No Kyle Korver in the rotation means it is Channing Frye time as he can now safely resort to his old role as primary scorer off the bench with Kevin Love out. Tonight, in a game expected to be both high-scoring and close against the formidable Rockets, Frye’s scoring will certainly be needed by the Cavaliers. Start him. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
James Harden, Rockets – In a battle between LeBron James’ Cavaliers and James Harden’s Rockets, one of the major decisions on Sunday’s slate is clearly going to be which superstar to roster of the two…and my choice is Harden. Sure the Rockets have struggled against opposing SFs but the Rockets are listed as 5.0 point home favorites in a game with a 231 over/under. In other words, the team is going to need a monster outing from Harden (as per usual) if they are going to win. Heading into Sunday, Harden has scored fewer than 33 real points (PTS) once in his last four games and he has registered three double-doubles during that span. The last time Harden squared off against the Cavaliers, he went off for a ridiculous 41 PTS, seven rebounds (REB) and 15 assists (AST) on the way to 77.75 fantasy points. Harden plays PG these days so he will either be guarded by Kyrie Irving, who is less than stellar on defense, or one of their SGs and the team ranks dead last in SG efficiency defense this season. Basically, the Cavaliers have no answer for Harden which would explain how he was able to score 41 PTS on 65-percent shooting the last time. In all likelihood, this game will remain close until the end so Harden should play a full allotment of minutes as well. Only the Nuggets and Suns allow more PTS per game (PPG) to opposing backcourts so Harden very likely is going to go crazy.
Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers – In the Harden tidbit, there was a mention of the Suns allowing the most PPG to opposing backcourts which obviously projects well for Damian Lillard (the Trail Blazers’ leading scorer). The Suns allow the sixth most points per possession (PPP) to spot up shooters and Lillard averages 1.10 PPP when spotting up (which ranks seventh amongst starting PGs if you count the injured Kyle Lowry). On the team, only C.J. McCollum leads the break on more possessions per game (2.8) than Lillard (2.4) and he is also the only one to average more PPG in transition than Lillard. Both of these guards are in play, and it is going to depend on roster construction, but it is hard to overlook the fact the Suns rank 26th in defensive efficiency versus opposing PGs and allow the second most PPG to the position (behind only the Trail Blazers). Both Lillard and McCollum are viable in all formats but Lillard is the safer investment having topped 42 fantasy points in three of his last four meetings against the Suns.
Jeremy Lin, Nets – Jeremy Lin’s minute limit is basically over as he played 27 minutes last game which is basically the ceiling Coach Kenny Atkinson will allot a player anyways. Although Coach Atkinson’s rotations are frustrating, at least Lin continues to dominate the usage since returning from injury. According to nbawowy.com, Lin has garnered a 29.7-percent usage rate (USG%) since returning at the beginning of the month and only Brook Lopez has produced a USG% over 20 with Lin on the floor. By comparison, LeBron James’ USG% for the season is 29.8 and so is Stephen Curry’s. Thus far, the Knicks have allowed the 12th most PPP on isolation plays and Lin ranks fourth amongst all Nets regulars in PPP on isolations and runs the play with the fourth highest frequency (on a possession per game basis). The Knicks have been stout against opposing PGs as of late but the Nets have no other choice but for Lin to run the offense. Prior to Sunday, Lin has scored at least 16 points in four consecutive games and in five of his last six so he is rolling right now. After spending up on a pair of stars, save a little salary on roster Lin to complement them.
Jusuf Nurkic, Trail Blazers – This is a tricky spot for Jusuf Nurkic for a multitude of reasons starting with the fact his price has been on a steep rise since joining the Trail Blazers. Additionally, his minutes are more solidified when facing a team with a true C to match up against and the Suns sort of have two. While that could lead to a healthy amount of minutes, there is always a threat both of these teams could go small for extended periods especially because all of the Cs in the match up suffer with foul trouble more than occasionally. Having said all that, the matchup on paper is certainly ripe as the Suns have allowed the fifth most PPP of any team on post up plays and they allow a 50.9 effective FG percentage in the post as well. Furthermore, the Suns allow the second most PPG to opposing Cs as well as the fifth most steals per game (SPG) and 10th most blocks per game (BPG). Nurkic’s 80-plus fantasy point outburst the other night came on the heels of a massive 28-20 double-double but he also racked up eight combined steals (STL) and blocks (BLK). On paper, the matchup against the Suns feels like another spot where he could potentially blow up and the game atmosphere is certainly ideal. Especially in tournaments, the sky is the limit for Nurkic yet again.
T.J. Warren, Suns – So far this month, T.J. Warren is averaging a career-best (assuming four October games does not count as a month) 32.6 fantasy points per game (FPPG) this month due to his 15.4 PPG, 9.0 REB per game (RPG), 2.0 AST per game (APG) and 1.4 BLK per game (BLK). Over the last 10 games, the Trail Blazers have ranked 29th in defensive efficiency versus opposing SFs and they rank 22nd against the position over the entirety of the season. If Warren’s 58.3-percent FG were to continue this month, this would finish as the third consecutive month in which he has shot over 50-percent. For what it is worth, Warren has averaged 0.9 FPPM against the Trail Blazers in two meetings this season and he had not topped 22 minutes in either of the previous meetings. Considering he is averaging 31 MPG so far this month, Warren should easily flirt with 30 fantasy points. Assuming he remains hot (like he has been all month), he could potentially eclipse 40 fantasy points in the projected highest scoring game of the night.
Channing Frye, Cavaliers – The fact Kyle Korver will miss at least a week is sneakily impactful news as Channing Frye can now resort to his old role as the main bench scorer with Kevin Love out. With Frye on the court and Love/Korver off, Frye has averaged 1.14 FPPM so far this season. On the other hand, with Korver on the court, Frye’s efficiency has dropped all the way to 0.66 FPPM. Essentially, it is easy to see how Korver has messed with Frye’s mojo but that is no longer the case with Korver temporarily out of the rotation. As icing on the cake, shooters are going to be needed to counteract the Rockets’ scoring attack and the Rockets allow the second most three-pointers per game (3PPG) to opposing frontcourts over the last 10 games. If needing a true source of salary relief, Frye fits the bill and still possesses a significant amount of upside.