Welcome back to the HoopsCritic Breakdown article for this 4-game Tuesday slate. I usually try and avoid playing much volume on short slates, but this one seems to be pretty balanced for both tournaments and cash games. We have a couple stars to pay up for (Davis and Westbrook), we have a lot of really good mid-range options (Melo, Porzingis, Butler, Lillard, McCollum, etc) and all 4 games have pretty solid totals and spreads with 207.5 being the lowest total and -7.5 being the highest spread.
Jrue Holliday: ($6,400)
Jrue is one of my top plays of the day, so it makes sense that he’d lead off the PG section. This will be his 3rd game back after missing the first part of the season to take care of his wife recovering from brain surgery. He’s played 23 and 30 minutes respectively and there’s a great chance the Pelicans take off the training wheels and let him push 35 minutes in this one. His production this year is reminiscent of last season when he was just putting up monster numbers with monster usage every game. So far, he’s averaging 1.48 FDP/minute and is sporting a 35.5% usage rate. This will regress some as he spends more time on the floor with Davis, but if the Pelicans continue to bring him off the bench for the time being, it just means more fantasy goodness for us as he dominates possessions.
Load up on him now before he’s $7,700 next week. The minutes we want (35+) should be there now after a few games of getting acclimated as well as 3 days off from playing.
Rajon Rondo: ($5,600)
I am by no means a Rondo fan after having to watch him all season in a Kings uniform last year, but this is one of the best spots a point guard can have and Rondo is nearly as cheap as he’s been all season. Let’s take a look at a few stat lines from PG’s against Mudiay this season:
Damian Lillard (2 starts): 34.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 6.5 APG, 3.0 SPG,
Steph Curry: 33.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 7.0 APG, 1.0 SPG
Brandon Knight: 32 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 4.0 APG, 1.0 SPG
Kyle Lowry (2 starts): 23.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 10.0 APG, 1.5 SPG
Tim Frazier: 15.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 11.0 APG, 4.0 SPG
Ish Smith: 10.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 8.0 APG, 2.5 SPG
Mike Conley: 10.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 7.0 APG, 5.0 SPG
There’s just tremendous all-around upside here for Rondo, especially with the ancillary stats he excels in. Rondo has averaged 0.83 FDP/minute (in 30 MPG this season) and a 20.1% USG rate. Both of these numbers don’t jump off the page, but we’re more about targeting an exploitable match-up against Mudiay and getting a cheaper value piece in a game with a 207.5 total and -1 spread. The cheap price and match-up give Rondo a great floor for cash games and 40-point upside for tournaments.
Lakers Back-court if Russell misses time:
The latest news we have on Russell is he was held out of practice on Monday and is questionable heading into this game against the Thunder. If he does indeed miss, it makes the remaining Laker guards some of the top value on the slate. Here are Nick Young, Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams usage and FDP/minute without Russell on the floor this season:
Nick Young ($4,400): 0.95 FDP/minute—20.6% USG
Lou Williams ($5,300): 1.20 FDP/minute—33.1% USG
Jordan Clarkson ($5,000): 0.94 FDP/minute— 29.7% USG
These are certainly encouraging numbers considering we can expect a safe floor of minutes for all 3 guys as well as a usage boost. This is a game we want exposure to as well with the 221 total and just a -2 spread for OKC. Use these guys (if we get the Russell news) to fit in the studs we want tonight.
Victor Oladipo: ($6,600)
If it turns out Russell is playing, then the pivot I want to make off the Laker back-court is to the other side of the ball in Oladipo. He’s starting to find his rhythm again the past 3 games and be closer to the player we expected when the Thunder traded for him in the off-season. He’s flat out just playing better, averaging 1.12 FDP/minute and a 24.3% USG rate while his season averages are 0.81 FDP/minute and 23.9% USG. He also gets an up-tempo match-up against the Lakers where he tends to thrive rather than the slow slugfest.
If you’re on the fade Westbrook train (as I am at this moment), getting Oladipo in your lineups with how he’s starting to play is a solid hedge. If it makes it easier to stomach the inconsistency of someone like Oladipo, just think of it this way: You’re rostering a player in a 221 total game with a spread of 2, has a 24% USG rate, is reasonably-priced at $6,600 and will play 35 minutes. These are all positive factors that make Dipo a quality play in all formats.
Carmelo Anthony: ($7,800)
Jimmy Butler has been playing remarkably good basketball as of late, but I just don’t see the value left in playing him at a $9,200 salary with Wade back. He’s certainly playable in tournaments as the price should scare a lot of people off him, but I’d much rather save the $1,400 and play Melo. He’s been a remarkably consistent fantasy option for us this season, rarely getting below 35 FDP and is averaging 1.10 FDP/minute with a 32.8% USG. Hornacek has done a great job at establishing consistency for us with the Knicks main weapons as Melo, Porzingis and Rose dominate most of the offense and consistently see the floor for 32+ minutes a night.
I really like the Knicks in this spot and Melo’s consistency is enticing in cash games. You can look elsewhere in tournaments as he’s flashed very little 50-point+ upside this year, but it’s hard to imagine him not getting 38-40 FDP.
Maurice Harkless: ($4,900)
Harkless isn’t a guy I usually go out of my way to target, but this is a really nice spot for him to see a few extra minutes to guard Melo. His minutes have been secure since the Aminu injury and he’s been consistently producing over 20 FDP in games that aren’t blow-outs. Foul-trouble is a slight concern here against Melo, but it also creates more opportunities for steals and blocks for a good defensive player like Harkless. On the season, he’s averaging a 17.5% USG rate and 0.72 FDP/minute. On a 4-game slate, we’re always searching for value and I think Harkless qualifies at just $4,900.
Anthony Davis: ($11,000)
Davis to me is the big spend of the night over Westbrook as he brings just as much upside for $1,500 less. There’s considerable opportunity cost with fading Davis as opposed to fading Westbrook as well; most of the value is at guard tonight while there’s virtually nothing we can feel confident about in cash games aside from the top 4 priced PF’s. That said, Davis has thrived in this match-up the past 2 seasons, averaging the following against the Hawks:
55 FDP/game— 28.7 PPG—11.3 RPG—2.3 APG—2.7SPG—2.0BPG—35.4MPG
AD is more than happy to have his buddy Jrue back as he’s picked up his game considerably in the past 2 games. The sample size is small with just 36.3 minutes, but Davis is averaging 1.79 FDP/minute with Jrue, a 0.26 point/minute increase. That’s certainly a frightening proposition for opposing defenses as Davis has already been next to impossible to stop this year with no help.
I love pairing Jrue and Davis together and getting a correlated stack. They basically just run a two-man game and ignore everyone else, which is excellent for our fantasy purposes. I’ll never try and talk you off fading Westbrook in a good match-up, but I’ll gladly take the $1,500 in savings, the equally as great upside and some noted improved play with Jrue on the floor.
Jusuf Nurkic: ($4,600) (Jokic in Tournaments)
It’s never fun targeting a big man in Mike Malone’s rotation, but this price is getting so ridiculously low on Nurkic that it’s even worth the risk in cash games to roster him. Basically it comes down to this: we can accept a 20 minute-18 FDP performance, but we’re getting 35+ FDP upside at a punt price. The rotations have gotten wonky the past 2 weeks for the Denver big men, but Nurkic has maintained strong numbers during that span: 25.4% USG rate, 0.87 FDP/minute. Malone might be settling into a bit of a groove of what he wants to do as well with his big guys as Nurkic has gotten 25 and 26 minutes in the past 2 games, Faried has gotten 24 and 25 minutes and Jokic has gotten 27 and 20 minutes respectively.
Everything above can be repeated about Jokic too, but I’d rather look to pair him with Nurkic in a tournament to lock down all 48 C minutes.
There you have it! It’s a fun 4-game slate as every game should be competitive and high-scoring. The big news we want to hear before lock tomorrow is if Russell is in or out. Because it’s 3 and ½ half hours after lock, there’s a good chance we won’t get that information. If so, the “other” Laker guards are all still playable, but obviously all get downgraded as plays.
Feel free to send me any questions on my twitter @AsmusSports. Let’s go win some money!