Friday’s NBA fantasy basketball showdown slate has a choice of three NBA games: Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets (12:00 p.m. ET), Utah Jazz at Memphis Grizzlies (8:00 p.m. ET) and Washington Wizards at Los Angeles Lakers (10:30 p.m. ET). This article will focus on the late game. The Lakers are big 11.5-point favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook, and the game has also been given a big total points of 234.5, highest on Friday’s slate.
Anthony Davis, who has been dealing with a lingering right shoulder injury, suffered an injury termed as right elbow soreness during Wednesday’s game. However, Davis was able to quickly return to Wednesday’s game and is listed as probable to play on Friday, so he is expected to be in the starting lineup.
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Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.
— The Lakers have covered the spread in each of their last five games against Southeast Division opponents.
— Six of the Wizards’ last seven road games have gone OVER the total points line.
— LeBron James has scored 29-plus points in each of the Lakers’ last three games.
— Bradly Beal has scored 30-plus points in five of the Wizards’ last six road games.
— Kyle Kuzma has scored 15-plus points in eight of his last nine appearances vs. Eastern Conference opponents.
Stats provided by DraftKings Sportsbook
SHOWDOWN STRATEGYThe Lakers draw an extremely strong fantasy matchup against a Wizards team that has been atrocious defensively. The Wizards have allowed the most points per game and the most points per possession among all teams in the league, and their pace adjusted defensive numbers rank as one of the worst marks in recent memory. The Wizards also play one of the fastest paces in the league, which makes their point prevention play down worse. Washington’s assist prevention has been very poor, allowing the second-most assists per game. Washington has also been poor on the glass, ranking as the league’s fourth-worst rebounding team by the percentage of missed shots they rebound. Because the Wizards are poor at preventing points, assists and rebounds, Lakers players are an excellent choice to build lineups around.
The most obvious choice is LeBron James ($13,000). A full-time move to point guard has spiked James’ facilitating, creating a league-best 20 potential assists per game and converting 11 of those into assists, which also leads the league. James is creating 28 points per game off his assists, four more than the next closest, Mavericks PG/SF Luka Doncic, who is creating 24 points per game off assists. James will be in an excellent position to score and dish out assists against a Wizards team that allows a ton of points and assists. James will also be positioned well on the glass and could threaten with a triple-double.
Anthony Davis ($12,000) is also an obvious choice. Davis is an early candidate for Defensive Player of the Year and leads all qualified starters with 2.8 blocks per game. Davis will be in a good position to crush the Wizards inside and on the glass given Washington’s deficiencies in those areas. The Wizards rank as a bottom third team at protecting the basket by both field goals allowed and field goal percentage allowed within five feet of the basket. Davis attempts roughly eight of his 19 field goal attempts per game in that zone.
Kyle Kuzma ($5,000) has been the Lakers’ third option in a bench role, ranking third on the Lakers in usage rate (22%), behind James (31%) and Davis (29%). Kuzma also ranks third on Los Angeles in field goal attempts per game with roughly 10 and is a mid-tier option in an excellent matchup.
The Lakers’ starting five is rounded out by JaVale McGee ($4,600), Danny Green ($5,200) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($5,600). Both Green and Caldwell-Pope have been excellent from deep, each shooting over 40% on 3-pointers. McGee, along with backup C Dwight Howard ($3,400), have a strong matchup on the glass. Howard ranks third on the Lakers in rebounds per game with about seven per game.
While the Lakers have an excellent fantasy matchup due to the Wizards’ defensive problems, the Wizards draw a less appealing matchup. Los Angeles ranks as the third-best team by points allowed per game and the eighth-best team by points allowed per possession. Los Angeles has also been better than average on the glass. The Lakers’ starting five is fairly big with 6’8 LeBron James playing point guard and the team starting a traditional center next to Anthony Davis, which has helped them defensively and on the boards. The Lakers have been the fifth-best team at protecting the basket by field goal percentage allowed within five feet of the basket and field goals allowed within five feet of the basket.
That said, Washington has had one of the most efficient offenses in the league, scoring the second-most points per possession and most points per game. Washington’s offense is led by Bradley Beal ($11,200), who is easily Washington’s top fantasy option, leading the team in usage rate (31%), field goal attempts per game (22) and potential assists created per game (12). As the undisputed focal point of Washington’s offense, Beal’s high volume and plus efficiency make him a quality fantasy option even in a less than ideal matchup.
Isaiah Thomas ($4,400) ranks second in usage rate (22%) behind Beal and third in potential assists created per game (eight), although below average efficiency has limited his fantasy scoring. Thomas’ 12.5 player efficiency rating is poor and is a steep decline from his peak seasons with the Celtics, where he posted a player efficiency rating of 23.0 over three seasons. Thomas also does not play a big minute load, as he has generally sat in the mid-20s, fifth on the Wizards behind Beal, Thomas Bryant ($8,000), Davis Bertans ($7,200) and Rui Hachimura ($4,800).
Bryant has been Washington’s second-best fantasy player behind Beal, averaging 15 points and nine rebounds per game while posting a solid player efficiency rating of 21.0. However, Thomas takes roughly half of his field-goal attempts within five feet of the basket, a zone that the Lakers have been strong at defending with Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard protecting the basket. Bryant is in line for a tough task in this matchup.
OUTCOMEWith the Wizards’ defensive problems, Lakers players are highly appealing Captain’s Pick choices, with James ($19,500 CP) and Davis ($18,000 CP) leading the charge. Beal’s ($16,800 CP) heavy volume makes him a Captain’s Pick choice for the Wizards.
The Lakers are home, and with the Wizards playing their third game in four nights, the Lakers also have the rest advantage. Los Angeles is in a very strong position to score a lot of points and win this game against the worst defensive team in the league.
Final score: Lakers 125, Wizards 110
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