NBA Starting Five – 3/15

Last night was down right ugly. I wasn’t able to play the main slate because of my work schedule, but I was able to make a lineup for the late slate…bad idea. My lineup failed to hit 220 as every single value play completed blew up in my face, led by Mo Harkless.

With that out of the way, we turn the page towards a 10-game slate tonight with a number of nice matchups (James Harden looks beautiful but the 16.5 point spread is daunting) and some injuries that have already been announced (Nic Batum is OUT).

Here is my Starting Five for tonight’s 10-game NBA slate:

Point Guard

Ricky Rubio ($7,600)

It’s hard to find a point guard that’s currently playing a better all-around game than Ricky Rubio. Never dependent on his scoring, Rubio has been on an assist tear lately. Over his last five games, the Spaniard has been averaging 17.4 points, 12.4 assists, 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 35.8 minutes. He’s seen a nice boost since Zach LaVine went down prior to the All-Star Break with a torn ACL, sporting a reasonable 18.8% usage rate and an elite 44.6% assist rate. As everyone in DFS knows, Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics tend to struggle against opposing point guards and they’ve surrendered an average of 49.6 FDP per game to the position over their last five games. There’s speculation that Rubio could draw some Avery Bradley defense, but I don’t see a situation where that arises, as Bradley is more likely to focus on Andrew Wiggins than Rubio. As a true point guard, Rubio could be held to 5 raw points and still hit 4-5x value based on his ability to rack up peripheral stats alone. This game carries a nice 210 over/under and a spread of 5.5, so look for Rubio to continue his elite play with another solid outing.

Point Guard that I’m most likely pairing Rubio with: Chris Paul ($8,900)

Other options: Isaiah Thomas ($8,800), Eric Bledsoe ($8,000), Mike Conley ($8,000), D’Angelo Russell ($6,500), Jordan Clarkson ($5,600), Rajon Rondo ($5,600)

Shooting Guard

Jeremy Lamb ($4,900)

Welcome to day 2 of Jeremy Lamb chalk. With Nic Batum ruled out for the next two games while he gets a CT scan on his brain for migraines (ouch), Lamb slides into a very prominent role in the offense. On the season with Batum off of the court, Lamb carries a 24.7% usage rate, 13.1% assist rate and a surprising 13.6% rebounding rate. In the four games this season in which Lamb has slid into the starting lineup for Batum, he’s averaged 17 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists and one steal over 30.7 minutes per game. Those stats average out to 33.4 Fanduel points (without accounting for turnovers), meaning Lamb is returning 6.8x value based off of his current salary. The Pacers have been rather stingy with opposing shooting guards lately, allowing only 34.7 FDP per game to them over their last five, but with the attention on Kemba Walker and Lamb’s ability to crash the glass, there’s no way he doesn’t eclipse 5-6x value tonight.

Shooting Guard that I’m most likely pairing with Lamb: Devin Booker ($6,600)

Other options: James Harden ($12,000), Giannis Antetokounmpo ($10,400), Dion Waiters ($6,800), Avery Bradley ($5,600), Buddy Hield ($4,600)

Small Forward

Paul George ($8,100)

George is currently showing that when he’s in rhythm, he’s essentially matchup-proof. Over his last six games, George has averaged 26.5 points, 9 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 0.8 steals in 37 minutes per game equating to 40.5 FDP per game, exactly 5x value given his salary. Over the last two weeks, George has also seen his usage rate jump to 31.1% as he’s been the only reliable offensive option on a rather disappointing Pacers’ team. The Hornets perimeter defense takes a hit without Batum and even with Kidd-Gilchrist likely assigned to George, I don’t see how he doesn’t exploit this matchup. The Pacers’ will need all the Paul George possible to keep this game competitive and while Indiana is in the 6 seed and the Hornets are fighting to get into the playoffs, this game should have a playoff-level intensity to it.

Small Forward I’m most likely pairing with George: Brandon Ingram ($4,300)

Other options: Kawhi Leonard ($9,400), Andrew Wiggins ($7,100), Khris Middleton ($6,300), TJ Warren ($5,900), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist ($5,300)

Power Forward

Blake Griffin ($8,800)

His price is starting to drop and now is the time to buy on Blake. With Chris Paul back, his playmaking and usage take a hit, but his efficiency rises and the Clippers are able to stay competitive in every game. His play over their last five games has been rather disappointing, as he’s only averaged 15.8 points and 8.6 boards while shooting an abysmal 42.4% from the field, but these numbers are sure to rise. Over his career against the Bucks, Griffin has averaged 21 points, 10.1 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.2 steals per game over an average of 36.1 minutes. The Bucks have slipped against power forwards since the injury to Jabari Parker, sitting 17th in the league against the position, surrendering an average of 43.7 FDP per game to them on the season. The spread of this game currently sits at 7.5 with a 208 over/under, but the Bucks have been playing an excellent brand of basketball lately so I expect this game to be close throughout, giving Griffin a chance at a huge game.

Power Forward I’m most likely pairing with Griffin: Willie Cauley-Stein ($5,500)

Other options: Anthony Davis ($11,400), Julius Randle ($6,500), Dirk Nowitzki ($6,300), Gorgui Dieng ($5,300), Thad Young ($4,800)


Ivica Zubac ($4,900)

I really REALLY want to roster KAT tonight, but it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to based off of the rest of my lineup construction. That leads me to Ivica Zubac, a player that I was royally screwed by last time I rostered him. Since then, it was reported that Zubac will remain the starting center in Los Angeles for the remaining 15 games of the regular season and likely see a nice level of playing time. He saw 30 minutes last game against the Nuggets en route to a career-night, posting 25 points, 11 rebounds, an assists and a block. The Rockets don’t pose as the most intimidating matchup tonight, having allowed 52 FDP per game to centers over their last 10 games and currently ranking 3rd worst in the entire NBA against the position. The spread of this game is getting out of hand, as it’s currently at 17.5 in the Rockets’ favor, but the over/under sits at 235.5. While most starters would be extremely risky to roster in a game this lopsided, Zubac is an exception as Luke Walton has made it abundantly clear that he wants to dedicate the last 15 games to developing their youth. He received a large amount of garbage time minutes against the Nuggets and I expect him to do the same tonight. For $4,900, Zubac checks in as my top value-play on tonight’s slate.

Other options: Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,800), DeMarcus Cousins ($9,000), Marc Gasol ($7,700), DeAndre Jordan ($7,200), Al Horford ($6,000), Alan Williams ($5,600), Clint Capela ($5,300)

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