NBA Starting Five – 2/23

Usually as an NBA fan I enjoy the All-Star Break and what it has to offer, but this year was exactly the opposite. Aside from Giannis dominating the All-Star game for the Eastern Conference and some exciting trade news, it was rather anti-climatic. Then you add in the fact that there was no NBA DFS and it was pretty miserable.

The silver lining? We made some nice money thanks to our NHL analyst Manu. If you don’t already, go follow @DFSManu on Twitter and try your luck (you won’t need luck with him)!

With the All-Star Break officially in the books, we turn our sights to a welcoming 6-game slate, and my Fanduel Starting Five for the slate. The “Starting Five” is extremely affordable today (aside from James Harden) thanks to trades that have already taken place, so these plays should open up a lot of salary for your lineup construction:

Point Guard

Darren Collison | $5,500

The Kings are obviously a mess right now and there’s still a chance that they could make some more roster moves before the 3:00 PM ET deadline today, but as of now, I’m locking in Darren Collison. With Rudy Gay, Demarcus Cousins, Omri Casspi, and Matt Barnes off of the court, Collison’s usage rate balloons 9.9% to an elite 30%. Even with the additions of Tyreke Evans (on a 27-min limit tonight) and Buddy Hield, I expect the opportunity and shots to be there for Collison. He logged at least 40 minutes of playing time in three of the Kings’ last four games before the All-Star Break and should be the offensive catalyst for the Kings. The Nuggets rank second worst in the NBA when it comes to defending point guards from a fantasy perspective, allowing an average of 47.9 FDP per game. Expect Collison to thrive tonight at a ridiculously low price.

Pair with: Steph Curry ($9,100), Kyrie Irving ($9,000), Damian Lillard ($8,300)

Shooting Guard

James Harden | $12,600

With DeMarcus Cousins traded to New Orleans, Harden immediately slots in as my cash lock in his place, even with the high price tag. There is little explanation needed for rostering Harden. He’s the top overall play on the slate and I’d advise you to lock him into all of your cash lineups.

Pair with: Tyreke Evans ($4,500), E’Twaun Moore ($3,600), Buddy Hield ($3,500)

Small Forward

Aaron Gordon | $4,500

With Serge Ibaka shipped off to Toronto, Aaron Gordon will now take his natural spot in the starting rotation at the power forward position. While his production in the first game without Ibaka was nothing to write home about (11 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists), the fact that he saw 33 minutes of playing time is an extremely encouraging sign. It was the first time he’d topped 30 minutes since February 1st and I fully expect it to be a frequent occurrence in the second half of the season. The Blazers are not a good defensive team and their best defender, Al-Farouq Aminu has already been ruled out for tonight’s game with a knee injury. The Blazers are the third worst team in the league against power forwards, surrendering 43.9 FDP per game, and they haven’t had to deal with many that are more athletic than Aaron Gordon. I fully expect him to shatter value and is another cash lock for me tonight.

Pair with: Kevin Durant ($10,300), Wilson Chandler ($6.600), Mo Harkless ($4,600)

Power Forward

Willie Cauley-Stein | $3,800

As I said in my article breaking down the DeMarcus Cousins trade, the stats that will result from this trade are impossible to quantify, but we have a preview of what WCS has does without Cousins on the court. His per-36 minute stats this season sit at 16 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game. While he will likely not take on a full 36-minute role, he should push for 30 on a nightly basis. I expect Kosta Koufos to draw the start, meaning that Cauley-Stein will likely be the anchor big man of the second unit, also not having to deal with Nikola Jokic as much – a huge bump. You can’t find a better value play than Cauley-Stein tonight, and I fully expect him to be the chalkiest player on the slate.

Pair with: Nikola Jokic ($10,900), Anthony Davis ($10,600), Blake Griffin ($9,700), Frank Kaminsky ($6,000)

Center

Jusuf Nurkic | $3,700

There are a couple of routes to go at center. If you want to pay a little extra, I would 100% recommend Nikola Vucevic going up against the Blazers. If you want to find value, like myself, look no further than Just Nurkic. He dazzled in his Blazers’ debut, posting 13 points (5-5 from the field) and 7 rebounds in only 21 minutes of action. He only had one practice under his belt before his debut, and now with a little more familiarity in the offense, I expect his role to expand more and more every game. The Magic are not a good defensive team, and get worse with the loss of Serge Ibaka. The allow an average of 47.5 Fanduel points per game to opposing centers, and should Nurkic come off of the bench again, he won’t have to deal with as much foul risk since he wouldn’t be matched up with Vucevic as much. For $3,700, he needs 18.5 FDP to exceed 5x value. To me, that’s an absolute lock and I strongly recommend rostering him tonight.

Alternatives: Andre Drummond ($8,300), DeAndre Jordan ($7,600), Nikola Vucevic ($7,200), Willy Hernangomez ($5,800)

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