NBA Core 4: March 17

Welcome to another edition of the FantasyDraft “Core 4”, brought to you by!  Happy Friday!  We have ourselves a nice eight-game slate tonight heading into the weekend.  With so many great guard plays tonight, I focused on three of them along with one old geezer at forward.  Good luck tonight and have a fantastic weekend!

Tyler Ulis ($11,300)

Unfortunately, the Phoenix Suns received bad news a couple days ago, that Eric Bledsoe has been ruled out for the remainder of the season.  With the Suns out of playoff contention, there is no need to push Bledsoe who was playing with a sore knee.  Now, they’ll get to turn the reigns over to the rookie out of Kentucky, Tyler Ulis.  Bledsoe missed last game and Ulis put on a show.  He finished with 13 points and 13 assists as he played 38 minutes!  The 38 minutes was a career-high and it’s safe to say we can expect that type of minutes from here on out.  FantasyDraft was on top of their news as Ulis received a price increase from $9,200 to $11,300.  Playing so many minutes, he has plenty of chances to exceed value.

There was a very similar situation a few nights ago, where Jeremy Lamb saw a huge price increase and was under 20% in most contests on FantasyDraft.  The fade of Lamb turned out to be a good move as he underperformed.  However, tonight I’m hoping on the Ulis train.  The Suns opponent tonight is the Orlando Magic who are ranked 26th in DvP vs point guards this season allowing 48.6 FantasyDraft points per game.  Orlando is also playing on a road back-to-back as they got destroyed last night by the Golden State Warriors 122-92.  Given the incredibly high O/U at 230.0, this game presents the opportunity to have a game stack.  Along with Ulis, I love Devin Booker, Alan Williams, Elfrid Payton and Nikola Vucevic.

Giannis Antetokounmpo ($18,200)

Something to target during the last few weeks of the NBA season is teams who are fighting for a playoff berth.  The Milwaukee Bucks are currently in the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference but remain only a half-game above the team in eighth and ninth.  Giannis Antetokounmpo is who you will want to target moving forward for the Bucks.  He has played 27 minutes in back-to-back games so he should be well rested in a game that the Bucks need to win against the Los Angeles Lakers.  Priced as the fourth most expensive player on FantasyDraft at $18,200, Giannis will need to put up a big game tonight.  We have all seen Giannis have triple-double upside and there’s no reason he doesn’t have that tonight.

The main statistic when targeting Giannis Antetokoumpo is how does the opponent defend the rim.  Giannis ranks third in the entire league in points scored in the paint per game with 13.0.  His opponent the Lakers are 29th in points allowed in the paint this season and over the last three games they rank last in most points allowed in the paint with 52.0 per game.  In their first meeting Giannis went bonkers as he finished with 41 points, eight rebounds, six assists, two steals and three blocks!  Milwaukee lost the game 122-114 despite the incredible game from Giannis.  Payback is in order as the Bucks are -7.0 favorites.  The Lakers have lost 11 of their last 12 games and are in full tank mode.  Lock in Giannis!

Marcus Smart ($9,800)

Very similar to the Tyler Ulis play we have Marcus Smart in a great situation as Isaiah Thomas will be out tonight.  Boston is clinging onto the second seed in the Eastern Conference as they are just 2.5 games behind the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers.  In the four games that Thomas has missed this season, Smart averaged 32.8 MPG and 27.2 FantasyPoints per game.  Smart also has a 24.5% usage rate and averages 0.92 FantasyDraft points per minutes with Thomas off the floor this season.  Despite shooting an extremely poor 37.4% from the floor and 28.7% from three-point range this season, Smart has scored double figures in 16 of his last 21 games.  I would be shocked if he doesn’t score that tonight.

What better opponent to go against tonight than the Brooklyn Nets?!  Brooklyn will be playing in a road back-to-back tonight as they won last night in New York 121-110.   Smart played against Brooklyn once already this season and filled up the stat sheet.  Even though he shot a poor 20.0% from the field for only four points, he also had eight rebounds and eight assists.  Playing so many minutes and priced at just $9,800 on FantasyDraft, Smart legitimately has triple-double upside tonight.  If for some reason, you like the rest of the players on your team and are hesitant on Smart tonight, look at minimum priced Terry Rozier.  Rozier is an electric point guard who played 26.3 MPG when Thomas was out of the lineup.

Dirk Nowitzki ($12,600)

With very popular forwards priced around Dirk Nowitzki like Alan Williams and Brook Lopez, Nowitzki will be the one to go over-looked.  I feel like that is a big mistake to fade the big German!  The Dallas Mavericks are another team who is right in the thick of playoff contention.  They are currently 3.5 games back from the eighth seed, but have won seven of their last 10 games.  Leading the charge, believe it or not has been the 38-year old Dirk Nowitzki in his 19th season in the league.  Since putting Nowitzki as the starting center, he has been a matchup nightmare for opposing teams.  Philadelphia’s Jahlil Okafor who ranks 67th out of 68 centers in defensive real plus-minus has no chance in stopping Nowitzki tonight.

There is nothing better to watch than when a veteran knows his team is back against the wall and they need to make a run.  Since the Maverick’s game on February 2nd against the Portland Trail Blazers, Nowitzki has does just that.  He has averaged 17.0 PPG and 8.0 RPG during that stretch.  Nowitzki also during that time has attempted double-digit FGA’s in every game except for one and has failed to score double-figures in only two of those games.  The best part about tonight is he gets a juicy matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers.  I already mentioned his individual mismatch with Okafor, but in general it’s an awesome matchup for Dallas.  They will be playing up in pace against a team who is 24-43 this season.


With those four players locked into your rosters, you’ll be left with $12,025/per player remaining to fill out the rest of your lineup.  There are so many good plays on the slate tonight, but those four stood out to me the most.  Good luck with all your contests today!

Tyler Schmidt

Tyler Schmidt

Good luck with your lineups tonight. Find me on Twitter @tyschmidt4 and check out our great NBA content at DFSDatalytics! Tyler is from Bloomington, MN.  He went to Augsburg College in which he played basketball for 4 years and graduated with a bachelor's degree in MIS.

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