Kawhi Leonard

On paper, this game looks like a mismatch. The Clippers are undefeated and favored to win the championship at +350 odds. They have started the season with impressive wins over the Lakers and Warriors. On the other side, the Suns have been one of the league’s worst teams for years. They are playing on the tail end of a back-to-back and recently lost one of their most valuable players, Deandre Ayton, to a suspension. It is no surprise to see the Clippers favored by a healthy 9.5 points. On the positive side for the Suns, they have been competitive in their first couple games. They won via blowout in their season opener against the Kings and last night’s loss to the Nuggets came in overtime.

Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.


FIVE BETTING TRENDS

— The Clippers have won each of their last 12 games against the Suns.

— The Suns have covered the spread in seven of their last eight games on the second leg of a back-to-back.

— Eight of the last 10 night games between the Clippers and Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena have hone OVER the total points line.

— Patrick Beverley has scored 16-plus points in four of his last five appearances at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

— Lou Williams has scored 22-plus points in each of his last four appearances in road games.

Stats provided by DraftKings Sportsbook


SHOWDOWN STRATEGY

Clippers

There are enough viable cheap options that it shouldn’t be too difficult to fit Kawhi Leonard ($16,800) into the Captain’s spot tonight. Leonard appears to have taken his game to another level this season and the most notable difference is his improved passing ability. After averaging 3.3 assists per game last season, Kawhi is averaging 7.0 assists in the first couple games this year. As per usual, his scoring and efficiency are through the roof and he’s shooting 52.7% from the field. It is starting to feel like his MVP odds are a bit too low at +700.

For cheap options, it’s hard to look past the salary of Patrick Patterson ($2,200). He’s been an afterthought the last couple of seasons and it seemed like he would never play a prominent role after bouncing around the league. Now here he is, starting for the best team in the NBA. Patterson doesn’t have massive upside, although he doesn’t have to given his salary. We just need him to put some fantasy points on the board and he’s averaging 18 DKFP per game. He has solidified a role with the Clippers by helping space the floor on offense. Through two games, he’s made seven of 13 threes.

Off the bench, Lou Williams ($8,800) and Montrezl Harrell ($8,000) have both provided a spark for Los Angeles. What makes this team so good isn’t just the star power of Kawhi, the Clippers likely have the best bench in the league. The Sixth Man of the Year may as well be renamed the Lou Williams award. He’s scored over 20 points in both of the Clippers’ games and he built up an excellent rapport with Harrell. Even though he comes off the bench, Harrell is the primary center for this team and he played 38 minutes in the Clippers’ competitive opener against the Lakers. After a strong start to the season, Harrell is averaging 30.6 DKFP.


Suns

We have some injury news to watch out for here. Ricky Rubio ($8,600) left last night’s game with a knee injury. He thinks he will be good to play, but we don’t have an injury report yet. For now, I am saying he will likely play, although there is a slight chance he has to sit. If active, Rubio is a strong play and is averaging 38.3 DKFP in his first couple games with his new team. If out, Devin Booker ($10,600) will have the ball in his hands more and could see an uptick in his assist total. Javon Carter ($2,000) and Tyler Johnson ($4,400) would be candidates to play more minutes and would both become viable value options as well.

Editor’s Note: Rubio has been ruled out for tonight’s game vs. the Clippers. PG/SG Jevon Carter will start

The Suns’ frontcourt is also a good source of value. With Ayton suspended, Aron Baynes ($6,400) moved into the starting lineup and scored 30.3 DKFP last night. It looks like he will be the starter until Ayton returns. The other beneficiary is Frank Kaminsky ($4,600). He came off the bench and played 33 minutes last night. Frank the Tank was effective, scoring 34.8 DKFP and helped facilitate a Suns comeback to force overtime. Of the two bigs, Kaminsky makes for the better play because of the cheaper price point.

As a sneaky option, Dario Saric ($5,800) is also going to play a bigger role with Ayton out. Saric played 31 minutes last night, but figures to go overlooked since he didn’t have as strong a fantasy game as Kaminsky or Baynes. Most of this comes down to the shot not falling. Saric got opportunities and made just three of his 11 shot attempts. In the past, he’s been a solid fantasy producer and there is a path to upside if he gets some positive regression in shooting numbers.


THE OUTCOME

It’s hard to expect anything other than a win for the Clippers in this matchup. The only real question I have is regarding the competitiveness of the game. Can the Suns prevent the game from turning into a blowout? If Rubio is forced to miss tonight’s game, the Suns are going to be at a significant disadvantage. Fatigue could also be a factor after Phoenix played a late overtime game last night. The Clippers should win this game relatively easily in a game played at a relatively high pace.

Final Score: Los Angeles 120, Phoenix 105


Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.


I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is gehrenberg) 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. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.