Happy Friday everyone! Welcome to another edition of the FantasyDraft Core 4, brought to you by DFSDatalytics.com! The NBA has graced us with eight games to kick off the weekend, including what should be a great matchup between the Warriors and Timberwolves. Here are the core plays to consider building around tonight:
Karl-Anthony Towns ($18,900)
The Minnesota Timberwolves are fresh off an impressive 107-91 win against the L.A. Clippers on Wednesday night, and get to test their skills against another Western Conference power in the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors, however, are looking to avoid back-to-back losses for the second time this month, and will have to try and contain the duo of Towns and Wiggins without the help of All-Star Kevin Durant. The Timberwolves have not only won three of their last four games, but they have shown improved defensive play; they have held their previous four opponents under 100 points. Vegas has set the over/under of this game at 219 points, with only a spread of six points, so there should be plenty of fantasy value to had in this contest.
Towns comes into tonight’s contest looking to catch Andrew Wiggins in the Minnesota record books, as Towns has recorded 18 consecutive games with 20 or more points, which is only one game behind Wiggins’ franchise-record that was established just a few games ago. In addition to KAT’s impressive scoring streak, the second-year big man has recorded seven straight double-doubles, and has pulled down 14 or more boards in each of those seven games. KAT averaged 47.1 FantasyDraft points on 47.2% shooting in his two previous matchups against the Warriors, and averaged 37 minutes in those contests. The Warriors have surrendered 46.8 rebounds – the second most in the NBA – and 104.2 points per game since losing Kevin Durant to injury, putting Towns in a fantastic spot to pay off his salary tonight.
Khris Middleton ($12,300)
The Bucks head into tonight’s matchup with the Pacers looking to claw their way into the playoffs, and can gain some ground by knocking off one of the teams ahead of them in the standings. The Bucks are winners of four in a row and have held each of their last four opponents to less than 100 points in those wins. Khris Middleton has been a major factor in the team’s recent success, averaging 19 points on 58.6% shooting over the last five contests. Middleton is averaging 35.8 FantasyDraft points over that stretch of games and faces off against a Pacers squad that has surrendered an average of 105.8 points per game on the season.
The Bucks and head coach Jason Kidd lifted Middleton’s minutes limit on March 1st, and since that game, Middleton has failed to reach 30 minutes in only one contest, averaging 30.4 minutes per game. Middleton has yet to face off against the Indiana Pacers, but he did put up 52.2 and 38.8 fantasy points in the two full games he played against them last season. Middleton will need to score 36 FantasyDraft points tonight to pay off his salary, a mark he has eclipsed in two of his last four games.
Bradley Beal ($13,800)
The Washington Wizards will be looking to do something they haven’t done since January 21st, 2009 when they head to Sacramento tonight, and that is to win. The Wizards have only won nine times in 29 visits to Sacramento, but they have won nine of their last 11 road games, so the odds are likely in their favor. If they do manage to get a win tonight, it will mean that Bradley Beal had a good game, and he comes in as the third core play on tonight’s slate.
Beal has been a catalyst in Washington’s recent success, as he has scored 20 or more points in eight consecutive games, and in 12 of his last 13. Beal has been lights out during that stretch of games, shooting 53.7% from the field and 45% from 3-point range. Beal averaged 18.6 field goal attempts in those games, and is averaging 27.1 points per game on the year.
The Kings present one of the top matchups on the board for Beal, as they are allowing 41.01 FantasyDraft points per game to opposing shooting guards this season. The Kings are allowing opponents to shoot 46.2% from the field this season, and 37.4% from 3-point range, so Beal is in a great spot to continue his hot streak. Beal saw 40 minutes on the court against the Kings in these teams’ first matchup, scoring 31 points on 12-of-24 shooting, and pulling down six boards. Beal will be in line for a large chunk of minutes tonight as well, giving him ample opportunity to pay off his $13,800 salary.
DeMar DeRozan ($15,700)
Tonight’s matchup between the Hawks and Raptors will likely give fans a preview of the upcoming playoffs, as these two teams currently sit in fourth and fifth in the East, and would face off against each other if the playoffs started tonight. The Raptors are 2-1 on their current five-game road trip, despite the recent poor play of DeMar DeRozan, and have won five of their seven games since Kyle Lowry went down with an injury.
Despite shooting less than 40% from the field in three of his last four games, DeRozan hasn’t shied away from attempting to shoulder the load for Toronto. DeRozan is attempting 16.5 shots per game over his last four, and 19 field-goal attempts per game overall in the seven games without Lowry. DeRozan is averaging 1.32 FantasyDraft points per minute with a 40.8% usage rate without Lowry in the lineup this season. DeRozan’s usage could be even further boosted tonight if DeMarre Carroll sits, as DeRozan averages 42.2% usage without Carroll and Lowry on the floor.
The Atlanta Hawks have traditionally been a tough defensive matchup, but the team has struggled on that end of the floor since the All-Star break, allowing 107.8 points per game. Those numbers have been even worse over the last four games, as they have allowed 114 points per game to opponents on 48.3% percent shooting. With the Hawks already being a top-10 matchup for opposing shooting guards, the increased defensive issues provide an excellent chance for DeRozan to bounce back. DeRozan has seen his price drop $1500 since last week and will need only 47 fantasy points to pay off his salary tonight.