Owners that were paying attention to injuries and news last night did well. With Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans out, Ryan Anderson/Jrue Holiday/Norris Cole became fantastic plays. Myles Turner was announced as a starter and became a near must-play. Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and Jose Calderon were all out, leaving Langston Galloway/Jerian Grant/Arron Afflalo/Derrick Williams in good spots. It felt like a wild night, but we have to realize reacting to news and injuries is a nightly necessity in the NBA.
Please be aware this article was written Friday morning — stay on your toes as lock time approaches.
FIVE INJURIES TO MONITOR
1. Jose Calderon, PG, NYK – With Calderon (groin), Carmelo Anthony (knee) and Kristaps Porzingis (illness) all sidelined last night, we saw a ton of value open up with the Knicks. I suspect Anthony and Staps will be back tonight, but Langston Galloway starting at point guard against the Suns at $4000 would be very intriguing. This Phoenix team ranks 4th in pace and 29th in defensive efficiency, a golden recipe for opponents.
2. Devin Harris, G, DAL – With Harris (toe) sidelined the last two games, Raymond Felton has averaged 31.3 minutes and 18.6 DK points. JJ Barea has been at 26.6 minutes and 27.6 DK points.
3. Hassan Whiteside, C, MIA – Whiteside (hip) seems more doubtful than questionable. In the five games he’s missed this year, Chris Bosh has averaged 39.4 DK points. In 41 with Whiteside, Bosh is at 34.9 DK points.
4. Kobe Bryant and Lou Williams, SG, LAL – Bryant could rest in a home back-to-back spot. Williams is sick. Jordan Clarkson, Nick Young and D’Angelo Russell will all be worth exploring if both Kobe and Lou sit.
5. Jeremy Lamb and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, G/F, CHA – As noted below, the spot for Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum is improved with Jeremy Lin (ankle) out. We know Cody Zeller and Al Jefferson will continue to be sidelined. Lamb staying out and MKG delaying his return woulds help Kemba/Batum even more.
MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT
1. Chris Paul against the Lakers
CP3 continues to tear through the league with Blake Griffin (hand, quad) sidelined. He’s averaging 46.6 DraftKings ppg without Blake vs. 38.7 with him. Note that’s not far off from Russell Westbrook’s 50.1 DK ppg with Kevin Durant this season. Now Paul gets a dream matchup against a Lakers “defense” that gives up a slate-worst 3.1 more points than salary expectation to points guards, gives up 106.4 raw points per game (28th in league) and is dead last in defensive efficiency.
NEAR MIN-PRICED SHOTS OF THE DAY
1. Wes Johnson against the Lakers
I want to give CJ Kaltenbach credit here as he’s been on Wes Johnson all week. I haven’t jumped in yet but he’s on my list for tonight depending on how the injury report and late news shakes out. Sub-$4K players are simply hard to come by on DK these days – we can’t ignore bench players.
Wes has a bunch of things working in his favor tonight. First of all, he averages 24.1 minutes per game without Blake Griffin this year vs. 15.4 when Blake plays. At 0.754 DK points per minute, that gives him a baseline projection of 18.2. In 12 January games, he’s never played fewer than 20 minutes and has averaged 24.3. Second, he gets the dream matchup against the Lakers as noted above under Chris Paul. And finally, this game has the potential to be a blowout with the Lakers on a back-to-back and 14-point underdogs.
CONTRARIAN GPP PLAYS
1. Kemba Walker plus Nicolas Batum’s revenge game at Portland
This is Batum’s first game back in Portland since he left this summer. It’s also his second game back off a toe injury, which has left his price a bit depressed. At $6900, he’s $600 less than he was for most of December and January. The Hornets will be playing without Jeremy Lin (ankle) tonight, a wing player with a reasonable usage rate of 21.2. Batum should push toward toward 35 minutes against Portland team that ranks 23rd in defensive efficiency.
I like the idea of pairing Batum with Kemba Walker, who gets to face a Blazers defense that is notoriously bad against point guards (3.0 more points than expectation to the position, slightly behind the Lakers). With Lin out, Walker will have even more on his plate. He already has a 30.3 usage rate in January, which would place him seventh overall among the season-long usage leaders.
1. Dion Waiters at elevated ownership as a starter
Normal starter Andre Roberson (knee) and backup guard Cameron Payne (concussion) are both out. The Thunder are home against a Rockets team that ranks 25th in defensive efficiency and will be matched up with defensive liability James Harden. With the pricing so tight on DraftKings, I suspect Dion Waiters will be popular at $4200 with a 30-minute projection.
That would be exciting if Waiters wasn’t atrocious. His 0.663 DK points per minute is below the likes of Jason Terry, Ty Lawson, P.J. Tucker, Marco Belinelli, Garrett Temple, Jakarr Sampson etc. Playing with the starters isn’t a great thing for him as Russell Westbrook leads the entire league in usage rate and Kevin Durant is 14th. Note that Waiters has played 30 or more minutes 14 times this year and averaged just 19.4 DK ppg in those, with a ceiling of 26.8 and a floor of 11.8. I prefer Nick Young at $3200 if Kobe Bryant rests and Lou Williams (illness) remains out. Same is true for punt shooting guards Raymond Felton (if Devin Harris sits) at $3900 and Langston Galloway (if Jose Calderon sits) at $4000.
WHO I’M CONSIDERING IN DRAFTKINGS CASH GAMES
Players below are in no particular order
PG: Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Kemba Walker, J.J. Barea (if Devin Harris is out), Patrick Beverley, Jordan Clarkson (if Williams and Kobe are out)
SG: James Harden, Dwyane Wade, Archie Goodwin, Avery Bradley, Langston Galloway (if he starts), Raymond Felton (if Devin Harris is out), J.R. Smith
SF: Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Gordon Hayward, Trevor Ariza
PF: Chris Bosh (if Whiteside is out), Kevin Love, Dirk Nowitzki, Julius Randle
C: DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Hawes, Rudy Gobert, Dwight Howard