Good morning and welcome to another edition of the FantasyDraft “Core 4”, brought to you by DFSDatalytics.com! We have ourselves a short six-game slate tonight. Below are four players that are in a great position to exceed their value tonight and I will be locking them into all my lineups. The four players consist of one guard and three forward/centers. Good luck tonight!
George Hill ($11,600)
Playoff positioning has heated up in the Western Conference as the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers battle for the last home playoff seed. Utah currently holds the reigns as they have a one game lead on Los Angeles, but do not hold the tie breaker. The TNT night cap features the Jazz hosting the New Orleans Pelicans. New Orleans is coming off a big win last night in Denver and have won six of their last eight games. However, playing on a back-to-back in Utah against arguably the best defense in the league this season doesn’t bode well for New Orleans tonight. Utah is struggling right now as they’ve lost four of their last five games. However, tonight is a perfect bounce back spot. With Derrick Favors out of the lineup and Gordon Hayward questionable, my favorite point guard of the slate is George Hill.
At only $11,600 tonight on FantasyDraft, George Hill is in a good spot. It could turn into a great spot if Hayward is ruled out. We likely won’t get news on Hayward until after lineups lock, but taking the risk and knowing Hill is in a good spot regardless of the Hayward news is worth the reward. New Orleans ranks a lowly 27th in DvP vs point guards this season allowing an average of 49.3 FantasyDraft PPG to the position. With Hayward out of the lineup, Hill has a 27.0% usage rate and averages 0.97 FPPM. Add that to the already incredible matchup and we have ourselves one of the best plays of the slate! Hill has been very inconsistent this season, but he has shown upside as he’s had over 30.0 FantasyDraft points in three of his last four games. Playing 35-plus minutes at such a cheap price, Hill becomes fantastic value.
Serge Ibaka ($12,000)
The Toronto Raptors became the fourth team in the Eastern Conference to punch their ticket to the playoffs after their 94-86 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. Toronto has now won five straight games and will host the 27-46 Orlando Magic tonight. We have a classic revenge spot for the newly required Toronto Raptors forward, Serge Ibaka. Ibaka has now played 15 games with his new team and is averaging 14.6 PPG and 6.6 RPG. This will be Ibaka’s first crack at sticking it to his former team. Ibaka’s Orlando Magic days were short lived as he only played 56 games with the organization before being traded to Toronto. Ibaka was second on the Magic in points and rebounds and led the team in blocks. However, he did not fit as well as they had thought and now he’ll get to play against his old teammates.
Since Ibaka left town, the Magic have moved Aaron Gordon back to his normal position at power forward. Gordon has been very inconsistent since moving back to power forward, but his defense has been very poor. Gordon ranks 85th in defensive real plus-minus at power forward out of a possible 94 power forwards. Since joining the Raptors, Ibaka has let it fly from the perimeter. He has turned into a true stretch-four as he has career-highs in 3PM per game, 3PA per game and 3P%. That will bode well for him as Orlando is 21st in opponent 3P% this season allowing 36.4%. Ibaka is averaging 16.8 PPG and 7.0 RPG while shooting 51.9% from the field and 56.3% from downtown over his last four games. At a price tag of only $12,000 tonight on FantasyDraft, Ibaka will have plenty of opportunities to pay that off.
Kawhi Leonard ($17,600)
The game of the night features the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio is currently favored by -5.0 in the early TNT game. Both teams are still battling for the top seed in their respective conference. Cleveland comes into tonight’s game tied with Boston for the first overall seed in the Eastern Conference, while San Antonio remains two and a half games back of Golden State for the top seed in the Western Conference. Despite battling for top seeds, these two teams are going in opposite directions. Cleveland has lost three of their last five games, while San Antonio has won four straight games. The best matchup in probably the entire league will be on display tonight. LeBron James against Kawhi Leonard. They have formed a mini-rivalry and I’ll be siding with the Claw, Kawhi Leonard tonight.
The discounted price of $17,900 on FantastyDraft is one of the main reason I’m siding with Leonard tonight. Their first meeting of the year was quite the battle! The game went into OT with San Antonio winning 118-115. Leonard was the best player on the floor that night as he finished with 41 points, six rebounds and five assists. The 41 points was a career-high for Leonard! Leonard has cooled down since his recent surge early this month, but he is coming off 29 points, five rebounds and five assists against New York two nights ago. The Spurs have a chance to make a run at the top seed as they will host Golden State on Wednesday. They follow that up with games at Oklahoma City before hosting back to back games against Utah and Memphis. It’s go-time for San Antonio and it’s time for Kawhi to turn it on.
Andre Drummond ($13,900)
With only one game back of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, the Detroit Pistons come into tonight’s game losers of six of their last seven games. The Eastern Conference is so congested that Detroit is currently in 10th place, but is only three games out of the fifth seed. Coming down the stretch run every game matters as the Pistons will travel to New York to take on the 27-46 Knicks tonight. Andre Drummond has been one of the most powerful centers this season and he’ll get to show that off tonight in Madison Square Garden. Over his last five games Drummond has averaged 10.6 PPG and 17.6 RPG including one game where he only played 20 minutes due to a blowout. A blowout is unlikely tonight and Drummond costs $13,900 on FantasyDraft with a matchup that is too juicy for that price tag.
With Drummond’s 14 rebounds on Friday night, he became the second player in NBA history with four 1,000-rebound seasons before his 24th birthday. The other is current Atlanta Hawk’s center Dwight Howard. Drummond remains second in the entire league in rebounds averaging 14.0 RPG. Tonight, is a fantastic matchup for Drummond to showcase his rebounding skill set. New York ranks 27th in the league in most allowed opponent rebounds this season. They are 25th in DvP vs centers allowing an average of 52.3 FantasyDraft PPG to the position. Over the last three games, New York has allowed an average of 53.3 PPG in the paint which is the third worst in the league during that stretch. For a center like Drummond who is a below average shooter outside of the paint, this will benefit him greatly.
With those four players locked into your rosters, you’ll be left with $11,225/per player remaining to fill out the rest of your lineup. With only five games on the slate tonight, locking these four players will get you off to a great start. Good luck with all your contests today!