We have a solid seven-game NBA slate today with two early games. There are tournaments running for both the all-day slate and the five-game evening slate, so I’m going to focus on all seven games with today’s picks. As always, we have to be cognizant of players with the potential to sit out, and the implications that accompany them. We already know Kevin Durant is out, but as of this writing, there has been no clarity on the statuses of Anthony Davis, Ricky Rubio and Rudy Gobert. I’ll address these situations below so you’re prepared to make necessary lineup adjustments if these players sit out again. With that in mind, here are my top plays for Sunday’s FanDuel contests.
Editor's Note: Sign up for FanDuel today and receive a FREE ENTRY into a one-day fantasy basketball league for real money. Finish anywhere in the top-half to win cash. Enter now.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder, $11,400 – When Kevin Durant is out, you use Russell Westbrook. If I were writing a list of NBA Commandments, this would, without a doubt, be the first. When Westbrook is on the court without Durant, he owns a 39% usage rate and an absolutely absurd 53.5% assist rate. Oh, and his rebounding rate is 17.2%, which is higher than DeMarcus Cousins’s mark of 16.9%. He’s a nightly triple-double threat, and tonight’s matchup with Boston should lend itself to a monster line from Westbrook. Boston is ranked fifth in pace, while Oklahoma City is sixth. Boston is a good enough team to keep the game close, and we should see a high-scoring game (the total for this game is over 210 points, according to the Vegas odds), with both teams looking to push the pace.
Rajon Rondo, Sacramento Kings, $7500 – If Darren Collison misses tonight’s game, Rondo will be, once again, the easiest play imaginable. He’s eclipsed 50 points on FanDuel in three of his past four games, recording triple-doubles in each of them. The matchup with Kyle Lowry and the Raptors isn’t great, but given Rondo can be expected to play well over 40 minutes if Collison is out, you simply have to use him at this price. Even if Collison returns, Rondo is playing at such an elite level that there’s still no way you can fade him while he’s priced this low.
Eric Gordon, New Orleans Pelicans, $6000 – If Anthony Davis sits out again, Gordon becomes an easy play at a weak shooting guard position. With Davis on the court, Gordon is sporting an unimpressive 20.6% usage rate. With Davis off the court, that jumps to 29.8%. He’s been the focal point of the offense in Davis’s absence, and he will continue to be for as long as Davis is out. I think he’s still a decent play if Davis returns, but he’d be a lock for me if Davis sits out, especially facing the Knicks and their poor wing defenders.
Dion Waiters, Oklahoma City Thunder, $4800 – I’m not a Waiters fan at all, but he’s been very good over his past three games, and will continue to see around 30 minutes while Kevin Durant is out. He’s a high-usage player in a favorable matchup against the fast-paced Celtics, and given the relative weakness of the shooting guard position, I think he’s a fine play today.
Marcus Morris, Detroit Pistons, $6100 – Hopefully yesterday’s dud against the Clippers pushes some people off of Morris. He’s a terrific play against the Lakers at a very thin small forward position. Morris plays heavy minutes for head coach Stan Van Gundy, and a matchup with the Lakers (eighth in pace) presents a situation that will force the Pistons (24th in pace) to play way up in pace. A boost in pace means more possessions and opportunities for players like Morris to score points and rack up peripheral stats. He’s eclipsed 30 fantasy points several times this season, and he’s likely to do it again against a Lakers team that’s ranked 28th in defensive efficiency.
Jae Crowder, Boston Celtics, $5000 – Crowder played 38 minutes in a win over Atlanta on Friday, and while he doesn’t always play a heavy minutes load, he’s a lock to play close to 30, and can clearly play more if head coach Brad Stevens decides he needs him on the floor. We’ve already established that today’s matchup between the Celtics and Thunder is very attractive because both teams play at such a fast pace. Crowder accrues fantasy points in a variety of ways, so extra possessions are especially important to him given he contributes on both ends of the floor. He’s routinely earning at least 20 fantasy points, and likely has a floor of around 25 in this particular matchup. Given his ceiling of well over 30, he’s an excellent investment at a $5000 price tag.
Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics, $5600 – Sullinger has met or exceeded 28 fantasy points in four of his last five games, meaning he has a great chance to reach at least five points per $1000 each night. He’ll benefit from the fast pace of this matchup, and even though I don’t like the matchup with Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams, he’s playing so well right now that it’s hard not to consider him at a power forward position that’s not offering many good plays. He’s still a risk because he almost never plays 30 minutes, but he’s not expensive, and his potential return is much better than almost any option at the position.
Marvin Williams, Charlotte Hornets, $5200 – Williams isn’t an exciting player to roster, but he’s an excellent cash game target due to his consistency. He’ll take on a Blazers team that ranks 24th in defensive efficiency, and features a weak defensive frontcourt. Williams is a nightly double-double threat, and while he’s not going to light up the scoreboard too often, he contributes in a variety of ways, and is capable of getting hot from beyond the arc. He’s a safe, comfortable play at a position where I really struggled to find players I like.
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons, $9700 – It’s a tough call between Drummond and DeMarcus Cousins for top center play of the day, but Drummond gets the edge because he’s significantly cheaper. Drummond is going to post a monster line on the defenseless Lakers. Los Angeles ranks 26th in rebounding rate, and Drummond is the best rebounder in the league. There is no one on this Lakers team that can stop Drummond, and given the strides he’s made this season in his post-up game, another 20/20 game with a handful of blocks seems very likely tonight. Behind Westbrook, he’s the
Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies, $7500 – With Brandan Wright out, Gasol will continue to play heavy minutes for the Grizzlies. He’s played at least 37 minutes in his team’s past four games, and he’s producing around one fantasy point per minute. While Minnesota has been both good on the defensive end of the floor and on the glass, Gasol’s ability to contribute in every important statistic make him a terrific play given his expected heavy minutes load tonight.
Additional Plays: DeMarcus Cousins