Yes, it’s Big Wednesday! If you juggled your lineups so much last night you woke up and remembered that you rostered Dion Waiters last night, then go see a doctor, take a pill to forget and let’s get ready for this strong nine-game slate tonight. Let’s get to it!
As always, if you have any questions, find me on Twitter @Jason_Walker_72.
Atlanta Hawks @ Toronto Raptors
Line: Raptors by 1.5
End of season watch: Hawks are playing for home court advantage, Raptors are close to locking up home court, slight chance for resting players.
The Hawks are balling right now, playing arguably the best statistical defense in the league, led by Paul Millsap and Al Horford. They are still susceptiable for high rebound games, so Jonas Valanciunas/Bismack Biyombo can rack up a solid amount, as they combined for 19 the last time these two teams played. Biyombo is less expensive and likely to play the same amount of minutes. Meanwhile, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan continue to attack and get to the free throw line, both in the top ten in that category. DeRozan has long been a thorn in the Hawks side, but hasn’t really blown it out this season against them. He’s averaging more raw usage and as many DK points per game (DKPPG) as Lowry, and they are both similar. Since Lowry is the one who typically needs to rest more, I’d feel better with DeRozan tonight, but watch the news up to lock to see if either is slated for pre-playoff recuperation.
As stated, the Hawks are playing their best ball, led by their All-Star frontcourt. Millsap has averaged 47.5 DKPPG over his last four games and Horford has averaged 35 in his last 5 games. Jeff Teague has picked up his aggressiveness, popping into the top five in drives per game. His $5.8K salary is still a value, even with usage-king Dennis Schröder playing well as his backup. Both point guards lead the Hawks in raw and true usage over the last five games, and Teague has also averaged 35 DKPPG over that span.
- Jeff Teague ($5,800)
- Al Horford ($6,400)
- DeMar DeRozan ($7,500)
- Bismack Biyombo ($4,300)
- Paul Millsap ($8,000)
Denver Nuggets @ Memphis Grizzlies
Line: Grizzlies by 3
End of season watch: Memphis, despite all of their maladies, are the fifth seed in the West! They haven’t clinched anything, though, and will need to compete hard to make sure they are in the playoffs. Denver is as erratic and messy as ever for minutes and are out of it, so injured players won’t be rushed back.
The Grizzlies without Marc Gasol and largely without Zach Randolph, have been soft on defense in the front court, so whoever is getting the start/minutes up there is a solid target for Denver. It looks like Jusuf Nurkic will miss this game so look for Nikola Jokic to step in and produce at a high level. The same dynamic exists between Emmanuel Mudiay and D.J. Augustin, similar minutes and usage, with Augustin getting slightly more DKPPG over the last five game (27 to 26) and is $900 less expensive.
“Tony Allen is behind only Z-Bo and Lance Stephenson for raw usage…”
Zach Randolph has been dominant as the lone big cog remaining this season for the Grizzlies. Randolph has averaged 44 DKPPG over his last three games, but is questionable with an ankle injury and even though Memphis hasn’t clinched a playoff spot yet, it seems unlikely that they would push Z-Bo if even slightly injured, given their fifth place position right now. Tony Allen had a couple of rough games against the Spurs, but has been very good against everybody else lately, and the dip against the Spurs dropped his price down to $4.3K. Tony Allen is behind only Z-Bo and Lance Stephenson for raw usage and played 31, 27 and 31 minutes before the Spurs games. The Nuggets provide a plus matchup for SGs, so Allen should prevail again.
- D.J. Augustin ($4,700)
- Matt Barnes ($5,300)
- Tony Allen ($4,300)
Los Angeles Clippers @ Minnesota Timberwolves
Line: Clippers by 5.5
End of season watch: Clippers are in the rest danger zone. They are pretty well set in their playoff slot and will begin to have little to play for until the playoffs begin. The Timberwolves are playing out the season and have little reason to rush any injured players back so it should be business as usual there.
Should the Clippers play their starters, then the best matchups reside with Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan. However, if they should miss, then Austin Rivers and Cole Aldrich pick up some major value, especially Aldrich. Rivers is a high raw usage player, but comes in around 0.75 DK points per minute (DKPPM), but if he’s slated to get 34-36 minutes if Paul begins to rest, then that would represent some fine value at around 8-9x for his $3.1K salary. Aldrich is a perihperals and fouling machine, so even if he got extended minutes, maybe 25-26 is all you could count on for him. But he’s over a DKPPM for the season and in a rest scenario, so at the $3K min, he’d be seriously in play.
On the other side, Karl-Anthony Towns and Gorgui Dieng have the best matchups no matter the rest scenario. Towns is gunning for ROY and Dieng continues to enjoy the expanded time he’s received ever since Kevin Garnett got injured.
- Austin Rivers (if Paul sits) ($3,100)
- Cole Aldrich (if Jordan sits) ($3,000)
- Gorgui Dieng ($6,100)
- Karl-Anthony Towns ($8,400)
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Phoenix Suns @ Milwaukee Bucks
Line: Bucks by 6.5
End of season watch: Phoenix has long been playing out the string. Milwaukee is out, too, so more of the usual for them as well.
Phoenix has been all about their backcourt since Brandon Knight came back, with both he and Devin Booker deploying raw usage numbers of 26% and 29%, respectively. They’ve both averaged 39 and 38 DKPPG over the last five games as well, more than 10 points more than the next Suns player (Mirza Teletovic). They, along with SF P.J. Tucker, are the only guys averaging 30+ minutes per game, and they are in the high 30s, to boot. If Tyson Chandler sits (he’s questionable), then the coast may be clear to fire up Jon Leuer again after illness and foul trouble derailed his party train last week.
Milwaukee, after a season of cobbled rotations, have ironically settled on one now that they are out of the playoffs. The new look has reduced Khris Middleton’s minutes, but his salary is still set as if he were getting 37-38 minutes per game like he was. He’s down to 32 minutes per game. And now that Jerryd Bayless has settled into a 30+ minute per game PG slot, Point Giannis has slowed his production pace as well, but is still salaried at over 9K. This leaves Jabari Parker, who second in raw usage on the team over the last five games at 22% and DKPPG at 26 and John Henson, who has finally received consistent minutes with his good health and is putting up some very high totals in 24-25 minutes per game.
- Devin Booker ($6,700)
- Jon Leuer ($4,200)
- John Henson ($3,400)
- Jabari Parker ($5,500)
New Orleans Pelicans @ San Antonio Spurs
Line: Spurs by 17
End of season watch: The spread signals that everybody is play in this one, at home, so that’s how I’m approaching this game. The Pelicans are not only out, but they are so injured, it’s easy to point to the players that will contribute, no matter the Spurs scenario.
With everyone injured in New Orleans, it has left newcomer Tim Frazier and Toney Douglas alone at the top of the backcourt pyramid for the Pelicans. And, after the injuries to Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson, Alexis Ajinca has stepped up to take on more possessions and the offensive frontcourt load. Frazier has been a top driving PG since his arrival in New Orleans, leaving Toney Douglas to the SG role, making Frazier a better choice against the Spurs tonight. Ajinca will have to guard Aldridge, and that will be a challenge to stay on the floor, but his 3.5K price tag and his 27 DKPPG average keeps him in play, especially after the Spurs get out early and then bring in the bench brigade.
“…LaMarcus Aldridge is the man there lately and has a solid matchup here against New Orleans.”
Ok, so if the Spurs are running everyone out there, then LaMarcus Aldridge is the man there lately and has a solid matchup here against New Orleans. LMA has averaged 44 DKPPG over the last four games and he’s asserted himself, along with Kawhi Leonard, as the undisputed fulcrums of this offense. It’s hard to imagine these guys playing full minutes tonight, but those are the two top guys who can get a big number in a short period of time.
* Tim Frazier ($3,700)
* Alexis Ajinca ($3,500)
* LaMarcus Aldridge ($7,700)
* Kawhi Leonard ($7,700)
New York Knicks @ Dallas Mavericks
Line: Mavericks by 5.5
End of season watch: Dallas is fighting for the playoffs, a half game in back of the Rockets for the eighth seed. The Knicks are out and are playing out the season.
Kristaps Porzingis is doubtful, so if Carmelo Anthony plays, he should be the undisputed usage king with 32% raw usage without Porzingis on the floor this season. Robin Lopez has the best individual matchup and has been expanded in this role offensively with 31 DKPPG over his last five games. Jose Calderon has been more active as well and also has a positive matchup tonight. His salary has risen to 4.1K, but he’s averaged 26.4 DKPPG over his last five games.
Dallas is without Deron Williams again during this playoff push, so many eyes will be on J.J. Barea again due to his recent success (35 and 42 in two of his last three games). Beware, however, as his salary has gone to 5K and since Devin Harris has returned, the minutes are in the mid-20s. It’s a solid matchup, but maybe Harris at 3.2K, who has been getting same minutes as Barea, is a better value. Dirk is not going to go quietly here in the twilight of his fine career, so his team leading raw usage and DKPPG (36.1 over his last four games) is going to be in a good spot against the Knicks reserves.
- Robin Lopez ($5,300)
- Jose Calderon ($4,100)
- Devin Harris ($3,200)
- Dirk Nowitzki ($7,100)
Golden State Warriors @ Utah Jazz
Line: Warriors by 4
End of season watch: Warriors are chasing history, the Jazz are in seventh place, but are very tight with Houston (8th) and Dallas (vs. NYK).
The Jazz at home are interesting, and the spread either indicates that there is some serious belief the Jazz are trouble at home or the Warriors are going to start to throttle back now that there is still a five game difference between they and the Spurs for the best record/home court. In fact, the line has moved down to 4 points from the 5.5 it was first thing this morning, so something is afoot here. The Jazz have to go all-out so the frontcourt is the place to attack, especially if Andrew Bogut sits. Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert have been solid, but not value filled at 29 DKPPG and 26 DKPPG, respectively. It’s been Trey Lyles that has been blowing up value at the 3K min, with games of 26, 25 and 22.5 in his 20 minutes per game.
We’ll see what happens with Golden State as no resting has been announced as yet. For the minutes he plays, Harrison Barnes is a solid bargain here, even in a potential roll over. Barnes, without Andre Iguodala is averaging 34 minutes per game over his last four games and getting 23 DKPPG in the process for 4.1K. He scored 29.75 in the last game against the Wizards and if the Warriors are throttling back, that’ll leave some additional stats to accrue for Barnes. Marreese Speights is always a popular play in replacement-type scenarios due to his high possession usage when he’s on the court. Even with Stephen Curry on the floor, Speights uses 27% of possessions but when Steph is off, it jumps to 32% this season.
- Harrison Barnes ($4,100)
- Marreese Speights ($3,700)
- Trey Lyles ($3,000)
- Rudy Gobert ($5,600)
Washington Wizards @ Sacramento Kings
Line: Wizards by 2
End of season watch: Wizards are on their last few games here to make the playoffs. They are three games out of the playoffs right now and this is as much of a must-win as any game can be. Sacramento is in open revolt mode, both coaches and players.
“Good times in Sacramento!”
Good times in Sacramento! If Cousins plays, and is into what he’s doing, he’s the epicenter of all things Sacramento. 33% raw usage, 51 DKPPG over his last eight games, he’s the only one over 1.05 DKPPM when he’s on the court, with Rajon Rondo next at 1.01. If he doesn’t it opens up value for Willie Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos, and also gives Rondo a bump.
The Wizards are confusing. You’d think that the team that was desperate to get to the playoffs would lean even harder on John Wall, like the Rockets are with James Harden, but there’s no indication of any changes in raw usage, where Wall has actually used less over the last two games than overall in the last ten games. I have to believe that they will lean on Wall and Marcin Gortat to make sure they get this must win, and that means that Gortat has to play more than the 28.3 minutes per game average he’s had over the last 10 games.
- John Wall ($10,000)
- Marcin Gortat ($6,800)
- DeMarcus Cousins ($10,200)
- Willie Cauley-Stein ($4,300)
Miami Heat @ Los Angeles Lakers
Line: Heat by 10
End of season watch: The Heat are trying to catch the Hawks home court advantage in the first round. The Lakers are a hot mess that somehow got even hotter over the weekend. Wow.
Miami is not going to need much to push past the sorry, sagging Lakers, so that puts Hassan Whiteside, who is the best individual matchup on the board for the Heat, in a little bit of production peril, given his off-the-bench status and his 8.4K salary. Goran Dragic is questionable, so if he misses, the Josh Richardson cheer squad will perk up, but he’s already at 4.7K. But if Dragic is out, he’ll likely go the distance in a very positive matchup, so he’d still be in play here. Dwyane Wade is playing Kobe for the last time and wanted to make sure that Bryant was playing before he committed to. Hard to know how hard he’ll go, but Wade had a raw usage of 36% without Dragic in the last game and may want to go big in this last game with Kobe.
“It’s impossible to know what will happen with D’Angelo Russell on the court after the Nick Young fiasco.”
It’s impossible to know what will happen with D’Angelo Russell on the court after the Nick Young fiasco. Russell has been the main usage guy behind Kobe over the last five games, but if they won’t even sit next to him to eat, how will that translate, if at all to the court? I’m staying away until I know for sure. What I do know is Kobe has committed to playing these last games, and his raw usage is over 30% and his friend Wade is coming into his arena. For however many minutes he plays tonight, he’s going to be putting up a ton of shots. Julius Randle face planted against the Jazz his last time out, but is still an elite rebounder who should have to face Whiteside for rebounds too much in rotation until late in the game, even Whiteside is even in at that time.
- Dwyane Wade ($6,900)
- Hassan Whiteside ($8,400)
- Kobe Bryant ($4,900)
- Julius Randle ($5,800)