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Last night was about figuring out which of the fistful of high-priced stars to play. Tonight, the top-end of the slate is much clearer but we don’t have a Suns kind of situation to find value in. It’s a reminder that forcing a stars-and-scrubs roster construction when it’s not there often leads to disappointment.

Injury Implications

1. Matt Barnes, SF, Grizzlies – Tony Allen (knee) was active on Wednesday but did not get any minutes. Matt Barnes is a solid play in this matchup with the Lakers regardless of Allen’s status, but if the defensive stopper is out it raises the floor on Barnes’ minutes. He’s averaging a very strong 33.6 over his last three games with Jeff Green and Courtney Lee both traded away.

2. Chris Paul, PG, Clippers – Paul is a little banged up himself with forearm and calf issues. But he’s going to suit up in a dream matchup against the Kings and his red-hot tear will almost certainly continue. With Blake Griffin (hand) still sidelined, Paul averages 46.4 DraftKings points per game. Compare that to CP3’s 38.7 when Blake was healthy. DeAndre Jordan’s splits are up to 39.8 vs. 34.0.

3. Pau Gasol, PF, Bulls – Gasol appears a bit worn down as his 35-year-old frame has carried the Bulls for much of the year. But if Derrick Rose (game-time decision, hamstring) joins Jimmy Butler (knee) on the sideline again, Pau will be forced into a another night of massive usage. Cheaper options like Mike Dunleavy, E’Twaun Moore, Tony Snell and Doug McDermott would also become viable punts if Rose sits.

StatusPlayers
OUTCJ Miles (IND), Blake Griffin (LAC), Mo Williams (CLE), Jimmy Butler (CHI), Gary Neal (WAS), Paul Pierce (LAC)
QUESTIONABLEDerrick Rose (CHI), Tony Allen (MEM), TJ McConnell (PHI), Iman Shumpert (CLE), Rajon Rondo (SAC)
PROBABLEJameer Nelson (DEN), Deron Williams (DAL), Pau Gasol (CHI), Arron Afflalo (NYK), Rodney Stuckey (IND)


MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT

1. J.J. Redick against the Kings

I very rarely roster a mediocre one-dimensional player like Redick, but it’s a bit of a perfect storm tonight. The Kings lead the league in pace, are 26th in defensive efficiency, give up the most raw points in the league (109.1) and have allowed the most 3-pointers per game in the league (10.7). Redick’s season average of .808 DraftKings points per minute gets a serious boost in this spot — especially in a game that should be very close. On top of all that, Redick fills the shooting guard spot which is very thin tonight. Jamal Crawford is also firmly in play for all the same reasons Redick is.


Levitan's LeverageTournament PlaysNBA Sneak Peek
Player TargetsTop 5's by PositionCheat Sheet


SITUATIONAL THOUGHTS

1. Al Horford’s rising minutes against the Bulls’ declining defense

This is not Tom Thibodeau’s Bulls. They were already leaking on defense and it’s turned into an all-out flood with Jimmy Butler (knee) sidelined. They’ve given up at least 102 points in all eight games Butler has missed this season, an average of 108.2 per game. The Bulls have been especially poor against centers, giving up 1.1 more points than salary-based expectation to the position. Now let’s add in a disappointing Hawks team that has raised Al Horford’s as they fight for their playoff lives. He’s at 36.8 over his last seven games and has a 1.056 DK points per minute average on the season. A baseline projection of 38.8 DK points at $7100 is excellent.

2. Wizards off a bad loss and facing the 76ers

The underperforming Wizards are on the outside of the playoffs looking in right now. They’re also coming off an ugly loss against a Bulls team that was playing without Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. The focus should be there for all the Wizards tonight. Note that the Bulls game was the second leg of a back-to-back and an equally ugly loss last week to the Heat was the third leg of a back-to-back-to-back. A fresh John Wall against a Sixers “defense” that gives up a mind-blowing and slate-worst 5.2 more points than salary-based expectation is a scary proposition. Expect a ton of pick-and-roll success with Marcin Gortat.


UNDERPRICED ASSET

1. Nikola Jokic against the Mavs

Jokic averages 1.153 DraftKings points per minute. For context, that’s better than nightly studs like Kyle Lowry, Nik Vucevic, Brook Lopez, DeAndre Jordan etc. However, Jokic only costs $5,700. That’s because his minutes are extremely volatile, ranging from 4 to 35 in his last 11 games. It’s tough to roster Jokic in cash games for that reason — especially in a sub-optimal matchup with the Mavs. But in tournaments, these wide-ranging and underpriced players are what we look for. By throwing out the 4- and 35-minute game in the aforementioned range, we get an average of 24.3 minutes. I think a fair projection range is 22-27 minutes.


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CASH GAME OPTIONS

Below are the players I’m considering most in cash games (50/50s and Head to Heads). Players are shown in no particular order

Editor’s Note: Rajon Rondo is listed as Questionable for tonight’s game. Darren Collison has averaged 40.1 DraftKings Points per game in 2 games without Rondo this year.

PositionPlayers
Point GuardJohn Wall, Chris Paul, Mike Conley, DeAngelo Russell, Kyle Lowry, Rajon Rondo
Shooting GuardEvan Fournier, Jamal Crawford, J.J. Redick, DeMar DeRozan
Small ForwardLeBron James, Matt Barnes, Rudy Gay, Paul George, Tony Snell & Mike Dunleavy (only if Derrick Rose is out),
Power ForwardPaul Millsap, DeMarcus Cousins, Zach Randolph, Julius Randle, Myles Turner
CenterAl Horford, DeAndre Jordan, Ian Mahinmi, Marcin Gortat, Nikola Vucevic