Very solid 9 game NBA slate heading into the weekend. We do have some major injury issues that needs discussing here. Three of the nine games have no lines posted yet due to injury statuses and the slate could change drastically if one or two NBA superstars end up sitting who now have questionable tags. The three games without lines are The Pacers/76ers due to the status of Jimmy Butler. The Heat/Grizzlies matchup is likely to have Hassan Whiteside and Mike Conley active, but Goran Dragic is still an unknown.
Very solid 9 game NBA slate heading into the weekend. We do have some major injury issues that needs discussing here. Three of the nine games have no lines posted yet due to injury statuses and the slate could change drastically if one or two NBA superstars end up sitting who now have questionable tags. The three games without lines are The Pacers/76ers due to the status of Jimmy Butler. The Heat/Grizzlies matchup is likely to have Hassan Whiteside and Mike Conley active, but Goran Dragic is still an unknown. The third game is the Raptors visiting the Trailblazers. KAwhi Leonard is the big piece of news here. He missed the last few games and we have seen other guys step up already. They did also lose Jonas Valanciunas this week, so roles and minutes for other big men could change. Here’s two things that could be potentially slate changing:
1- Jimmy Butler – The 76ers jettisoned Markelle Fultz and traded Robert Covington and Dario Saric. The return piece is the one who may be out here. Wilson Chandler and Furkan Korkmaz are the guys picking up the minutes without Butler active. They also have been covering for Muscala who missed last game. That’s a guy in Butler who routinely sees 35-40 minutes and a guy in Muscala that normally sees about half a game when healthy. That’s nearly 60 minutes of court time and a lot of usage to cover if those guys miss. No Butler would continue to be a huge boost for Ben Simmons who has been going nuts in the last few games. It would mean they lean heavier on Joel Embiid too. The guy I wanted to highlight though is Furkan Korkmaz. He saw 25 and 32 minutes the last two games, scoring 18 each time and finishing with 32 and 36 fantasy points to provide some much needed wing offense for the 76ers.
2- Kawhi Leonard – When he plays, he averages 36 minutes and 19 field goal attempts with a usage rate around 30. When he sits, that distributes a lot of minutes and shots to multiple other guys. The Raptors also lost Jonas Valanciunas this week to surgery. That just makes the frontcourt even thinner. Serge Ibaka has gone nuts for 40+ in each of the last three without Kawhi. He was already playing center minutes and may need to do that even more without JV. Pascal Siakam also steps up when Kawhi is out. His last few have not been great, but he has impressed often this year when given the chance. Even a guy like Lowry, who has picked up his scoring without Kawhi, would be in play. If Kawhi plays, he’s my favorite Raptor as he sucks up all the usage. If he sits though, those shots get distributed and the rotation shrinks, which is a recipe for upside.
Top Projected Totals
- Warriors 121.5
- Celtics 118.75
- Hornets 118.25
- Bucks 114.25
Biggest Pace Bump
- Celtics +7.1
- Cavaliers +6.4
- Grizzlies +5.4
- Nuggets +5.4
Highest Projection over Average
- Celtics +7.5
- Warriors +6
- Nets +4
- Hornets +4
Ben Simmons – Simmons has been awesome the last few games. He has played 35+ minutes in 4 of the last 5, which is up from his 33 minute average, even playing 40 minutes one of those games. He is flirting with triple doubles every night with between 8-14 rebounds in his last 5 games, 6-11 assists, and scoring nearly 20 points in 4 out of 5 games. He is averaging 17/10/7/3 over that stretch, which is 46 DK points. Simmons is priced below $9K on DraftKings and that means he’s giving you the 4X+12 consistently. If Butler continues to be out, that boosts his floor and if Muscala misses, I can't see him not playing 37-40 minutes and having a chance for another 50+ as he did in 2 of the last 3.
Eric Bledsoe – I expect the Milwaukee Bucks to bounce back after the beating they took in Indiana. Bledsoe is the one guy who has played well for them lately as others are slipping. He’s gone for 6X+ in 4 of the last 6 games, including 20/12/5 for 46 fantasy points two games back against this same Cleveland team. The matchup is good as Cleveland’s defense is suspect, but they do play a slower pace which is of some concern. Still Bledsoe is playing well and the Bucks need this game to stop the slide. My hope is that Cleveland can at least keep it respectable going into the fourth quarter, because Bledsoe went off in only 28 minutes of action last time they played. Give him his normal 32+ minutes and that could have easily been a 50+ fantasy point night.
Monte Morris – The Denver wings are banged up and struggling and that has opened up a ton of minutes for Morris. Even with Jamal Murray in the lineup last game, he still saw the court time and put up over 30 fantasy points. OKC is no easy task, but Denver is being paced up here and with the rotation thin due to injuries, Morris has been the guy who has impressed and made the most of those minutes. The $4K DraftKings price is a gift and I’m using him to fit in other studs I want.
NOTE: Very weak position today. I’m not playing on FD, but double punting it doesn't seem crazy.
Bogdan Bogdanovic – Crazy part is he doesn't even start, but he’s getting his shots up and putting up 30+ fantasy points nightly. Bogdan does not get cheated when on the floor. He’s playing under 30 minutes, but jacking up double digit shots and as many as 18 some games. He also averages a combined 7 rebounds and assists per night to help boost that floor. That Golden State total is already one of the highest on the slate and I project that game to the over as well. Bogdan lacks upside, but he’s been solid and getting value due to his volume.
Furkan Korkmaz – The 76ers are in need of wing players that can help stretch the floor and the answer may have been in house the entire time. When given minutes, Korkmaz has produced and the Jimmy Butler injury has spiked his minutes from an average of 13 a game to 25 and recently to over 30. He’s put up back to back monster games for a guy that cheap. He scored 18 real points in each and added a combination of 8-9 assists/rebounds. The guy has a pedigree as a Turkish national team player, so it’s not like he sucked before coming over. Injuries have limited his usefulness, but he can obviously play and provides much needed distance shooting. If Butler remains out, Korkmaz should continue to exceed value at his dirt cheap price.
Kevin Huerter – Nothing special or sexy here, but the price is too low. Huerter is seeing big minutes, routinely into the low to mid 30s for the Hawks. His production is not great, but it’s a solid 25-ish points a night. For a guy still near min price in the $4K and below range that is 6X value with a high minutes floor that helps him always at least get close.
Kevin Durant – No way the Golden State Warriors don't come out fired up here after getting waxed on their home floor by the Raptors. Steph and Klay looked like shit that game and Durant was the one guy who was producing. SF is stacked today with Giannis, KD, Kawhi, and PG at the top. The Warriors are being paced up here and projected for above average production. On the road I am hoping this scrappy Sacramento team keeps it respectable. If so, we get 35 minutes from KD, 20+ FGA and likely a monster score.
Paul George – PG13 goes under owned every damn night. He’s producing a slight step behind these other studs, but has a consistently high floor and a slightly discounted price too. George has had some big games and has shot it well from deep. He plays a ton of minutes and can produce rebounds and assists, as well as steals which all help boost that floor for him. In his last five games he has gone for 42, 77, 43, 48, and 53 fantasy points. That is serious production.
Jeff Green – I hate Jeff Green, but the Wizards like his old ass more than they like using Kelly Oubre and as long as he is cheap and Otto Porter remains out, we have to look at him. He played an absurd 45 minutes against the Celtics and I doubt we get that again, but they have consistently given him the SF minutes over Oubre when available. The Brooklyn defense is nothing special and they have not been great at home. I would not expect a repeat of that last game, but at his price if he gets me 25 I'm happy and I think he’ll get the minutes to produce that pretty easily.
John Collins – What more can I say about the sophomore? He has really taken a big step forward here. That’s now 4 straight games of 43 or more fantasy points with at least 20/11 in each of them. In fact, he has five straight double doubles and those rebounding totals tend to be well above 10. Collins actually sees a price drop today and I get it with the Celtics being a solid defensive team, but much of that is on the perimeter. They do still struggle with big guys and rebounding and that is exactly what Collins is and does well. I’ve been riding this ascension of his and I’m not ready to jump off the bandwagon when you offer him to me at a discount from what I have been paying.
Serge Ibaka – Ibaka has now had three straight 40+ fantasy point games. He tends to do this when Kawhi is out as his minutes and production go up. Even if Kawhi plays, without Jonas Valanciunas, he is going to be called on to do more rebounding, play some center, and likely get a minutes bump. Pascal Siakam is also a solid option if Kawhi sits, but Ibaka has been the better of the two lately.
Larry Nance – The injury to Tristan Thompson means Nance has to play more minutes. They were limiting him to under 30, but they have no one else. This is not an easy matchup at all v. Milwaukee, but he did put up over 30 in under 30 minutes against them last week. That was with Thompson still playing. Without him here, Nance should continue to see upside in points and rebounds due to the increase in minutes.
Kevin Knox – Knox had a monster game in this matchup earlier last week. More importantly, his minutes are climbing. With Dotson out, the Knicks are sliding Hardaway over to play shooting guard and they are using this as an opportunity to get Knox more court time. He is still pretty cheap and this is one of those cheap guys with massive upside. Knox played 41 and 32 minutes in the last two games and went for 50 and 34 DK points. He’s under $5K so that was a 7X and 10X return on those last two. He also had a 42 point game two weeks back as well. If Knox is going to see 30+ minutes he is going to produce at or above a fantasy point per minute and that means 6X+ for a reasonable price.
Note: If Butler sits again, even in the bad matchup I think you want to look at Joel Embiid. The short rotation and lack of other scorers helps him. The fact guys like Redick and Korkmaz are hitting shots also makes life easier on him and gives him a chance for increased assists to go along with his scoring and rebounding nightly over the double-double mark.
Nikola Jokic – With the Nuggets banged up we are getting high floor games out of Jokic too. The offense is running more through him as the replacement level guys for Millsap, Harris, and Barton are nowhere near as capable of creating or scoring themselves. Jokic has averaged 35 minutes over the last 5 games with floors of 45 twice, two games around 55, and a ceiling game of 66. The price has crept up above $9K on DK again, but for a guy putting up 50+ in the last two games, that is not expensive. His game translates well to fantasy as he scores, rebounds, and is a very good passer.
Mason Plumlee – With Millsap out and the rotation so thin we are starting to even see Plumlee and Jokic together on the floor. Normally Plumlee is the guy relieving Jokic and maybe seeing a few minutes together. Now they are playing over a quarter and a half together. Plumlee has been producing really well with his new minutes load too. He’s been putting up 6x+ games while playing barely 20 minutes, so if this new rotation is going to keep him seeing 38-32, his production is going to remain high while the price is barely over $4K.
Note: I also really like Willie Cauley-Stein at his price and Brook Lopez on DK mostly. Without Millsap and with a banged up group of wings, these guys have been seeing more of Plumlee Jokic together.