The NBA is back with another big 10-game slate tonight, which features plenty of studs and values to help you craft your lineups. Today’s column is going to be a bit longer as far as the recommendations go, so let’s just dive right in with some news and notes:
- Terrence Jones (eye), Patrick Beverley (concussion), and Dwight Howard (rest) are all out for the Rockets tonight. Marcus Thornton gets the biggest boost of the bunch, though Ty Lawson and Clint Capela have the arrow pointing upwards as well.
- DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles) will not return tonight as expected. He will miss the next two games before being reevaluated Monday. The Kings have opted to go small recently, so look to the guards for more value here.
- Marcus Smart (toe) is not expected to be available for Friday’s game. Isaiah Thomas is the beneficiary here.
- Michael Carter-Williams (ankle) is out for a second-straight game. Tyler Ennis will start in his place, but Greivis Vasquez and Jerryd Bayless are lurking.
- Nikola Vucevic (knee) is out for the Magic. Dewayne Dedmon will start in his place, and the arrow is also pointing upwards for Aaron Gordon. Jason Smith is a speculative play.
- C.J. Miles (ankle) will not play versus the Heat. There’s no direct beneficiary, but Jordan Hill could stay with the starting lineup if Ian Mahinmi (back) doesn’t play.
As always, check the news before tip to give yourself the best edge possible:
BUILDING BLOCKS – Studs and Must-Have Values to Build Your Core Lineup
Jarrett Jack, PG, BKN ($5,700): Jack’s price is trending towards bargain status, and even though I don’t know if he’s a good player at all anymore – I’m leaning towards no for what it’s worth – I’m convinced that anyone who handles the basketball can carve up the Lakers.
James Harden, SG, HOU ($10,000): Harden is my elite player to build around tonight as he gets to face an uptempo Kings team with no capability of defending him. It’s entirely possible that the Kings go with the two point-guard starting lineup again, which only pushes the tempo of this game even higher. As far as the “blowout factor,” the Rockets haven’t shown enough to suggest they’re ready to start dismantling teams, so Harden should be fairly safe to play tonight despite what appears to be a lopsided matchup.
Dewayne Dedmon, C, ORL ($3,000): Nikola Vucevic (knee) is out, and Dedmon is already the confirmed starter. I don’t necessarily love him as a talent, but his status and $3K price tag make him a near must-play in cash tonight. Rostering Dedmon is valuable in the sense that it opens up spending at other positions.
Three more studs to consider: Stephen Curry, PG, GS ($10,300) – Anthony Davis, PF, NO ($10,700) – Andre Drummond, C, DET ($8,900)
BARGAINS – Complementary Players Who Look To Have Favorable Pricing
T.J. McConnell, PG, PHI ($4,000): I expect McConnell to dominate ownership in cash games tonight coming off of back-to-back 12-assist performances. I’ll be surprised if he reaches that mark again, but he’s clearly the preferred point guard in Philly, and the price is excellent.
Isaiah Thomas, PG, WAS ($6,800): Thomas always feels a bit risky, but if Marcus Smart misses this game he’s a tremendous value. He’s a high-usage player, so if he’s given 35+ minutes like he was last game, the points should follow in bunches.
Klay Thompson, SG, GS ($6,900): He’s still underpriced and the matchup against the Nuggets is tasty. There’s definitely a blowout factor here with Denver visiting this buzzsaw of a Warriors squad, but Klay has to have a big game sometime, right?
Marcus Thornton, SG, HOU ($4,000): I cringe every time I put Thornton in my lineup, because all it’s going to take for him to become irrelevant is a bad shooting night. Still, he’s getting the opportunity to play big minutes for a fantasy-friendly team, and he’ll be under consideration when he’s priced here.
Evan Fournier, SF, ORL ($5,200): Fournier is the DFS darling of the young basketball season, taking on a massive portion of the Magic’s offensive responsibility. I can’t argue against rostering him and his price makes him a value still, even as it begins to rise up.
Trevor Ariza, SF, HOU ($5,400): Ariza is one of my favorite plays of the night, and a great chance to get exposure to a fast paced Houston-Sacramento matchup for a cheap price. He should see a lot of Rudy Gay defense, which entices further.
Chris Bosh, PF, MIA ($6,900): Bosh gets the nod here over Hassan Whiteside, but both go against a bad defensive team on the inside in the Pacers. I prefer Bosh over the higher-upside Whiteside because if the Heat get into a small-ball battle with Indiana, Bosh is still going to play a solid amount of minutes.
Jordan Hill, PF, IND ($4,300): Hill may not be a good defender, but he’s an awesome fantasy option when he plays extended minutes. If he starts tonight, I like him as a value option at power forward with a real shot at a double-double.
Jonas Valanciunas, C, TOR ($6,200): Valanciunas will match up with a Tobias Harris/Dewayne Dedmon frontcourt. His price makes him a solid play, and the matchup should provide him with an excellent floor.
LOTTERY TICKETS – High Risk, High Reward Plays
Tyler Ennis, PG, MIL ($3,000): Ennis is reportedly starting for the Bucks tonight, so he’s under consideration at minimum salary; I fear that this is a three-headed monster unfit for fantasy, though.
Ty Lawson, PG, HOU ($6,100): I don’t trust Lawson in cash games quite yet, but he has a chance to go off against the Kings. A matchup with either Darren Collison or Rajon Rondo would mean good things for Lawson’s odds of a big night.
Hassan Whiteside, C, MIA ($7,500): Whiteside disappointed me a bit last night, though it’s easy to see him having a monster double-double tonight. He’s a bit risky because there’s some potential that the Heat go small against a Pacers team that wants to push the pace.
Jahlil Okafor, C, PHI ($6,300): Okafor remains a solid play because of his shot attempts and scoring prowess. He’s risky for cash, because he could score 20 points and finish with 25 DraftKings points; if he has a good night on the boards, he should be an excellent play.
BUYER’S REMORSE – Reasons for Skepticism
DeMar DeRozan, SG, TOR ($7,400): The nights where DeRozan has gone off, he’s found himself at the free throw line at least 14 times. I typically stay away from guys who are hyper-dependent on scoring, so I’ll pass on DeRozan.
LeBron James, SF, CLE ($9,900): On a big slate it’s going to be rare that I play LeBron this year, even more so when he plays a bad team. I don’t care that he lit up the 76ers last time for a near triple-double, either.
Kenneth Faried, PF, DEN ($6,700): Faried has gotten off to a nice start with the Nuggets this season, but is about to enter the torture chamber that is Oracle Arena. I can’t find myself with any desire to deploy a Denver player tonight.