Today’s NBA slate offers 10 games, with a medium-sized eight-game schedule beginning at 7 p.m. EST. Today’s tip sheet will focus on those games, leaving the 76ers, Nuggets, Warriors and Raptors out of consideration for today’s contests.
Of the remaining eight games, Sacramento and Houston has one of the most appealing game scripts for fantasy potential. With a pair of studs in James Harden and DeMarcus Cousins, and supporting guys like Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard, building a foundation out of players from this game isn’t hard. And, with a Vegas total of 216.5, there’s some serious implied scoring here.
I’ll have more thoughts on this game and my favorite plays elsewhere, but first, today’s news and notes:
- Nikola Mirotic (concussion) is a game-time decision. I have thoughts about those potentially replacing him below.
- Luol Deng (hamstring) is a game-time decision for the Heat. Gerald Green would likely get the start in his absence.
- Willie Cauley-Stein (finger) is out 4-6 weeks. Omri Casspi is a candidate to enter the starting lineup, but Kosta Koufos could factor in as well. Additionally, George Karl could go with a three-guard lineup with Rudy Gay at the 4, so watch the news here.
- Jerryd Bayless (ankle), Tyler Ennis (shoulder) and Grevis Vasquez (ankle) are all out for the Bucks. That means it’s the Michael Carter-Williams show once again for Milwaukee.
- Monta Ellis (back) is a game-time decision for the Pacers. I have thoughts on George Hill below.
- Trevor Booker (illness) is a game-time decision for the Jazz. I don’t want any of this situation.
- Chris Paul (abdomen) remains out and J.J. Redick (ankle) is doubtful. This puts Blake Griffin’s workload in an upward trend, and Jamal Crawford becomes interesting also.
Remember to check the news up until tip:
BUILDING BLOCKS – Studs and Must-Have Values to Build Your Core Lineup
James Harden, SG, HOU ($10,500): This game should be one of the highest paced of the night, and Harden is playing a ton of minutes at a high usage rate. At $10,500, he’s costly, but only an off shooting night is going to prevent him from reaching 50+ DraftKings points.
Taj Gibson, PF, CHI ($4,100): This one is entirely dependent on Nikola Mirotic being ruled out due to concussion, but if he is, I like Gibson at this price. The Hornets are smaller up front, so that should allow Gibson to challenge for a double-double. That’s all we will need from him tonight.
Three more studs to consider: Damian Lillard, PG, POR ($8,900) — Blake Griffin, PF, LAC ($9,000) — DeMarcus Cousins, PF, SAC ($10,800)
BARGAINS – Complementary Players & Punt Plays
Jose Calderon, PG, NY ($4,100): It seems like I always mention Calderon as a punt, but he’s still starting and still producing enough to be classified as such. Keep plugging him in if you need some salary cap relief.
George Hill, PG, IND ($5,700): I like Hill more if Monta Ellis is out or limited against the Jazz, because Hill would likely see an uptick in usage. The Jazz aren’t as scary without Rudy Gobert, and they can be beaten on the outside regardless.
Jamal Crawford, SG, LAC ($4,900): With Chris Paul out, Crawford becomes the de facto point guard for the Clippers. That makes him a punt option at the position, assuming you don’t want to pony up the big bucks for James Harden.
Trevor Ariza, SF, HOU ($5,300): Ariza exploded for 37 DraftKings points last night, and he has similar upside tonight against the Kings. I’d expect something more in the mid-20s tonight, but he offers cheap exposure to a premier fantasy matchup.
Carmelo Anthony, SF, NY ($8,000): Small forward gets ugly fairly quickly, and Anthony is one of the lower-priced guys who can perform like a stud on occasion. The Bucks are bad against opposing small forwards, giving Anthony a bit more potential tonight.
Andrew Nicholson, PF, ORL ($3,900): If you want to punt power forward, continue going after Nicholson as he continues to produce. There’s risk here — his coach is Scott Skiles — but he’s been producing, so I’m not too worried in this spot.
Pau Gasol, C, CHI ($7,200): Center is rather bad tonight, but Gasol should be a solid option against the Hornets. Their starting center will likely be Cody Zeller, with Spencer Hawes and Frank Kaminsky sprinkled in, so yeah, go ahead and grab Gasol.
Nikola Vucevic, C, ORL ($6,800): Vucevic has been producing 30+ DraftKings points over his last three games, but his price is still low for his upside. I don’t mind him against the Clippers tonight in any format.
LOTTERY TICKETS – Five Tournament Plays
Michael Carter-Williams, PG, MIL ($5,100): The depth chart keeps opening up for Carter-Williams to reclaim his starting gig. We’ve seen the good — 44 DraftKings points against the Nuggets — and the bad — 19.75 DraftKings points against the Spurs — but if he hits, he’s a dynamite tournament option.
Andrew Wiggins, SG, MIN ($7,300): I don’t love Wiggins’s price, but for tournaments, it’s more about upside than savings. Wiggins’s upside is always fantastic, but now he gets to play a Portland team that simply cannot defend wings.
Gordon Hayward, SF, UTA ($6,900): Hayward is a tournament only play due to the likelihood of him being defended by Paul George, but I love the role that he’s likely to take in this game. There’s a little contrarian element to this play as well, because so many people will be scared off for the reason I just mentioned.
LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, SA ($6,700): Aldridge ripped up the Celtics in his last game against them, and I’m willing to take a flier on him in tournaments to see if he can do so again at home.
Joakim Noah, C, CHI ($4,300): I think Gibson is a little safer, but Noah offers triple-double upside, so I like him for tournaments if Nikola Mirotic sits.
BUYER’S REMORSE – Reasons for Skepticism
Isaiah Thomas, PG, BOS ($7,700): Thomas has been money so far this season, but I can find better options than a higher-priced guy going against the Spurs.
Rudy Gobert’s Fill-In, UTA: Trevor Booker is sick, and the Jazz seem to want to fill Gobert’s shoes by committee. No thanks.