In just about the most entertaining game the NBA has to offer, both point guards should put on Herculean performances. Either roster both or be left in the dust. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Russell Westbrook, Thunder, $20,100 – There should be absolutely no question in anyone’s mind which game is the game to target on Saturday: Thunder/Warriors. Oh my goodness the over/under of this game opened at 231.5. Vegas is implying the final score of this game to be 119-111 Warriors which is just freaking bonkers. Disregarding this game isn’t so much contrarian as it is foolish and we just have to embrace the greatness of this elite matchup for everyone involved. Plenty of points, rebounds, assists and turnovers will be produced in this game meaning multiple players from the contest should be considered (basically as many as you can fit). Two names stand out beyond the others: Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry. The other night the two of them were battling it out for line of the night as Westbrook was dropping a ridiculous 19 rebound (REB) double-double and Curry was amidst dropping 51 points (PTS) in Washington. Now they will square off against one another in quite possibly the fastest-paced game possible from start to end (because of the competitive nature) that the NBA has to offer. Westbrook will be on triple-double watch from the second he steps on the court (triple-doubled in his final meeting against Golden State last season) and honestly it would be shocking if he did not at least approach 60 fantasy points. The winning tournament lineup is going to include at least two of the best players from this game and Westbrook is the likeliest of suspects to carry a DFS team to victory.
Stephen Curry, Warriors, $19,200 – I cannot guarantee by any means that Westbrook will finish with the highest fantasy output in his game let alone the slate because Stephen Curry will be stepping onto the very same court. In three meetings against the Thunder last season, Curry dropped 66.75, 46.75 and 33.75 fantasy points respectively but I do not think the downward trend will be stopping anyone from going back to the well. It’s hard to fathom but Curry is actually much improved from last season; a season in which he won the MVP Award. Curry is averaging exactly six more points per game (PPG) this season due to a vast improvement in field goal percentage (48.7 last year to 51.1 in 2015-16) and has also added one rebound per game (RPG) to his total. He “only” averaged 45.8 fantasy points per game (FPPG) last season but this year he is averaging a whopping 51.9. With a fine-tuned game, expect him to produce closer to his 66.75 fantasy point outburst in his first meeting against Oklahoma City last season as opposed to his declining totals thereafter. This is going to be one hell of an entertaining game.
Derrick Rose, Bulls, $11,600 – As a Bulls fan it pains me to write this but I think Jimmy Butler suffered a serious knee injury last night. Coach Fred Hoiberg has already warned the Bulls to prepare to play without Butler “for a while no matter what.” I’m crossing my fingers for the injury not to be as severe as I fear considering he was carted off but without a doubt they will be without him on Saturday evening. The man who stepped up and turned back the clock in his absence was none other than ex-All Star Derrick Rose who finished with 30 PTS, nine REB and eight assists (AST) against the Nuggets Friday night. Rose is in-play whether Pau Gasol returns Saturday night or not but his offense will be especially needed if Gasol sits as well. With Butler and Gasol on the court, Rose averages 0.84 fantasy points per-minute while that total soars to 1.06 per-minute without either of them. While Rose’s minutes are usually down on the second end of a back-to-back (only average 29.9 per game versus 32.2 overall), Hoiberg basically has no choice but to extend him. Rose has now played at least 35 minutes in each of the last three games so his minutes were on the rise anyways…the injury just has forced Hoiberg’s that much more. Oh by the way the Bulls play a Minnesota team struggling to defend opposing point guards (PGs) this season (allowing the eight most fantasy points to the position).
Brook Lopez, Nets, $13,900 – Injuries nor Vegas projection have nothing to do with the next suggest play…Brook Lopez just plain draws a superb matchup against a terrible Philadelphia 76ers team. Only the Los Angeles Lakers have allowed more fantasy points to opposing centers (Cs). In only one prior meeting this season, Lopez threw up a dud and produced only 16.75 fantasy points but he only played 19 minutes due to foul trouble. Somehow, someway Lopez stayed out of foul trouble versus the NBA’s best foul drawing center in DeMarcus Cousins last night. If he can do it against “Boogie,” he should be able to do it once again against the combination of Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. Assuming Lopez manages a full allotment of minutes against the 76ers, he should have a field day. By comparison, he engineered a 23 PT, 10 REB double-double against the Lakers in their one meeting this season aka the only team comparable in terms of inability to defend men in the middle. He’s cheaper than the likes of Kevin Durant and Draymond Green so he fits easier into lineups with the aforementioned stud PGs.
Serge Ibaka, Thunder, $10,400 – Nope, I did not forget about the game of the night (and maybe century): Serge Ibaka is the mid-tier option to pair with the All-Star PG duo. Most of the other enticing options are priced in the superstar range while Ibaka possesses serious upside and costs less than Jeremy Lin. Due to the Warriors’ pace of play (second highest in the NBA), they rank third to last in defensive efficiency against opposing power forwards (PFs). With Draymond Green on the roster, this is a little hard to fathom other than the fact Green guards the opposing team’s best option from small forward (SF) down to C. However, facts are facts and Ibaka did score at least 29.5 fantasy points in three of the four meetings between these two teams last season including a 40.5 point eruption. Hell for $10,400 I’ll be happy with 29.5, and in this game environment I expect to get it, with anything more just being gravy.
Stanley Johnson, Pistons, $9,700 – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will not be re-evaluated until after the All-Star Game so Stanley Johnson will continue to start until at least then. All Johnson did in his start on Thursday was score 22 PTS with five AST, two STL and one BLK. Coach Stan Van Gundy left him on the court for 44 minutes and praise Johnson for being “fearless” in the second start of his career. Clearly there is no issue with Johnson’s playing time and he produces all across the board so minutes will lead to production. A $9,700 price tag isn’t nearly enough to deter me from a multi-talented player who should yet again push 40 minutes. Pair him with the GOAT PG duo and the three could reasonably combine for 160 points between the three of them.