It’s another fine Sunday, which means another solid slate of games in the NBA. I like Sundays quite a bit, as I’ve always liked the smaller slates. When there are five or six games, the top options are usually very clear, and roster construction becomes fairly simple. Larger slates can often present too many options, and you can talk yourself out of some good plays, and into some very silly ones, if you’re not careful. Today, I think the top options are pretty obvious, and while many of these players are going to be highly owned, fading them is likely going to be a mistake. Let someone else try to be the smartest guy in the room.
Good luck tonight. Here are my top picks on FanDuel this evening.
Donald Sloan/C.J. Watson, Indiana Pacers, $4500/$4400 – This is pretty simple. George Hill is out, and CJ Watson is likely on the wrong side of questionable. If Watson is out, Sloan becomes a very easy plug and play option against the Lakers. If Watson is in, he’ll draw the start, so you roster him instead. (You can find out who’s starting by checking our lineups page, featuring FanDuel prices and scoring averages.) Either one will be a high floor, high ceiling play in a game where the Pacers will play up in pace against the Lakers and their league-worst defense. Sloan just dropped 30 FanDuel points on a tough Milwaukee team. He’s likely to at least duplicate that effort against the Lakers, while Watson would see similar production if he were to be active.
Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors, $9900 – Expect a fast-paced, competitive, high scoring game (Just a one-point spread with a 216.5 total, according to the Vegas odds) when the Raptors take on the Suns. There is enough value available today that you can fit Lowry into your lineups fairly easily. Point guard is shallow on Sunday, and it makes sense to pay up for the top offensive option for Toronto against a Suns team that doesn’t defend the point guard position well. Lowry was well on his way to a monster game against Golden State before the Warriors ran away with the game. Tonight’s matchup against Phoenix should stay close until the end, which means Lowry will have his full 36 minutes to post a huge line.
Brandon Jennings, Detroit Pistons, $6,900 – Jennings will always come with the disclaimer that he should never be used in cash games. I made the mistake of trusting him the night he dropped a complete dud, and there was no way to recover. There are plenty of safer options, like Knight and Dragic. However, Jennings is a high upside player that should be targeted in GPPs. He draws a great matchup with a Kings team that is ranked near the bottom of the league against opposing point guards. I expect this game to be close and fairly high scoring, and as long as Jennings isn’t shooting poorly, and if he can avoid falling victim to Stan Van Gundy rotational randomness, he could post a big line tonight.
Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns, $8,800 – Toronto and Phoenix is going to be a fun, fast-paced game with plenty of scoring. These are the types of matchups that Bledsoe excels in. He’s rarely going to be the top scorer on the team, but his ability to contribute in every area of the stat sheet is what makes him so valuable. Expect him to post one of his almost-triple-double lines and play heavy minutes. This game should go down to the wire, and is a marquee game for both teams. At the onset of the season, Toronto was one of the top defensive teams in the league, but that’s all gone south lately as they are now ranked 21st in defensive efficiency.
JR Smith, New York Knicks, $5,400 – With Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire out, Smith is once again poised to have to shoulder much of the scoring load for the Knicks. Tim Hardaway Jr. should be back tonight, but I still expect Smith to put up 20 shots while contributing somewhat in rebounds and assists. The Knicks will likely get blown out again, but Smith did plenty of damage in garbage time against the Pistons, and will likely be on the court regardless of the score in the fourth.
Rudy Gay, Sacramento Kings, $8,600 – Gay is probably overpriced here, but given the value plays that exist and the fact that David West is the most expensive power forward, it makes sense to pay up and lock in at least 30 fantasy points at a small forward position. Gay will draw a solid matchup against the Pistons, in what should be a fairly close, high scoring game, but this play really is about proper lineup construction for me. There’s simply no reason to take a chance on a lower-priced small forward when you can lock in easy value plays at other positions for the same price.
C.J. Miles, Indiana Pacers, $5,500 – Despite coming off the bench, Miles has been stellar lately, logging around 30 minutes and posting nearly a fantasy point per minute. A matchup with the Lakers is as good as it gets. The Pacers will be playing up in pace while also facing the worst defensive team in the NBA. Expect Miles to keep his momentum going and to push for 30 fantasy points once again.
Additional Plays: Khris Middleton
Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons, $6,300 – On a day where there are no elite power forwards even playing, Monroe offers the best upside. Monroe’s minutes in the past couple of games might spook you, but remember that the Pistons blew the Knicks out, and the second unit was playing so well against Orlando that Stan Van Gundy just left them in. Monroe had a great first quarter, but never got back into the game until the second half. I don’t expect that to happen again tonight. With Josh Smith gone, the Pistons are probably on par with the Kings in terms of talent, so this should be a competitive game. I expect Pistons starters to play normal minutes tonight, and at this price, Monroe is a steal. He’ll be heavily owned, so you can make a case for fading him in GPP lineups, but I would lock him into my cash game lineups and move on.
Ed Davis, Los Angeles Lakers, $5,600 – I like David West too, but I think you’ll get about the same production from Davis for a cheaper price. Davis has been great lately, scoring around 25-30 fantasy points on a consistent basis. He’s seeing around 30 minutes, a trend I expect to continue as long as he’s playing well. The matchup with the Pacers isn’t great, but the price is very attractive.
Cole Aldrich, New York Knicks, $5,600 – As long as Amar’e Stoudemire is out, keep plugging Aldrich into your lineups until his price catches up with his recent production. He’s been terrific when given minutes, and he’ll see plenty of them tonight. The matchup with the Bucks is favorable, and even if the Knicks get blown out again tonight, Aldrich is going to see at least 30 minutes, just as he did against the Pistons. There’s no reason to overthink this one. He’s the easy number one play at center.
Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors, $6,000 – This is a GPP-only play for me, but Valanciunas draws a great matchup with a Suns team that is bleeding fantasy points to opposing centers. Valanciunas tends to produce when he’s given a favorable matchup, and his production usually results in Casey deciding to let him play a normal complement of minutes. I expect him to get off to a hot start and to post a big game, but given his inconsistencies and the fact that I can’t guarantee his minutes, I can’t recommend using him in cash games. Aldrich, and to a certain extent, Pachulia, are safer, and cheaper, options.
Additional Plays: Zaza Pachulia