Wednesday’s massive 12-game slate was turned on its head by the DeMarcus Cousins suspension. I think the key to tonight is figuring out how many Kings to play and which ones will exceed value by the largest margin. You’ll find more information on that below.
1. Dion Waiters, SG, Heat: DOUBTFUL – Waiters was able to play through an ankle sprain on Monday, but the Heat are reportedly concerned about his status. If he can’t go, a lot of offensive responsibility will open up as Waiters has posted a big 27.1 usage rate and 16.1 field-goal attempts per game over his last 13. Here are Miami’s leaders in usage rate with Waiters, Josh Richardson (out, foot) and Justise Winslow (out, shoulder) off the floor: Goran Dragic 29.4, James Johnson 24.0, Hassan Whiteside 23.9, Tyler Johnson 20.6.
2. Joakim Noah, C, Knicks: DOUBTFUL – Noah’s continued absence would leave Kyle O’Quinn and impressive Willy Hernangomez to share a majority of the center minutes once again, this time against a Clippers team that likes to play big with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The only problem is Hernangomez’s price. Yes, he’s averaging a strong 1.085 DK points per minute on the season and will likely get at least 24 of them. But he’s now at $5,900 after being at $5,200 Monday, $4,500 Saturday and $3,900 one week ago. Willy is a strong play, but not an absolute smash as he has been recently.
UPDATE: Jimmy Butler has been ruled OUT of tonight’s game against the Warriors, and Dwyane Wade is now a GAME TIME DECISION, per Fred Hoiberg.
3. Jimmy Butler, SF, Bulls: QUESTIONABLE – This is a tough one as the Bulls play the late game in Golden State tonight. It’s very possible we don’t have word on Butler’s heel issue until after lineups lock. But just in case we do, Michael Carter-Williams needs to be on our radar as he remains priced far too cheap at $4,600. While starting for Butler the last two games, MCW has scored 44.75 and 41.0 DK points.
4. Tyreke Evans, SF, Pelicans: DOUBTFUL – Evans’ likely absence takes away a playmaker on a team devoid of them. They’ll funnel just about all their offense through their two stars, Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. Note that over the last five games, Brow is averaging an absurd 40.2 minutes per game and Jrue is at 37.6 – this kind of usage and minute projection can at least attempt to mitigate an extremely difficult matchup with the Jazz. As for Evans’ bench role, look for E’Twaun Moore to fill it.
SITUATION TO CAPITALIZE ON
1. DeMarcus Cousins’ One-Game Suspension
Cousins was hit with his 16th technical foul of the season last time out, meaning he’s suspended. With Rudy Gay (Achilles), Garrett Temple (hamstring) and Omri Casspi (foot) all sidelined as well, the Kings are extremely thin heading into tonight’s home game against a Celtics team which has struggled a bit defensively. They currently rank 19th in defensive efficiency and 19th in raw points allowed per game. Expect coach Dave Joerger to roll mainly with eight guys: Darren Collison, Ben McLemore, Arron Afflalo, Willie Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos as projected starters. Ty Lawson, Matt Barnes and Anthony Tolliver off the bench.
It’s a smallish sample, but here are the DK points per minute averages for Kings’ players with Cousins, Gay, Temple and Casspi off the floor this season: Koufos 1.23, Lawson 1.18, Cauley-Stein 1.00, Barnes .89, Collison .73, McLemore .73, Tolliver .66, Afflalo .65. Koufos and Cauley-Stein are $3,600 and $3,500 respectively, giving them huge floors as they soak up a majority of the PF/C minutes. Lawson is also very interesting, especially when we consider he’s played at least 27 minutes in four of his last six games and the Celtics are weakest against point guards. Isaiah Thomas ranks 86th among 86 qualifiers in Defensive Real Plus-Minus among PGs.
MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT
1. Dennis Schroder Against the Nuggets
The Nuggets are among the best teams to attack on a nightly basis as they rank 5th in pace and dead last in defensive efficiency. Injuries have forced Jameer Nelson, who ranks 54th in defensive Real Plus-Minus against PGs, into heavy minutes. So it’s music to the ears of Hawks’ point guard Dennis Schroder, who comes in averaging just 25.7 minutes per game over his last four thanks mostly to blowouts. On the season, Schroder is at 30.6 minutes a night. So we have a chance to get him cheaply here ($6,000) in arguably the best possible matchup.
1. Kawhi Leonard Against the 76ers
It’s very possible our opponents will be gun-shy on Kawhi Leonard (probable, quad) after he was a late scratch on Monday night. That would be a mistake considering the Spurs have already said they expect Leonard to play in Philly Wednesday night, and his price has sunk to eye-opening levels. He was $9,300 in his last game, just four days ago. Now Leonard is $8,300 even though he has scored at least 39 DK points in 11 straight outings and is averaging 48.0 DK points per game during that span. Leonard gets a bigger boost with Joel Embiid (knee), a defensive dynamo in addition to his offensive prowess, sitting again.
CASH GAME CONSIDERATIONS
(No particular order)
PG: Ty Lawson, Dennis Schroder, Michael Carter-Williams (if Jimmy Butler is out), Mike Conley, Jrue Holiday, Goran Dragic (if Dion Waiters is out), John Wall
SG: Tim Hardaway Jr., Brad Beal, Andrew Wiggins, DeMar DeRozan
SF: Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Tolliver, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Wilson Chandler
PF: Paul Millsap, James Johnson (if Dion Waiters is out), Markieff Morris, Kevin Love, Blake Griffin
C: Kosta Koufos, Willie Cauley-Stein, Marcin Gortat, Karl-Anthony Towns, Hassan Whiteside, Guillermo Hernangomez, Marc Gasol
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is AdamLevitan) 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.