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.