WATCH: MAILBAG WITH ADAM LEVITAN
Even when DeMarcus Cousins isn’t in uniform, he’s among the biggest stories on a slate. First it was the trade, then it was how he’d affect other Pelicans and now it’s his suspension. Digesting Cousins’ absence is among the first steps we need to take on this 11-game slate.
1. Willy Hernangomez, C, Knicks: OUT – With Hernangomez (ankle) and Joakim Noah (knee) both out, the Knicks are extremely thin at center. Look for Kyle O’Quinn to start, with starting power forward Kristaps Porzingis and perhaps Marshall Plumlee getting the backup center minutes. O’Quinn projects for at least 28 minutes, a massive number when a guy costs just $5,200 and gets 1.219 DK points per minute. That’s a higher rate than Damian Lillard, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Vucevic, Eric Bledsoe and other stars.
2. Wesley Matthews, SF, Mavs: OUT – The Mavs were already a bit thin in the backcourt with Deron Williams waived and J.J. Barea (calf) still sidelined. Now they lose Matthews (hip), who was playing 34.9 minutes per night and taking 10.5 shots per game over his last 11 outings. Dorian Finney-Smith will draw the start at small forward, but he averages a pathetic .530 DK points per minute. The more important fallout of Matthews’ injury should be more big lineups featuring Harrison Barnes at the 3, Dirk Nowitzki at the 4 and newly acquired Nerlens Noel at the 5. Impressive Seth Curry, Barnes and Noel are all in play and get boosts here.
3. Michael Beasley, SF, Bucks: OUT – It’s a really nice spot for the Bucks, who are coming off a frustrating road performance against the Cavs on Monday and now get a home game against a Nuggets team on a back-to-back. Beasley (knee) is out, thinning the always-volatile Jason Kidd rotation a bit. Look for Khris Middleton – who rested against the Cavs – to return to the starting lineup, and he should be looking at 30 minutes given how thin the Bucks are at forward. We know Middleton is capable as he averaged .906 DK points per minute last year. The Nuggets are 6th in pace, dead last in defensive efficiency and on the second leg of a road back-to-back, setting up Giannis Antetokounmpo for a bounce-back game as well.
SITUATIONS TO CAPITALIZE ON
1. Blake Griffin’s Game Environment
Wednesday’s Rockets at Clippers matchup is the premier game on the slate. The absurd projected total of 232.5 is the highest on the slate by a wide margin and it’s likely to be a tightly contested game between two of the best teams in the league. The best way to get exposure to this high-scoring affair is through Blake Griffin, who remains underpriced at just $9,100 even though he’s scored at least 50 DraftKings points in five of his last eight and at least 40 in seven of his last eight. Note that the Rockets rank 20th in offensive rebounds allowed per game and 24th in total raw points allowed per game.
1. Jrue Holiday with DeMarcus Cousins Suspended
New scenery, same story. Cousins will serve a one-game suspension Wednesday night after picking up his 18th technical foul on Monday. It means the Pelicans will revert back to the pre-Boogie days – except this time they don’t have Tyreke Evans, Buddy Hield or Langston Galloway. So even more of the workload will be funneled through Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, who was averaging 45.6 DK points per game in the 11 before the Cousins trade. Note that Holiday peaked at $8,800 just a couple weeks ago and is now just $6,900. Anthony Davis is also a very strong play even though his price has stayed relatively static.
1. Kosta Koufos Against the Nets
As of Wednesday morning, there was not a lot of quality cheap value available to us. So we’re going to have to stretch a bit to find guys under $4,000. Kosta Koufos is in a spot I don’t mind taking a shot on – he’s at home, he has a very plus matchup, he’s starting and his DK point per minute production is solid. In the three games since the DeMarcus Cousins trade, Koufos has averaged 21.6 minutes and he gets .884 DK points per minute on the season. The Nets lead the entire NBA in pace and are 27th in defensive efficiency. It sets up Koufos for a very reasonable floor at just $3,900. Teammate Willie Cauley-Stein has a far higher ceiling, but we have to pay for it as he’s now $5,500.
CASH GAME CONSIDERATIONS
(No particular order)
PG: Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul, Isaiah Thomas, Dennis Schroder
SG: Jrue Holiday, Seth Curry, Gary Harris, DeMar DeRozan, James Harden, Gerald Henderson
SF: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Tony Snell, Kawhi Leonard, Harrison Barnes, Khris Middleton, Robert Covington
PF: Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Marcus Morris, Dario Saric, Willie Cauley-Stein
C: Kosta Koufos, Nikola Jokic, Kyle O’Quinn, Nikola Vucevic, Rudy Gobert
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.