Happy Hump Day everyone! Welcome to another edition of the FantasyDraft NBA Core 4 brought to you by DFSDatalytics.com. There are 11 games on the slate this evening, so there will be plenty of great options. The following four players all make great building blocks to start lineups with, and all should easily reach the 3x value threshold needed for GPPs.
Jeremy Lin ($8,800)
Tonight’s match-up between the Nets and Hawks features two teams that are experiencing entirely different emotions right now. For the Nets, they come in riding high after pulling off the unlikely 13-point upset at Memphis on Sunday, their second road wins this month, while the Hawks have lost three straight games and six of their past eight. To make things worse, it seems tensions may be high between starting point guard Dennis Schroder, starting center Dwight Howard, and head coach Mike Budenholzer. Early in the third quarter of Monday’s loss to Golden State, Schroder found himself benched after allowing Stephen Curry to sink a 3-pointer against him as he argued with Howard on the court. With the Hawks in the midst of a losing streak, and the Nets surging, tonight seems like a perfect opportunity to take advantage of an under priced Jeremy Lin.
Lin, who has led the Hawks to road wins against Sacramento and Memphis, is rounding into form after missing the majority of the season with lingering hamstring injuries. Lin is coming off back-to-back games where he has scored 18 points, and he has scored 17 or more points in three of his last four games. Lin has started to flash some of the aggressiveness he is known for, and he has attempted 10.25 shots per game over his last four. Lin is shooting 46.3% from the floor during that stretch of games but has hit 50% of his shots in two of those four games.
The Atlanta Hawks come in as the sixth best team to target with opposing point guard tonight, and it is no secret that Dennis Schroder is one of the worst defenders in the NBA. Schroder ranks 86th out of 90 qualified point guards in DRPM (defensive real plus-minus), a metric that measure a player’s on court impact on team defensive performance. The Hawks are allowing 53.6 points per game to opposing guards this season and a total of 46.68 FantasyDraft points per game to opposing point guards. Over the last 11 games, the Hawks have been absolutely decimated by 3-pointers, allowing 15.5 made 3-pointers on 41.2%. The lack of 3-point defense provides an extra boost to Lin tonight, as he has attempted seven 3-pointers in back-to-back games. Lin will need to score 26.4 FantasyDraft points tonight to hit 3x value, a mark he has exceeded in two of his last three games.
Rudy Gobert ($14,000)
Tonight’s match-up between the Utah Jazz and the Houston Rockets features two teams jockeying for higher seeds in the playoffs, with the Jazz trailing Houston in the standings by four games with only 18 games left to play. The Jazz have been snake-bitten by injuries all season long, but there has been one constant for them, and that has been young big man Rudy Gobert. The “Stifle Tower” has not only been a defensive force in the paint for Utah, he has been one of the league’s top rebounders all season. Gobert comes into tonight’s game after putting up 15 points with 15 boards against the Pelicans on Monday and notching his 44th double-double of the season. The Jazz have already ruled out Derrick Favors for tonight’s game, meaning Gobert will be relied upon heavily down low against a Rockets team that has allowed the third most FantasyDraft points per game (53.2) to opposing centers this season.
The Rockets have been league average in opponent rebounds this season, allowing only 43.6 per game, but their biggest weakness has been defense in the paint. The Rockets are allowing a league-high 47.1 points in the paint per 100 possessions. With Ryan Anderson (doubtful to play) off the floor this season, the Rockets defense is marginally better, but they are still allowing 44.6 points in the paint per 100 possessions this season.
Gobert excelled in the previous two matchups against Houston this season, putting up 43.5 and 40 fantasy points, and should pay off his FantasyDraft salary of $14,000 tonight.
Jimmy Butler ($17,000)
The Chicago Bulls will likely be without Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade for tonight’s contest against Atlanta, placing Jimmy Butler firmly in contention for one of the top plays on the slate. Wade is currently listed as doubtful as he battles a thigh injury, while the ball-hogging Rajon Rondo is questionable with an ankle injury. Whether Rondo plays or not doesn’t really matter for tonight’s match-up against the Magic, as Butler has shown that he can put up a good game against Orlando even with Wade and Rondo in the lineup. In the previous two meetings between these two teams, Butler has amassed 43.2 and 44 FantasyDraft points while averaging 20 points on 44% shooting.
Butler is averaging 1.33 FantasyDraft points per minute with a 33.1% USG rate this season without Wade on the floor, but according to NBAWowy, that number jumps to 1.45 FantasyDraft points per minute on 34.4% USG without both Rondo and Wade. The extra usage will be a huge boost to Butler tonight as he faces off against a Magic team that has struggled on defense most of the season but is allowing 109 points per game over the past three games, including back-to-back games allowing at least 113 points. The Magic are allowing opponents to shoot 46.1% from the floor this season, which only boosts Jimmy’s chance to pay off his salary on tonight’s slate.
Butler will shift over to the SG position for the majority of the time tonight with Wade out, meaning he will match up against Terrence Ross and Evan Fournier, neither of which are strong defenders. Ross has played the majority of his time at the two since being acquired by the Magic and ranks 59th out 80 qualified players in defensive real plus-minus, while Fournier comes in at 51st out of 97 qualified shooting guards. Locking Butler in lineups tonight provides a considerable amount of safety while providing a decent amount of upside as well.
*Butler is questionable for tonight’s game due to injury
Isaiah Thomas ($16,300)
The Boston Celtics found themselves within three games of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference just last week, but things have turned quickly for them as they have suffered back-to-back losses on their five-game West Coast road trip. Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics will look to get things back on track as they face off against a Warriors team in a match-up that most Warriors fans hate seeing. The Celtics snapped Golden State’s 54-game home winning streak last April when these teams faced off, with Thomas scoring 22 points in that game.
The Warriors rank second in the NBA with a 101.5 defensive rating on the season, but they are allowing 105.9 points per game to opponents with 57.7 of those points coming from opposing guards. The Warriors are also allowing the third most assists per game to opposing guards (12.3) which only helps boost the value of IT4Q tonight. As if further proof was needed, the last few games have not been pretty when it comes to defending opponent point guards. Dennis Schroder put up 36 fantasy points in only 24 minutes in the Warriors’ last game, with Rose dropping 36.25 and Wall putting 51 to round out the recent performances against Golden State.
Thomas comes into tonight’s game averaging 33.5 points over his last two, notching 51 and 48.5 FantasyDraft points in back-to-back games. Thomas has now eclipsed 30 points in five of his last 10 games, averaging 27.9 points per game over that span of games. Thomas will have a decent chance of reaching 3x value if he can eclipse 30 real points tonight.