We have an early start time today (6:00 PM EST) for the big NBA contests on FanDuel, and it features an interesting set of nine games. While yesterday’s slate was not very exciting outside of Washington and Portland, today is a new day, and with that brings some very fun games to target. Clippers/Suns, Rockets/Lakers, Nuggets/Wizards, and even Magic/Pacers have high totals and should offer plenty of good plays. Warriors/Celtics has a high total, but unless someone else decides to score 37 points in a quarter, there may not be too many good plays in a likely blowout.
With so many directions to take, I’ll focus on the players I like the most, and offer up some alternatives as well. Good luck tonight, and always remember to keep on top of Rotoworld player news for up-to-date injury information.
DJ Augustin, Detroit Pistons, $3,800 – The early belief is that Brandon Jennings tore his Achilles last night. While I certainly hope that is not the case, in daily fantasy we have to be prepared to react to this sort of news. DJ Augustin will immediately step in as the starting point guard, and he has shown time and again that he can produce when playing 30 or more minutes. Priced at nearly the minimum and with the ability to produce like a mid-tier point guard option, he makes for an extremely easy value play. As an added bonus, he’s facing a Raptors team that has given up the second-most fantasy points to opposing point guards over the last three weeks.
Elfrid Payton, Orlando Magic, $5,900 – Keep an eye on injury updates as Payton tweaked his ankle last game against the Knicks. He’s not listed on the injury report, so he should be fine to go tonight in a plus matchup against the Pacers. The Magic have been one of the fastest-paced teams in the league lately, and you can see that Vegas has caught on, assigning this game an over/under of 208. I’d be willing to bet a Pacers/Magic game would have had an over/under of about 190 early in the season. With the Pacers only being ranked in the middle of the pack against opposing point guards, Payton makes for an excellent investment today. He’s been regularly reaching around 30 or more fantasy points, and his price doesn’t quite reflect what we can now expect of him.
Jordan Clarkson, Los Angeles Lakers, $3,500 – Coach Byron Scott has once again completely revamped his starting lineup, inserting Clarkson in as the starting point guard last game. In a tough matchup against the Spurs, he played 29 minutes and managed 19.6 fantasy points. That’s not a bad score for minimum price, and if draws the start and plays nearly 30 minutes again, we can likely expect 20 or more fantasy points again tonight. He’s fine value/punt option tonight that’s available to you if you’re looking to spend up at other positions.
Eric Gordon, New Orleans Pelicans, $5,400 – All Gordon has done since coming back from injury is produce solid stat lines. He’s been one of the most consistent players over that time, which is a very difficult thing to find at the shooting guard position. He’s still underpriced, as he’s consistently reaching between 25 and 30 fantasy points for a price tag of $5,400. As long as Jrue Holiday remains out, Gordon is going to take on just enough offensive and ball-handling responsibility to continue giving us solid fantasy output at a discount. He’s playing heavy minutes and there’s no reason to think that his production trend will stop tonight.
Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic, $7,200 – As I mentioned in Payton’s blurb, the Magic have been one of the fastest-paced teams in the league lately, and Oladipo is another player that stands to benefit from that. The Pacers are near the bottom of the league against opposing shooting guards over the last three weeks, and they simply don’t have any good wing defenders. Expect Oladipo to continue producing in the 30 fantasy point range, with upside for more in a plus matchup.
Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs, $8,000 – Leonard is the top play at the small forward position day, and it’s not really close. He’s facing a Bucks team that has really struggled against opposing small forwards over the course of the season, and most recently got torched by Gordon Hayward. Vegas isn’t expecting this game to be very close, but I think the Bucks are good enough that things won’t get too out of hand. Leonard isn’t at the top of Pop’s list of guys that need rest, and he should see 30 or more minutes, which is plenty of time for him to reach 35 or more fantasy points tonight. Small forward is extremely thin tonight, and I will be going out of my way to lock in Leonard’s production in one of my two slots tonight.
Paul Pierce, Washington Wizards, $4,800 – I’m not chasing recent production here, but I am chasing recent minutes. Pierce had been mired in the mid-20s in minutes for the longest time, which was capping his ceiling and keeping him off my radar as a viable play. In Washington’s last two games, he’s played 37 and 30 minutes, and vastly exceeded his value threshold. Tonight’s matchup with Denver figures to be fast-paced and high-scoring, and given Washington is playing the second leg of a road back-to-back, I don’t think there is any danger of a much superior Washington team running out to a big lead. Be careful, though. There’s no guarantee this recent minutes trend continues, especially on a back-to-back in the Denver altitude, but given how difficult small forward is tonight, and Pierce’s recent production relative to his price, it’s a calculated risk that’s worth taking.
Brandon Bass, Boston Celtics, $4,400 – Bass has been phenomenal as a starter for the Celtics, and despite the fact that Boston is traveling to Oracle Arena to almost certainly get whipped by the Warriors, he should see enough time on the court to easily pay off his price tag. The Warriors are a top team in terms of defensive efficiency, but they play so fast that teams end up scoring plenty of points against them anyway. Don’t expect 40 point upside here, but something in the neighborhood of 25 is perfectly reasonable, and still makes Bass a very good target due to his low price tag.
Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers, $9,900 – In what should be the best game of the night, the Clippers travel to Phoenix to take on the Suns. In marquee matchups that are expected to be close, fast-paced, and high-scoring, you want to be targeting the studs, and in this case that means Griffin. Chris Paul isn’t having the huge games that we’ve seen from him in the past, but Griffin is, and they’re coming at the right times for the Clippers. I’m expecting a monster performance from Griffin tonight, and I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him eclipse 50 or even 60 fantasy points tonight. He comes at a solid discount to Anthony Davis, and I would be willing to bet that he ends up outscoring him as well. Griffin is my top overall play today, and I’m going to be working him into most of my lineups tonight.
DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers, $8,300 – While I expect Blake Griffin to dominate this game, don’t forget about DeAndre Jordan. The Suns have been much better against opposing centers since Alex Len took over the starting job, so they’re not quite the joke that they were earlier in the season. However, given the pace of this game, and the sheer number of shot attempts both teams will be taking, it’s hard not see Jordan collecting a bunch of rebounds, and blocking several shots along the way. The Clippers have been looking to him a bit more on offense, so I think a double-double is nearly a lock here. Jordan is one of those centers that’s not going to have trouble keeping up with the pace of this game, and I think he’ll approach 20 rebounds tonight and 40 or more fantasy points.
Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic, $8,900 – I prefer Jordan tonight, but Vucevic needs to be considered as well. I typically like to find a very good value play at center, but tonight isn’t shaping up to be one of those nights. I strongly feel that you need to be spending on one of the top two options, and almost all of my lineups are going to contain one of Jordan or Vucevic. I’ve already touched on Orlando’s increased pace of play, which is giving Vucevic many more scoring and rebounding opportunities. Roy Hibbert is a good rim protector, but he’s not the sort of defender that’s going to do a very good job closing out on mid-range shots. Vucevic has a very good mid-range game, and he’s going to give Hibbert all kinds of problems. Expect another big game from Vucevic tonight.