NBA Core 4: Feb. 28

Hello everyone, and Happy Tuesday! Like most Tuesdays in the Association, tonight is a shortened slate with only six games, but there are still some great ones to watch. The Warriors head to Washington to take on the Wizards in what should be one of the best games of the night, and the Hornets head to L.A. to take on the Lakers in a game that will feature plenty of great fantasy options. Without further ado, the Core Plays for tonight!

John Wall ($18,300) – Tonight’s matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Washington Wizards comes in as the highest projected Vegas total of the slate – with an over/under of 231 points – and it features two of the top point guards playing in the NBA. One of those point guards, John Wall, is going to be relied on heavily to keep his Washington Wizards in tonight’s game, and he comes in as the first core play on the slate.

The Golden State Warriors may have one of the best team defenses in the league, posting a 101.3 defensive rating, but they have been vulnerable all season to opposing point guards. The Warriors are allowing 46.42 fantasy points to opposing guards on the season, while allowing the third-most assists to guards in the NBA (12.2/game) and the fourth-most rebounds to guards (23.6/game).

Perhaps the most important takeaway from Golden State’s opponent-allowed statistics are assists allowed to guards, because John Wall ranks second in the NBA (behind James Harden) with 10.7 assists/ game. Wall has notched a double-double in 11 consecutive contests, and has put up 10 or more assists in 15 of his last 20 games. In addition to the assists, Wall has been scoring at an impressive rate recently, posting 20 or more points in all but six of his last 20 games.

The Golden State Warriors will be on the second half of a back-to-back and playing their third game in four nights, meaning Wall should be able to keep his team close and put up a solid fantasy game. Wall will need to notch around 54 FantasyDraft points to pay off his salary, a mark he has hit seven times in his last 20 games.

 

D’Angelo Russell ($12,400) – When the Lakers traded away Lou Williams at the deadline last Thursday, they not only traded away the team’s leading scorer (18.8 points/game), but they traded away the highest usage player on the team at 29.9%. The offensive burden for the Lakers now falls squarely on the shoulders of D’Angelo Russell, and he has not disappointed in the two games since the All-Star break. Russell has averaged 23.5 points in those two contests, and he is averaging 22.7 points per game over his last three.

In his first game without Williams, Russell put on a show against OKC – dropping 29 points with four steals, six assists, and four boards on his way to 50.50 FantasyDraft points. Russell struggled a bit in his second game sans Williams, as he only put up 18 points with three assists and five boards on Sunday against the Spurs.

Tonight’s matchup against the Hornets is better than what he faced against the Spurs, as the Hornets give up the 16th-most points to opposing point guards (46.06); compare that to the Spurs, who give up the fourth-fewest. In his one game this season against the Hornets, Russell put up 33.2 FantasyDraft points in just 25.5 minutes. The Hornets have struggled mightily since the last time Russell faced off against them, and they have allowed opposing guards to score 52.6 points/game against them since December 20th.

According to NBAWowy.com, Russell’s usage on the season with Williams on the floor was 25.4%, but without Williams he sees an increase of 4.2%. He also has seen more minutes on the court: Russell has averaged 32.5 minutes per game in the last two contests, which is a big jump (albeit in a small sample) when compared to his season average of only 26.4 minutes per game.

Combine the enticing matchup, the extra usage, and the minutes Russell will be playing tonight, and it’s  a recipe for success; Russell should easily pay off his salary in tonight’s contests.

 

Frank Kaminsky ($13,000)- With Cody Zeller sitting out 13 of the last 14 games due to a quad injury and Charlotte trading away Roy Hibbert, second-year big man Frank Kaminsky has gotten the opportunity to become the Hornets’ starter for eight of the last nine games.

Kaminsky has been outstanding during that stretch as a starter, putting up an average of 31.9 FantasyDraft points, and failing to score more than 35 in just three of those games. Minutes have been the biggest reason for his jump in fantasy success, as he has averaged 34.6 minutes per game during his nine starts.

Kaminsky has managed to put up solid numbers in even the toughest of matchups this season, but tonight he gets to take advantage of one of the absolute best matchups on the board against the Lakers. The Lakers are not only allowing a league-high 55.02 fantasy points to opposing centers, but they are also giving up 44.9 rebounds per game to opponents. The Lakers are allowing opposing teams to score 47.9 points per game in the paint this season, which is where Kaminsky attempts 28.3% of his shots and is shooting 55.9%.

Because of the stellar matchup for Kaminsky, and the lack of a dominant big man to square off against him in the paint, he should be able to not only meet but exceed value at his current $13,000 price tag tonight.

 

Mike Conley ($14,600)- Tonight’s fourth and final core play comes from the Memphis Grizzlies as they square off against the Phoenix Suns. The Grizzlies have dominated the Suns this season, winning their two previous games by 19 points each, and Mike Conley enjoyed the best game of his career in one of those matchups.

The first time these teams met this season, Conley scored a career-high 38 points, and nailed seven of the Grizzlies’ 16 3-pointers on his way to putting up 65.5 FantasyDraft points; Conley also racked up nine assists and six rebounds in that contest. Conley struggled a bit in the second meeting between these two teams as he only managed 34.5 FantasyDraft points, but he uncharacteristically went without pulling down any rebounds in that contest.

Things have changed a bit for Phoenix since those two previous games against Memphis, as the Suns sent P.J. Tucker to Toronto and have moved Tyson Chandler out of the rotation. The Suns were already one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA, allowing opponents to score 109 points per 100 possessions, but that number is even worse without Tucker and Chandler on the court; they are now allowing a putrid 113 points per 100 possessions. In addition to the insane amount of points the Suns are allowing without Chandler and Tucker on the floor, the team as a whole is allowing opponents to shoot 50.3% from the field on 2-point attempts.

Conley comes into tonight’s matchup shooting 50.9% from the field over his past four games, and 56% since returning from the All-Star break. Conley will need to put up 43.8 fantasy points tonight to reach 3x value, but that shouldn’t be a problem against this horrible Suns team.

 

Good luck with your lineups tonight, find me on Twitter @BrentHeiden1, and check out our great NBA content at DFSDatalytics.com!

Brent Heiden

Brent Heiden

Brent is a former high school football and basketball player that loves to watch sports from an analytical sense. He specializes in NFL and NBA DFS, but has had a lot of success in MLB DFS as well. He qualified for the Rotowire Fantasy Baseball Championship in 2015, and enjoyed a top 12 finish. You can find Brent on Twitter at @BrentHeiden1.

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