Every Thursday I’ll be handing out my favorite FanDuel NBA plays.
We have another small two-game slate, which will unfortunately lead to a ton of overlap tonight, especially with Russell Westbrook and all of the Bulls value plays on the board. So, be sure to manage your bankrolls appropriately.
Tonight, we have the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Chicago Bulls (+2, 199.5) and the Dallas Mavericks at the Portland Trail Blazers (-2, 199).
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $250,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Thursday’s NBA games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $25,000. Starts at 8:00pm ET on Thursday. Here's the FanDuel link.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder, $12,000 - He hauled off and put up 87.2 FD points and won people a ton of money in the Mega Slam last night, and if he’s not in your lineups, he’s going to haul off and lose you a ton of money tonight. If for nothing else, he needs to be in your lineups just as a block to your opponents. His usage is through the roof with Durant out (46 usage rate in 42 minutes last night), and he is attacking the boards as well. He’s a must play for cash games, and the only way I would fade him in tournaments is if I’m throwing in say five teams, and then I might fade him on one. He’s put up four straight triple doubles and is the first player to do so since Michael Jordan. When someone is doing things that MJ did, that is an immediate roster for me. I wouldn’t worry too much about a back to back game following an overtime game either. He was in this same position last week and just went out and put up 40 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists against Portland. With Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler out, Westbrook is a matchup nightmare for the undersized Aaron Brooks and an aging Kirk Hinrich.
Aaron Brooks, Chicago Bulls, $4,800 - PG is actually a very deep position tonight and I think Rajon Rondo, Damian Lillard, and Aaron Brooks are all in play as a second PG to pair with Westbrook. Rondo is a GPP only target for me, whereas Brooks and Lillard are cash game and GPP playable. All three draw great matchups, as Rondo gets Portland, who is 25th in DVP against PGs, and Lillard gets Dallas, who is 23rd in DVP against PGs. In situations like this, I’ll go with the cheapest in Brooks, and he also happens to have the best matchup (in terms of DVP), as the Thunder are 29th in DVP against PGs on the season and 25th over the last three weeks. Brooks has seen a major uptick in minutes and FGA since Rose’s injury, as he is averaging over 30 MPG and 16 FGA per game. He’s not shooting the ball well at all right now, but if his shot starts to drop, he could blow away his value. The risk here is him getting in foul trouble while guarding Westbrook, but the upside is that Westbrook’s defense has suffered due to all of the offensive responsibilities he has taken on.
Monta Ellis, Dallas Mavericks, $6,700 - The SG and SF positions are my least favorite of the day and are the last positions I am plugging into my NBA lineups. I typically don’t roster Mavericks since they really spread the ball around, which limits the upside of all of their players. However, the SG position is thin and Monta is fairly cheap, which makes him my top option at SG if you can afford him. You can pencil him in for 25-30 FD points, which is a nice at such a weak position, and he draws the top SG matchup of the day too, as Portland is 19th in DVP against SGs. If you can’t afford Ellis, I have no issue with pairing up Tony Snell and Dion Waiters and punting this position.
Tony Snell, Chicago Bulls, $3,800 - I have Tony Snell and Dion Waiters very close to one another and I will be using some of both. I have them paired up in some lineups, and in the lineups where I have to choose between them, I am using Snell for cash games and Waiters for GPPs. Snell is not a high fantasy point per minute player, but with all of the injuries to the Bulls, his minute safety is very attractive for cash games on a short slate. His minutes were already on the rise prior to Jimmy Butler’s injury, and with Butler out last game he played 40 minutes. He doesn’t have tremendous upside, but he only needs 20 FD points to pay off this salary, and that is something he can do in 38 to 40 minutes of playing time. For GPPs, I much prefer Waiters ($4,400), who has the ability to really score the ball. Waiters flashed his upside with 34 FD points last night, and maybe that will get him out of his recent shooting slump. However, Waiters is coming off the bench and Westbrook is dominating the ball right now.
Nicolas Batum, Portland Trail Blazers, $5,600 - I normally never get Batum right, as he can be volatile with a FD point range from 15 to 35. However, he is far and away the best SF option going on this slate, is cheap, and is coming off of a big game against the Clippers last night. He’s been more aggressive and active of late, and he has now put up 34 or more FD points in three of his last five games.
Al-Farouq Aminu, Dallas Mavericks, $4,600 - The remaining SF position is really tough. I don’t have a strong preference out of Aminu, Richard Jefferson, and Mike Dunleavy. What I’ll be doing is targeting Aminu for GPPs and then plugging in either Dunleavy or Jefferson as the last guy into my lineup for cash games. With Chandler Parsons still out, Jefferson will continue to start with Aminu off the bench, but both see a playing time boost. Jefferson has been the steadier performer, while Aminu has flashed more upside. However, Aminu has also been wildly inconsistent as evidenced by the following FD point game logs: 13.9, 33, 4, 25.4, 7.4, and then 36.9. Due to his length and ability to pile up rebounds, blocks and steals, Aminu has the most ability to get you 30+ FD points and is my target for GPPs.
Nikola Mirotic, Chicago Bulls, $4,700 - Mirotic should be one of the highest owned players of the night and for good reason. With Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, and Taj Gibson all out, his minutes and shot attempts are very secure. Due to their injuries, the Bulls have been running a three-man rotation at PF and C the past two games, and Mirotic has played 31 and 32 minutes as a result. He’s averaging over 35 FD points in those two games, and he is averaging 30 FD points in the 12 games that Taj Gibson has missed this year. The Bulls draw the top PF matchup of the day - the Thunder are 24th in DVP against PFs on the season and 22nd over the last three weeks.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers, $9,800 - The big question of the night will probably be Pau Gasol or LaMarcus Aldridge. It’s a very tough decision and I think it is very close, but I lean towards Aldridge for a few reasons. The first is that surprisingly Pau’s minutes haven’t jumped with all of the Bulls injuries, and instead of leaning on Pau they are just playing him, Noah and Mirotic between 30-to-35 minutes each. Meanwhile, Aldridge has played 35 or more in four straight games, and in competitive games, like this one is expected to be, he approaches 40 minutes of playing time. The other reason is that you can only roster four players from a team on FD, and most of the value plays are Bulls tonight. Rostering Aldridge leaves me more ability to roster Noah at center and then the other value Bulls (Brooks, Snell, Mirotic, Dunleavy). Aldridge likes playing against his hometown team, as he is averaging 22 points and 10 rebounds this year and averaged 26 points and 14 rebounds against the Mavericks last year.
Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls, $7,400 – Taking Westbrook in one PG position and then Noah at center are the two easiest decisions of the night for me. With all of the Bulls injuries, Noah is going to see more work at the high post and have the offense run through him more. He is a great passer for a big man, and we saw this same scenario last year, when his assist numbers really spiked. He’s averaging 37 FD points since all of the Bulls injuries and you should get accustomed to seeing Noah put up similar lines down the stretch. His price will be on the rise, so jump on board while it is under 8K.