WATCH: 3 IN THE KEY – MARCIN GORTAT
There may only be six games scheduled for Wednesday night in the NBA, but they include some of the top options in the game, with OKC, Houston and Cleveland all active. Here are a few names to consider at every position and in every price range.
John Wall @ BOS ($9,200) – Even with Avery Bradley out, the Celtics have a solid perimeter defense, but if they are susceptible to any particular kind of player, it’s Wall. His ability to penetrate and slash with and without the ball will give him plenty of opportunities to score in close. He has had two double-doubles inside the past week, and if he manages to pile up that many assists here, the scoring will definitely be there for 50+ fantasy point upside.
Isaiah Thomas vs. WAS ($8,900) – It’s hard not to at least consider him every night lately, after contending with Wall for December Player of the Month, and he has kept up the pace to start off January. He is starting to price himself out of being a cash-game option because he still has a floor of 30-35 fantasy points, but his 60+ point upside has made him get consistently more expensive. But with two teams both willing to push the pace, he should have plenty of volume to fulfill his upside as a GPP play.
Other Options – Russell Westbrook ($11,800)
T.J. McConnell vs. NY ($5,500) – It looks to me like he has locked down the starting point guard job in Philly, playing 35+ minutes every night – so you can ignore that 21 minute per game average you see for him on the year. He is not shooting well, or getting to the line, but if you get the six boards and 10 assists he is averaging as a starter, he’s an inexpensive source of 25-30 fantasy points.
Other Options – Patrick Beverly ($5,600), Derrick Rose ($5,000)
James Harden @ MIN ($12,000) – The Rockets are tops in the league with Golden State in terms of offensive efficiency and pacing, and they have a roster that is very well suited towards playing with Harden as the centerpiece. This team is not going to be an easy out for anyone come playoff time, and they are proving it at 31-9 through 40 games. With Eric Gordon out, Harden’s usage rate is only increasing here in the short term, making him the perfect fit into your lineup in any format contest.
C.J. McCollum vs. CLE ($7,800) – The strength of this Cleveland defense is clearly through the middle, so if one of these Portland guards is going to go off, it’s going to be the one who is just hot from the outside. They will manage to get open looks from deep much easier than finding any room in close, and Lillard is the one of the two more likely to try to set up his game with penetration. McCollum should be able to come off picks and find plenty of room to get off his shot, and if he gets rolling he could have a big night as Portland tries to score with the Cavs.
Other Options – Marcus Smart ($6,300)
Jamal Crawford @ ORL ($4,100)- He is coming off the bench and getting a lot of looks, putting up an average of just over 12 shots per game of late. He’s shooting somewhat inconsistently, which makes him more of a tourney play than a cash-game option in my opinion because he doesn’t contribute in a lot of other ways if the scoring isn’t there. But in this matchup, he should get enough clean looks to give him 25+ fantasy point upside.
Other Options – J.J. Redick ($5,500)
LeBron James @ POR ($9,700) – No one on this Portland team can stop him from doing whatever he wants, period. He might not make himself the primary offensive option, but he could. I think he is the perfect cash-game option here, almost assuredly giving you 50+ fantasy points, not too far off what you will most likely get from Harden or Westbrook for a couple thousand less dollars (but really without the 70+ point upside).
Marcus Smart vs. WAS ($6,300) – With Avery Bradley not likely to be able to go tonight, Smart is the primary beneficiary, and should see a direct path to both more minutes and a higher usage rate on the offensive end. He is someone who can stuff the stat sheet in so many ways that every extra minute he is out there leads to almost a straight-line increase in fantasy production, but if he is also scoring more (averaging just over 17 points per game over his last three, compared to a season average of 10.2), that increase could be really dramatic and this price will continue to grow.
Other Options – Carmelo Anthony ($7,600)
Dario Saric vs. NY ($4,600) – He has been playing great over the past few weeks, going well over 20 fantasy points in five out of six games since Christmas. He has improved on both his scoring and his rebounding numbers since the beginning of the season to the point where a 15-8 night is a totally reasonable expectation, and perfectly usable at this price, especially in a cash-game format.
Other Options – Jae Crowder ($5,200)
Joel Embiid vs. NY ($8,000) – I am actually excited to watch Embiid and Porzingis out there together, as they both have the length to get their shot in traffic and the ability to face up to the hoop. For all the similarities though, there are some big differences – while Porzingis has the range, Embiid is the walking embodiment of the kind of inside-out game that can make someone an option on every single offensive set – and that’s exactly what he is.
Kristaps Porzingis @ PHI ($7,500) – He’s not Embiid, but that addition of the deadly outside range makes him a unique threat himself, and someone who can cause fits for two big men like Embiid and Noel. Those guys can play some phenomenal defense, but they can’t just keep getting close enough all night long to contend this guy’s shot. That’s what makes players like him and Dirk in his prime so impossible to handle – you need someone quick enough to stay close on the perimeter, but long enough to actually impact their shot – and Philly doesn’t have that guy.
Other Options – Kevin Love ($8,100)
Ryan Anderson @MIN ($5,000) – All of the Rockets could see an uptick in usage with Gordon and his three-point shooting missing some time, and that could mean some nice upside for Anderson here. He is shooting over 40 percent from three for the year, so even one or two more clean looks would boost his upside enough to make $5,000 a value in any format contest.
Other Options – Enes Kanter ($5,100), JaMychal Green ($4,300)
Kevin Love @ POR ($8,100) – Tonight, Love is the member of the Cavs’ Big Three I expect to be the primary offensive option, going against a Portland front court he should be able to have his way with. I expect an above-average rebounding night, and the ability to score in low at will, making him a boon for LeBron’s assist totals, and giving him the 40+ fantasy point upside.
DeAndre Jordan vs. ORL ($7,000) – He has had 18 or more rebounds in three of their last four games, and it is a result more of the lack of other rebounders on the Clippers than it is about his opponent. His scoring isn’t as consistent as you might have expected without Griffin around, but the upside is there in a way it wasn’t earlier in the season, as evidenced by the five games with double-digit scoring in their last eight. He should be able to get a double-double tonight in this matchup, which would make him a worthwhile consideration in a cash game or GPP lineup.
Other Options – Marc Gasol ($6,800), Al Horford ($6,700)
Marcin Gortat @ BOS ($6,000) – The Celtics don’t really have a set answer for this kind of old-school post presence. It likely means some minutes for Amir Johnson ($4,100), who coach Stevens seems to rely on to defend these kinds of players. Gortat should actually be able to find plenty of room to operate in the lane, where he could be the beneficiary of wide open looks created by Wall’s penetration. I think those two will be a nice tandem tonight in this particular matchup.
Other Options – Zach Randolph ($5,800), Amir Johnson ($4,100)
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theasquad) 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.