With Kevin Durant off the floor, Klay Thompson has garnered a 31.8-percent usage rate and he averages 1.18 fantasy points per minute. Now, he will square off against a Bulls team that rates 24th in defensive efficiency versus opposing shooting guards so go ahead and use him. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Russell Westbrook, Thunder – Despite the outrageous cost, it is difficult to imagine fading Russell Westbrook being a good idea on a three game slate…especially with him matched up against Damian Lillard. Let’s just say Lillard is not known for his defense as he rates second worst on the team in terms of defensive rating (DRtg) and dead last in defensive box plus/minus (DBPM) amongst those on the team who have played at least 200 minutes. On paper, the Trail Blazers rank 12th in terms of defensive efficiency versus opposing PGs but in reality neither of the team’s PGs (C.J. McCollum included) are particularly good defenders. Consequently, it is not difficult to understand why Westbrook has topped 57 fantasy points in three of his last four meetings against the Trail Blazers including two games of 64 or more fantasy points (one of them was a triple-double and the other was a rebound away). Heading into Thursday, Westbrook has managed at least 73 fantasy points in four consecutive games. Hell, he has topped 70 fantasy points in seven of his last eight games and eight of his last 10. The man is just absolutely ridiculous so roster him and do not get cute (especially in cash games) or else you will be sorry.
Klay Thompson, Warriors – Despite having Jimmy Butler on the roster, the Bulls have struggled to cover opposing SGs so far this season. This is likely because Butler has played a ton of SF on a small Bulls team and Dwyane Wade along with undersized guards have been forced to cover two guards. With that being said, Klay Thompson will enjoy an uptick in usage rate (USG%) with Kevin Durant out which obviously should lead to more shot attempts. When Durant is on the court, Thompson averages 0.91 fantasy points per minute (FPPM) and 23.6 USG% compared to 1.18 FPPM and 31.8 USG% without him…so clearly his efficiency is boosted substantially without the five time scoring champ. Vegas does not respect the Warriors quite as much without Durant either as they are only listed as 7.0 road favorites against a mediocre Bulls squad. In a game expected to be high-scoring and reasonably close, Thompson is worth deploying as he has the potential to crush value at this mid-tier price tag.
Dwyane Wade, Bulls – Instead of spending up for Jimmy Butler, why not pivot to Dwyane Wade who has been nearly as good as of late. In the month of February, Butler averaged 42.6 fantasy points per game (FPPG) whereas Wade averaged a cool 40.3…and Butler is still significantly more expensive. Since this game is a standalone game for Bulls, meaning they did not play yesterday and do not play tomorrow, there is no risk of Wade’s minutes getting limited. Strangely, over the course of the last five games, the Warriors have ranked 16th in defensive efficiency (or below average). For such an excellent all-around team, this is worth noting because they usually are flirting with top five in efficiency to virtually every position. If the Bulls are actually going to keep this one close, the veteran is going to need to run a healthy portion of the offense. As icing on the cake, the Warriors play at the second fastest pace in the league so there should be more possessions than usual for the Bulls offense. As per usual, there is some degree of risk to the Warriors blowing out their opponent, but Wade is worth the risk on such a small slate due to the potential upside.
Draymond Green, Warriors – Like the aforementioned Thompson, Draymond Green is going to have to facilitate more of the offense with a gigantic piece of the team missing. Playing alongside Durant, Green has produced a 14.9 USG% and 1.12 FPPM compared to a 17.4 USG% and 1.19 FPPM without him. Most notably, Green’s rebounding percentage increases from 12.6 to 14.5-percent with the star SF off the court. All of these minor upgrades suggest Green should be priced substantially more and yet it only increased nominally from his last time out. Targeting PFs against the Bulls used to be a no-no with Taj Gibson in the picture but he has since been shipped to the Thunder. Now, opposing PFs only have to deal with the likes of Bobby Portis or Nikola Miortic; both of which are not very good defenders. Most of Green’s value comes from statistics other than scoring and the Bulls rank below the league average in terms of team defensive efficiency so there should be plenty of opportunities for assists. The absence of Durant should simply lead to a more concentrated offense around the team’s other staples so Green should be one of the main beneficiaries.
Alan Williams, Suns – Apparently, Tyson Chandler has simply been phased out of the rotation as the Suns look to focus on the youngsters down the stretch. In his absence, Alan Williams has taken his place as the second C in the rotation other than Alex Len. In his last three games, Williams has played 15, 34 and 22 minutes respectively, which may not sound like much, but it sort of is for a player of the ridiculous efficiency of Williams. During his short NBA career (303 total minutes), Williams has averaged a ridiculous 1.33 FPPM. In fact, he is averaging a cool 17.2 points (PTS), 15.8 rebounds (REB), 1.7 steals (STL) and 2.6 blocks (BLK) per-36 minutes as a professional. By comparison, Nikola Jokic has averaged 1.28 FPPM as a professional during his two years although he clearly has played substantially more minutes. Still, this personifies just how effective Williams has been and the Hornets have ranked 27th in defensive efficiency against opposing Cs during the last five games. Against a beatable defense, it should not take very long for Williams to reach value in a very beatable matchup. The only question is how many minutes Coach Earl Watson allots him which is the only reason he is a bit of a question mark…so do you have the guts to use him?
Taj Gibson, Thunder – Okay so the price tag is now just too ridiculous cheap for Taj Gibson to overlook especially considering he played 26 minutes last game (albeit some ineffective minutes). Gibson is a player who relies on others to create offense for him so the pairing with Westbrook should be a match made in heaven before all said and done. Domantas Sabonis continues to start for this time which could actually prove to be a negative for Gibson because he will have to square off against Al-Farouq Aminu (probably the best defender on the Trail Blazers). Still, the game environment is ripe as the game total is projected as highest on the slate (220 over/under) and this game also features the closest spread (1.5 points). It should be noted Gibson has squared off against two consecutive slow-paced teams after scoring 20.5 fantasy points against the Lakers three games ago. If he were simply to produce a similar fantasy point output, he would come close to flirting with 3.0x value. Assuming he finally meshes with the offense, his upside could stretch beyond that. With 20-plus minutes guaranteed, he is a pretty safe option (especially in cash games) at this bargain price.