Big Wednesday brings us a strong, 10-game slate. There are a number of games with teams totals over 200 and teams playing on the back end of back-to-backs. Value appears to be in short supply tonight, so let’s sort it all out. As always, if you have any questions, hit me on Twitter @JasonWalker_72.
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(Stats per NBA Stats, StatMuse, NBAWowy)
Indiana Pacers @ Philadelphia 76ers
Line: Pacers -7
The Pacers come into Philadelphia with the 10th slowest pace while the host Sixers are middle of the league (16th). Both are under 100 possessions per game. Philly is the least efficient offense in the league, scoring 91.2 points per 100 possessions and the Pacers are eighth worst at 98.6. Defensively, the Sixers are the sixth worst team in the league while the Pacers are eighth best. Myles Turner and George Hill is out for the Pacers and Rodney Stuckey is questionable. Jahlil Okafor is probable for tonight and Phil Pressey is questionable for the Sixers.
With George Hill out, it’s all the Monta Ellis and Paul George for the Pacers. The Sixers are weak…well, just about everywhere defensively from a fantasy perspective, so given the extended minutes and possessions those two will get for the Indiana (George 32%, Ellis 27% w/o Hill), there’s no need to go anywhere else for the Pacers.
The Pacers are pretty strong defensively, but they have given up some points and efficiency inside, so Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel could have some value. The wings are too crowded to lock onto a target, especially with Robert Covington back but on limited minutes. Even one of our favorites of the young season, TJ McConnell, could be limited if Phil Pressey plays tonight and caps TJ’s minutes back to the high 20s.
– Paul George ($9,500)
– Monta Ellis ($6,000)
– Nerlens Noel ($6,900)
– Jahlil Okafor ($7,200)
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Orlando Magic
Line: Magic -3
The Magic and Timberwolves play at similar paces, right around 100 poss/gm. Minnesota is top ten in offensive rating while the Magic are in the bottom five. Both teams are near the middle of the league in defensive rating, with the Wolves slightly worse than average and the Magic slightly better. The Magic have four players listed as questionable (Oladipo, Fournier, Watson, Smith) with Fournier the most likely to play after having a fever on Monday.
Ricky Rubio makes things happen for the Timberwolves offense, so they had to be happy to have him back against the Heat last night. He’s supposed to play again tonight and that makes Karl-Anthony Towns and Rubio good plays for tonight. Towns goes from being a 0.89 DK points per minute player (not bad) to a 1.22 DKPPM player (yow!) with Rubio on the floor with him. The Magic have long given up points in the middle with Nikola Vucevic (105.3 personal defensive rating) at center, so Towns is a terrific play tonight.
The Magic spread the usage and production around quite a bit, not leaving any one player as the dominant usage player, even in Oladipo’s absence. The Wolves can get attacked at SG and PF, so if Oladipo goes, then he and Tobias Harris would be decent targets, especially Harris at his 6.1K salary given his ability to spike up in certain matchups.
– Karl-Anthony Towns ($7,300)
– Ricky Rubio ($7,400)
– Tobias Harris ($6,100)
– Victor Oladipo ($7,400)
Brooklyn Nets @ Charlotte Hornets
Line: Pelicans -7
The Nets and Pelicans are the sixth and seventh slowest teams, respectively, which is why the game total is so low. Charlotte is the fifth most efficient team offensively while the Nets are the second worst. Defensively, both teams are in the bottom half of the league, with the Nets being ninth worst. PJ Hairston is questionable for the Pelicans.
The Nets got their first win of the year last night at home against the Hawks, so there may be, if you can believe it, a letdown for them heading on the road to Charlotte. Charlotte has been getting beat up front so Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young are in play again tonight for the Nets after nice games last night in Atlanta.
Al Jefferson hasn’t been playing major minutes and only played 26 last night in New York, but his matchup against Lopez is a good one to go for value at his 6K price tag. Kemba Walker had another good game in Madison Square Garden and returns home in a good matchup against Jarrett Jack, looking good at his reasonable 6.5K salary. If Hairston misses again, as he did last night, look at see if the Pelicans play Jeremy Lin more at the shooting guard after Nicolas Batum’s disastrous play in New York at SG last night. Lin’s 4.1K salary is good and Batum is in a solid bounce-back spot at 7K with everybody likely bailing on him after an aberrant game against the Knicks.
– Brook Lopez ($7,200)
– Thaddeus Young ($6,100)
– Kemba Walker ($6,500)
– Nicolas Batum ($7,000)
Dallas Mavericks @ Boston Celtics
Line: Celtics -4.5
Both teams are top ten in pace, with the Celtics fifth and Mavericks 10th. Both teams are also in the top ten in defensive efficiency, while the Mavericks are slightly above average in offensive rating, the Celtics are bottom ten in that category. Charlie Villanueva is questionable for the Mavericks.
The Celtics have shown to be tough defensively, evidenced by their stymying of the rudderless Rockets Monday. The do this with a mix of players, constantly rotating. Through this, nobody dominates the minutes and the only person who gets high usage is Isaiah Thomas. Thomas, Jared Sullinger and Jae Crowder have emerged as minutes leaders on the team, and Sullinger and Thomas have the only DKPPM rates above 1.00. Which two positions has Dallas been weakest at defending? PG and PF, lining up nicely with Thomas and Sullinger.
For Dallas, Zaza Pachulia doesn’t play a ton of minutes, sort of how Rick Carlisle used Tyson Chandler last season, but he can be solid in play against the Celtics interior defense. Also, Dwight Powell can be a good play in his 28-30 minutes role in relief of Dirk Nowitzki and Pachulia.
– Isaiah Thomas ($7,300)
– Jared Sullinger ($6,000)
– Zaza Pachulia ($5,600)
– Dwight Powell ($5,000)
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New Orleans Pelicans @ Oklahoma City Thunder
Line: Thunder -11
The Thunder are the sixth paciest team in the league and the Pelicans are 13th. The Thunder are the second best offensive team in the league and the Pelicans are the 10th worst. Defensively, the Thunder are in the middle of the league while the Pelicans are by far the worst.
I love top offensive teams, at home, coming off of rest against a team that played the night before like the Thunder are sitting tonight. Russell Westbrook is high priced, but you are buying a tremendous floor of points and, as such, he doesn’t need to deliver 6x salary to deliver value. Steven Adams is a decent punt play at 3.9K if the Pelicans bring Omer Asik back for this game. If the Pelicans go small, then Adams is off the board.
The Hornets, despite their lowly state, are actually good targets tonight because the minutes and roles are strongly defined. With Holiday sitting on the back end of this back-to-back and if Davis is out, which I expect him to be after getting injured last night, then Eric Gordon goes over 30% usage and gets nearly a DKPPM. Ryan Anderson will play more and Ish Smith gets starters minutes. All three are in play, though I like Gordon and Smith the most of the three.
– Russell Westbrook ($12,200)
– Ish Smith ($5,500)
– Eric Gordon ($6,400)
– Ryan Anderson ($5,900)
Portland Trail Blazers @ Houston Rockets
Line: Rockets -7
Houston is the seventh fastest team in the league and Portland is the ninth slowest. Portland is the 10th best offensive team while the Rockets are seventh worst. Defensively, the Rockets are the second worst team while the Blazers are sixth worst.
Whoa. These are two teams that are struggling, but for different reasons. The Blazers are clearly having to re-tool after losing LaMarcus Aldridge to free agency and are basically throwing in this season behind high usage of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. The Rockets are aimless, and not even James Harden’s greatness can resolve whatever issues they have. For fantasy, however, this is adding up to an excellent offensive game to have much exposure to.
There’s nobody else to look at in Houston right now with everybody but Donatas Motiejunas in the mix except for Harden and Dwight Howard. Everyone else has to battle for minutes and it reduces the fantasy goodness for them. For Portland, as stated above, it’s all about Lillard and McCollum. Also, Al-Farouq Aminu can put up some good peripherals, but against Trevor Ariza, he’s not likely to score enough to make value at his 6K salary.
– Damian Lillard ($8,800)
– CJ McCollum ($6,500)
– James Harden ($10,100)
– Dwight Howard ($7,500)
Sacramento Kings @ Atlanta Hawks
Line: Hawks -3
The Kings are the fastest team in the league right now and the Hawks have slipped just below the league average in pace. The Hawks are the eighth most efficient offense while the Kings are middle of the pack. Defensively, the Kings are seventh worst and the Hawks are middle of the pack. Jeff Teague and Kent Bazemore missed Tuesday’s game against the Nets and are questionable for tonight while Willie Cauley-Stein and Darren Collison are both questionable for the Kings.
One thing about the Hawks on back-to-backs are that they will mix things up. Keep an eye on Teague, as I wouldn’t be surprised to see Teague starting tonight, with Bazemore, after both were able to take the night off with their injuries. The Hawks are needing to get back on track and while I like the idea of a Dennis Schröder led offense for the Hawks, the team may get Teague back in there after yielding the Nets’ first win of the season. If Teague and Bazemore are out, you have to like Schröder and Paul Millsap given their spiked usage rates in that situation.
For the Kings, drop everything and start DeMarcus Cousins against the Hawks. I’ve written extensively about the Hawks aversion to the offensive glass and that leaves Cousins to collect everything for the Kings, especially without any other dominant rebounding force on his team. Also, Al Horford stays to the perimeter and rarely draws fouls, keeping Boogie far out of foul trouble. Also, if Collison misses again, then it’s obvious Rajon Rondo is the play, but if Collison does get back in the mix, then you can’t go Rondo at 8.7 as he needs 40+ minutes to get to those numbers since he’s absent high scoring ability that Cousins has. If Collison does play, starts at SG and gets his usual 28-30 minutes, then he’s an excellent value at 4.8K
– Dennis Schröder ($4,900)
– Paul Millsap ($8,000)
– DeMarcus Cousins ($10,300)
– Darren Collison ($4,700)
Denver Nuggets @ San Antonio Spurs
Line: Spurs -13
The Spurs are the eighth slowest team in the league and the Nuggets are middle of the pack. The Spurs are currently the best defensive team in the league while the Nuggets are 10th worst. Offensively, the Spurs are seventh best while the Nuggets are middle of the pack. Joffrey Lauvergne is doubtful and Darrell Arthur is questionable for the Nuggets tonight.
The Nuggets started JJ Hickson last night and then proceeded to go small after Anthony Davis got hurt for the Pelicans, scoring 115 points and leaving Hickson with six minutes played. I don’t think that approach will work against the Spurs, but you can’t be sure how this game will play out given the Spurs proficiency everywhere, the Nuggets playing last night and the Spurs, well rested and extremely efficient at home. Danilo Gallinari had a monster game against the Pelicans, but now gets the Kawhi Leonard treatment, at least for however long Pop leaves the starters in for the Spurs. Best bet on the Nuggets is Emmanuel Mudiay, who gets over 27% usage and has the ball constantly, for better or worse. His price is still reasonable (6.1K) for his minutes/usage. Next would be Will Barton, who is a great value for his skill set at 5.1K
For the Spurs, Kawhi Leonard is where it starts, as he could make value quickly against this Nuggets (and Gallinari) defense, as long as he stays in the game. the Spurs don’t play again until Friday, when they begin a back to back against woebegone New Orleans and then Memphis on Saturday. It’s possible Pop could target that Pelicans game as a rest game and go ahead and leave the starters in for a bit in this one until it’s clear the game is in hand. If so, Leonard and Tim Duncan are solid plays.
– Emmanuel Mudiay ($6,100)
– Will Barton ($5,100)
– Kawhi Leonard ($8,200)
– Tim Duncan ($6,200)
Toronto Raptors @ Utah Jazz
Line: Jazz -4.5
The Raptors are playing middle of the pack in pace now and the Jazz are still slow, second slowest in the league. Utah is the sixth best defensive rating team and the Raptors are 13th. Offensively, the Raptors are sixth best while the Jazz are 13th worst.
The Raptors gave all last night against the Warriors in Golden State but came up short. Now they have to go through the Utah defensive buzzsaw. The strength of the Raptors are in the backcourt, so Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are the focus players here. With the teeth of the Jazz defense up front, as long as those two still have legs and spirit after a tough loss, they should be alright, though slightly lowered due to pace, in this game. DeRozan is third in the league in free throws attempted per 36 minutes, with 9.7 FTA per 36.
For Utah, the bigs are the play, as Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors pace up a little against the Raptors and don’t have much resistance in the Raptors defense up front. Gobert and Favors are both top 15 in DK Net Points which focuses on the non-scoring fantasy points. Gobert averages 26.6 Net Points and Favors gets 25.1 from their peripherals. Alec Burks has sneaky value here (5.4K) as he’s getting 6.6 FTA per 36 and the Jazz have been leaning on him down the stretch in recent games.
– Kyle Lowry ($8,300)
– DeMar DeRozan ($7,300)
– Rudy Gobert ($6,700)
– Derrick Favors ($7,600)
Chicago Bulls @ Phoenix Suns
Line: Suns -2.5
The Bulls are 11th in Pace and the Suns are second. Chicago has been the sixth worst offensive rated team and the Suns are just outside the top ten. Defensively, both teams are currently in the top ten in defensive rating. Derrick Rose is doubtful for the Bulls and Markieff Morris has returned to practice and though listed as questionable, is considered likely to play.
If Rose is out, that could mean that Kirk Hinrich could start and get solid minutes for the Bulls. Hinrich played 16 minutes off the bench backing up Rose in Monday’s win over Indiana and Aaron Brooks took a DNP. The whole situation bears watching as it could provide a solid place for value as Hinrich is min priced 3K tonight. Otherwise the Suns matchup alright where the Bulls are stronger, with Eric Bledsoe on Butler at SG and Tyson Chandler up against Pau Gasol in the middle. If Joakim Noah could get more than 21-24 minutes of run, he’d be a tremendous value at 4.8K with his solid peripherals (third in DK Net points per 36 minutes).
For Phoenix, there aren’t many good matchups for them as the Bulls are weaker up front defensively with Noah on the bench, but with Morris banged up and Tyson Chandler a clean up guy offensively, they can’t take real advantage there. Eric Bledsoe will be matched up with Jimmy Butler and Brandon Knight, who many may leap to after his epic game against the Lakers, will find things significantly harder against Hinrich. Chandler could be the best value here at 5.3K given his peripherals and TJ Warren, who gets 24-26 minutes per game, is alright at 4K.
– Kirk Hinrich or Aaron Brooks ($3,000 or $3,600)
– Tyson Chandler ($5,300)
– Jimmy Butler ($7,800)
– TJ Warren ($4,000)