Saturday in the NBA Park bring us a low scoring, eight game main slate with only two of the games with a forecasted total over 200. Points will be at a premium so let’s break down the game and see who we’re rostering tonight. As always, if you have any questions, hit me on Twitter @JasonWalker_72.
On to the games!
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Miami Heat
Line: Heat -2
Pace: Cleveland (28th), Miami (27th)
Offensive Rating: Cleveland (3rd), Miami (14th)
Defensive Rating: Cleveland (13th), Miami (2nd)
Luol Deng is still questionable for the Heat. Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert remain out for the Cavs.
Mo Williams has decided to bench himself to prepare for this backup role now that Kyrie Irving is back at practice (though he is not playing against the Heat). So Matthew Dellavedova got the start against the Pelicans Friday night, played 42 minutes and did even worse than his 0.72 DraftKings points per minutes rate has been for the season in getting only 18 DK points. Don’t expect that to improve because Miami is #1 against opposing fantasy PG this season. Where the Heat are weakest is at SF, where Deng is questionable again tonight and where LeBron James reigns. LeBron laid a bit in the weeds at times against New Orleans but turned it on late to help force overtime, but wasn’t enough to win. I wouldn’t expect that same approach tonight against his old pals in Miami.
The Cavs are very physical up front with Timofey Mozgov, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao and Kevin Love making things difficult, so this isn’t an optimal game for Chris Bosh, who I’ve liked for a while in this space or Hassan Whiteside. Between the two, I’m going Whiteside because he’s averaging 29.9 DK points per 36 minutes just on peripherals this season. It’s at the SG position where they are the weakest and, surprise, there’s Dwyane Wade, who is coming off back to back 40 DK point games. I would expect to see more Justise Winslow than Gerald Green in this game should Deng miss again.
– LeBron James ($10,000)
– JR Smith ($5,300)
– Dwyane Wade ($7,000)
– Hassan Whiteside ($7,700)
Charlotte Hornets @ Chicago Bulls
Line: Bulls -5.5
Pace: Charlotte (20th), Chicago (9th)
Offensive Rating: Charlotte (4th), Chicago (27th)
Defensive Rating: Charlotte (11th), Chicago (4th)
Al Jefferson is out for the Hornets and Nikola Mirotic is questionable for the Bulls.
Two things you have to know for this game. One is that Charlotte is a net positive defense for opposing bigs. Two is that, if Mirotic sits, Joakim Noah becomes the chalkiest play on the slate tonight. Noah is a DK point per minute (DKPPM) machine and gets 28.8 DK points per 36 minutes on peripherals alone (DK Net Points). So if Mirotic is out and Noah plays over 30 minutes, he’s a gotta-have-him play at 4.3K even if you’ve never liked him since he was a star at Florida. This is likely to give Pau Gasol a boost, too. Gasol hadn’t played more than 30 minutes in a game in over a month until Mirotic left the Nuggets game and Gasol went off, playing 36 minutes. Charlotte is also a net positive for opposing SG as if you needed more reasons to trust Jimmy Butler tonight.
Chicago usually is a net positive for opposing centers, but if Noah gets the start, that changes. But you probably didn’t want to roster Cody Zeller anyway, so let’s look at the backcourt. Kemba Walker is a decent play against Derrick Rose as the Bulls are a bit neutral towards opposing point guards. The last big game they gave up to opposing PG was…Kemba Walker last month in Chicago. Nic Batum lines up against the other soft spot in the Bulls defense, the small forward position, though you might expect Jimmy Butler to at least partially take Batum since the Hornets SG situation is a hot mess unless they commit to playing Jeremy Lamb more. If you are allergic to any kind of Butler defense on someone you roster, maybe Frank Kaminsky at 3.2K can give you 20 DK points in 25 minutes, but break that glass only in case of emergency.
– Joakim Noah – if Mirotic is out ($4,200)
– Pau Gasol ($7,200)
– Jimmy Butler ($7,700)
– Kemba Walker ($7,300)
Sacramento Kings @ Houston Rockets
Line: Rockets -3
Oh this game….first the metrics, but I warn you, I’m a little excited.
Pace: Sacramento (2nd), Houston (10th)
Offensive Rating: Sacramento (12th), Houston (20th)
Defensive Rating: Sacramento (27th), Houston (26th)
Ok, are you starting to see it? This is the chalk game of the night. First of all, the highest game total. Second of all, a pacy pair that play some offense and no defense. Third, the marquee names in the game: James Harden, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard. It looks like a tasty treat that has no chance to live up to my relative excitement about it.
Both of these teams are net positive to the opposition at every position. That’s hard to accomplish, Earth. So Harden is a big yes against the Kings, who gave up 74 DK points to Harden a month ago. Cousins is a big yes against the Rockets bigs, yes that includes Howard, who is expected to play after resting Friday night. That’s a yes for Dwight Howard, who will likely see a lot of loose coverage from Cousins and some of the defensive comedy stylings of Kosta Koufos, too. And while we’re at it, Omri Casspi would be a good play if George Karl follows through and starts him as he indicated Friday. With Willie Cauley-Stein out, Karl may move Rudy Gay to the PF position and start Casspi at SF, where the Rockets have been awful at defending this season. Patrick Beverley at 4.4K has limited ceiling, but has been good for 22-24 DK points and gets a bump in this game as they’ll need some sort of defense on the floor tonight.
– James Harden ($10,500)
– Dwight Howard ($7,000)
– DeMarcus Cousins ($10,600)
– Omri Casspi ($4,700)
Portland Trail Blazers @ Minnesota Timberwolves
Line: Timberwolves -2
Pace: Minnesota (15th), Portland (21st)
Offensive Rating: Minnesota (18th), Portland (8th)
Defensive Rating: Minnesota (15th), Portland (23rd)
Damian Lillard maintains a top ten Usage Rate in the league this season and, with the exception of him gamely trying to play through illness against the Clippers, he’s delivered, averaging nearly 44 DK points per game this season. The Timberwolves are neutral this season towards PG, so Lillard is definitely in play in a game that serves as a sneaky alternative to the Kings/Rockets tilt. Lillard’s partner in the backcourt, CJ McCollum, is in play against Kevin Martin and with his own high usage rate of 26%.
On the Minnesota side, it’s a little more difficult to identify where to attack. Ricky Rubio did great the last time against Portland but Portland’s defense has great improved since then (neutral now to both backcourt spots) and Rubio has been limited since returning from injury. The Blazers do continue to be horrible defending the center position, but even there Minnesota has been splitting time recently between Karl-Anthony Towns and Gorgui Dieng. It’s Dieng right now that’s the better value since it looks like Towns has hit a wall of sorts in this rookie season. Joining Dieng in effectiveness off the bench has been Zach LaVine, but his salary is now to the point where you have to trust him delivering off the bench, which isn’t something LaVine has earned yet.
– Damian Lillard ($8,900)
– CJ McCollum ($6,600)
– Ricky Rubio ($6,600)
– Gorgui Dieng ($4,500)
New York Knicks @ Milwaukee Bucks
Line: Knicks -1.5
Pace: New York (23rd), Milwaukee (29th)
Offensive Rating: New York (23rd), Milwaukee (21st)
Defensive Rating: New York (17th), Milwaukee (28th)
Jerryd Bayless, Greivis Vasquez and Tyler Ennis are all out for the Bucks.
So, when do we think Kristaps Porzingis becomes a 10K player? Next week? The hype around the rookie big man has been backed up by some seriously consistent, versatile production. His DK Net Points per 36 stands at 24, so his peripherals are sound, it’s a matter of getting minutes, which he’s been getting more of lately. But at an 8.1K salary, he’d have to deliver at a higher level than he’s established so far, even though he’s been good. Who’d have thought that, with Zingis’ rise, that Carmelo would look like a bargain right now at 8K? Anthony has the better matchup today, and his usage is still at 30%, so Anthony is still the better play between the two, but it’s amazing that’s even worth discussing right now. Arron Afflalo has been good lately as he’s filled into his role on the Knicks, producing three straight games of 23 DK points or higher and has a slightly positive matchup tonight.
With Bayless, Vasquez and Ennis all definitely out tonight, Michael Carter-Williams, at 5.1K salary, is going to dare you to roster him in a low total game against the Knicks, who have become a slightly negative matchup for opposing PG. Still, it’s easy to see a 40 minute game coming from him, so he’s definitely in play as a strong tourney option and possible for cash given his nearly DKPPM rate with all those other guys off the floor. OJ Mayo, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton are all enhanced by this as well.
– Carmelo Anthony ($8,000)
– Arron Afflalo ($4,700)
– Michael Carter-Williams ($5,100)
– OJ Mayo ($4,400)
Boston Celtics @ San Antonio Spurs
Line: Spurs -9.5
Pace: Boston (5th), San Antonio (25th)
Offensive Rating: Boston (16th), San Antonio (12th)
Defensive Rating: Boston (3rd), San Antonio (1st)
Marcus Smart remains out for the Celtics.
Two very strong defensive teams here, who blinks first? I am not counting on that team being San Antonio, so that put the Celtics in a tough spot in terms of rostering folks from here. When in doubt, find the minutes and the usage and hope, even if inefficient, that comes through. So that takes us to Isaiah Thomas, who has high usage with Smart out (30%). If the Spurs are even neutral anywhere, it’s the PG position, so Tony Parker shouldn’t hinder Thomas at all.
The Celtics defensive weakness is in the small forward position, so Kawhi Leonard gets another positive matchup to exploit here. Leonard’s salary has risen to 8.7K, but he did just drop 50 DK points on Memphis and this is a pace-up game for the Spurs, so he could find the value in this matchup. In the first matchup between these two teams, LaMarcus Aldridge went off for 50 DK points when his salary was 7.3K. It’s 6.7K now, so there’s possible goodness in that matchup again for LMA. This game should be a fun one to watch, but not so good a game for sweating participants.
– Isaiah Thomas ($7,700)
– Jared Sullinger ($6,400)
– Kawhi Leonard ($8,700)
– LaMarcus Aldridge ($6,700)
Indiana Pacers @ Utah Jazz
Line: Pacers -2
Pace: Indiana (11th), Utah (30th)
Offensive Rating: Indiana (9th), Utah (19th)
Defensive Rating: Indiana (7th), Utah (10th)
Rudy Gobert is out for the Jazz and Monta Ellis is questionable for the Pacers.
Not having Gobert on the court, from a basketball perspective, brings a lot of sadness. Expecting Trevor Booker to come in and produce in Gobert’s absence and having him post a 15-minutes, eight DK point night is even more rain and pain. One thing is sure and that’s when Gobert is out, Gordon Hayward is Mr. Usage for the Jazz, followed by Alec Burks and then Derrick Favors. The Jazz do like to go smaller in certain matchups without Gobert and this matchup with Indiana could be one of those games.
Utah struggles, relative to their other positions, with defending the SF position, so there’s Paul George, though it’s hard to get behind paying up for him in a pace-down game. If Ellis does miss, then Rodney Stuckey gets a look. Ian Mahinmi has been fairly consistent and his salary is only now starting to come up to that production.
– Derrick Favors ($7,500)
– Alec Burks ($5,200)
– Rodney Stuckey ($4,400)
– ian Mahinmi ($5,100)
Orlando Magic @ Los Angeles Clippers
Line: Clippers -2.5
Pace: Orlando (17th), Los Angeles (12th)
Offensive Rating: Orlando (17th), Los Angeles (5th)
Defensive Rating: Orlando (7th), Los Angeles (19th)]
Chris Paul is out for the Clippers and JJ Redick is doubtful. CJ Watson continues to be out for the Magic.
No Paul and possibly no Redick? As a huge fanboy of the guy, I can’t roster enough Jamal Crawford in tournaments. His usage rises to 25.3% in that situation and his DKPPM is 0.90. If he gets 35 minutes, he’s good for over 30 DK points, which makes value on his 4.9K, but has great upside off of that. But that’s me, Jamal Crawford fanboy. Lance Stephenson has also been active lately, scoring over 20 DK points in three of his last four games while only averaging 22 minutes. If he starts over Crawford then he could be a terrific play at 3.4K. Elsewhere, Blake Griffin is still alright in this scenario. His usage stays around the same at 30%, but his assist rate cranks up to 36%. However, anytime you lose a facilitator like Paul, your overall production will suffer, as Blake’s does when his DKPPM drops to 1.16 with Paul/Redick off the court. DeAndre Jordan is a great play against the Magic centers as well, as his DK Net points are at 27.6 per 36 minutes, good for 7th in the league this season.
You can play against Jordan, too, as he is the Clippers weak link defensively. Nikola Vucevic has begun to steady his feet around 35 DK points again recently and has the upside to exceed value if he gets minutes (he averages 29 per game for the season). In a matchup with DeAndre Jordan, he might have to go past 30 and if so, he’s a good value for the Magic. Tobias Harris has been playing more minutes lately, and he’s been posted three 30 DK point games in the last four games. He has a solid matchup against the Clippers, who have been neutral against the SF position.
– DeAndre Jordan ($7,100)
– Jamal Crawford or Lance Stephenson – if one of them starts for Redick ($4,900 or $3,400)
– Nikola Vucevic ($6,800)
– Tobias Harris ($6,200)