• We face a true dilemma tonight. Should we spend up for Russell Westbrook, or take our chances with a collection of other good (not super-human) options on this slate of games? I vote the latter and this article will focus on solid, mid-range targets who can collectively argue against an expensive play like Westbrook. Let’s get started!

    POINT GUARD

    GEORGE HILL – UTAH JAZZ (FD- $6,300, DK- $6,300)

    George Hill gets a great match-up against a Cleveland defense ranked second to last on tonight’s slate versus the point guard position. He has been a little banged up, but has been great when on the floor, including a 34 point night against the Nets less than two weeks ago. Hill can produce even when he doesn’t score, and his price tag makes him a safe, quality option tonight.

    It will be worth monitoring Hill’s game status as Thursday will be the second game in as many days for the guard.

    DENNIS SCHRODER – ATLANTA HAWKS (FD- $7,200, DK- $6,400)

    Hill’s match-up is second only to Dennis Schroder‘s. The talented young guard faces the 27th ranked defense against his position in the Memphis Grizzlies who have been in a tail-spin for the past two weeks, losing five of their last six. Schroder has been trending in the opposite direction over his last seven, averaging 21.9 points per, and he gets the minutes to keep it rolling against the Grizz. I will be rostering Schroder in every league tonight.

     

    SHOOTING GUARD

    COURTNEY LEE – NEW YORK KNICKS (FD- $5,000, DK- $5,200)

    Speaking of players who are trending in the right direction, Courtney Lee is on fire. He is very reasonably priced, is playing a terrible Nets defense, and plays 34 minutes per game. He has scored 12 or more in each of his last six games, and I see no reason why that stops tonight. He can rebound as well as score, and should exceed value.

    Despite coming off a mediocre outing on Tuesday, Lee will be the first player I add when constructing my lineups tonight.

     

    DEMAR DEROZAN (FD- $9,300, DK- $8,300)

    DeMar DeRozan has been an almost must-play for me since Kyle Lowry went down with injury. He is expensive, but is still over 3,000 less than Westbrook. He is a scoring machine who, barring a blowout, is going to get a lot of minutes and shots. He will probably be guarded by a solid defender in Andre Roberson, but I still think Derozan has a big night in what should be an up-tempo contest against the Thunder.

     

    SMALL FORWARD

    CARMELO ANTHONY – NEW YORK KNICKS (FD- $8,400, DK- $8,100)

    I really struggled filling the small forward spot tonight, but I always feel confident in Carmelo Anthony. Melo has handled trade rumors and character attacks with pure class, and has performed in a solid fashion throughout the ordeal on the floor as well. He is getting 35 minutes per night, and in his last game against the Nets he posted a 27 point, 7 rebound, 3 assist stat-filler. He gets Brooklyn again tonight, and should be able to put up another big line.

    RONDAE HOLLIS-JEFFERSON – BROOKLYN NETS (FD- $4,400, DK- $4,000)

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson put up a double-double against the Knicks when they faced each other just four days ago, and although he carries significant bust potential, he is also the kind of player who could blow past value. RHJ scored six points in the game before his double-double, but if he stays hot, he could be well worth the risk.

    NOTE: Joe Johnson has been listed as the starter for the injury plagued Utah Jazz, as Rodney Hood and  Derrick Favors are both sidelined. Johnson should see 25 plus minutes and is a great, cheap play at small forward on FanDuel or Draftkings.

     

    POWER FORWARD

    SERGE IBAKA – TORONTO RAPTORS (FD- $6,000, DK- $5,900)

    Serge Ibaka is one of my favorite players on the board for a number of reasons. Aside from a rough night in a blowout win over the Mavs, Ibaka has been scoring at a nice clip since joining the Raptors and his minutes (34 per game) make him very appealing. The Thunder are not great against opposing power forwards, and Ibaka looks to be a fairly dependable option; albeit one with a relatively low ceiling.

    ZACK RANDOLPH – MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (FD- $5,800, DK- $5,400)

    Despite the recent turmoil surrounding the Grizz and their ever-in-flux lineup, Zach Randolph has been a consistent producer for Memphis over the past 2 weeks. He has scored in double figures in five of his last seven games, and has two double-doubles during that stretch.  He is very affordable and has been getting around 25 minutes per game.

    I will be playing Randolph in both FanDuel and Draftkings tonight.

    Note: Marreese Speights makes an excellent play with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan both out tonight for the Clippers.

     

    CENTER

    RUDY GOBERT – UTAH JAZZ (FD- $7,700, DK- $6,800)

    If healthy, Rudy Gobert is a wonderful option tonight. He has double-doubles in each of his last three games, playing 3o or more minutes in every contest during this span. Cleveland is ranked near the bottom of the slate against centers, setting Gobert up for a big night. I expect him to continue his double-double streak against the Cavs.

    WILLY HERNANGOMEZ – NEW YORK KNICKS (FD- $6,000, DK- $6,200)

    Willy Hernangomez definitely comes with risk because of the Knicks minute fluctuations, but his upside and match-up negate any concerns I have about the budding center. Brooklyn is awful against opposing centers, and even without a big points line, Willy can still reach value for his price.

     

    Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or comments, atbuckner2121@live.com. Thanks for reading and good luck!

Fantasy News

  • Dorian Finney-Smith
    SF, Dallas Mavericks

    Dorian Finney-Smith did a little bit of everything to get him into the top-170 in both 8/9-cat leagues.

    Finney-Smith has the ability to fill a stat sheet on any given night and has proven he can consistently do so. He does not do any one thing extremely well but can put together a combination of points, rebounds, blocks and steals that can make him intriguing to owners in need. He finished the season averaging 9.3 points and 5.5 rebounds on 47% shooting from the field, giving him 168/157 final rankings in 8/9-cat formats.

  • Dwight Powell
    PF, Dallas Mavericks

    A ruptured Achilles kept Dwight Powell from improving on his 2018-19 campaign.

    After a rough start to the season Powell was beginning to have more of an impact in the few weeks leading up to his unfortunate Achilles injury. The forward finished the year averaging 9.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game on 64% shooting from the field. After finishing a promising 2018-19 season ranked in the top-125 both Dallas and fantasy owners were expecting growth from Powell in 2019-20. Hopefully he can make a full recovery but we should not expect to see him on the court until 2021 at the earliest.

  • Seth Curry
    SG, Dallas Mavericks

    Seth Curry's shooting from deep landed him within the top-160 in both 8/9-cat formats.

    Curry was second in the league shooting 45% from beyond the arc, making 2.3 of his attempts per game. He finished the season scoring 12.6 points a game, resulting in 156/139 8/9-cat rankings. He got hot towards the end of the season averaging 19.3 points on 59% shooting over his final eight games before missing the final week of the season with an ankle injury. With career averages of 2.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists he is only worth rostering as a points and threes threat.

  • Maxi Kleber
    PF, Dallas Mavericks

    Maxi Kleber continues to improve in an increased role with Dallas, ranking 153/123 in 8/9-cat leagues.

    Kleber was the beneficiary of a Dwight Powell Achillies injury and Kristaps Porzingis' inability to take part in the second half of back-to-backs this season. The available minutes allowed Kleber to stay around the top-150 and score 9.2 points per game with 5.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks a night. The combination of blocks and the occasional three (1.6 per game) with decent percentages (46% FG, 86% FT) made him a viable bench option. His numbers have progressed each year of his career and next year he could end up being a late round draft pick.

  • Willie Cauley-Stein
    C, Dallas Mavericks

    Willie Cauley-Stein held a top-150 ranking in both 8/9-cat formats despite not playing substantial minutes in Dallas.

    Willie Cauley-Stein was a decent back-end fantasy big man in his time with Golden State, averaging 7.9 points and 6.5 rebounds on 56% shooting. A mid-season trade to Dallas completely wiped away any value he may have had as he was unable to secure consistent minutes with the team. In 13 appearances with the Mavs he averaged 5.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per game. With a player option on his contract this off season it is unclear where WCS will end up but he will need to find a squad that will allow him to play consistent minutes if he is going to have any fantasy relevance.

  • Tim Hardaway Jr.
    SF, Dallas Mavericks

    Tim Hardaway Jr. posted career-best shooting numbers on his way to top-150 value in both 8/9-cat formats.

    It has been a roller coaster career so far for THJ but he seems to have found his niche in Dallas as a secondary play maker a three-point specialist. Playing alongside ball-dominant offensive talents such as Luka and KP, Hardaway Jr. is not expected to be the focal point of the offense and had his lowest minutes and FGA numbers since 2016-17. The lower volume of shots clearly helped his efficiency as he shot a career-best 40% from deep on 7.2 attempts per game. He does not do much of anything else as far as fantasy value, with 3.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists a night, but is a consistent scoring threat and always has the ability to help a roster in need of 3's and points. Finishing the season ranked 146/127 in 8/9-cat formats is on par with what most owners expected out of him with an ADP of 140 and we do not expect much different heading forward.

  • Kristaps Porzingis
    PF-C, Dallas Mavericks

    Kristaps Porzingis returned to form in 2019-20 and held 36/23 rankings in 8/9-cat formats by averaging 19.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.

    After going almost 20 months without playing in an NBA game due to a knee injury, Porzingis picked up right where he left off and held third-round value all season long. While some nights were boom or bust on the offensive end for KP, low turnovers, above average rebounds and top-tier blocks kept his value consistent. He closed the season as the third ranked 8-cat player, scoring 23 points per game while grabbing 11.1 rebounds and swatting 3 shots a night over the final month of the year. We would like to see Porzingis play closer to the rim to get easier buckets and more free throw attempts. The 7'3" forward launched a career-high 7.1 threes per game in addition to a career-low 8.8 attempts inside the arc. The high volume of threes took a toll on his field goal percentage, 42%, and held him back from being a top-20 player. Hopefully by next season he can stay on the floor consistently and turn his unique combination of size and skill into becoming a second-round value player.

  • Luka Doncic
    PG-SF, Dallas Mavericks

    Luka Doncic received MVP consideration and top-25 8/9-cat standing by stuffing the stat sheet on a nightly basis.

    The 21-year-old Doncic took the league by storm right out of the gate and continued to post gaudy numbers throughout the season all while battling wrist, thumb and ankle injuries. The league leader in triple-doubles, with 14, dropped 28.7 points a night, to go along with 9.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists. In addition to the ridiculous combination of PTS/REB/AST, Doncic is also near the top of the league in turnovers with 4.2 per game, dropping his 9-cat ranking to 24 in comparison to his 8-cat ranking of 12. The high turnover rate is not shocking for such a young player with a usage rate as high as Luka's (35.4, 2nd in the NBA) but future owners will surely hope to see those numbers decrease. His percentages (46% FG, 75% FT) slightly dropped his overall value but the scoring volume is a worthy consolation for owners. After a mid-second round ADP this season expect Luka to be a first-round pick next year as he is on the cusp of becoming an elite fantasy option.

  • Andre Drummond
    C, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Andre Drummond had a rocky transition after moving to the Cavs in 2019-20, but not before putting up a solid first half of season with the Pistons as top-20 player in 8-cat and a top-30 player in 9-cat per-game value, thanks to his 15.2 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.6 blocks per game on .532 shooting.

    Drummond, as expected, saw a significant slip in value after moving to the Cavs at the trade deadline. The presence of big men Tristan Thompon, Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. provided Drummond with ample competition for minutes. Aside from that, Drummond also dealt with a left calf strain that didn't do his fantasy value any favors. He's already stated that he intends to exercise his player option for the next season, but given the Cavs' developmental shift in direction, he's someone you can expect to see with a lot of valuation volatility heading into 2020-21.

  • Michael Beasley
    PF, Free Agent

    According to Shams Charania, Michael Beasley could be making a return to the NBA after moving closer to a deal with the Nets.

    The Nets are sorely undermanned given the high number of their players who have tested positive for the Coronavirus. Beasley last played in the league for the Pistons in 2019 and could provide some limited, albeit versatile production off the bench.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter