Damian Lillard is facing another elite point guard in what is expected to be a fast-paced, high-scoring affair so expect him to show up for the occasion. When he squared off against Russell Westbrook late last week, he produced 33 real points and 48 fantasy points. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
John Wall, Wizards, $19,600 – For the first time in a long while, it seems like a decent idea to fade Russell Westbrook because his price has reached new heights and it is only a three game slate. Unless serious value emerges, using Westbrook severely hampers the potential of a fantasy roster because he is $4,400 more than any other guard. According to the Vegas lines, John Wall is actually in a more favorable game environment because the spread is closer in the Suns/Wizards game than it is in the Trail Blazers/Thunder game and the over/under is higher. Therefore, pivoting to Wall from Westbrook makes all the sense in the world as the Wizards’ PG has topped 49 fantasy points in four of his last six games. Now, he faces an elite matchup against a Suns team that allows teams to play in transition at the fourth highest frequency and Wall runs the break at the second highest frequency of any starting PG in the league (behind only Elfrid Payton). Only five teams have allowed more points per possession (PPP) to spot up shooters than the Suns and only the Cavaliers have allowed more PPP to ball-handlers on pick-and-rolls. Wall is adequate in both those areas so there is a lot to like about the matchup. As icing on the cake, the Suns rank 26th in defensive efficiency and have allowed the most points per game (PPG) to opposing PGs. Westbrook is in a great spot but Wall’s is even better especially when taking into consideration value-per-dollar. Start him.
Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers, $16,300 – As long as we are not playing Westbrook, it is pretty easy to fit in a plethora of superstars and Damian Lillard certainly fits the bill. First of all, Lillard just dropped 48 fantasy points on the Thunder five days ago although that game was played at home. Still, the Thunder rank 11th in defensive efficiency against opposing PGs and play at the seventh fastest pace so it is not easy to see why Lillard would have strung together a productive performance. Luckily for Lillard, the Thunder have allowed the eighth highest FG percentage beyond 24 feet and Westbrook allows 1.10 PPP to opposing spot up shooters. In other words, the shooting specialist Lillard is set up for a solid shooting game similar to the one he had in the last meeting (11-23 from the field). The choice comes down to rostering either the duo of Westbrook and Julius Randle or Wall and Lillard. To me, it is an easy decision: go with the PG twosome.
Seth Curry, Mavericks, $12,300 – As of late, Seth Curry has been absolutely amazing. In the month of February, Curry is averaging 22.3 PPG with 3.0 three-pointers per game (3PPG), 3.3 rebounds per game (RPG), 2.0 assists per game (APG) and 1.7 steals per game (SPG) en route to 33.8 fantasy points per game (FPPG). Maybe the most impressive part of his game is the fact that he has shot over 50-percent from the field in each month since January including 56.8-percent from the field cumulatively through the three games so far in March. Thus far, the Lakers have allowed the fourth most PPG (110.8) so there are not many teams that present a more favorable matchup for opposing scorers. Furthermore, the Lakers rank 24th in defensive efficiency versus opposing SGs and they have surrendered the third most 3PPG to the position. With Curry rolling, it is unlikely the Lakers will be the group to slow him down.
Jusuf Nurkic, Trail Blazers, $12,700 – On paper, the individual matchup against Steven Adams is not overly appealing as he ranks amongst the best on the team in both defensive rating (DRtg) and defensive box plus/minus (DBPM). Even so, Jusuf Nurkic just went crazy in this exact matchup the last time the two teams faced as he put up 18 points (PTS), 12 rebounds (REB), six assists (AST), two steals (STL), five blocks (BLK) and 55.50 fantasy points. Okay, so seven combined STL and BLK cannot be expected once again but Nurkic has now topped 29 fantasy points in four of his five games with the Trail Blazers including four games over 32 fantasy points. The pace alone (223.5 over/under) should lead to more scoring, REB and AST opportunities so that helps explain why Nurkic filled up the stat sheet the last go-around. Nurkic has clearly solidified the role as the team’s post presence and really only true C on the roster. With the Thunder possessing multiple true Cs, Nurkic will be needed for a healthy amount of minutes in order to match size with size (season-high 38 minutes against the Thunder on Thursday). Expect minutes in the mid-30s yet again which should be plenty of time for him to provide value for fantasy owners at a mid-tier price tag.
Markieff Morris, Wizards, $12,300 – Wizards stack engage because they possess the highest total of the entire slate and their matchup is projected to be close against one of the worst defenses in the league. If you believe in that sort of thing, this is revenge game for Markieff Morris against a team/organization that wanted no part of him and shipped him out of town. As noted in the Wall tidbit, the Suns struggle to cover spot up shooters and most of Morris’ offensive game is based on jump shooting. PFs have fared quite well against the Suns this year as the team ranks 19th in defensive efficiency versus the position and allow the third highest FG percentage. Typically thought of as a volatile asset, Morris actually averaged 32.6 FPPG in February after averaging 34.2 in March so it seems he is starting to gain some consistency. Bradley Beal is too expensive for my liking so instead Morris makes sense as the Wizards starter to pair with Wall.
Bojan Bogdanovic, Wizards, $9,700 – Without Bojan Bogdanovic this season, Otto Porter had averaged 30.0 FPPG and has since sunk to 27.1 since the Bosnian SF joined the squad. Like most shooters, Bogdanovic is a bit volatile based on whether or not his shot is falling. To reiterate once again, the Suns struggle against spot up shooters and Bogdanovic has attempted at least 12 shots in three of his last four games. Coming off the bench, his scoring is absolutely needed for the Wizards’ second unit which is went the team went and acquired him. Last game, Bogdanovic played 27 minutes and he is beginning to eat into Porter’s minutes a bit. The Suns feature an excellent second unit at the moment so it will be interesting to see whether or not the Wizards counter by playing their bench unit for longer stretches than usual as well. In a nutshell, the thing to like here is a streaky shooter is coming into this contest hot (31.50-plus fantasy points in two of the last three) and he is 19 for his last 25 from the field (76-percent). Most of the shots he has been taking on this team have been open looks so the talent around him is certainly benefitting him. In the most favorable environment of the night, Bogdanovic makes for an elite tournament play.