• Tonight is an interesting eight-game slate. Availability news could be important tonight. I am hoping a few players are ruled out which would open up a few valuable options. LeBron is a stellar play, and I will probably use him as the foundation for many of my lineups. A winning strategy tonight likely maximizes exposure to Cavs-Nuggets and potentially 76ers-Thunder while supplementing with cheap value plays. Let’s look at a few options tonight at different price points.

     

    Point Guard

    John Wall ($9,300)

    My expectations are that John Wall will be a fairly popular option tonight at point guard. The Wizards have opened as seven point favorites tonight against Atlanta in a game with a Vegas over/under of 214. The Hawks are defensively sound, but Dennis Schroder is not the reason. Wall should be able to exploit his matchup and score enough to be valuable for us in tournaments and in cash games.

    Significant price decreases on players are sometimes troubling, but Wall’s price decrease is one to exploit. The only legitimate reason I can see for the decrease is that his rebounding has been down over the past nine games from 4.2 rebounds to 2.6 rebounds (or 6.5% rate to 3.9%). His usage and assisting are right where they should be, and tonight’s competitive game should mean a full run of minutes.

    Two games ago, John Wall played 35 minutes in a slow paced game against Charlotte in which he had similar usage, assist, and rebound rates to what I expect from him tonight (31.2, 49.5, 4.9 respectively in that game). He scored 39.75 DraftKings points in that game on 5/16 shooting. If he’d just had an average shooting night, he would have had 45+ DraftKings points. His floor is high tonight, and I will have John Wall in cash games.

     

    Shooting Guard

    Nicolas Batum ($6,900)

    Admittedly, I tend to get over-excited about Batum and he often ends up as one of my locks, but this man’s consistency is tough to beat. Like many nights, shooting guard is somewhat desolate, so I will have Batum shares. As I have said in the past, the Hornets cannot survive without Batum’s offensive contribution.

    Looking at the past few Charlotte games where Batum has been healthy, when Batum’s usage rate is low, the Hornets do not have many options to step up and fill that role. Within the starting lineup, MKG is not much of a scorer, Zeller cannot score efficiently, and Marvin Williams’ recent surge in production hasn’t led to an increase in usage.

    Tonight the Hornets play the Magic as five point favorites with a Vegas over/under of 206. The Magic rank 25th against shooting guards in terms of DraftKings points. The Hornets’ lack of offensive weapons combined with a positive matchup should lead to a lot of touches for Batum and a usage rate around 25%.

    He also averages 5.9 assists per game and 6.7 rebounds per game, so I believe my Batum projection of about 18p-4a-5r is reasonable. With a couple blocks and/or steals, Batum will be a valuable play.

     

    Small Forward

    LeBron James ($11,100)

    Tonight could be a really big LeBron game. The Cavaliers take on a Denver Nuggets team who is battling for a Western Conference playoff spot. LeBron is rested (ask Adam Silver), and the Cavs opened as three point favorites in game with a current total of 229. Connecting the dots, a rested LeBron could be on the floor for about 37 minutes in a close, speedy game where his team scores close to 120 points.

    LeBron’s usage has hovered around 30% all season, and his other statistical contributions have been significant lately. Over his last ten games, LeBron’s assist rate is 39.2% and his rebounding rate is 16.4%. When LeBron is hitting threes like he has been while distributing and snatching boards, he puts up DraftKings points in a hurry.

    Recently, LeBron had a five-game stretch where he exceeded 60 DraftKings points in each game (3/1 through 3/11). His role is Harden-like/Westbrook-like even though he is cheaper and in an ideal matchup. I am fully expecting a huge game tonight, and anyone who fades LeBron is taking a big gamble.

     

    Power Forward

    Kristaps Porzingis ($6,200)

    It can be uncomfortable rostering a player against Utah, especially as a double-digit underdog. However, I think Porzingis is a great option tonight. The Knicks have said that they are going to scale back Carmelo’s minutes, and Porzingis’ usage increases with Carmelo off the floor by 2.4%. We’ll see how much of an impact Melo’s minute decrease has on Kristap’s production, but it can only help.

    Porzingis is playing extremely well right now, a rare bright spot on the dysfunctional Knicks. In seven of his last nine games, he has scored 30 or more DraftKings points. Utah is a bad matchup, but if Porzingis can continue to protect the rim, a few blocks should propel him into a valuable performance. Unicorn has blocked 17 shots in the past five games.

    His minutes are stable, and his usage is stable. Due to the negative matchup, I wouldn’t blame you for restricting Porzingis to tournaments. But I actually prefer Porzingis in cash games because of his recent consistency with a capped upside since he faces the Jazz. He’s playable in both formats, and I think he will be underowned in both.

     

    Center

    Enes Kanter ($5,100)

    Enes Kanter is a unique option tonight in that even at the low end of his minutes projection, he should be valuable. Since returning from injury, Kanter’s usage is 29.4%. When you watch a Thunder game, it seems like Kanter touches the ball any time he’s on the floor and Russ is not. Even when Russ is on the floor, Kanter is involved.

    A usage rate that high is tough to ignore, and his 20.1% rebound rate since returning from injury is impressive as well. Kanter is an offensive threat on a team that badly needs offense. He has scored double digit points in 12 straight games. Tonight the Thunder play the 76ers, so I would expect that trend to continue.

    If the Thunder are going to cruise through the Sixers like Vegas implies, they’ll need some Kanter. He is a high floor, high ceiling option and thus an elite cash game and tournament play.

Fantasy News

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
    PF, Milwaukee Bucks

    In a recent fan question session Bucks' GM Jon Horst hinted towards signing Giannis Antetokounmpo to a supermax extension when eligible.

    Horst mentioned that he cannot technically discuss an extension until he is eligible, but said Antetokounmpo will be a Buck for a long time. The Greek Freak will be eligible next summer and is all but sure to get a supermax extension.

    Source: Fox Sports Wisconsin on Twitter

  • Tacko Fall
    C, Boston Celtics

    Tacko Fall (mild knee sprain) is expected to miss one week after a collision in workouts.

    With training camp two weeks away, Fall should be ready to roll by then. He is currently on an Exhibit 10 contract, battling for the final roster spot with Javonte Green (partially guaranteed) and Kaiser Gates (Exhibit 10). Fall is an intriguing talent at 7'7" but is not expected to be fantasy relevant in his first season even if he does make the team with the Celtics already carrying four center eligible players on guaranteed contracts.

    Source: Jared Weiss on Twitter

  • Nicolas Batum
    SG, Charlotte Hornets

    According to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, Nicolas Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist have been informed that, "The agenda is youth and development."

    The article adds that both players will have a chance to compete for minutes but the Hornets' top priority will be to develop their younger players which bodes well for Dwayne Bacon, Miles Bridges, Devonte Graham, P.J. Washington and Willy Hernangomez. Miles was already putting up near top-100 value to close the season at around 25 minutes per game while the rest of the players could all produce fantasy value if given the minutes so they should at least be put on the watch list to see how the preseason plays out.

    Source: Charlotte Observer

  • Bogdan Bogdanovic
    SG, Sacramento Kings

    Bogdan Bogdanovic finished with 32 points on 10-of-17 shooting and drained seven triples as Serbia topped Czech Republic 90-81 to finish in 5th place.

    Bogdanovic also added four rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block and was certainly one of the most impressive players in the tournament. Although he has the talent to be a successful full-time starter, the 27-year old will likely be relegated to a similar 25-27 minute, off-the-bench role he played last season with Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes and newly added Trevor Ariza also on the wings. Nikola Jokic also did his usual thing this game with seven points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. Boban Marjanovic and Nemanja Bejlica were not really involved in this one, playing only two and eight minutes, respectively.

    Source: FIBA

  • Donovan Mitchell
    SG, Utah Jazz

    Donovan Mitchell scored 16 points with 10 assists as US beat Poland 87-74 on Saturday to finish seventh place in the tournament.

    Mitchell was an efficient 5-of-6 from the field and 4-of-4 from downtown but the bigger story of course was USA's disappointing showing as this was only the second time that they finished outside the top-3 in the FIBA World Cup since 1978. Kemba Walker (neck), Jayson Tatum (ankle) and Marcus Smart (hand/quad/calf) all sat out the final game as they now have two weeks to rest before the start of training camp.

    Source: FIBA

  • Evan Fournier
    SF, Orlando Magic

    Evan Fournier scored 16 points to lead France in their semifinal loss to Argentina by the score of 80-66.

    This was a really poor showing all around in an elimination game by the French team. Fournier scored an inefficient 16 and was joined by Frank Ntilikina's 16 as two of just three French players in double figures.

  • Rudy Gobert
    C, Utah Jazz

    Rudy Gobert was invisible in France's loss to Argentina in the semifinals of the FIBA World Cup, scoring just three points and pulling down 11 rebounds in 29 minutes.

    This just wasn't enough from Gobert, who couldn't impose his will against a weaker Argentina squad on paper. Joining him in the "forgot there was a game" club was Nicolas Batum, who consistently finds a way to do nothing in heavy minutes. Batum's line in this one was a paltry three points (1-of-6 shooting), five boards, one assist and a block.

  • Patty Mills
    PG, San Antonio Spurs

    Patty Mills was the star for Australia, scoring 34 points and hitting four triples against Spain, but Australia fell in double overtime 95-88.

    Mills did as much as he could but he just didn't get enough help from his supporting cast. Joe Ingles couldn't find the basket and only had four points (to go along with 10 rebounds and seven assists). With that off night of shooting from Ingles, the Aussies needed someone like Matthew Dellavedova (six points) or Aron Baynes (six points) to step up.

  • Ricky Rubio
    PG, Phoenix Suns

    Ricky Rubio approached a triple-double in the semi-final win over Australia with 19 points, seven boards and 12 assists in 38 minutes.

    It was another big line for Rubio in the semis, who has been a stalwart for this Spanish run to the finals. He was inefficient from the field (6-of-19) but ran the offense well and should be a factor again in the final game.

  • Marc Gasol
    C, Toronto Raptors

    Marc Gasol carried Spain to the FIBA World Cup Final in a double-OT win over Australia, finishing with 33 points, six rebounds and four assists.

    Gasol had a great outing to lift Spain here and they should have a great shot at winning the title against Argentina. We'll see how this high workload summer affects him going into the new season.