These fantasy basketball picks will help you navigate tonight’s small slate and cash in BIG!
Finally the NBA hooks us up with a 4-game slate on a Thursday night. We are generally stuck with an abysmal 2 game GPP-only type slate, but tonight there is just enough to attack. Last night, Carmelo Anthony (51.50) dominated the 76ers like we anticipated he would, while Greg Monroe (44.25) continued to control the game down low. Damian Lillard (34.25) was a disappointment considering his circumstances, but he likely didn’t hurt your team, since he was a very popular play. Langston Galloway (31.00) crushed his salary threshold, while Monta Ellis (14.50) posted yet another dud in a terrific matchup. Tyson Chandler (18.25) didn’t do much against a weak Minnesota frontcourt, and Elfrid Payton (27.75) was efficient.
These plays are intended to help you gain a solid return on salary (at least 2.5X, with the ideal level being 3x or higher) with each player you roster. Sometimes I will highlight a minimum salary player, and the intent is to maximize the number of roster spots where you have potential to hit 3X salary. Keep in mind that a minimum-priced player on DraftDay is even more valuable than a minimum-salary player elsewhere, due to the large gap in pricing with a $100,000 cap.
Today’s Top Plays
Jarrett Jack ($11,750) at Los Angeles Clippers – Jack draws one of the toughest individual matchups on the board, but on a 4-game slate, you’ll need to roster some guys who are in less than ideal spots. With Deron Williams out, Jack has been tremendous in the starting role, and even better over his last three games, averaging 21.3 points, 7.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds per contest. While the matchup is tough, this game does have the second-highest total on the night at 201, and Jack will likely be the only Nets player I’ll roster.
Brandon Knight ($13,800) vs Utah – Knight has been one of the most consistent PG in the NBA this season, but still seems to fly under the radar. While Damian Lillard ($16,000) makes for a great play tonight, I’ll be fading the masses and taking the savings in some spots. Knight has at least 31.75 FP in 9 of his last 13 games, and tonight he faces off with Trey Burke, who has actually been a tough matchup on paper, but I’ll take Knight in this head-to-head every time.
Evan Turner ($9,050) at Portland – Turner hasn’t emerged as a reliable scorer yet, and I’m not sure that day is ever coming for him. With that being said, his production in other areas is what makes him valuable, especially at this price point on a short slate. He is averaging a near triple-double over his last two games with 10.5 points, 7 assists and 8 rebounds. The Celtics are a 7.5 point underdog in the game with the highest total on the night at 203. You’re going to need some exposure to the Celtics, and Turner is a cheap way to get it.
Nicolas Batum ($10,150) vs Boston -I missed the train last night on Batum because I was worried about his wrist, and was I ever wrong. He put up his best performance on the season with 27/10/5 including 6 3-pointers. With LaMarcus Aldridge still sidelined indefinitely, Batum will need to continue to pick up the slack. Defensive specialist Avery Bradley will likely be locking horns with either Damian Lillard or Wesley Matthews, opening the door for Batum to step up once again.
Kawhi Leonard ($15,550) at Chicago - Leonard’s return has sparked the Spurs since his return, and the team is 3-0 since he returned to action. The Bulls have struggled against SF all year long, and Leonard should have a field day against anyone the Bulls throw his way. He had a monster 17/15/3 line agains the Nuggets last time out, and I expect him to once again be a huge part of the San Antonio attack on both ends of the floor.
Taj Gibson ($11,950) vs San Antonio –Taj will be a cash game staple again tonight, and for good reason. Joakim Noah is listed as “doubtful” to play once again, leaving Gibson locked in to big minutes. The Spurs have struggled at times with big men, and while Gibson’s ceiling isn’t particularly high, he could easily reach value at this price.
Enes Kanter ($9,150) at Milwaukee - Kanter is coming off of an impressive 24/17 line against the Cavaliers last night, and coach Quin Snyder vehemently defended him as the team’s starting PF. Tonight he will draw a matchup with Ersan Ilyasova and the Bucks, who despite allowing the 3rd-least points per game in the NBA, are 20th in rebounding differential. Take the discount with a finally healthy Kanter tonight.
Other guys I’m trying to fit in to my lineups today: Blake Griffin ($17,050), Jared Sullinger ($13,100), and Ersan Ilyasova ($7,300).
You can find me on Twitter @BigItaly42 and I’d love to help you out with any questions you have about determining salary, finding value, or any lineup construction tips!