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.
January 18, 2020, 12:29 amLuka DoncicPG-SF, Dallas Mavericks
Luka Doncic was sublime in Friday's 120-112 win over the Blazers, dropping 35 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, a steal and eight 3-pointers.
Doncic had an answer for everything that the Blazers threw at him and even responded to some signature stretches out of Damian Lillard that put the game back in the balance. He did go 5-of-8 at the free throw line and has shot just .681 on his freebies over the last two weeks but we're hoping that will correct given the much larger sample of great shooting from earlier in the year. It's a joy to watch him play.
January 18, 2020, 12:26 amTim Hardaway Jr.SF, Dallas Mavericks
Tim Hardaway Jr. was feeling it on Friday night, helping the Mavs to a home win with 29 points, a steal and five 3-pointers.
Hardaway goes on runs of big production but overall he's still outside the top-150 on the year. His poor shooting nights can ruin your week but THJ has started to level out to a certain extent, scoring in double digits in each of the last seven after a three-game absence. That sounds good, but only two of those games feature 20-plus, while four are games of 15 points or fewer. THJ is boom or bust and it's just a matter of getting on board at the right time.
January 18, 2020, 12:24 amDwight PowellPF, Dallas Mavericks
Dwight Powell had a mediocre game on Friday night, dropping eight points (3-of-6 FG), six rebounds and two assists against Hassan Whiteside and the Blazers.
Powell has a nasty habit of posting uninspiring lines like this right after he gets people back on the bandwagon. Still, he's been an easy middle-round value over the last couple of weeks thanks to an insane .783 mark from the floor and is now up to top-150 value on the full season. It's been a disappointing year overall, but Powell is at least trending in the right direction.
January 18, 2020, 12:21 amMaxi KleberPF, Dallas Mavericks
Maxi Kleber logged 33 minutes on Friday night and was able to post 10 points, five rebounds, three blocks and two 3-pointers.
Nothing too special, but it'll certainly play. Kleber's up to top-155/140 value on the full year and has been a top-90/75 player while starting for Kristaps Porzingis (knee) over the last two weeks. Keep him locked and loaded until KP returns.
January 18, 2020, 12:20 amSeth CurrySG, Dallas Mavericks
Seth Curry put up 16 points off the bench in Friday's win over the Blazers, rounding out his night by going 6-of-14 from the field with four rebounds, three assists, a steal and three 3-pointers.
The Blazers are dropping like flies and probably miss Curry quite a bit. He's been up and down this season but his mix of threes and relatively sound efficiency, plus some timely hot streaks, have him sitting with top-200 value. The Dallas bench can be volatile from night to night and in this game it was Curry and Jalen Brunson (13 points, one steal, one 3-pointer) well ahead of Delon Wright (3-5-4 in 15 minutes). Wright remains the best fantasy option of the bunch even if he didn't show it tonight.
January 18, 2020, 12:16 amMario HezonjaSG, Portland Trail Blazers
Mario Hezonja (back) returned from a two-game absence on Friday night and had seven points in 19 minutes.
Hezonja has been in and out of the rotation, but could find himself looked to for scoring if CJ McCollum's ankle injury ends up being serious. Not-So-Super Mario is only a deep-league option these days, and not a good one at that.
January 18, 2020, 12:15 amDamian LillardPG, Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard played through an illness on Friday night and kept the Blazers in the game, scoring 34 points on 13-of-25 from the field while adding 10 assists, two steals and three 3-pointers.
Lillard was a game-time decision tonight but this one would've been a blowout had he not been able to suit up. Portland's on the outside looking in on the playoff chase right now, and as long as that deficit is manageable we should see Lillard emptying the tank to get the Blazers back into the postseason.
January 18, 2020, 12:13 amHassan WhitesideC, Portland Trail Blazers
Hassan Whiteside kept on rolling in Friday's loss, notching 21 points, 18 rebounds, five blocks and a 9-for-10 shooting line.
Whiteside is stuck on automatic and figures to remain that way until Jusuf Nurkic returns. He's been a huge steal for fantasy GMs this season and while we'd bet on him slowing down over the last couple of months, you're free to ride this wave to its completion considering his ADP.
January 18, 2020, 12:10 amKent BazemoreSG, Portland Trail Blazers
Kent Bazemore battled through early foul trouble on Friday night and finished with 11 points, three rebounds, four assists, a steal and two 3-pointers.
Bazemore didn't start the second half but did manage to play 31 minutes despite racking up four fouls. If CJ McCollum has to miss time with his ankle sprain, Bazemore will be thrust into a more offensive role. A 14-16-team guy over the last couple of weeks, the stars have been aligning to get Bazemore back inside the top-150. He has yet to take advantage, but this could be another coin flip that lands the right way for him.
January 18, 2020, 12:08 amAnfernee SimonsSG, Portland Trail Blazers
Anfernee Simons started the second half in place of CJ McCollum (sprained ankle) on Friday night and posted seven points, five rebounds, five assists, a steal and a 3-pointer in 28 minutes.
Simons is really the only logical alternative if McCollum has to miss time, which puts him on the map as a low-end addition in standard leagues. He's best viewed as a source of scoring with non-negligible assists, but don't get too crazy chasing him on the wire or anything. That could change depending on McCollum's timetable but there's no need for drastic action just yet.