Happy last day of the NBA regular season. I imagine most of you are getting a bit tired of the constant injury and player rest news causing you to have to rebuild your NBA lineups. I know I am, and I’m definitely looking forward to daily fantasy in the playoffs. Fortunately, we’re already getting early reports of teams resting all of their starters. A bunch of players are out for the Clippers, Spurs, and Raptors, so there should be plenty of value from those teams.
We have one more big FanDuel slate of regular season games to deal with. Most teams are playing for nothing, but the Western Conference playoffs have yet to be settled completely, and, of course, tonight features the Golden State Warriors going for history with win 73 along with Kobe Bryant playing his last game. There are plenty of players to focus on today, so let’s get to it. Also, don’t forget that games start at 8 PM EST, so you get an extra hour to finalize lineups.
Austin Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers, $3,900 - Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, and Jamal Crawford are all out, which means big minutes for Rivers against the Suns. There’s really no better spot in daily fantasy NBA than targeting a bench players that’s going to be thrust into a big role for a cheap price facing one of the worst defensive teams in the league. The Suns have been shredded by opposing point guards all season, and Rivers is a top value play tonight due to matchup, minutes, and a dirt cheap price tag.
Ramon Sessions, Washington Wizards, $6,400 – John Wall has been ruled out for tonight, which means one more game of Sessions starting and providing solid value. He’s been at or above 38 fantasy points in three of his last four games, offering tremendous value. His price has come up quite a bit, but $6400 is still too cheap relative to the level of production he’s been providing. Also, I like targeting players I know are going to play, and there’s simply no reason for Sessions not to play in the final game of the season. He’s their primary point guard tonight, and the offense should flow through him as it does with Wall. He should get you at least 30 fantasy points tonight, making him a great play in all formats.
James Harden, Houston Rockets, $11,100 – Houston still has plenty to play for as they need to beat the Kings tonight to secure the final playoff spot in the West. They control their own destiny, and I can’t think of a much better spot than Harden potentially playing 40 minutes against the Kings. Sacramento is resting all of their key players, so Houston should win fairly easily, but we’re talking about the Rockets in an important game, so it will probably be much closer than it should be. After all, this is the same Houston team that lost to Phoenix at home about a week ago. I’m expecting 40+ minutes from Harden again, meaning he’s a must play for me in all game formats.
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers, $5,900 – I don’t think I’ve rostered Kobe once this season, but I’ll be taking him tonight in his final game in the NBA. He’s going to play as many minutes as he possibly can and take a whole bunch of shots. In a complete disaster of a season, I think he’ll try to do whatever he can to help the team go out with a win, and it should be entertaining as the Lakers host a Jazz team that has to win to have any hope of making the playoffs.
Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz, $7,300 – Hayward is an easy play for me tonight. If Houston manages to lose to Sacramento, then the Jazz will need a victory over the Lakers to secure the final playoff berth. However, even if the Jazz have nothing to play for tonight, I can’t imagine Hayward would do anything but play hard in Kobe Bryant’s final game. Regardless of playoff implications, I expect a big game from Hayward, and he’s my top option at the small forward position. He’s been playing at a high level recently, and that should continue whether this is Utah’s last game of the season or not.
Rudy Gay, Sacramento Kings, $7,100 – The Kings are resting most of their starters for the final game of the season, but Gay should be in there for a premium matchup against the Rockets. Houston has been awful against opposing small forwards this season, and with DeMarcus Cousins out, Gay sees a significant bump in usage. His price has come up, but given he’s returning 30 to 40 fantasy points each night, it’s justified. You know what you’re going to get from him, which makes him a safe, high upside play on a night where many high-priced players simply aren’t usable.
Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers, $6,800 – The Sixers clearly have nothing to play for except player development, so Noel should see plenty of minutes for their injury-ravaged front court. He draws a terrific matchup against a Chicago team that has been abused by opposing power forwards and centers all season. He should easily secure a double-double in this matchup while providing steals and blocks. He’s a very safe play at the power forward position that offers significant upside relative to his price. Lock him in tonight.
Bobby Portis, Chicago Bulls, $4,000 – Portis is cheap, should play around 30 minutes, and is facing the Sixers. That’s really all the analysis that’s required to justify a play, but I’ll go a bit further. The Sixers have been dreadful against opposing power forwards all season, and Portis has been mostly productive when given minutes. He’s had some bad games for sure, but this won’t be one of them. The Sixers play no defense and they’re among the worst teams in the league in terms of rebounding differential, so expect Portis to contribute on both end of the floor. With Taj Gibson and Pau Gasol out, Portis should see plenty of run off the bench to justify a spot in your lineups.
Cole Aldrich, Los Angeles Clippers, $5,000 – Aldrich is an elite play at the center position with the Clippers resting all of their starters. He’s shown time and again that he can put up big numbers with minutes, and he should see all the minutes he can handle tonight. He’ll draw a favorable matchup against a fast-paced Suns team that plays little to no defense, and although his price tag has risen to $5000, fading him is simply not an option for me. Lock him into your cash game lineups, and make sure you get plenty of tournament exposure to him as well.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets, $6,300 – Aldrich is the clear top play, but I had already written up Jokic before the Clippers announced they were resting all of their starters, so I’m leaving him in here. Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur likely won’t play in tonight’s season finale, leaving Jokic, Jusef Nurkic, and Joffrey Lauvergne to man the front court. Jokic and Nurkic have been starting next to each other, and Mike Malone is likely to stick with that for tonight. With two players out and Malone’s new strategy, Jokic’s minutes finally seem secure, and, assuming no foul trouble, we should be able to count on him for 30+ minutes tonight. On a per-minute basis, his production has been fantastic. He draws a favorable matchup against a Portland team that has defended opposing power forwards and centers very poorly this season. I think he’s safe enough for cash games with his minutes secure, and he provides a ton of upside for tournaments.