Today’s NBA targets breakdown looks at Wednesday’s nine-game slate, with an eye towards the studs, sleepers and mid-range players you want to have rotating in your lineups. Good luck!
Russell Westbrook – OKC @ BOS – $10,500 – If you look at the top of the PG rankings, you have Westbrook against Boston and Curry against the Knicks, so on paper this choice might not make too much sense. But the Knicks actually are better than average at one specific aspect of slowing down guards: defending against the three. The Celtics held the Thunder star to 5-for-20 shooting in an early-season game Durant missed, led by the defensive effort of Smart, who also scored 28. But in case you thought Westbrook wouldn’t care about some random road game on the East Coast, here were his words about Smart after that game: “Don’t get it twisted. He had a good game, but we’ll see him again.” This one, randomly, might be circled on Westbrook’s calendar.
Kemba Walker – CHA vs. ORL – $8,800 – Over the last couple of weeks, he is averaging just about ten DK FP per game more than his season average. If you believe in streaks, this is a guy to ride right now. This price is not indicative of a guy who has been over 40 fantasy points in seven of his last eight games and there is good reason to expect it to continue against an Orlando team that struggles against scoring guards.
Ricky Rubio – MIN @ MEM – $6,600 – It’s easy to pick on (or more accurately, pick against) the Grizzlies right now. But if I think some of Minnesota’s other players are good options (see below), then I suppose it’s only logical to also think of the guy dishing it to all those other options. He is coming off consecutive 50+ DK FP outings, including 17 assists two nights ago against Phoenix. In fact, with double-digit assists in four of five, all you have to hope is that Wiggins and LaVine don’t take away ALL the shots, so Rubio still has a chance to get to double-digits in scoring.
Marcus Smart – BOS vs. OKC – $4,200 – As much as Westbrook might be fired up for this matchup, the fact is it worked last time because Smart is one of those rare – really rare – players who is actually a match for Russell physically. Smart is compact for a guy who stands 6’5”, explosive and strong and fast enough to stay with Westbrook, and no matter how young and inexperienced, he’s already one of the best defenders in the league. Expecting a 20+ point outing like you got from him last time these two teams faced each other would be silly – he just doesn’t do that often enough. But, recently inserted into the starting lineup to replace some minutes for the injured Jae Crowder, you should see him out there with plenty of opportunities to turn in a performance that’s a solid value at this price.
Briante Weber – MEM vs MIN – $3,300 – Injuries have decimated the Grizzlies and Mike Conley out has led to big minutes for Briante. He’s averaging 22.3 DraftKings points in 35.2 minutes over his last 3 games and despite his lack of scoring, he’s a strong play at a bargain bin price.
James Harden – HOU vs. LAC – $10,200 – I am mentioning Harden here just because SG is so thin tonight, there aren’t many “studs” to discuss. But I do not think $10,200 is money well spent on Harden in this one – you can find another position to splurge on. The fact that he is coming off back-to-back sub-20 point games does not make him some kind of contrarian play. His ownership % might be down slightly, but I don’t know if that makes it worth spending more than 20 percent of your salary on a player who has a total of 38 points in his last two games against the Clippers (and one of those was double-OT).
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Klay Thompson – GS vs. NY – $7,000 – OK, so I mentioned above that the Knicks are good at defending the three. It’s not like I meant they were going to win, or something crazy like that. Last time they faced each other, Steph might have gone 3-for-11 from downtown but Klay was 5-for-6 on his way to game high 34 points, which was enough to lead the Warriors to a 21-point win.
Zach LaVine – MIN @ MEM – $5,900 – With Memphis’ roster decimated by injuries, their ranking defending every position is now moot. They got Tony Allen back at the exact right time to eat up some minutes and he is obviously an above-average defender, but he can’t guard LaVine AND Wiggins. And point of fact, I think he’ll spend more time on the bigger Wiggins, leaving LaVine more room to continue his recent strong play (averaging 19 ppg over the last two weeks).
J.J. Redick – LAC @ HOU – $4,800 – The last time these two teams met, as I mentioned above, this game went to double-OT, but unlike Harden, Redick took advantage, going off for 40 in a performance that meant the difference in the outcome of the game. And if you had him on your fantasy team, it meant all the difference there as well.
Kevin Durant – OKC @ BOS – $10,300 – KD was not available in the only previous meeting of these two teams this year. The Celtics are scuffling a bit right now, losers of three out of their last four, with this game and then two meetings with Toronto on tap for the next week. They will want to be at their best here but their best often involves a lineup showcasing three guards, Jae Crowder, and a big man. Who in that lineup is going to guard KD? That’s right, no one. There will be absolutely no stopping KD from getting whatever looks he wants in this one, which could open up the floor for Westbrook in a big way as well. Both of the Thunder stars need to be in consideration for a spot in your GPP lineups tonight.
LeBron James – CLE vs. DAL – $9,500 – The ultimate cash game option, there is nothing new about LeBron in this one. You might see that Dallas is “good against small forwards” and think you want to shy away, but remember: those rankings are an accumulation of an entire season’s worth of results. And most small forwards aren’t LeBron. But more importantly, those rankings reflect how players fare against them, as compared to their averages in other contests. Dallas’ numbers look good because they keep the game slowed down, limit opportunities, and then play solid defense. Well, Cleveland plays the same way. Therefore, that style of play is already baked into LeBron’s price, so the negative effect of playing against Dallas that effects most guys simply isn’t relevant for LeBron.
Editor’s Note (5:25 PM): LeBron James is OUT tonight for the Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving had 38.3 DK points the last time LeBron sat out on February 28th and considering LeBron has a whopping 31.5 percent usage rate, we should expect Kyrie and Kevin Love to see a lot more opportunities to handle the ball. Shumpert will draw the start for James and he had 28.8 DK FP when LeBron sat out in late February. This season, when Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are on the court and LeBron is off, Kyrie has had a ridiculous 36.5 percent usage rate (compared to 29.3 percent average usage on the year).
Tony Allen – MEM vs. MIN – $5,000– He is coming off a game Monday night with only 16 DK FP but since his return from a knee injury nine days ago, he is averaging just over 27. He came back at a time when Memphis needed someone to fill the minutes and he has been exactly what they need, able to fill in defensively against a range of positions. With LaVine and Wiggins both playing well lately, you can expect Memphis to want him out there as much as possible to try to help lock down the two young stars.
“In those last two games [Porter] has been at 37 and 28.25 DK FP, scoring a total of 34 points and adding six steals, two blocks and eight rebounds.”
Otto Porter – WAS vs. CHI – $4,500 – He is getting the chance to perform with Bradley Beal missing extended time (again) and finally, he has capitalized in the Wizards’ last two games. He has gotten at least 30 minutes in five straight but until the last two against Denver and Detroit, he hadn’t done much. But in those last two games he has been at 37 and 28.25 DK FP, scoring a total of 34 points and adding six steals, two blocks and eight rebounds. If he can score at that rate while still chipping in in some other categories, he will provide good value for the foreseeable future.
DeMarcus Cousins – SAC vs. NO – $10,600 – Watching matchups like Cousins v. Davis is half the fun of being a NBA fan. It’s a matchup that doesn’t matter at all in the grand scheme of things, having no impact whatsoever on more macro things like playoff seeding. Instead, it’s the hyper-focused nature of a single battle going on inside a single game that is compelling. Two of the best power forwards in the league, with completely different styles, are going head-to-head, and I can easily envision a scenario where they both go off. I can certainly picture this game playing out in such a way that every defensive rebound is owned by one of these two and where DeMarcus has the size and athleticism to continue to finish around the rim in a way most guys cannot while Davis is patrolling the lane.
Anthony Davis – NO @ SAC – $10,000 – Continuing on the Cousins write-up, in that scenario, Davis is snagging all the defensive rebounds on his side of the court too and both of these guys are piling up useful levels of defensive stats on the help side. The difference is that Davis, instead of using his size and athleticism to finish around the rim consistently, can use his speed and athleticism to face up to the basket against Cousins and make him pay with an array of short drives and pull-up jumpers that could make anyone’s head spin.
Aaron Gordon – ORL @ CHA – $6,800 – He now has three straight games with at least 16 points scored, after a down spell that saw three single digit scoring outputs in five games. But downturns should be expected now and then for 20-year-old NBA players – what is more important is watching them bounce back from them. He is still averaging 8.3 rebounds a game since his minutes went up following the All-Star break, and that kind of consistency makes him a threat for a double-double every time he steps out there – which is good for the Magic and good for us fantasy players too.
“Green’s last two games have been disappointing but knowing he’s a guy who managed three straight double-doubles less than a week ago makes his upside worth the cost.”
JaMychal Green – MEM vs. MIN – $6,000 – He’s getting playing time for obvious reasons – they have no one else left but how he has performed in the increased role is to his credit. His price jumped from the $3,500 range to the $4,500 range just based on the increased time, about a week ago. It’s gone up another $1,500 since then because of the little run he had of three straight games with a minimum of 39.75 DK FP. His last two games have been disappointing but knowing he’s a guy who managed three straight double-doubles less than a week ago, including a 16-10 against Cleveland, makes his upside worth the cost. This Minnesota squad often runs out a smaller lineup featuring only Towns in the middle, which should leave plenty of chances at rebounds for every big man on the court. After that, all you need is for a couple of shots to fall and you have a piece that could help you in a bigger tourney.
Karl-Anthony Towns – MIN @ MEM – $8,100 – With a collection of injuries and bad matchups all around him, Towns is the most expensive option on the board and when you take a look at what is available, you can see why. He is facing a Memphis team still without Gasol or Zach Randolph, which should leave the middle free for Towns to do what he wants. He has had a double-double in three of his last four (in the 4th he only had 9 rebounds), and I would be much more surprised to learn that he didn’t have a double-double here than to learn that he continued his streak. With no other bigs in the game, the rebounds seem like a lock, and the only question is whether he can get to something like 24-12 for a great fantasy day instead of just a good one.
“In two games against the Hawks so far this year, Drummond is averaging just over 21 points and 15 boards.”
Andre Drummond – DET vs. ATL – $7,800 – In two games against the Hawks so far this year, Drummond is averaging just over 21 points and 15 boards. He had 18-19 in the first game of the season and 25-12 last time they faced each other, back in December. That history is valuable to consider, because as the season has progressed, Drummond has shown a tendency to be inconsistent, especially on the offensive end. He is always going to rebound when he is out there but lately you’ve needed to worry about whether he would get even to the double digits in points you need for the double-double bonus, never mind if he’d reach the 20-point threshold you need for a truly big game. Well, that potential is back in this matchup.
Al Horford – ATL @ DET – $6,500 – Drummond can’t grab all the rebounds and the good thing about the Pistons – for opposing centers, anyway – is that they don’t have great rebounders at any other spots, so there are usually plenty of boards to go around. And, as much as Drummond can be a factor playing help defense for the Pistons, he is not yet disciplined enough to be a shut-down defender one-on-one in the post. And disciplined is exactly how you would describe a veteran like Horford around the lane. He will be able to secure position, find his spots, and be productive. Winning his matchup here doesn’t have to be about stopping Drummond – he can just try to match him or better in every facet of the game, which would make both of them excellent fantasy options.
Enes Kanter – OKC @ BOS – $4,800 – With Olynyk likely out, the Celtics could trot out Jared Sullinger for a good portion of the game, a move which it seems could be countered with plenty of time for Kanter. This call is all about predicting game-flow, since neither of these guys are guaranteed time on a night-to-night basis. But if Kanter does spend a lot of time out there, he should have no problem being productive. He is like a somewhat risky cash-game option (exactly what you can usually hope for in this price range): if all goes well, he will get you a quiet 30 DK FP.