March 16, 2017, 8:34 pm
Eight games are on the slate for tonight, and there are several key situations to evaluate. Dwyane Wade is done for the season, Isaiah Thomas is out tonight, John Wall is 50/50 to play, and Eric Bledsoe is shut down for the season. Other injuries may pop up throughout the day, but these four players’ situations have massive implications tonight. With these considerations in mind, let’s look at the best plays tonight at each position.
Rajon Rondo ($6,500)
With Wade out for the season, the Bulls chances of making the playoffs just got lower. Coach Hoiberg is going to need Rondo and Butler to carry the entire team for the rest of the regular season. As a more integral part of the Bulls current rotation, Rondo has played 34+ minutes in each of the last two games with DraftKings totals of 39.75 points and 42 points against Charlotte and Memphis.
Rajon is an excellent passer, and in games in which he starts, he has 36.1% of the Bulls assists. With Wade off the floor this season, Rondo sees a spike in usage, assist rate, and a tiny (0.2%) decrease in rebounding. Regardless of who the Bulls start tonight, Rondo and Butler are going to need to orchestrate nearly every possession while they are on the floor.
At season averages in usage, assist rate, and rebounding, I project Rajon for about 13p-7a-5r in a decent matchup with the Wizards who may be without John Wall (questionable). However, I expect a higher point total and assist total given his increased numbers with Wade out. Rondo has a high floor even at conservative projections, and his ceiling is very high tonight. I am rostering him in cash games and tournaments.
Marcus Smart ($4,900)
This is an absolute no-brainer. Remember when Isaiah Thomas missed a few games back in December and Smart erupted? So does everybody who faded him and got burned. The Celtics take on the Brooklyn Nets tonight without their starting point guard, IT. Boston is still a nine point favorite with a Vegas over/under of 219.5.
Thomas’ absence opens up about 34% of usage to be spread around, and Marcus Smart is going to eat into some of that usage. For the season, Smart has an 18.8% usage rate. With Thomas off the floor, that number jumps to 23.8%. While I anticipate his usage tonight falling somewhere in between, a 20% usage rate tonight should result in at least 15 points tonight.
Brooklyn’s incompetence is hard to watch, but owning their opponents makes watching Nets games much more entertaining. Smart is going to score, assist, rebound a little bit, and rack up a few steals. Marcus is averaging 1.6 steals per game and most of those opponents haven’t been the Brooklyn Nets. Own a large amount of Smart tonight.
Jimmy Butler ($8,800)
Keeping it simple here. With Wade out, it’s really all Jimmy Butler and Rondo is just the sidekick. When Wade is off the floor, Jimmy’s usage rate leaps 4.6% to 31.4%. As mentioned above, the Chicago Bulls are making a push in the East and will need Butler to play 36+ minutes most nights. I do like Rondo tonight, but he is not much of a scorer. He could chip in 15 or so, but Butler needs to score 25 or more if the Bulls are going to hang with the Wizards.
Whether John Wall suits up or not, Washington is going to be playing a fast, competitive game, and whoever guards Butler will have their hands full. In his last 12 games, Jimmy is taking 15.4 shots per game. With the uptick in pace tonight and the Wade injury, this number should be higher tonight. A 30 point game is very reasonable.
The usage is going to be there tonight, but his assist rate and rebound rate without Wade increase as well. However, with Rondo on the floor and Wade off the floor, Butler’s assist rate and rebound rate actually decrease from his season average. Rondo handles the ball and rebounds more than Wade so this makes sense, but I recommend considering this when projecting Butler’s numbers tonight. For this reason, I think Butler’s ceiling is not incredibly high, but he is an elite cash game play.
Nikola Mirotic ($4,300)
I fully realize that three of my locks are going to be Chicago Bulls, but I am going to close my eyes and place trust in the Bulls tonight. Mirotic has played 55 minutes over the last two games, and he has been refreshingly serviceable for a change. Against Memphis last game, he shot 3/10 including 3/8 from three and still scored 27.75 fantasy points in a slow paced game.
Tonight will be a faster game, and Nikola’s minutes should be between 27 and 30. Nikola has been disappointing this season especially with his shooting percentage, but when most shots come from deep, we don’t need too many to go in for us to hit value. For a guy who shoots 61% of his shots from three and rebounds at a 12% rate, this price tag is just way too low. Even at $5k, I would play him without hesitation.
His cheap price allows you to fit in a few higher priced studs. I like the tournament strategy of playing combos of Rondo, Butler, and Mirotic because a high scoring game from the Bulls would mean a big aggregate score from these three players. It’s always scary placing too much trust in Mirotic, but let’s take him at this price.
Alan Williams ($6,300)
Big Sauce keeps rolling and he cannot be ignored. Phoenix plays Orlando and is a three point favorite tonight with a Vegas total of 220 currently. The Magic are 20th ranked against centers this season, and Williams’ usage increases with Bledsoe off the floor (Bledsoe has been shut down for the season). Basically, there are a lot of factors pointing towards a big game from Williams, and he has been very consistent lately.
Alan has 11 straight games of double digit scoring, and he has double digit rebounding in seven of his last eight games. Additionally, Williams has averaged 1.5 blocks per game over his last ten games. He scores, he rebounds, and he blocks at high rates, high enough to create a very high floor. Last game versus Sacramento, Alan shot 6/16 from the floor and still scored 37.75 DraftKings points in just under 31 minutes.
He probably will not see quite as many minutes tonight, but it’s a possibility. But if you take his DraftKings points per minute last game, he would have scored 30.6 DraftKings points in 25 minutes. That is a reasonable projection for tonight given that his usage (22.6%) and rebounding (18%) align with what can be expected tonight. Like Butler, I do not think Alan has a 7x or 8x ceiling, but he is a strong cash game play.
September 22, 2019, 9:20 pmFurkan KorkmazSG, Philadelphia Sixers
After an injury-plagued sophomore campaign for the Sixers, Furkan Korkmaz knows this season will be crucial for his future and he is hoping to make big strides this year.
The one thing Korkmaz has going for him is his shooting ability and that is something the Sixers could surely utilize on this roster. It did not click last season, but Korkmaz will get another chance to prove his worth at some point this season. Still, it is hard to picture him coming out of the gate with a big role on opening night.
September 22, 2019, 9:08 pmNikola MiroticPF, Milwaukee Bucks
On Sunday, Nikola Mirotic dropped 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting for Barcelona.
Mirotic's opening appearance for his new EuroLeague club, Barcelona, resulted in a victory, and he did not have to work too hard for most of his buckets at the Supercopa Endesa versus Valencia. Mirotic should find quick success during his return to European basketball, but NBA fantasy players will surely be missing his presence stateside.
September 22, 2019, 8:56 pmBruce BrownSG, Detroit Pistons
Coach Dwane Casey spoke highly of Bruce Brown’s defensive play, calling him an ‘elite defender.’
Brown remains in contention for a starting spot with the Pistons, but he is not a high-usage player, and the Pistons have stocked up with offensive threats such as Derrick Rose and the immortal Joe Johnson. It will be tough for Brown to rack up enough touches or minutes this season.
September 22, 2019, 8:41 pmKevin DurantSF, Brooklyn Nets
There is some optimism in league circles about Kevin Durant's (Achilles) chances of playing this season, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post.
Looking back on Durant's decision to return during the Finals, the Nets may want to exude caution when considering KD's return to action. However, Durant is pursuing his rehab with a sense of purpose, and it would be great to see him get back on the court this season. We'll keep you posted when a real timeline on Durant's rehab emerges. This news does not make him a target on draft day for standard leagues.
Source: New York Post
September 22, 2019, 10:40 amLarry Nance Jr.PF, Cleveland Cavaliers
Larry Nance Jr. is the presumed favorite to start at PF heading into training camp according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.
Fedor went on to speculate that Nance Jr. could see a lot of time at the four while Kevin Love starts at center and Tristan Thompson and John Henson compete for back up minutes behind those two. Any uptick in playing time would be a huge boost to the per-minute dynamo that Nance Jr is, and a starting role with a new coaching staff bodes well for that. He's trending in the right direction.
September 21, 2019, 9:45 pmKevin KnoxSF, New York Knicks
Coach Fizdale told the Knicks players that no starters have been determined and players had to earn their minutes.
Kevin Knox will battle with veteran Marcus Morris for the starting small forward spot. Knox has been working on getting his body stronger to be able to take on more contact on drives to the basket. Last season as a rookie, he averaged 12.8 points on a putrid 37 percent from the field. Knox will look to get more looks closer to the basket and increase his field goal percentage to more respectable levels. Knox provided little else outside of points and rebounds last season and will need to improve his shooting and defense to be considered a standard-league player.
Source: New York Post
September 21, 2019, 5:13 pmBol BolC, Denver Nuggets
According to Nick Kosmider of The Athletic, Bol Bol could spend his entire rookie season in the G-League.
Bol Bol was not drafted to be an immediate impact player, but just fell too late fore the Nuggets liking. The 44th overall pick needs to bulk up and show that he could take the bumps and bruises before having his chance on the big stage.
Source: Nick Kosmider of The Athletic
September 21, 2019, 9:21 amKawhi LeonardSF, Los Angeles Clippers
After speaking with Doc Rivers and Lawrence Frank, Dan Woike's takeaway is that Kawhi Leonard's "load management" will not be as strict as it was last year.
It was reported in July that Kawhi said he wants to play all next season fully and approach load management on a game-to-game basis so this is further confirmation that he will most likely play more than the 60 games he played last year but surely won't play all 82 either. Kurt Helin of NBC Sports speculates that this could be for several reasons. One could be that Leonard can take on more now that he is a little healthier while he believes the Clippers might also limit his per-game minutes to help him play more games. The other idea is that because the Western Conference is so deep, the Clippers will not be able to get a good seed if Leonard sits too many games. Fantasy wise, Leonard finished last season seventh in per game value but 18th in total value since he played only 60 games. Near the top of the second round would be a great place to snag him if he plays around 70 games this season.
Source: Dan Woike on Twitter
September 21, 2019, 8:31 amMalik BeasleySG, Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets want to extend Malik Beasley and Juan Hernagomez before the October 21 deadline.
The Nuggets already locked up one of their 2016 first-round picks (Jamal Murray) to a long-term deal and now want to do the same with their other two 2016 first-round picks, Hernangomez and Beasley. If not, the two will likely become restricted free-agents at the end of the season. Both players saw stretches of big minutes last season due to injuries but at full health, Beasley was around 20 minutes per game while Hernangomez was at around 10. Fantasy wise, neither player puts up big defensive stats but Beasley is a very efficient shooter with low turnovers, knocking down 2.0 triples per game last year, putting him near top-150 value at only 23.2 minutes per game. Hernangomez is a decent rebounder and knocked down 0.9 triples per game but he would need closer to 30 minutes per game to be a factor in standard leagues.
Source: Denver Post
September 20, 2019, 8:49 pmOG AnunobySF, Toronto Raptors
Coach Nick Nurse intends to put OG Anunoby "back out there in a primary role."
With Kawhi Leonard vacating the starting small forward spot, Anunoby is the leading candidate to take the role. Before the arrival of Leonard, Anunoby started 62 games in his rookie season. Last season he started 6 out of 67 games, and missed the entire playoffs due to an emergency appendectomy. He averaged 7.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.3 blocks over 20.2 minutes per game, while shooting 45.3 percent from the floor, 33.2 percent from 3-point range and 58.1 percent from the free-throw line. He can be picked up as a late round flier in drafts.
Source: The Athletic