Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you my favorite FanDuel NBA plays.
Tonight we have small two-game slate, which will unfortunately lead to a ton of overlap, so be sure to manage your bankrolls appropriately. On the bright side, the two matchups should feature a ton of points, as we have the Golden State Warriors at the Cleveland Cavaliers (-3.5, 214.5) in a potential finals preview, and the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Phoenix Suns (+5, 216). Here are my top picks:
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder, $11,000 - It’s no secret that Russell Westbrook’s usage goes through the roof when Kevin Durant is off the floor. He’d be popular on a 12-game slate, and with it only being a two-game slate, his ownership percentage is going to be outrageous. If for nothing else, he needs to be in your lineups just as a block to your opponents. Westbrook was well on his way to another monster game in last outing, as he put up a triple double and 45 FD points in only 27 minutes. In the game prior, he put up 54 FD points in only 27 minutes. In a fast paced matchup with the Suns (a projected Vegas total of 216 points), he could easily approach and even exceed 60 FD points here if his minutes return to normal.
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors, $10,300 - Normally, you’d like to pair Westbrook up with more of a value point guard to give your rosters some balance. However, there are no value PGs tonight, as Kyrie Irving ($8,400) and Brandon Knight ($7,400) aren’t particularly cheap. I prefer to use Kyrie when one of Love or LeBron is out, and Knight is still trying to find his way in Phoenix. I’d much rather pay up to Curry, and therefore lock in arguably the two best PGs in the game and 100 FD points at this position. The Cleveland/Golden State game is also projected to be high scoring, and although the Cavs have been tough on opposing PGs on the season, Kyrie’s defensive liabilities are beginning to show up - they are 23rd in DVP against PGs over the last three weeks.
Dion Waiters, Oklahoma City Thunder, $4,500 - If you’re pairing Westbrook and Curry up, you are going to have to save somewhere. Waiters hasn’t been very good recently and hasn’t topped 20 FD points in any of the last six games. However, he has seen a boost with Durant out of the lineup, averaging 30 MPG and 16 FGA in the last three games without KD. The problem is that none of those shots are going in right now, as he is shooting 33% during that span. However, on a short two-game slate, those type of minutes and usage are tough to find at his price tag. He draws the top SG matchup of the night, since the Suns are 23rd in DVP against SGs on the season, so he could finally break his 40% FG percentage barrier tonight and pay off this tag.
J.R. Smith, Cleveland Cavaliers, $5,300 - Eric Bledsoe is my top option at SG, but rostering the Westbrook/Curry combo is going to make him very difficult to fit in. Prior to his last game, J. R. was on a nice roll, as he hit at least 5x value in his previous four games. He had a rough outing in his last game and curiously only played 22 minutes. However, Smith’s typically been playing 30 minutes a night recently, so I’ll assume that his minutes will return to normal here. With it being a short slate, I’m willing to give him another shot here, as he’s playing much better basketball in Cleveland and is getting wide open shots due to the attention that LeBron, Kyrie and Kevin Love attract.
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers, $10,400 - The downside to the Westbrook/Curry combo is that it severely hinders your ability to roster LeBron. It’s possible to get all three into your lineups, but you’ll really be rolling the dice in some spots. That said, I do like some of the SF value that I’ve listed below, so fitting all three into your lineups might be the way to go tonight. This Cleveland/Golden State game is a potential finals preview on national TV, so you know LeBron is going to bring it tonight. His recent fantasy production has been held back by the fact that the Cavs have been blowing a ton of opponents out, but that is highly unlikely to happen tonight. The Warriors have been very good against SFs this year, but LeBron is matchup proof and could approach 40 minutes of action here.
Andre Iguodala, Golden State Warriors, $4,500 - Iguodala is a little sneaky tonight and provides some solid salary cap relief. He has quietly started to play better recently, as he as least 20 FD points in four of his last five games and in seven of his last 10 games. He is still coming off the bench, but his minute floor over the last 10 games has been 24 minutes, and he can play upwards of 30 minutes at times. This game should feature a very nice pace, and the Warriors will need his defense and athleticism against LeBron James.
P. J. Tucker, Phoenix Suns, $4,900 - It’s something I never thought I’d say, but Tucker will probably be the highest owned SF of the night. He is still very cheap and his price hasn’t adjusted to his recent production. He has really excelled with Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas traded, as he has at least 27 FD points in each of the four games since the All-Star break, and two games of 34 FD points. He also gets a nice matchup boost in this one with Kevin Durant out, as he will instead be guarded by Kyle Singer and Anthony Morrow.
Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder, $7,200 – He’s flown somewhat under the radar, and that should change shortly, but Serge Ibaka has really picked his game up with Kevin Durant out of the lineup. He is much more active, which leads to increased rebounds and blocked shots, and he is playing with a ton of confidence. Over his last four games, he has topped 44 FD points twice and hasn’t scored less than 36.9 FD points. Some of that production is due to a really high shooting percentage, which will normalize at some point, but right now he is red hot. The Suns’ interior defense is nothing to fear and they are 18th in rebounding differential, so this is a plus matchup for Ibaka to keep on rolling.
Mitch McGary, Oklahoma City Thunder, $4,000 - If I choose to go value at SF and fade LeBron, I’ll be pairing Ibaka with Markieff Morris. However, if you go the LeBron route, you won’t be able to spend up here and this one of the dice rolls I was talking about. McGary is coming off the bench and there is the possibility that he could play only 15 minutes. However, he is bringing a ton of energy and activity when he comes in the game and has playing 20 minutes recently. He has hit 7x value in four of his last seven games, so there is some upside here. However, he has also thrown in two complete duds of 6.6 and 2.4 FD points, which could kill your night. As mentioned before, the Suns are not a great rebounding team and their second unit isn’t particularly big, so McGary could do some work on the glass in this matchup.
Enes Kanter, Oklahoma City Thunder, $5,800 - Kanter is my top 50/50 and H2H option on the night. He has played very well since the trade to OKC, with two double doubles in three games. All of the OKC starters’ minutes were limited last game, but this game is projected to stay close, so he should play around the 29 MPG he averaged in his first two starts with the Thunder. In terms of DVP, he draws the top center matchup of the day, as the Suns are 21st in DVP against opposing centers on the season.
Alex Len, Phoenix Suns, $5,000 - Len burned a ton of people last night (myself included), so you’ll see a lot of people shy away from him tonight. He got in horrific foul trouble, picking up two fouls in the first three minutes, and then came back in the second quarter and immediately picked up his third foul. I prefer him as a GPP play, as the foul trouble is a concern, especially with Russell Westbrook attacking the rim. However, with the trade of Miles Plumlee, Len has seen a huge boost in playing time - he has been playing 32 to 35 minutes a contest, provided he can stay out of foul trouble. In the three games since the All-star break that he has managed to stay out of foul trouble, he has averaged 31 FD points, which is 6x salary. Based on his cheap price, his 6x to 7x upside, and the fact that his ownership should be lower based on last night, Len makes for a fantastic GPP play tonight.