The Trail Blazers’ defense is weak against the sort of play types Andrew Wiggins loves to run so this matchup presents an opportunity for the third year player to go absolutely nuts. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Stephen Curry, Warriors, $18,600 – Okay so here is the bad news when it comes to the matchup for Stephen Curry: he is playing on the second end of a back-to-back. This season, Curry has averaged a healthy amount of minutes on back-to-backs (34.4 minutes per game (MPG)) but only a 45.5 FG percentage and 3.1 three-pointers per game (3PPG) compared to 52.9-percent FG and 5.2 3PPG on three-plus days rest. However, the Hawks rank 24th in defensive efficiency versus opposing PGs and Kyrie Irving just lit them up. On paper, the Irving domination made sense because the Hawks have allowed the eighth most points per game (PPG) to opposing PGs (23.8) and the fourth most 3PPG. The real reason to think Curry is going to absolutely crazy, though, is the fact Dennis Schroder has allowed a team worst 46.5 defended FG percentage behind the three point arc this season. In fact, the only PGs who have allowed a higher percentage are Tyler Ulis, Beno Udrih and Trey Burke…otherwise he rates as by far as the worst. If he is going to give Curry space then Curry is going to make him pay. Do not be shy to start Curry in any and all formats.
Andrew Wiggins, Timberwolves, $14,000 – Only three teams have allowed more points per possession (PPP) to ball-handlers on pick-and-rolls than the Trail Blazers (0.90). Furthermore, teams run the pick-and-roll at the fifth highest frequency against the Trail Blazers so it is not surprising to see them having allowed the fourth most points to the play type. To be fair, the team just acquired a solid rim protector (Jusuf Nurkic) so he should provide some assistance to a defense needing a true help defender at least to some degree. Nobody on the Timberwolves runs the pick-and-roll as a ball-handler more than Andrew Wiggins as his 7.5 possessions running the play per game rank 21st in the NBA. Additionally, the Trail Blazers allow the fourth most PPP on isolation plays and Wiggins runs 0.2 less isolation plays per game than the likes of Kevin Durant and 0.1 less than Isaiah Thomas. In other words, the Timberwolves isolate their star wing player quite a bit. Nearly all the stars are aligned in this matchup for Wiggins especially with the game projected to be both reasonably high-scoring (213 over/under) and close (4.5 point spread). Consider Wiggins a building block on this slate.
Ty Lawson, Kings, $9,100 – If only the Nuggets did not open as 13 point favorites, this game would stand out as by far the most enticing to stack. With a blowout possible, the one player who still sticks out a premiere value is Ty Lawson. On Sunday evening, Lawson played 30-plus minutes for the fourth time in five games although the tilt against the Jazz did go to overtime. Regardless, Lawson has attempted at least double-digit FGs in all four games he has played that many minutes and will now match up against a team that ranks dead last in defensive efficiency versus opposing PGs. Even if he technically plays SG at times or matches up against the SG, the Nuggets rank 22nd in defensive efficiency against opposing two-guards as well. Thus far, only two teams have allowed more PPG than the Nuggets (111.4) and they rank dead last in overall team defensive efficiency. As icing on the cake, the Nuggets play at the eighth fastest pace so there should be plenty of additional possessions available the Kings offense as compared to their usual, slow style (27th in pace). Even on the second end of a back-to-back, the only other PG option besides Darren Collison will be inactive (Garrett Temple) so Lawson is locked into big minutes once again.
LeBron James, Cavaliers, $20,100 – On three-plus days rest this season, LeBron James is averaging 23.5 PPG on 56.4-percent shooting, 9.8 rebounds per game (RPG), 11.3 assists per game (APG), 1.0 steals per game (SPG) and 1.5 blocks per game (BPG) in a six game sample size…and most of those were with Kevin Love. Now, with James running a larger portion of the offense (31.2-percent usage rate (USG%) without Love this season), the sky is the limit in a meeting against a Heat team that ranks below the league average in terms of defensive efficiency to opposing SFs. The last time James failed to reach 45 fantasy points was Feb. 9 and that is quite literally the only time he has over the course of his last 15 games. His consistency recently has been remarkable plus he has triple-doubled in two of his last four games. After the Cavaliers were blown out by the Heat the last time out, this is a revenge game both in terms of James playing his previous team and in terms of actually trying to exact revenge for a loss. At a similar price, James Harden’s matchup is significantly more difficult (Spurs) so build around James instead.
Paul Millsap, Hawks, $14,000 – Paul Millsap is a strange player because he can excel in both fast-paced and slow-paced environments. Having said that, the additional possessions should only help Millsap’s cause tonight because he should be able to compile some more rebounds and assists compared to usual. Even facing the best team in the game, the Hawks are only listed as 6.0 point underdogs mostly because they are playing at home. Of course, the matchup against Draymond Green is not ideal but at least Green only rates as a 44.6-percentile defender against opposing jump shooters. This partially explains why Millsap has taken at least four three-pointers in each of his last three meetings against the Warriors. Although he has not shot above 31-percent in any of his meetings against the Warriors during his Hawks tenure, he is averaging 36.8 fantasy points per game (FPPG) against them despite a 24 fantasy point flop included in the sample size. His last two have been excellent performances because of the REB, AST, BLK and STL…all of which are in play yet again. Lately, Green has been sloppy with the basketball as he has turned the ball over 19 times in his last six games (3.17 turnovers per game) as he adjusts to an offensive scheme without Kevin Durant. In theory, this should create more STL opportunities for big fella plus he matches up better against the Warriors’ multitude of smaller lineups. It will take a leap of faith to roster him but I think he is worth it.
Nemanja Bjelica, Timberwolves, $7,700 – Whereas last game had all the makings of Gorgui Dieng game, this one projects more as a Nemanja Bjelica game because Dieng’s size is not really all that necessary. As a team, the Trail Blazers have allowed the third highest three-point percentage this season and Bjelica is on a roll. Despite only playing 21 minutes against the Spurs, Bjelica still managed a respectable 22.25 fantasy points. In the previous two games beforehand, Bjelica had played 35 and 32 minutes respectively and produced 34.50 and 42.25 fantasy points. Unfortunately, Bjelica will have to deal with the defense of Al-Farouq Aminu because he plays PF in the six most common lineups he plays in. Still, he is just too cheap for his skill set and the amount of minutes he will be playing. It should be noted Bjelica dropped 35.5 fantasy points the last time he played 30-plus minutes against the Trail Blazers and Aminu played 32 minutes in that game. With Dieng likely to see a decrease in playing time after 37 minutes last game, Bjelica is almost assuredly going to be the direct beneficiary.