For those of you that live on narrative street, tonight is a big night. Ahead of this evening’s nine-game NBA slate, the league will announce this season’s All-Star reserves and, as we know from past experiences, the process will leave a few players feeling under-appreciated.
Could we see a few scorned snubs have huge performances on Tuesday? Let’s break down everything you need to know position-by-position.
James Harden, Brooklyn Nets vs. Sacramento Kings, $10,700 – Going back to Feb. 6, Kevin Durant (hamstring) has missed seven of the Nets’ past eight games. It’s a span of time where Harden ranks third in the league in potential assists per contest (18.9), where Harden has registered an impressive .672 true shooting percentage and where Harden is averaging an eye-popping 1.61 DKFP per minute logged. With Durant watching from the sideline again this evening, I doubt that the Kings — who own the NBA’s worst defensive rating — will be able to do much to slow Harden down.
Saben Lee, Detroit Pistons at Orlando Magic, $3,200 – I have my doubts that Lee will play double the minutes of Dennis Smith Jr. ($4,200) for a second consecutive game, yet it’s not as if the former lottery pick has a long track record of coach-pleasing performances. Honestly, I’d assume we see something closer to a 50/50 split in this evening’s contest against Orlando, as the duo attempt to replace starting point guard Delon Wright (groin). That might not be enough time for Smith Jr. to reach value, but if Lee can log around 24 minutes, 6x or 7x value isn’t out of the question. I mean, he did score 30.0 DKFP on Sunday.
Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers, $8,500 – VanVleet’s price point continues to climb, but I don’t think we’re out of a comfortable range as of yet — especially if Kyle Lowry ($7,100; ankle) is once again ruled out. There’s just so much volume in his game. While Toronto does run a pretty balanced offensive attack in terms of usage rate, VanVleet leads the NBA in minutes per contest in February (37.8), while his 53 steals are the most of any player so far this season. He’s also exceeded 49.0 DKFP in four of his past nine starts, so you know that huge upside is present.
Josh Jackson, Detroit Pistons at Orlando Magic, $5,800 – Believe me, it wasn’t really my intent to stack Pistons on this slate, yet the recent exodus of talent in Detroit has left a few assets with interesting roles at modest price points. Jackson is a perfect example. While you could spend up to grab Jerami Grant ($7,600) if you want exposure to this matchup, Jackson is far cheaper and actually has a higher usage rate so far in February (28.9%). Because of this volume, Jackson’s managed to score at least 24.0 DKFP in 11-straight games, giving the former lottery pick a decent floor in DFS.
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics at Dallas Mavericks, $8,900 – To me, small forwards comes down to Tatum and Kawhi Leonard ($9,400), who are both in great spots this evening. However, while the Wizards still run at a breakneck pace, they’ve actually posted the eighth-best defensive rating in the NBA across their past 10 games. The Mavericks, on the other hand, remain awful on that side of the basketball, as they’ve surrendered 119.2 opponent points per 100 possessions over that same span. Considering Tatum and Leonard have had almost identical fantasy production in 2020-21, give me the All-Star with the better matchup and the cheaper price tag.
DaQuan Jeffries, Sacramento Kings at Brooklyn Nets, $3,800 – If Harrison Barnes ($6,100; foot) is unable to play through a questionable tag this evening, Jeffries is going to be a very popular value option. Still, I can’t argue against the chalk. With Barnes and Glenn Robinson III (personal) unavailable on Sunday, Jeffries logged a career-high 39.6 minutes of action, finishing with 18 points and 33.5 DKFP on a modest 16.1% usage rate. Honestly, I don’t even care about his shot volume, if anyone under $4K has the potential to see 35-plus minutes, they’re immediately viable, especially in a matchup with the slate’s highest projected total.
Julius Randle, New York Knicks vs. Golden State Warriors, $9,300 – The Warriors have been playing without a real center for the better part of three weeks, and while it’s mostly worked to their advantage, some bulk would be appreciated when trying to stop Randle. Yes, the big man is only attempting 20.5% of his shots at the rim in 2020-21 — easily a career-low — but it’s the rebounding aspect that really grabs my attention. Golden State has the third-lowest total rebounding rate in the league this season (47.9%), while Randle is fourth in the NBA in defensive boards (298). I’d almost guarantee a double-double from the former lottery pick.
Marvin Bagley, Sacramento Kings at Brooklyn Nets, $5,900 – Here’s a question that will give you headaches all night: Michael Porter Jr. ($6,200) or Marvin Bagley? Neither player can seemingly play a lick of defense, which in turn, has led to the duo seeing their minutes drastically fluctuate on a night-to-night basis. On Tuesday, I think I’ll be siding with Bagley, as the big man should be able to take advantage of an undersized Nets frontcourt. Also, since returning from injury, Bagley’s averaged 1.25 DKFP per minute, which is a level of efficiency that somewhat offsets the randomness of his role.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets vs. Portland Trail Blazers, $10,800 – It’s kind of insane that Denver hasn’t played Portland yet this season, but I don’t need a recent box score to tell me what I already know. Enes Kanter ($7,000) doesn’t stand a chance in slowing Jokic down this evening. Look at his track record against elite interior players. Zion Williamson went for 36 points and six rebound against the Blazers last week, while Joel Embiid went off for 35 points and 37 points in his two recent matchups versus Kanter. The Blazers can’t contain talented big men and Jokic might be the most talented of the bunch.
Zeke Nnaji, Denver Nuggets vs. Portland Trail Blazers, $3,100 – Nnaji might draw another start beside the aforementioned Jokic, as the Nuggets with be without several key members of their frontcourt rotation this evening. The rookie played a career-high 29.9 minutes in Sunday’s loss to Atlanta, and while they weren’t exactly productive minutes, that’s quite a large role for an asset priced this close to the minimum. I’d be willing to give Nnaji another opportunity.
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