I’m going to be honest with you up front: This slate is not the barrel of laughs that last night’s NBA games were. There are no Magic-Suns games here full of players in fast-paced great fantasy spots. In fact, most of these games are the exact opposite and feature teams in slower paced games with down totals. So we’re going to rack our heads on this six game slate and with the power of hungover logical deduction — and Awesemo’s NBA rankings — we’re going to make this set of NBA games work for us. Somehow.
One particular thing on a slate like this that I would think about when constructing teams: Try hard to avoid team stacks. Depressed totals in down pace games mean less value to go around and it’s better to key in on the best play on each team rather than hope a couple on each squad will have the same likelihood of excelling. Vegas totals indicate there’s only so much scoring to go around so choose wisely and focus in on the players who have the best combination of matchup, safety, and upside.
And with that, let’s get to the slate and find some joy in tonight’s NBA action.
Boston Celtics (102.25 implied points, -6.1 on their last 10 games) at Sacramento Kings (95.75 implied points, -5.8 on their last 10 games)
Terry Rozier has not excelled even once since taking over for Kyrie Irving and it can feel foolish to go back to the well again. But Rozier has taken enough shots each game where, in a plus matchup versus the Kings, he’s still just a good shooting night away from really exceeding value. The Kings play at a bottom three pace in the league and, while it doesn’t represent a major decrease for the 23rd ranked Celtics, Rozier is going to have to be way more efficient than he’s been to excel. Jaylen Brown is slated to return from concussion and he’s arguably more interesting as a lynchpin for other players than as a fantasy option. Jayson Tatum had a down game versus Portland, not necessarily unexpected, but the return of Brown should actually be a slight boost to Tatum’s fantasy points per minute, making him just as much of a viable play as he would have been without Brown. Al Horford also theoretically gets a boost from Brown’s return but he just isn’t doing much lately and I’m not confident enough that any boost he’d get isn’t a mirage. Rozier gets a significant drop to his assist rate but a boost to his usage with Brown on the floor, meaning he may actually be a better play as well. Marcus Morris is currently questionable with an ankle injury; if he plays, he’s a great DVP play at an awesome price. If he sits, Tatum, Horford and Monroe get slightly more appealing…but ever so slightly for Horford. Lastly, Shane Larkin no longer has a minutes limit and while he likely won’t get as many minutes as the 34 he got last game with Brown back, he can be productive at a cheap price.
The Kings…oh the Kings. De’Aaron Fox and Frank Mason both take too minutes away from each other to be an interesting play currently. Mason currently seems to be the better player but don’t expect him to get the same run of minutes he got versus the Hawks unless there’s a blowout; the Kings kept their starters sitting in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach. Zach Randolph should be back from an illness that sidelined him last game, killing any potential value for Kosta Koufos and hurting Skal Labissiere’s as well. Buddy Hield returned to Earth after four straight hot games but he can be the one to drive the offense here with a much better price to show for it after that dud. There’s not a lot of safety there, ditto Bogdan Bogdanovic, but they are the ones with a best shot of being viable performers.
New York Knicks (103.25 implied points, -1.5 on their last 10 games) at Washington Wizards (113.75 implied points, +7.8 on their last 10 games)
Kyle O’Quinn has been ruled out, leaving Enes Kanter likely to continue his run of 30-minute plus games. The Wizards limit rebounds as well as anyone in the league so it’s a tough matchup but it’s hard to imagine Enes not getting his. Luke Kornet should pick up a lot of O’Quinn’s minutes and, with the possible blowout, seems like a good low-owned and super cheap place to look for value. Tim Hardaway shot the ball more and more effectively than he has all year in his last game. There’s a chance he can do the same today, even if just by sheer force of will, but paying over $6,000 for Tim Hardaway on both sites is not my favorite thing to do. Michael Beasley’s had two good games versus Washington this year and he can be a decent pivot for Hardaway, although the blowout possibility may mean to grab just Kornet and Trey Burke (who started the second half for Emmanuel Mudiay and has played Knicks blowouts previously) and that’s it.
The Wizards have a big increase on their recent average but also do tend to blow bad teams out so there’s some risk here for the starters. Otto Porter has the best matchup with the Knicks giving up a big boost in production and usage to small forwards. He let me down pretty bad the other night versus Denver but I’ll likely go back to the well again tonight. Markieff Morris was the better play last game and looks to be in a similarly good spot tonight. Both players can hit value simultaneously — they’re both projected to be a B in fantasy points in Awesemo’s rankings — but there’s some risk with the blowout. Kelly Oubre has gotten a steady increase in minutes and usage lately and he’s at a very playable price. Bradley Beal on the other hand has been so quiet and seems more passive on offense than he was during his big run. I wouldn’t trust him at any high volume but we all know his gigantic upside. Tomas Satoransky will be up against two turnover prone, defensively lax Knicks point guards so he can hit value but his reliance on peripherals means you never fully know with confidence.
Los Angeles Clippers (108.5 implied points, -3 on their last 10 games) at Toronto Raptors (117 implies points, +0.2 on their last 10 games)
The Clippers finally got a competent Lou Williams back with his best game in weeks coming versus Indiana. If he plays like that, he can keep the Clippers in this game. If he plays like he’s played lately, he’s going to sink them and your lineup. Some exposure makes sense but I wouldn’t consider Lou a building block in a matchup like this. DeAndre Jordan notched 47 DK points in his last matchup versus Toronto and after a down game versus Indiana, he’s an interesting opportunity tonight. Tobias Harris isn’t seeing the usage and rebounding he did during his big run a few weeks back but his price is down to a tolerable level with some upside if he does get hot. Austin Rivers has been a boom-bust play lately but there’s been no rhyme or reason to the how or why.
The Raptors will get a slight pace-up versus the Clippers and that can have a lot of beneficiaries for Toronto. Kyle Lowry has been great lately and even notched a triple-double in his last game. His price has risen slightly but he still has upside. DeMar DeRozan’s been down lately but he clocked an outrageous 37% usage rate last game. There’s no reason he can’t rise along with Lowry in a matchup where the Raptors should score a lot of points. Fred Van Vleet is also safely above 29 minutes lately at a price that hasn’t fully caught up. He looks fantastic today too. Pascal Siakam has been above 20 minutes lately and a lot of optimizers have him as a popular value projection. There’s not a ton of upside but as cheap salary filler, he’s fine. I refuse to pay Jonas Valanciunas’s price when he plays 20 minutes a game but a matchup versus DeAndre Jordan at home would be a place to consider it and likely hate yourself later.
Portland Trailblazers (106.5 implied points, -4.8 on their last 10 games) at Oklahoma City Thunder (109.5 implied points, -1.8 on their last 10 games)
CJ McCollum has had the best performances on the Blazers’ side versus OKC this year and there’s no reason to think that’ll change. McCollum’s ownership will be up a bit after a strong last game versus Boston but he still seems like the most attractive option here. Al-Farouq Aminu has been a fantastic play lately and, although OKC limits production to his position, I’m going to look his way again tonight. Aminu’s shooting the ball, rebounding, and playing steady defense lately; against two high-usage players like Paul George and Carmelo, he’ll have the chance to do everything he’s done well lately. Jusuf Nurkic is dinged up with a sore back and I don’t want to roster him with any sort of issue versus a tough matchup like Steven Adams. Damian Lillard has been down his last few games but has shot the same amount as he has previously and the Thunder have given a 30% boost to point guard three pointers over their last 10 games, something that plays into Lillard’s hands. He’s one of the few A’s in fantasy points in Awesemo’s rankings for the slate. The down total and middling pace isn’t great but a few of these guys seem viable to me on a slate like this.
Portland has also limited fantasy production all year as well and while that would worry me for Carmelo Anthony, they have a couple of holes that Portland can exploit. Paul George is going to have to earn every shot he gets but he’s proven he can excel in touch matchups having just put up 45 DK points versus Boston. It’s a tough matchup but one where he can exceed value at his price. Russell Westbrook hasn’t been the steady play you hope but as one of two studs on the slate, he’ll be highly owned with a chance to do a lot; he clocked an outrageous 48% usage rate in the Thunder’s last game versus Portland. Steven Adams is in a tough matchup but that may not stop him from doing the usual rebounding, put backs, and post play that make him valuable, especially if Nurkic is limited. Corey Brewer is up and down but the Trailblazers have allowed increased usage to wings all year; a minor uptick in usage can be the difference between Brewer narrowly hitting value and greatly exceeding it.
Atlanta Hawks (102.5 implied points, -1.1 on their last 10 games) at Houston Rockets (114.5 implied points, +5 on their last 10 games)
Dennis Schroder had a middling game versus Golden State and, although the temptation is to say the same is likely versus Houston, he’s getting enough usage that the game could easily break his way again with shots and free throws falling. There’s risk but at a usage rate between 36 and 42% lately, it can be worth it. Taurean Prince’s price is still stupid high but he has an interesting opportunity in front of him if his shots start falling again. Dewayne Dedmon’s minutes were unaffected by John Collins’ return last game and his price dropped a bit because of it. Houston’s no great matchup but he can do some damage and stretch the floor versus Clint Capela. Damion Lee has been a good source of very cheap production lately and he’s still cheap enough to qualify as a punt despite a full run of starter minutes and usage.
With Chris Paul ruled out, logic says to go to James Harden but that’s ended up being a tournament-ruining decision in the Rockets’ last two games versus Detroit and even the defensively slack Pelicans. Despite the stinky performance, Harden notched an obscene 48.5% usage rate versus New Orleans and typically that type of usage rate results in a 60-plus DK point performance. Clint Capela looked fantastic in that game and he’s historically seen his biggest boost with Chris Paul and Luc Mbah A Moute off the court. At his price in this matchup, he looks a lot like a lock and load for me tonight. Gerald Green strikes me as interesting since he can put up a lot of points fast and will also dominate the ball if the game blows out, as Vegas currently projects. He strikes me as a great Eric Gordon fade, particularly with Gordon’s price an outrageous $2400 more expensive on DraftKings.
Utah Jazz (103.5 implied points, -3.6 on their last 10 games) at Golden State Warriors (97.5 implied points, -8.9 on their last 10 games)
As I mentioned in the headline, Donovan Mitchell loves shooting the basketball more than you or I love breathing. He put up a hilarious 36 shots en route to putting up 50 DK points versus San Antonio. He’s been gunning even by his standards lately and there’s lots of reason to think it can continue tonight, even with the slightly down total. Ricky Rubio’s been similarly good while being less scoring dependent. With one great game this year versus a full-strength Warriors squad, I’m in on him playing well again tonight versus the Golden State skeleton crew. Derrick Favors has been on fire lately and eating into Rudy Gobert’s production. I’d be more inclined to ride with Favors and Gobert but Gobert can wreak havoc on the Warriors if properly deployed. Joe Ingles was gobbled up by Spurs D, as you might expect with a player of his style and athleticism versus Kyle Anderson and Danny Green. He won’t have as tough of a time today and looks like another really strong play with upside on his price in this matchup.
The Warriors are back without Steph Curry after a knee injury in his one game return so that means it’s time to fire up all our Quinn Cook lineups. He’s at $5600 on both sites and has shown a ton of upside at that price point so there’s no reason to jump off now. Draymond Green is slated to return and he’s shown he has upside at his high price with the other key Warriors cogs out. It’s a tough matchup though and I’d rather focus on Cook given the low team total. Nick Young will also get his shots up and is a viable play at his price solely for that reason, part of why he’s one of the few A values on the slate according to Awesemo’s rankings. Young is total boom or bust depending upon if his jumper is falling.
And there we have it, a Sunday NBA slate in the books. Follow me @ChrisSpags and let me know any questions or feedback you have, and let’s all root for the Utah Jazz tonight because I’m going to have a VERY uncomfortable amount of them. My wins are your wins, emotionally but not financially. Good luck and see you tomorrow!
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