Each Tuesday and Friday, I’ll be analyzing the players and teams involved in the (projected) highest-scoring games of the night. Those vegas guys that set the over/under totals tend to know their stuff, so we should definitely use their hard work to our easy advantage. Total points in a game translates quite well to fantasy points for the players involved in that game in the National Basketball Association, so we’ll be looking to start our teams each night with players from these games.
Thunder @ Mavericks Over/Under - 206
Russell Westbrook is going to continue to carry the Thunder tonight. He got himself a little rest on Friday by dismantling the Hornets in the first half and he planted himself firmly on the bench with the big lead. That said, he still scored 40 fantasy points in the game. Reggie Jackson was most affected by the blowout as he comes off the bench, but does not play in them. With the Mavericks starting two smaller guards, look for Jackson to play heavy minutes in a competitive game tonight. Serge Ibaka, if he draws Dirk Nowitzki, could be in line for a big game tonight, but don’t be surprised if the Mavericks try to hide Dirk on Steven Adams. If that’s the case, I could see Adams continue his recent hot streak, but I wouldn’t count on that against such a good rebounding team in general. The Thunder peripheral players are very hard to trust. With Durant out, no one in particular has stepped up. Roberson is the best bet for minutes, but he’s a poor fantasy player in almost all cases and Perry Jones has been very quiet starting in Durant’s place. Anthony Morrow has seen his minutes solidify in the high-20s, but his value is almost solely dependent on hot shooting.
Rajon Rondo played maybe his best all-around game of the season last time out versus the Lakers. While that’s an easy matchup, Rondo appears fully comfortable in his new surroundings and it seems to have renewed his competitiveness. He took a season-high 17 shots against the Lakers and while we can’t expect that many attempts nightly, it’s nice to see it’s a possibility. His emergence has basically left Chandler Parsons as the odd man out lately and I don’t think he’s even remotely playable until he starts showing something and his price goes down. Monta Ellis remains a solid play though as he’s been weirdly unaffected by Rondo’s arrival and he has a huge quickness advantage on the larger players the Thunder use on the wings. Dirk is a fine play as usual, but his usage rate is nothing special at this point and his price is still a little too high for me to consider strongly. Tyson Chandler is a solid play as always as he’s been gobbling up rebounds at an amazing rate all season.
Raptors @ Nuggets Over/Under - 210.5
The Raptors have established themselves as one of the premier teams in the NBA and it’s been mostly on the back of Kyle Lowry since DeMar DeRozan got hurt. Lowry has been outstanding on both ends of the floor this year and he’s been thriving with an increased usage rate and role in the offense. Lowry is adept at both creating his own offense and facilitating offense for others, both of which have been crucial to the Raptors in this stretch. Look for him to take over this game as well. Around him the Raptors are finally settling into their new roles. James Johnson has started at small forward lately and has looked good, while Lou Williams has been much better with Landry Fields out of the rotation with a concussion. Both players make for excellent value plays in a fast-paced matchup. Jonas Valanciunas seems to have finally taken the step forward that everyone has been waiting for. He’s playing heavier minutes and his rebounding numbers have improved. He has the size and strength to compete with anyone in the post and his skills are catching up fast. I’d continue to avoid the power forward hot hand rotation of Amir Johnson and Patrick Patterson. Terrence Ross is an okay value play, but I prefer both James Johnson and Lou Williams to him as they have an easier path to fantasy points.
This is the game I’d most like to attack tonight and the Nuggets seems to be sorting themselves out. Kenneth Faried has had back to back monster games and I’m going to hope his still limited minutes in that game versus the Wolves. Timofey Mozgov also played well in that game and both players should have nice games against the poor rebounding Raptors if they get the minutes they should. We all know that’s a big if with Brian Shaw calling the shots though. Ty Lawson remains an elite option nightly, he’s the engine that makes the entire Nuggets offense go with his scoring and passing and he’s become a double-double machine this season. Wilson Chandler played 41 minutes the other night and looks set up for heavy minutes now that Danilo Gallinari isn’t fighting him for minutes. Arron Afflalo has been pretty silent lately and he’s very low on the offensive food chain right now and rarely adds much in peripheral stats. The Nuggets back up big men have been a mess all season and with Darrell Arthur returning tonight, things get even more murky.
Suns @ Lakers Over/Under - 214
The Suns rotation, much like the Nuggets, is starting to clear up a bit. They seem to have found a way to get Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas and Eric Bledsoe all pretty consistent playing time. They’ve played very small more often and are almost always playing two of their point guards at once. It’s really solidified the value of both Dragic and Thomas as they’ve both been pretty solid over the last week or so, after being nearly unusable in the early part of the season. Thomas may struggle a bit in this one as they try to avoid being posted up by Kobe Bryant. Markieff remains the Morris brother you want to own despite Marcus’s solid game last time out. Markieff’s usage rate remains high and he’s been playing 30+ minutes nightly. Marcus can be ignored until he can consistently produce. Alex Len is a very good shot blocker and he’s been a solid fantasy play as long as he can keep himself out of foul trouble.
The Lakers remain a wasteland of fantasy talent. Kobe Bryant, assuming he plays tonight, should be well rested in a matchup where he’ll see a lot of smaller players defending him and can take into the post. I feel really good about deploying Kobe tonight once he’s confirmed playing. Wayne Ellington has been playing decent, but his value tanks with Kobe reclaiming his starting spot, you can ignore him completely unless Kobe is a surprise inactive. Ronnie Price is another player that takes a hit with Bryant’s return. Price has been solid in the assist department with Bryant out and will no longer be handling the ball enough to have significant value. Nick Young wasn’t all that impressive with Kobe out anyway, but his usage rate figures to take a slightly hit with the first-unit at least. Jordan Hill gets an elite matchup with the Suns, but he hasn’t been playing heavy minutes or all that well of late. His price has dipped due to this, so I cannot argue with him as a price play though. The minutes split at power forward between Ed Davis and Carlos Boozer has made both of these players unappealing in fantasy, but they both have the potential to have big games. Boozer with his scoring and rebounding and Davis with his defensive stats.