Today’s NBA targets looks at Wednesday’s big 12-game slate, with an eye towards the studs, sleepers, and mid-range players you want to have rotating in your lineups. Let’s get right into some of the targets for this massive slate!
Stephen Curry – GS vs. LAC – $10,500 – Curry went for 40 the last time he faced Chris Paul, and 30+ the time before that. Paul is scrappy enough to get under his skin, but those grabby hands on defense only seem to fuel his fire, not slow him down. Curry has been over 50 DKFP in three of his last four, and four of his last six, with other 45+ outings mixed in. He is as consistent as they come at this price level right now, hardly ever giving you those 36-39 point games that aren’t that bad, but torment you when you’ve spent $10K plus on a guy.
Damian Lillard – POR vs. DAL – $9,100 – You don’t often see a home and home series for teams 2,000 miles apart from one another, but Lillard had 26 points and eight assists just three days ago in Dallas. They simply don’t have the defensive presence at the guard spot that you need to slow down a talent like Lillard. He can penetrate and pivot, dish, or create his own jump shot off the dribble all day long against defenders like Deron Williams, Barea, and Felton. He should put up plenty of shots in what could be a close game, and that could lead to a big night to a player whose floor is in the mid-30’s, with legitimate 60+ point upside.
Brandon Knight – PHO vs. LAL – $7,300 – He might be the first Sun you’re seeing on this list, but he is definitely not the last. I mean, they’re playing the Lakers. It might seem strange for me to recommend three guys from one of the worst teams in the league on a night with so many options, but the value of these guys comes from the fact that the Suns are so bad, for a few reasons. One, all of the fantasy production is consolidated in just a few guys (because the rest are terrible). And two, their averages (and therefore their prices) include lots of games in which they are simply outclassed and never stood a chance. But tonight, again, it’s the Lakers. Knight has at least 30 DKFP in four out of his last five games (including 39.5 against the Lakers last week) – it is hard not to see him getting to that mark tonight.
“. . . he’s the best offensive threat on a team that wants him shooting the ball 15 times a night”
Ish Smith – PHI @ DEN – $5,900 – Smith is getting 30+ minutes every night, and playing with the ball in his hands on every possession for a Philly team that needs his leadership. And that sentence, right there, is the value of having bad teams around for fantasy purposes in a nutshell. Smith could be a great role player on a good team, the kind of guy it would be easy to root for and who could really help a team make a run into the playoffs, making plays here and there when they needed them. Instead, he’s the best offensive threat on a team that wants him shooting the ball 15 times a night.
Victor Oladipo – ORL @ DET – $7,700 – Oladipo has been on fire recently, with at least 42.5 DK FP in four out of his last five games (and a respectable 36.5 in the other). He has a minimum of sixteen shot attempts in every game over that span, and has hit ten threes. This Detroit team’s strength on defense is stopping penetration and funneling everything to the middle, but if you can hit jump shots, you can torch them, because they will surrender open looks. If Oladipo brings anything like the hot hand he’s had for the past two weeks to this one, he should be able to realize serious upside potential and serve as a great GPP option for your fantasy lineups.
Jimmy Butler – CHI vs. NY – $7,500 – His minutes are down somewhat since his return from his knee injury, and while that can always pick back up, for now that means you should probably expect, on average, slightly fewer fantasy points on a night-to-night basis. But, two things: first, that drop-off is reflected in his price, which is also down (before his injury, he often cost $8,500 and up), and second, the upside is still there. Those two things together means that he is still a viable option in a cash game or a GPP.
C.J. McCollum – POR vs. DAL – $6,600 – The last time the Trailblazers stepped on the court was three days ago, also against Dallas. Because the Trailblazers rely so heavily on their guards, my first thought was that they must be the faster-paced team, but if you look at the numbers, there is virtually no difference in how quickly these two teams play, so you don’t have to worry about any kind of negative impact on guys like Lillard or McCollum. And when you remove that line of thinking from the equation, it’s clear that this is just a dream matchup, where the Trailblazers’ strength is paired neatly up with the weakness of the Dallas D, and good games are there for the taking for both of these guys. In that meeting they just had three days ago? Lillard and McCollum both went for 40+ DKFP in an overtime loss.
Kobe Bryant – LAL @ PHO – $5,300 – Kobe has been held out of games and had his minutes limited lately, so trusting him for daily purposes has been difficult to say the least. So if you want to go this route, make sure you’re willing to monitor the status of everyone involved up until game time. But he looked healthy last night, and, more importantly, D’Angelo Russell did not. He left the game last night and didn’t return, so his status for tonight is up in the air. If he misses, it’s easy to imagine Kobe with 15+ shot attempts against, statistically, the worst defensive backcourt in the league since Bledsoe went down. Just last week, he flashed 40+ DK FP upside and could get there again if a few of his jumpers are falling.
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LeBron James – CLE vs. MIL – $9,400 – I am not sure when the last time this happened outside of OKC, but LeBron isn’t even the most expensive small forward in this game. And as amazing as Giannis has been of late, it’s easy to imagine LeBron recognizing that his matchup is the key to the game and taking the young star out of the game. Kyrie is facing a tough matchup here, as the Bucks are excellent at defending against penetrating guards. So, LeBron will likely need to do plenty of scoring on top of the defensive and rebounding intensity he will need to bring to neutralize Giannis in those categories as well – and you know he doesn’t plan on losing out on any of those stats in a head-to-head comparison.
Kawhi Leonard – SA vs. MIA – $8,000 – The problem with Leonard is his downside, with the potential for sub-30 minute outings, or games where they just don’t need him on offense and he makes his mark flying around on defense, taking charges and blocking out his opponent’s best rebounder, two skills fantasy owners don’t necessarily appreciate. But in a game where the matchups for all his teammates are less than optimal, Leonard should shine. I like him more as a GPP play than anything else because he has 60+ DKFP upside. Last time these two teams met, he had 23 points and 9 boards to go along with three steals, and against a team that is as adept as San Antonio at slowing it down and keeping it close, they might need that much out of him and more tonight.
Gordon Hayward – UTA @ HOU – $6,900 – The slowest-paced team in the league facing off against the fourth fastest turns into a battle of wills – which style is going to win out? Are the Rockets going to slow down, or are the Jazz going to pick up the pace? Well, have you seen James Harden play? The Rockets are not slowing down for anyone, especially not at home. The Jazz don’t have the strong guard play you need to dictate the pace of your opponent, and voila, more opportunities for Hayward and Favors. They, at the very least, make great cash game options tonight, because even if they don’t play well, the increased volume of chances makes for built-in fantasy value you can use to save money to spend elsewhere.
P.J. Tucker – PHO vs. LAL – $4,600 – Phoenix has had a solid rotation of role players performing above their heads for stretches, seemingly all season long – or at least since their team started getting decimated by injuries. Even with Knight back, Tucker has proved useful, still averaging over 30 minutes a night. For the past week, he has seen no fewer than 33 minutes in any game, including one matchup against the Lakers (13-6 in 33 minutes). For the price, he is at least going to get a chance to return good value, especially in a cash game situation.
DeMarcus Cousins – SAC @ MIN – $10,400 – Cousins is an important man tonight, so I feel compelled to mention him, even though there is a chance he doesn’t go. He is officially listed as questionable, but him playing or not playing could have big implications on your fantasy roster. If he does play, I assume it’s because the injury is not serious and he is 100% good to go, and if that’s the case, this is a prime matchup for him – he had 24 and 12 last time they met up with Minnesota. But if he doesn’t play, not only does that likely mean you love Towns even more on the other side, it also immediately creates a few value plays in Cauley-Stein (likely to get plenty of run in this matchup is Cousins misses), Kosta Koufos and Omri Casspi.
“He is averaging 15-7-8 against the Clippers so far this year”
Draymond Green – GS vs. LAC – $7,900 – He is averaging 15-7-8 against the Clippers so far this year, in three contests, including a very nice 18 point, 11 rebound, 10 assist triple-double last time they faced off against each other. On a night that will feel dominated by guard play as you are watching the game, Green will have enough room inside to rack up similar totals again tonight.
Derrick Favors – UTA @ HOU – $7,200 – Favors is someone I really like tonight, partially because of the argument I made for Gordon Hayward – there should just be more opportunities than usual for him to capitalize on, which makes for inherent value in his price. But with Favors, I can take it a step further, because he also has a great matchup. Outside of Howard, who should be occupied by other Utah big men, there is no one in Houston really equipped to stop him from getting his shots when he wants them. He has 30 point upside in this matchup, which could make him a solid option to consider for your lineups in any kind of contest.
Julius Randle – LAL @ PHO – $6,000 – Randle, like Kobe, is someone who could benefit from increased looks if Russell misses tonight’s game. He isn’t yet a force on the inside, changing games on both sides of the ball… but he can rebound. Well enough that, against this Phoenix team, it’s hard to imagine him not getting to double-digits, which is a great place to start if you’re choosing mid-tier Power Forwards. If he can combine that and a few extra looks into a double-double where he approaches 20 points – entirely feasible against a defensively-challenged, fast-paced opponent – then $6,000 would feel like a bargain.
Karl-Anthony Towns – MIN vs. SAC – $8,600 – The fact that Towns is emerging as the best young player on the Timberwolves is really saying something. They had two guys they were hopeful about coming into the year, and now they seem to have ended up with three they can rely on, none more so than their stud in the middle. He has played in all 70 of their games, averaging over 30 minutes a night from the get-go, a number that has edged up over 35 more recently. He is shooting 59% from the field in March, while averaging double-digit rebounds. This level of efficiency and usage isn’t usually possible out of a rookie this late in the year, but Towns is making believers out of fans and fantasy owners alike.
Pau Gasol – CHI vs. NY – $7,600 – Gasol has been an absolute force on the glass all season long, averaging more than 11 boards a game for the year. As really the lone threat to score in the middle, that makes him almost a lock for 30+ fantasy points every single night. 18-10 isn’t even that much to expect for a guy spending time in the paint by himself, and getting 15 looks a night.
Andre Drummond – DET vs. ORL – $7,600 – With Vucevic out, you almost come into this one expecting Drummond to finish with 20 boards (has has double digits in five of six, with 15+ in three of those). Because of the mismatches he will be creating, I expect to see him out on the court plenty tonight, so the scoring should be there, as well. An easy candidate for a double-double with 20 point and 20 rebound upside is a viable option in any kind of contest.
Alex Len – PHO vs. LAL – $6,600 – Len has been averaging 30 minutes a game since the All-Star break, up from only 19.5 in the first “half” of the year. He is averaging more than twice as many shot attempts, three times as many free throws, and almost double the rebounds – so his usage is the only thing increasing at an even faster pace than his playing time. This is still a team that is centered around guard play, so there are plenty of possessions on which he can make his mark, and as the lone successful big man on the roster, they’re not getting away from him. He’s got the legs to keep up with a faster-paced game, and now with Knight back in action, he also has a playmaker to get them into effective sets in the halfcourt game.