It’s another busy night in the NBA with eight of 16 teams playing the second night of back-to-backs. Here are the best and worst matchups for Wednesday’s eight-game slate. Feel free to reach out on Twitter with any questions or comments: @julianedlow.
Defense vs. Position
Point Guard Matchups
BEST – Russell Westbrook ($12,800) vs. New Orleans Pelicans –As I mentioned, a lot of teams on this slate played last night. The Thunder are not one of them, but the Pelicans are. Look for Russ to take advantage of the NBA’s 27th-ranked defense against PGs, which has been the worst in the league over the past five games.
WORST – Damian Lillard ($8,400) vs. Dallas Mavericks – Lillard has been very inconsistent lately, but that’s mostly due to playing less minutes in some blowouts. He did post 53.5 DKFP last night against the Kings, but if you dig a little deeper, Lillard has been a disappointment in his last few bad matchups. Dallas ranks atop the league defending opposing PGs.
Shooting Guard Matchups
BEST – Devin Booker ($5,900) vs. Houston Rockets – Booker has had a pretty inconsistent season himself, but he has still shown the ability to go off in any given game. Houston represents the best SG matchup on the slate (fifth-worst team overall in the league), setting Booker up nicely to have a big night.
WORST – Bradley Beal ($6,900) vs. Chicago Bulls – Beal is coming off a tough outing against the Pacers in which he scored just 28.25 DKFP. However, his salary is still up $100 entering a difficult matchup with the Bulls — who rank 4th vs SGs. As you can see by Booker being the top matchup of the night, it’s a tough slate for SG, but Beal doesn’t appear to be the answer.
Small Forward Matchups
BEST – LeBron James ($9,800) vs. Milwaukee Bucks – Not much work went into this pick. Sure, the Bucks rank 28th against opposing SFs, but just look at last night when the two teams played in Milwaukee — LeBron went off for 66.5 DKFP. It’s not out of the question that he repeats that performance tonight.
WORST – Kings SFs vs. Utah Jazz – Utah ranks fifth in the NBA in defending SFs, so its not a good matchup to begin with. But with both Rudy Gay and Omri Casspi beat up, this isn’t a standard “next man up” situation. Matt Barnes was the only healthy SF last night with the other two out, yet only managed 12.5 DKFP in 19 minutes. No matter what combo does play, DeMarcus Cousins will be the one picking up the slack — he dropped 55 points in 41 minutes last night.
Power Forward Matchups
BEST – Harrison Barnes ($6,200) vs. Portland Trailblazers – Portland ranks dead last against PFs this season and has become a mainstay at the bottom of the list. Dirk Nowitzki is out which leaves plenty of usage on the board, and Barnes should have one of the more favorable matchups of the evening.
WORST – DeMarcus Cousins ($9,900) vs. Utah Jazz – This is a really weird night to decide if you want to play Cousins or not. I’ll simply report to you that Utah presents the worst matchup for PFs in the league, and Cousins played 41 minutes last night … that said, I’m not totally against using him. Boogie did score an absurd 82.25 DKFP last night, and now his salary is down $1,300. Of course, that’s because he’s going from playing Portland to Utah (1st to 30th DvP for PF). The matchup warrants staying away, but he’s hot and affordable.
BEST – Steven Adams ($5,200) vs. New Orleans Pelicans – Adams is a great value play tonight in a matchup with the Pelicans, who rank 28th vs. centers. Adams has quietly been in the neighborhood of hitting value (or going well beyond) in his last seven games. His matchup and his floor would seem to make him a strong play tonight.
WORST – Andre Drummond ($7,100) vs. Memphis Grizzlies – Drummond is coming of a weak 16-DKFP showing in a great matchup against the Bulls. Things get much worse tonight in a contest against the Grizzlies, who rank first the the NBA against opposing centers and will be looking to avenge a tough OT home loss last night to Boston.
Lineup Quick Hits
Superstar Worth Paying For
Russell Westbrook ($12,600) – Per usual, I don’t think there is an reason to overthink it. Russell’s ceiling practically always makes him worth paying up for, especially when he’s in such a fantastic matchup. LeBron would fall second in line here if you need a cheaper option, although his 47 minutes last night are a bit concerning to me.
Save Big Bucks by Drafting
Montrezl Harrell ($4,000)/Nene ($3,500) – Consider this an extra “Next Man Up” pick, but with Clint Capela sidelined for at least a month, Harrell and Nene are stepping in at center for the time being and both are values. Last night, Harrell played 22 minutes and scored 19.5 DKFP, while Nene played just 18 minutes but posted 23.25 DKFP. The matchup with Phoenix tonight is far better than last night’s with the Spurs.
Next Man Up
Iman Shumpert ($3,500) – J.R. Smith injured his thumb last night and will require surgery (he’ll miss at least a few weeks). In the meantime, Shump should be the prime beneficiary — his 33 minutes last night were a season-high, and that was with Smith seeing 17 minutes prior to the injury. DeAndre Liggins stands to see more time as well.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) 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.