF GRANT WILLIAMS, BOS vs. ORL, $3,700Boston’s first-round pick is also surging with some extra playing time, as Williams starts to establish himself as more than just a “hustle guy” off the bench. Williams had 13 points, six boards, two blocks, two assists, a steal and 28.5 DKFP in Boston’s win on Monday night, helping to fill in for Kemba Walker ($7,700; knee, questionable), Marcus Smart ($6,300; thigh, questionable) and Daniel Theis ($5,100; ankle, out). Gordon Hayward ($7,600; calf, probable) also emerged with an injury, and Enes Kanter ($4,200; hip, probable) still looked less than 100%.
Williams’ versatility should keep him on the floor to chip in wherever the Celtics need filler against the Magic. He has at least 17 DKFP in three of his past four games and always seems to step up when given the opportunity. Especially with Theis out and Kanter limited, Williams will likely be a part of some small-ball looks for coach Brad Stevens, which should help him be a good option under $4K, even though he doesn’t have the sky-high ceiling that Culver brings.
C KELLY OLYNYK, MIA at LAC, $3,400In all the trade hype and injury news, it would be easy to miss the seemingly insignificant note that Meyers Leonard (ankle) was ruled out for Wednesday and reportedly didn’t even make the trip with the Heat, who open a five-game road trip to the West against the Clippers on Wednesday. It is worth noticing, though, since Leonard has been starting for the Heat and averaging 23.0 minutes per game over his past 20 contests before the game in which he was injured. With that playing time opening up, Olynyk could step back in and be a factor in Miami’s ever-shifting rotation.
Olynyk had fallen out of the rotation entirely but has played over 18 minutes in five of the team’s past seven games including 24 minutes against Philadelphia after Leonard was hurt. He finished that game with seven points, four boards and 13.5 DKFP but had better showings two weeks ago with three games over 20 DKFP before sitting out a pair of games against the Celtics and Magic last week. If he steps into about 20 minutes in Leonard’s absence, he’ll be a good value option with a solid ceiling against the Clippers.
SG/SF TORREY CRAIG, DEN at UTA, $3,300The Nuggets jumped in on the reported four-team deal with Houston, Atlanta and Minnesota and as a result, could be left extremely short-handed against the Jazz. Jerami Grant ($5,500) is unlikely to play after spraining his ankle on Tuesday. If he’s out as expected, he’ll join Paul Millsap (knee) and Mason Plumlee (foot), who have both been out a while. The team reportedly traded depth options Hernangómez and Vanderbilt, and Michael Porter Jr. ($5,400; ankle) wasn’t able to play Tuesday due to his ankle injury. Even if MPJ is available, there should be plenty of minutes available at SF/PF and even as a backup center in small-ball situations, which could be extremely challenging against the Jazz, who have plenty of size.
Craig’s versatility had landed him in the starting lineup for 11 straight games before heading to the bench on Tuesday. He chipped in 15.25 DKFP in 19 minutes with the second unit, producing seven points, five rebounds and a blocked shot. In his 10 previous games, he averaged 8.0 points, 4.8 boards, 1.1 blocks and 19.0 DKFP. He had over 30 DKFP in three of those contests and could be at that level again if he gets big minutes against the Jazz while Denver transitions some pieces on its roster.
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