It is win or go home time for two teams in this series as the Thunder lead the Spurs 3 games to 2, and the Raptors are also up 3-2 on the Miami Heat. We should see even more court time for the top options in this one, so that should translate into some higher scores. Also, due to a few unfortunate injuries, we have some value players to target. Let’s take a look at some top plays for each position on Thursday.
Russell Westbrook – OKC v. SAS – $11,100 – Westbrook is the one guy I am definitely going to pay up for on this slate. After a bad game to open the series, Westbrook has scored between 51 and 65 fantasy points in every game from that point on. In those four games he is averaging 27 points, 8.5 rebounds, 10.5 assists, and two steals. Those are monster stats and make him a triple-double threat every time he steps out on the floor.
Kyle Lowry – TOR v. MIA – $8,000 – The stories about Kyle Lowry’s demise have been a tad premature. The hard nosed Philly kid has been spectacular as the Raptors grabbed ahold of this series. In his last four games he is averaging 43 fantasy points on the back of 22 real life points, about 6 assists and rebounds, and 3 steals per contest. We saw how easy it was for Lowry to drive and penetrate with Whiteside out, and I would expect more of the same tonight.
Tony Parker – SAS v. OKC – $5,400 – Parker will not outscore the two guys above and will probably return less on a points per dollar scale. However, he has been a safe 22-27 fantasy points lately. That would be a solid return of 5X on his price and a useful salary saver in cash game play. If you can afford to pay up, I advise you to do so, but Parker is not the worst fall back option.
Cory Joseph – Raptors v. Heat – $3,400 – If you really need to punt here, I like Joseph as the guy to do it with. He will likely get you somewhere between 18-25 fantasy points which is a solid return for his price. His minutes are the most consistent of all these cheap options, so while I do not recommend him highly, I do think he is someone who is in play if needed.
Dwyane Wade – MIA v. TOR – $8,200 – I love D Wade in this spot. Hassan Whiteside is out, and Miami may be without Luol Deng as well. Lowry is a tough matchup for Dragic, so you can’t ask him to do more, leaving Wade as the guy who see continue to see an uptick in his minutes, usage, and field goal attempts. Wade has gone for 55, 40 and 36 fantasy points in his last 3 games. Wade shot the ball 24 and 25 times in games 3 and 4. Wade may put up 20+ shots in this game, meaning another 40+ fantasy point game is almost a lock.
DeMar DeRozan – TOR v. MIA – $7,300 – DeRozan is a distant second to me at the position. However, he is very likely to be the only other SG who cracks the 25-30 fantasy point barrier. Therefore, he is in play. Lowry is playing better, so DeRozan isn’t required to completely carry the load for the Raptors. However, I still think DeRozan is a solid play, but he’s neither my favorite Raptors guard, nor my favorite shooting guard in this game.
Danny Green – SAS v. OKC – $4,400 – With Parker and Kawhi having tough matchups and Duncan basically non-existent, Green has been the guy who has stepped up the scoring to help LaMarcus Aldridge. Green is not known as a big scorer, but he does play a ton of minutes, which allows him a chance to compile stats. He has flashed 6-7X upside with some games in the 30s making him good value at this price.
Josh Richardson – MIA v. TOR – $3,100 – If Deng does miss this game, guys like Richardson and Justice Winslow will see a bump up in minutes. I’m not expecting either guy to go off for 30+ fantasy points, but both are cheap enough where a few extra minutes could help them go 5-6X pretty easily.
Kevin Durant – OKC v. SAS – $9,400 – As far as overall studs vs. other positions, I like small forwards the least for their upside. I fully expect 40+ points out of Durant, but 50 is a stretch, and that would still only be 5X. With that being said, Durant is an amazing rebounder with his size and a phenomenal shooter and scorer with the ball in his hands. He is averaging about 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists so far in this series, and I expect those numbers to continue.
Kawhi Leonard – SAS v. OKC – $9,100 – You have two expensive options to pay up for and both are basically guys with 40 point floors and mid 50s upside. Kawhi is probably a tad below Durant here because the price is basically the same, and Durant is a more talented offensive player. LMA is the top scorer for Spurs and Kawhi’s upside is somewhat limited because of it.
Justice Winslow – MIA v. TOR – $3,500 – Winslow is not enough of an offensive threat to be higher on the list, but he has seen 30+ minutes the last two games. If Luol Deng is out, Winslow should get a ton of court time. I do not expect him to be a bigger option on the offensive end, so his upside is capped. He can still return 20 fantasy points, though, if he sees 30+ minutes again, and that would be plenty useful for him at this price.
James Johnson – TOR v. MIA – $2,000 – It is looking iffy for DeMare Carroll to play this game. If that is the case, we should see big minutes from James Johnson. He is offensively challenged, but that may not even matter here. If you can get 25+ minutes and 20 fantasy points from him at the price, the savings will give you a ton of roster flexibility.
LaMarcus Aldridge – SAS v. OKC – $8,700 – Don’t try to get cute, just play LMA. Let’s face it, Serge Ibaka isn’t stopping him. Aldridge is head and shoulders above the field and the only guy worth spending on at the position. The PF position is really bad today outside of Aldridge, and he has shown 60+ fantasy point upside. He is both the safest and likeliest high scorer by a wide margin.
Patrick Patterson – TOR v. MIA – $4,000 – Pat Pat is the only other guy I can write up at the position in good conscience, which only goes to show how much of a lock LMA should be. He doesn’t have the high upside, but he should continue to do more rebounding with Jonas Valanciunas out. He likely gets us 17-22 fantasy points here which is a decent return for a $4,000 price tag.
Steven Adams – OKC v. SAS – $5,900 – With Whiteside and Valaciunas out, Steven Adams is the best Center on this late. He has been returning numbers right around 30 fantasy points per game recently. Adams has double digit rebounds in 6 straight games and has added double digit points in 4 of those 6. We don’t have a lot of talent playing the position, so he is both the safest and likeliest highest scoring center on this slate.
Bismack Biyombo – TOR v. MIA – $5,600 – Jonas Valanciunas was playing arguably his best basketball ever until he went down with an injury. It’s really a shame, but it does open the door for Bismack. His minutes have bumped up over 30, and he is averaging about 33 fantasy points since doing so in the last two games. Miami doesn’t have anyone inside to compete with Toronto, so Bismack gets my nod for GPP upside.
Enes Kanter – OKC v. SAS – $4,800 – I do not love Kanter because the minutes are not safe. However, he does have scoring upside when he does play. The price is getting a bit high, but he is easily capable of a 20-30 point performance. He is not cheap enough vs. the guys mentioned above to be a viable swerve in cash or tournaments, but he is the third best option today at a really weak position.
Amar’e Stoudemire – MIA v. TOR – $2,000 – Amar’e is the only viable post player Miami has left. I still do not think he sees 20 minutes of action as both teams seem content to just go small and play it that way. However, Amar’e is cheap enough where he has tournament upside. But, even at only $2K, our expectations should be limited.