We tip off Monday with a nine game slate and a matchup between the two best teams in the NBA. The Spurs and Warriors will face off in tonight in what could be a preview of the Western Conference Finals series. There is plenty of fantasy goodness in this slate, so let’s jump right into some tournaments option for tonight’s games.
Kemba Walker ($8,600) – Walker is the third most expensive point guard of the slate, but is my favorite play at the position. He has been playing really well as of late. In his last four games, he has topped 40 fantasy points three times, including at 70+ and 80+ fantasy point game. Tonight he faces off against Sacramento who plays paced up and struggles defensively. They give up the sixth most fantasy points per game (52) and have allowed +2.3 points above expectation to opposing point guards, per Fantasy Labs. In the last month, Walker has exceeded value 57 percent of the time by an average of 5.33 points. In his one game against the Kings this season, he scored 65 fantasy points. He offers the upside to 6X his salary even at this price. Give him a go.
Isaiah Thomas ($7,800) – Both of these teams play paced up. In fact, Boston plays at the third highest pace and the Wizards play at the fifth highest. This game currently has the highest total of the slate at 213.5 points and only a three point spread. The Celtics have a 105 implied point total, but in three games against the Wizards this season, they are averaging 116 points. In those games, Thomas is averaging 23 points, 5.3 assists, three rebounds, 1.7 steals, and 37.6 fantasy points per game. In his last meeting against them he scored 45.5 fantasy points. The Wizards have allowed 2.7 points above expectation to opposing point guards, per Fantasy Labs. This is a game to target tonight with plenty of fantasy goodness and Thomas is one of the better options in it. He offers 50+ fantasy point upside, which is more than 6X his salary.
Jeff Teague ($5,400) – Am I excited about Teague tonight? Not really. However, at this price and bearing in mind how favorable of a matchup this is, he has to be in consideration tonight. The Nuggets surrender the fourth most fantasy points per game (52.3) and have allowed 2.5 points above expectation to opposing point guards, per Fantasy Labs. He’s played poorly as of late, but has still averaged over 22 fantasy points per game in his last 10 games. He has displayed his 30+ fantasy point upside in some instances this season and if he can get his shot to fall, he has the potential to pay off nicely tonight.
DeMarcus Cousins ($11,000) – It would’ve felt wrong not talking about Cousins as he is arguably the best play of the slate. We will need some value to open up to fit him in, but in a nine game slate that shouldn’t be an issue. Even at this high salary, Cousins offers the upside to 6X his salary. He is averaging 60.5 fantasy points per game in his last 10 games. In that span, he has topped 60 fantasy points five times, including a 70+ fantasy point games and has only scored fewer than 50 fantasy points once. He’s pretty much a lock for a double-double and faces a Hornets team that is hurting in the interior. Cousins should have his way in the paint tonight and dominate the boards.
Kawhi Leonard ($8,000) – Leonard hasn’t paid off his salary in eight of his last 10 games, but this is also the cheapest he’s been in a while. This matchup tonight should be fun to watch as two of the NBA’s top teams go at it. The Warriors play at the second fastest pace, while the Spurs play at the sixth slowest pace. The Warriors average the most points per game and the Spurs average the sixth most. The over/under is 210 points and the Spurs have an implied point total of 102.5. With Tim Duncan ruled out and LaMarcus Aldridge in a tough matchup against Draymond Green, Leonard stands out to me in this contest for the Spurs. He certainly has 50+ fantasy point upside and the Spurs will likely be playing a faster than normal pace. If you want exposure to this game, Leonard makes a lot of sense.
Trevor Ariza ($5,200) – Ariza has paid off his salary in two consecutive games and has exceeded 6X in those games as well. Tonight he has a shot to do so again against the Pelicans who give up the fifth most points per game to opposing teams. Ariza is averaging 26.4 fantasy points per game in his last nine games and has eclipsed 29 fantasy points four times in that span. In his last 10 games, he has exceeded value 50 percent of the time by an average of 3.41 points. With Dwight Howard’s status in doubt for this game, Ariza could see a higher usage rate if Howard ends up sitting out. Ariza is a very volatile play, but is in a good spot tonight and the risk/reward factor is in his favor.
Marcin Gortat ($7,100) – Gortat has nine double-doubles in his last 10 games. In that span, he’s averaging 13.1 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, and 34.6 fantasy points per game. He has topped 36 fantasy points in three consecutive games. Tonight he faces an undersized Celtics frontcourt. Boston allows the third most rebounds per game (46.4) and have a -1.4 differential. Opposing centers are averaging 20.1 point and 14.5 rebounds per game against the Celtics. In three games this season, Gortat is averaging 31.7 fantasy points per game against Boston, but in his last matchup against them he scored 40.25 fantasy points. He offers a safe floor of 30 fantasy points and a decent amount upside.
Rudy Gobert ($6,400) – Since returning from a knee injury that kept him out for a little over a month, Gobert has played well. Aside from his first game back where he only played 15 minutes, Gobert is averaging 31.7 fantasy points per game in the month of January. He has topped 45 fantasy points in two of his last four games and has three double-doubles in his last five games. He faces the Pistons that have allowed +2.6 points above expectation to opposing centers, per Fantasy Labs. They’ve surrendered the sixth most fantasy points per game to centers in their last 10 games. Gobert is underpriced and until his price catches up with his production, he’s in play.
Willie Cauley-Stein ($4,500) – Rudy Gay’s status will play a big factor into whether you want to roster Cauley-Stein or not, but even if Gay plays, Cauley-Stein should do enough to pay off his salary. In the last three games, Cauley-Stein is averaging 31 minutes, 11 rebounds, 10 points, and 32.1 fantasy points per game. He has scored more than six times his salary in each of those games. Tonight he has a good matchup against a beat up Hornets front court and with all the attention on Cousins, he should have plenty of opportunities to score. Chances are he will be highly owned, but at this price and with his upside, he’s tough to pass on.