These fantasy basketball picks focus on usage rates and high point totals!
Brandon Jennings turned back the clock on us in a dud of a performance against the Lakers last night. Kyle Lowry continued to dominate the touches with DeMar DeRozan out of the lineup, and LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points before halftime. Kevin Durant had a solid, yet unspectacular performance in his return, and Klay Thompson “splashed” his way to a nice night. Remember, studs and duds are determined based off of return on salary, not total points.
Studs: LaMarcus Aldridge (56.25), Kyle Lowry (51.75), Paul Millsap (46), Jordan Hill (42), Klay Thompson (40.50)
Duds: Kevin Durant (31.75), Wesley Matthews (21), Brandon Jennings (15)
Today’s Top Plays
John Wall ($18,950) vs Los Angeles Lakers– I’ll make this one simple for you. Wall has been absolutely electric at home in the friendly confines of the Verizon Center. Now he gets the Lakers, who are the worst in the NBA at defending opposing PGs. Wall’s usage rate is 27.7%, which is good for 4th among PG. Jeremy Lin is a terrible defender (hence the 30th in the NBA defensive rating), and Wall will have his way with him. The only thing that can slow down Wall is a blowout, but the Lakers have been competitive recently. Wall will be a popular play, but for good reason. Don’t fade him tonight.
Michael Carter-Williams ($16,500) at Minnesota – This game has the highest total of the evening (213), and MCW essentially will be forced into huge minutes with Alexey Shved and Tony Wroten out. Mo Williams has never been known as a great defender, and MCW should have no problem exploiting a solid matchup. His usage rate of 30% is second behind only Derrick Rose at the PG position, and I expect that number to be even higher tonight. He is expensive, but we may not see a player with more minutes tonight than MCW.
Brandon Knight ($12,950) vs Dallas – We saw Kyle Lowry’s price tag jump by more than $2,000 since last night, and Knight is likely one more big game away from seeing a similar rise in his tag. He has a high usage rate of 25.1 %, which is 13th among PG in the NBA. He is coming off of a huge performance last night against Cleveland with 27/6/8, and the Bucks will need a similar performance to keep this one close. Knight is streaky, which makes him more of a GPP play, but as you saw last night, he has 50 FP upside.
Devin Harris ($8,250) at Milwaukee - This play moves away from my “usage” theme, but I had to include a value guard, and Harris fits the bill. He has played at least 31 minutes in four straight games, and while the matchup with Knight is less than ideal (MIL is 11th vs PG), the Mavericks are on a back-to-back. Jameer Nelson will likely see even less minutes tonight (he played 23 last night) because of the quick turnaround. Harris will see plenty of opportunities to pay off this small price tag.
Josh Smith ($14,900) at Boston- “Smoove” absolutely decimated the Lakers last night, posting an 18/10/6 line despite not seeing the court in the 4th quarter. Assuming he starts at PF once again, he would draw the 30th ranked defense against the 4. He has been the lone bright spot for a team that is really struggling right now, and I expect him to be another popular play that you’d be wise not to avoid.
Kawhi Leonard ($14,800) at Brooklyn - Kawhi is one of the best young stars in the game, and even coach Gregg Popovich has come out and said that he wants Kawhi to be the focal point of the offense. He told his young star “To hell with (the big 3), you’re the Big 1″. Big praise from the best coach in the NBA. Tonight he matches up with a Brooklyn team that sits at 21st in the NBA against SF, and Leonard should once again have a great night. His usage rate is just 19.9% so far this season, but I expect that number to slowly rise moving forward. The SF position is especially thin, considering the big slate, so Leonard will likely be one of the best plays at the position.
K.J. McDaniels ($9,200) at Minnesota – I just mentioned the huge total in this game, and “KJD” may be the best value from this contest. He has been tremendous off the bench for the 76ers, with 28, 44, and 32 FP in his last three contests. He has the 7th-highest usage rate among rookies at 17.6%. Corey Brewer is a bad defender, and the Timberwolves as a team are 28th in the NBA against SF.
Tyson Chandler ($14,00) at Milwaukee - With Dallas coming off of a double-overtime game last night, I expect that Dirk and company may see a decrease in minutes. With that being said, I love the matchup for Chandler against Larry Sanders and the Bucks. They sit dead last in the NBA against Centers, and Chandler has been a monster on the glass and on defense recently. Over his last 4 games, he has compiled 53 points, 62 rebounds, 8 blocks, 8 assists, and 6 steals. He is always an under-owned player due to his rising price tag, but I love him as a GPP swerve tonight.