The NBA is back with a bang tonight as we have an overwhelming 14-game slate. The key to tonight will be evaluating rotations of teams affected by trades and getting positive correlations in GPP lineups. When splitting hairs between studs (Russell Westbrook vs. Steph Curry etc), it can be best to build separate lineups that work if a game stays close. For example, a Westbrook and Paul George GPP lineup fits tonight. So does a Steph Curry and Damian Lillard one. Cramming both Westbrook and Curry into the same lineup is going to be very difficult.
FIVE INJURIES TO BE AWARE OF
1. Kawhi Leonard, SF, SAS – Leonard was a late scratch Thursday night due to a calf strain and is questionable at best for tonight’s game against the Lakers. In the two games Kawhi has missed this year, fill-in starter Kyle Anderson has gone 8-3-1 in 28 minutes and 7-5-1 in 30 minutes. He can do better though, as he’s averaging a reasonable 0.757 DK points per minute on the year.
2. Kevin Garnett and Nikola Pekovic, PF, MIN – Both these guys are doubtful due to continued knee and foot issues, respectively. It means more monster run for Gorgui Dieng, who is averaging an outrageous 36.8 minutes per game over his last seven outings. Note that Memphis’ once-feared defense was already weakened and has now taken a death blow due to Marc Gasol’s broken foot. Dieng’s 0.942 DK points per minute are for real.
3. Jerryd Bayless, G, MIL – Bayless hurt his knee during Thursday’s practice and is doubtful for tonight’s game against the Hornets. He averaged 27.2 minutes and 9.0 shot attempts per game in the five beore the break, so there’s slack to be picked up here. We can feel safer about projecting toward the top end of minutes ranges for Michael Carter-Williams, O.J. Mayo and Khris Middleton.
4. Jameer Nelson, PG, DEN – Nelson’s left wrist continues to keep him sidelined. Meanwhile, Randy Foye has been traded to the Thunder and new arrival D.J. Augustin likely isn’t ready for significant minutes yet. It means another 33-37 minutes for Emmanuel Mudiay, whose woeful efficiency doesn’t hurt us in DK’s scoring format. He’s at 0.869 DK points per minute on the season.
5. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, CHA – There are a ton of moving parts in Charlotte right now. MKG is back on the shelf again after tearing his labrum. Meanwhile, Al Jefferson (knee) is expected back tonight for limited minutes and newly acquired Courtney Lee won’t be ready until Sunday. Expect Jeremy Lin to start at the 2 and Nicolas Batum to be at the 3. Still, I prefer to use Lin not just when he’s starting, but when Kemba is out. His usage rate is only 22.0 when playing with Walker.
MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT
1. Wings against the Kings
Just before the break, I discussed wing players against the Kings. Both Robert Covington (29-6-5) and Nik Stauskas (16-3-2) went ham that night, adding to this list of recent wings against SAC: JR Smith 22-4-2, LeBron James 21-10-10, Avery Bradley 25-3-3, Joe Johnson 27-11-6, E’Twaun Moore 24-5-4, Jeff Green 29-2-1. Nuggets starting SG Gary Harris averaged 38.6 minutes per game in the five before the break and that massive number is even more secure with Randy Foye gone. Danilo Gallinari and Will Barton are also firmly in play.
2. Jrue Holiday against the Sixers
The Sixers continue to get destroyed by point guards every night. They’re now giving up 4.3 more DK points per game than salary expectation to the position, worst on the slate. Note that Jrue Holiday has a 31.1 usage rate in the 24 games Tyreke Evans (out for season, knee) has missed this season. That usage rate would tie with LeBron for sixth-highest in the league. Throw in a revenge spot against the team that surprisingly dumped him and we have a premier matchup.
SITUATIONS TO CAPITALIZE ON
1. Miami’s extremely thin frontcourt
Hassan Whiteside is suspended and Chris Bosh (calf) is out. It leaves the Heat with only three true bigs heading into a really strong matchup against an undersized Hawks team that gives up the seventh-most rebounds in the league and ranks 29th in rebounding differential. They’ll start Luol Deng at the 4 but will have to rely on Amare Stoudemire for all the minutes he can handle. Although he’s a shell of himself at age 33, Amare is still at a very healthy 0.985 DK points per minute this season.
2. Memphis’ extremely thin wing situation
The Grizzlies traded away both Courtney Lee and Jeff Green earlier this week. Newly acquired Lance Stephenson isn’t expected to be ready to play tonight and P.J. Hairston is almost certainly buried on the depth chart. That leaves both Matt Barnes and Tony Allen to start and push toward 30 minutes. Barnes is at 0.828 DK points per minute on the year and Allen is at 0.703. Mario Chalmers (0.775) will also likely get minutes on the wing in addition to his backup point guard duties.
NEAR MIN-PRICED SHOTS OF THE DAY
1. Alex Len, Jon Leuer and/or Mirza Teletovic vs. Hawks
Forwards against the Rockets is one of the premier matchups in the league. So it’s really interesting that they’re matched up with the Suns tonight because Phoenix just traded away PF Markieff Morris, who played 34.8 minutes and took 17.4 shots per game in the five before the break. I’m not sure who will start yet, but the Suns did go to a “twin tower” look when Kieff missed two games in late-January. Alex Len started next to Tyson Chandler, with Len going 16-12-5 against the Hawks and 13-8-4 against the Spurs. He’s likely to play 25-30 minutes tonight whether he starts or not. Leuer and Teletovic are also candidates for major bumps.
WHO I’M CONSIDERING IN DRAFTKINGS CASH GAMES
(No particular order)
PG: Russell Westbrook, Jrue Holiday, Reggie Jackson, Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo
SG: Gary Harris, Will Barton, James Harden, Victor Oladipo, Nicolas Batum, Dwyane Wade
SF: Carmelo Anthony, Luol Deng, Kevin Durant, Paul George, Rudy Gay, Matt Barnes, Tony Allen
PF: Amare Stoudemire, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Zach Randolph, Jon Leuer (if starting), Gorgui Dieng
C: Brook Lopez, Rudy Gobert, Alex Len, Dwight Howard