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.
July 7, 2020, 6:51 pmTaurean PrinceSF, Brooklyn Nets
Taurean Prince has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not participate in the NBA restart, per Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Nets lose yet another rotation player and will now head to Orlando, and likely the playoffs, without Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, Prince, DeAndre Jordan and Wilson Chandler (as well as Kevin Durant and Nicolas Claxton). Look for Garrett Temple to pick up some extra minutes on the wing, with Justin Anderson and Rodions Kurucs potentially getting into the mix at power forward. Deep bench players like Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Dzanan Musa may also benefit. Joe Harris and Tyler Johnson may log a few extra minutes as a ripple effect, while Caris LeVert's fantasy price keeps going up as the primary scorer by default.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
July 7, 2020, 5:54 pmJayson TatumSF, Boston Celtics
Jayson Tatum put it all together as the new top dog in Boston, posting top-20/12 value (8/9-cat) in an outstanding season.
A reshuffled roster led to a much clearer pecking order, and Tatum thrived as the primary option. There was a two-month stretch towards the end of the year where he was a comfortable top-10 option. The third-year forward put up career-bests all over the board, including 23.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.9 blocks and 2.8 3-pointers. Tatum added 3.5 minutes to his nightly average this season but saw an increase of nearly six shots per game as the main beneficiary of Kyrie Irving's departure. While Tatum's percentages actually dipped (from .450 to .448 FG% and .855 to .806 FT%), the volume gains were too great to be dragged down. As Tatum continues to improve, he should be in the group of players that gets selected around the first round turn in fantasy drafts.
July 7, 2020, 5:45 pmJaylen BrownSG, Boston Celtics
Jaylen Brown finished the fantasy regular season as a top-55/70 player (8/9-cat), blossoming with a new-look Celtics roster.
With all of the changes Boston went through last summer, Brown was empowered to carry a larger share of the load and responded in a big way. He averaged 20.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.3 blocks and 2.1 3-pointers while shooting .490 from the field and .736 from the line — all career-highs besides blocks. Brown took full advantage of an increase in nearly eight minutes per contest and an additional five shots, becoming a vital two-way part both on the court and in the box score. Brown made incremental improvements across the board, and the volume numbers carried his rise in the rankings, but don't sleep on his improved efficiency — particularly at the free throw line, where he had been under 66 percent in each of the previous two seasons. That could be the difference between a top-60 and a top-90 player moving forward, but Brown's new prominent role should secure him at least middle-round value for years to come.
July 7, 2020, 5:21 pmDaniel TheisPF, Boston Celtics
Daniel Theis emerged as a key contributor for the Celtics this season, finishing with top-110/80 value (8/9-cat) thanks to averages of 9.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.3 blocks and 0.4 3-pointers per contest.
An injury to Enes Kanter opened the door and Theis burst right through, never looking back. Theis also made 57 starts in 58 games this year after making just five starts combined over his first two campaigns. He set career-highs across the board, including a .565 mark from the field despite increased volume. A heady defender and versatile offensive threat, Theis was the missing piece at center for Boston between his rim protection and modest floor-spacing ability. Despite a handful of absences, Theis was even better by total value standards with top-90/75 rankings. He rarely wows you, but tends to check multiple boxes on any given nights and should remain a nice depth piece for fantasy purposes moving forward. With extended stretches as a top-75 player, there may still be some untapped upside if Theis can get more than the 23.8 mpg he received this season.
July 7, 2020, 5:09 pmJonathan IsaacPF, Orlando Magic
Although Jonathan Isaac (knee) is at Disney World with the rest of the Magic, he is still rehabbing his injury and GM Jeff Weltman splashed some cold water on the idea that he might play during the restart.
"He's at the stage where he can do a little light court stuff, but that's about it," Weltman said. Isaac was putting together a huge fantasy season and delivering on the high expectations that the Magic have for him before a devastating knee injury took him out of action on January 1. While Orlando is a safe bet for a playoff spot, they will likely err on the side of caution when it comes to Isaac's status. He's too important to the organization's future to bring back for a playoff series against one of the league's elite teams, especially after an eight-month layoff. Keep an eye out for more Isaac updates but don't count on his availability if you'll be playing fantasy games when the NBA starts again.
Source: Josh Robbins on Twitter
July 7, 2020, 5:04 pmRobert Williams IIIC-F, Boston Celtics
Robert Williams had a productive second season in the NBA despite a 37-game absence due to a hip bone edema, finishing with top-195/175 per-game value in 8/9-cat formats.
Williams was actually up close to the top-150 before he returned from his injury to a more limited role behind a resurgent Enes Kanter and a breakout campaign from Daniel Theis. The Time Lord needed just 14.0 mpg to come away with 1.2 blocks and 0.9 steals per contest, while also shooting a sterling .677 from the floor (albeit on low volume). It's clear that Williams already boasts block specialist appeal and if the Celtics reshuffle the frontcourt this offseason then he may make for a nice late-round flier type next year.
July 7, 2020, 4:54 pmGrant WilliamsPF, Boston Celtics
Grant Williams' first fantasy season ended with averages of 3.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks and 0.3 3-pointers in 15.5 mpg.
That was good for top-340 value on a per-game basis, and while Williams is not an important offensive cog for the Celtics it's clear that he has all the makings of a glue guy for Brad Stevens and fantasy GMs alike. Williams is the sort of player who does a lot of little things well and can rely on above-average basketball IQ. Boston's depth will be a limiting factor but there's a lot to like about this first viewing of Williams' stat set. He's on the deep-league radar next season and could surprise if he carves out a larger role.
July 7, 2020, 4:50 pmSemi OjeleyePF, Boston Celtics
Semi Ojeleye was only a modest contributor to the Celtics this season, but he did set a pair of career-highs with marks of 89.3% at the free throw line and 36.7% from 3-point range.
Ojeleye only averaged 14.6 minutes per contest, but he remains a trusted defensive option for Brad Stevens even if his offensive game is extremely limited. The fact that he was able to hit his freebies, even at extremely low volume, so efficiently bodes well considering he was around 61% in each of his first two campaigns. Ojeleye ended the fantasy season with top-400/380 value in 8/9-cat leagues and is not a recommended option moving forward.
July 7, 2020, 4:37 pmMarkelle FultzPG, Orlando Magic
An unnamed Magic player has tested positive for COVID-19 and is not with the team at Disney World.
Additionally, Markelle Fultz is not with the team due to a personal matter, while Al-Farouq Aminu remains away to continue rehabbing his knee. Seven of the 22 teams participating in the Orlando restart had to shut down their practice facilities due to COVID-19 positive personnel, and it seems like the league would've had an eighth had the Magic not already left for the "bubble."
Source: Tim Reynolds on Twitter
July 7, 2020, 4:04 pmCarsen EdwardsPG, Boston Celtics
Carsen Edwards made 35 appearances in his rookie season, finishing as a top-430 player in fantasy.
Edwards was always in tough to see substantial value this season given Boston's strong depth in the backcourt. The team remains high on his future but it's unlikely that he comes into any sort of fantasy appeal barring major changes this offseason. The highlight of his season was an 18-point outburst against the Wizards way back in November.