NBA Core 4: March 1

After back-to-back short slates this week, we have a fairly large 11-game slate tonight.  Over the last couple days there has been minimal cheap value plays, but with 11 games tonight there will be plenty of options.  With that being said, my core plays will highlight two guards and two big men that I am locking into my lineups tonight.  There will be a theme of these core plays tonight.  Points scored in the paint!  Why not target players in great match-ups to get whatever shot they want in the paint?  Let’s dig in!

Giannis Antetokounmpo ($18,900)

Recency bias is very common in DFS.  It’s even more common when you are playing a daily sport like NBA.  Giannis Antetokounmpo laid an absolute dud two games ago against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Giannis was the third most expensive player on FantasyDraft and finished with only 30.25 FPT’s.  The sad part is, he played 42 minutes and the ENTIRE second half!  Due to that performance, Giannis’s price has dropped $300.  It’s not a big decrease as he’s still the third most expensive player on the slate yet again, but he’s playing at home versus the Denver Nuggets.  Denver is 27th in DvP vs PG’s this season allowing 50.02 FPPG.  With Jabari Parker out for the season and Michael Beasley injuring himself last game and being out for the next three games, Giannis is going to have to do even more for Milwaukee tonight!

It’s rare to find a player who leads their team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks, but that is exactly what Giannis is doing.  Milwaukee is currently 2.0 games back of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, so don’t be surprised if Giannis plays another 40-plus minutes tonight.  He’ll get running mate Khris Middleton back as he sat out last game due to rest.  That will provide an extra scorer that the defense has to worry about.  There is a stat that I love to look at when I am targeting Giannis and that is opponent points allowed in the paint.  Giannis averages 0.7 3-pointers made on the season, which is not good.  However, Giannis leads the league in points scored in the paint and Denver ranks 27th in the league, allowing an average of 47.6 PPG in the paint this season.  They call him Greek Freak for a reason.

Jrue Holiday ($13,000)

Another player who has seen a slight price decrease that should not have.  Jrue Holiday is down $200 on FantasyDraft from his last match-up against the OKC Thunder.  Tonight he’ll also benefit from playing at home against the Detroit Pistons who are playing on a back-to-back.  Detroit won in OT last night 120-113 against Portland.  They seem to be playing PG roulette as they are rolling with one of Reggie Jackson or Ish Smith every night.  It didn’t matter yesterday as they allowed Damian Lillard to go off for 34 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.  Lillard is better than Holiday there’s no denying that, but it goes to show you how bad Detroit is at defending PG’s.  They are 25th in DvP vs PG’s this season allowing 47.87 FPPG.   Even though Detroit plays at the 25th slowest pace in the league, the O/U is not so bad at 209.0.

DeMarcus Cousins has been ruled out tonight as he was once again suspended for too many technical fouls.  Holiday hasn’t been fully accumulated having Cousins on the Pelicans yet it seems.  He’s shooting 28.9% from the field and 14.3% from downtown since Cousins was added to the Pelicans roster.  Now he is Cousins-free!  Holiday was one of the hottest PG’s going into the All-Star Break.  In all eight February games before the break, Holiday was averaging 19.8 PPG, 8.3 APG and 6.3 RPG.  Holiday also really enjoys the home-cooking.  He is averaging 2.1 PPG more at home this season and increases his 3-point percentage from 33.0% to 42.0% at home versus on the road.  This may be too expensive, but Holiday correlates extremely well with Anthony Davis this season.  However, Davis costs a $18,500 tonight.


Hassan Whiteside ($15,300)

There isn’t a hotter team in the NBA than the Miami Heat.  They have won 16 of their last 19 games and have catapulted themselves to only 2.0 games back from the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.   The catalyst of this great run is Hassan Whiteside.  Whiteside is having a career-year as he’s averaging career-highs in both points (16.7 PPG), rebounds (14.1 RPG) and assists (0.7).  The assists is just a funny stat I wanted to add, but it really is a career-high!  Similar to Holiday, Whiteside is another player who loves the home cooking.  He averages 2.9 PPG and 2.5 RPG more at home versus on the road this season.  The Philadelphia 76ers are 24th in rebounding differential this season, which doesn’t bode well as they will be going against the best rebounder in the league in Whiteside who averages 14.1 RPG.

The matchup cannot get much better for Whiteside tonight.  He welcomes in Jahlil Okafor who is 68th among 69 centers in defensive real plus-minus this season.  There is blowout risk in this game as the Philadelphia 76ers are just 8-20 on the road this season and Miami is the second biggest favorite of the night at -8.5.  In their last matchup at home, the Heat won 125-102.  They were up by 25 points at the end of the third quarter and Whiteside only had 27 minutes.  However, in those 27 minutes Whiteside had 30 points and 20 rebounds.  Yes, 30 points and 20 rebounds in 27 minutes for 61.00 FantasyDraft points!  Not only are the 76ers awful at rebounding, but they also have allowed the fourth most points in the paint in their last three games.  Whiteside is fourth in points scored in the paint with 12.9 PPG.

Blake Griffin ($16,800)

It’s always beneficial to target a player from the highest projected total on the slate.  Tonight that would be this Western Conference clash between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers.  The O/U of this game is currently 232.5 with the Clippers being favored by -2.0.  Blake Griffin is the last core four player.  Since Chris Paul has rejoined the Clippers, Griffin has seen his assist total take a hit.  However, he has averaged 36.0 PPG in those two games.  Paul and Griffin correlate so well on the offensive side of the ball that pairing them together is almost a near must.  Playing at home for three straight games always seems to benefit players and Griffin is coming off of a season-high 43 points last game against the Charlotte Hornets.  Showing his versatility, Griffin has made a 3-pointer in six of his last eight games.

Griffin was unable to play in their last meeting in which the Clippers lost 140-116.  Houston is a team who tries to do whatever they can to outscore you, rather than giving it their all on the defensive side of the court.  The Rockets are fourth in most possessions per game and third in pace, so Griffin will be playing in a very up-tempo game.  Griffin should thrive in this situation as he’s one of the most versatile big men in the league.  For as much as the Rockets like to score, they are prone to poor defensive and that is what they are as they rank 24th this season in opponents PPG.  They also lead the league in most points given up in the paint.  Even though Griffin isn’t the top of the list in most PPG in the paint, he’s still 14th in that category in the entire league.  It’s time to dominate in the paint on FantasyDraft!

I realize that there is only $9,000 salary per player left after the core four, but with such a big slate there should be no problem finding the value to fit them in.  Good luck with your lineups tonight, find me on Twitter @tyschmidt4 and check out our great NBA content at!

Tyler Schmidt

Tyler Schmidt

Good luck with your lineups tonight. Find me on Twitter @tyschmidt4 and check out our great NBA content at DFSDatalytics! Tyler is from Bloomington, MN.  He went to Augsburg College in which he played basketball for 4 years and graduated with a bachelor's degree in MIS.

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