Wednesday’s fantasy basketball slate has 11 NBA games, and the Cavaliers are playing on the second night of a back-to-back. The biggest favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook is Boston, which is a 12-point favorite at home against the Bulls, and the highest point total is in Los Angeles, where the Lakers (-3) and Trail Blazers have an over/under of 227 total points.
Notable players whose statuses will need to be monitored prior to lock include Damian Lillard (knee), Nikola Mirotic (ankle), Andrew Wiggins (knee), Jeff Teague (knee), Jarrett Allen (illness) and Elfrid Payton (ankle).
Russell Westbrook (ankle), Rudy Gay (rest) and Dwyane Wade (personal) are out.
Jimmy Butler is expected to make his 76ers debut, but it is not yet known if Robert Covington and Dario Saric will make their debuts for the Timberwolves.
For up to the minute news, analysis and lineups, download the DK Live app, as NBA news and injury reports can change throughout the day. We will keep you up to the minute on the DK Live app.
A few thoughts leading up to this slate:
We are dealing with small samples here, but two teams have displayed noticeably better team defense recently — one due to a lineup change and one due to a roster addition. Since moving Larry Nance Jr. into the starting lineup alongside Tristan Thompson, the Cavs have been very strong defensively, including points allowed, limiting shot quality and rebounding. The Cavs have allowed just 97 points per 100 possessions since the lineup change — fourth fewest — and have held teams to the second-fewest wide-open shots per game based on the league’s player tracking system, which measures the closest defender to the shooter. The limiting of wide-open shots supports the improvement in defense. Their team rebound rate also ranks best in that timeframe. Who knows if this type of defensive improvement will continue, but it’s something worth monitoring.
The Lakers also have displayed better defense since signing Tyson Chandler to be their backup center, which has given them a desperately needed upgrade in the interior. Prior to signing Chandler, the Lakers allowed the most field goals at the rim per game in the league. Since Chandler made his Lakers debut, the Lakers have allowed the seventh-fewest field goals at the rim per game in the league — a big improvement. The Lakers have also improved from 23rd in pace adjusted team defense to second since Chandler’s debut, allowing just 97 points per 100 possessions in that timeframe.
All that said, Let’s take a look at some plays fantasy owners can consider using on DraftKings on Wednesday.
Kyrie Irving, BOS vs. CHI, $8,000 — Irving’s usage in the Celtics’ offense was down to start the season but has taken off since he took over in the comeback win over the Suns, posting consecutive 24+ FG attempt games with a usage rate of 34.5 percent — nine percentage points higher than previous games. Irving has a soft matchup against the Bulls, who are in the bottom third in points allowed and shot quality allowed to opponents. The risk is the Celtics are big favorites at home, and a blowout could cut into Irving’s minutes late in the game.
Other Options — John Wall ($9,100), Damian Lillard ($8,800), Dennis Schroder ($7,800)
Jeff Teague, MIN vs. NO, $5,600 — Teague’s status will need to be monitored, as he is listed as questionable on the injury report, but if he plays, the Timberwolves have a good matchup vs. the Pelicans, who are poor defensively, ranking fifth worst in pace adjusted team defense and fourth worst in points allowed to opponents. The Pelicans also have allowed poor shot quality, allowing the third-most wide-open shots based on the league’s player tracking system. Teague is a candidate to see more usage in the offense with Butler traded to the 76ers.
Collin Sexton, CLE at WAS, $5,000 — Sexton is averaging 36 minutes per game and 16 field goal attempts per game since being moved into the starting lineup after George Hill’s shoulder injury three games ago, both of which lead the Cavs in that time-frame. Sexton is averaging 30 DKFP in his past two starts. Sexton has a matchup against the Wizards, who have allowed the most points and the most assists to opponents in the league.
Other Options — Luka Doncic ($6,900), Goran Dragic ($6,300), Derrick White ($4,700)
Donovan Mitchell, UTA at DAL, $7,400 — Mitchell has a matchup against a below average defensive backcourt in Dallas, who also rank in the bottom third in team defense. In Mitchell’s most recent game vs. the Mavericks, he scored 44.75 DKFP. His $7,400 price tag is the second lowest it’s been all season despite the plus matchup.
Other Options — DeMar DeRozan ($9,000), Jrue Holiday ($8,500), Devin Booker ($7,600)
David Nwaba, CLE at WAS, $3,200 — Nwaba got a big boost in playing time last night, playing 27 minutes — 18 minutes more than his season average of nine. Nwaba capitalized, scoring 30.25 DKFP on 7-of-9 shooting with five rebounds. The Cavs are thin in their frontcourt, which has forced Nwaba into an expanded role, and he is a candidate for a continued boost in minutes Wednesday against the Wizards. The Wizards have been among the league’s worst rebounding and worst defensive teams. The boost in minutes combined with the opponent makes Nwaba a good salary relief option.
Other Options — Andrew Wiggins ($5,700), Jordan Clarkson ($5,600)
Paul George, OKC vs. NY, $9,600 — George has a heavy 31 percent usage rate with Westbrook off the court this season, something that will be in line to continue Wednesday with Westbrook out again. The Knicks have a bottom-third team defense and also have been poor at limiting shot quality, allowing the ninth-most wide-open shots per game based on the league’s tracking system. George is averaging 53 DKFP over his past three games.
Other Options — Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,000), Ben Simmons ($8,700), Kawhi Leonard ($8,600)
DeMarre Carroll, BKN vs. MIA, $4,100 — Carroll made his season debut last week and built up to 24 minutes in his most recent game. The injury to Caris LeVert (ankle) will open up playing time at wing for the Nets, and Carroll is one of the candidates to benefit, along with Allen Crabbe ($3,800) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson ($5,200). Miami has had a below-average defense this season both by pace adjusted team defense and points allowed to opponents. Download the DK Live app to get an instant notification on who will replace LeVert in the Nets’ starting lineup once that information becomes available.
Other Options — Jayson Tatum ($6,600), Rodney Hood ($5,100)
Anthony Davis, NO at MIN, $11,300 — Rostering Davis is terrifying due to his propensity to exit games and head to the locker room, but he has a strong matchup against a Timberwolves team that has been poor defensively and poor on the glass.
Other Options — LeBron James ($10,300), Blake Griffin ($9,400), LaMarcus Aldridge ($8,300)
Larry Nance Jr., CLE at WAS, $5,500 — As mentioned in the opening, Nance Jr. has been moved into the starting lineup due to multiple injuries to the Cavs’ frontcourt. While starting two non-shooting bigs side by side in Nance Jr. and Tristan Thompson ($5,800) is not very common in the NBA anymore due to the lack of spacing, this lineup has been outstanding defensively and on the glass. The Cavs face the Wizards, who have been a poor rebounding and poor defensive team all season, giving Nance Jr. a good matchup on the boards.
Other Options — Julius Randle ($6,900), Serge Ibaka ($6,200)
Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN vs. NO, $9,500 — Towns is a candidate for increased production and increased volume with Butler gone. The Timberwolves have a matchup with the Pelicans, who are poor defensively, ranking fifth worst in pace adjusted team defense and fourth worst in points allowed to opponents. The Pelicans also have allowed poor shot quality, allowing the third-most wide-open shots based on the league’s player tracking system. Towns has scored mroe than 50 DKFP in three of his past four games and at least 59 DKFP in each of his past two.
Other Options — Joel Embiid ($10,500), Hassan Whiteside ($8,400)
Dwight Howard, WAS vs. CLE, $5,800 — Howard’s price is the second lowest it’s been all season, and he is coming off consecutive 32+ DKFP games. The Cavs playing big could help keep Howard’s minutes up.
Other Options — Tristan Thompson ($5,800), Wendell Carter Jr. ($5,700)
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is timfinn521) 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.
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