Well how about this weekend?! My Xavier Musketeers shocked just about everyone outside of our campus by absolutely decimating Florida State (overrated, if you ask me) by 25 en route to another Sweet 16 bid. That’s where my attention was this weekend, hence my absence from NBA DFS, but we return tonight with a very exciting 7-game slate that features Russ versus Golden State and James Harden facing Denver after erupting for a 40-point triple double against them last game.
Both of those individuals are extremely solid plays tonight, it just comes down to your preference on roster construction. Before I get to my starting five, I’m going to say off the bat that of the two, I prefer Russ tonight based on narratives alone.
I am also adding a twist to my Starting Five articles – a 6th man. The sixth man is kind of a “plus one”. This will be a player that I absolutely love for the slate, any position, included as a bonus to the starting five.
Here is my Fanduel Starting Five for tonight’s 7-game NBA Slate:
Russell Westbrook ($13,400)
We all know that a matchup with the Warriors is the only thing that Russ needs to get up for a game, so why on Earth would Steph Curry fuel the fire? Earlier this weekend, Steph Curry stated that he thinks James Harden should win the MVP award. Westbrook’s response?:
After watching this response, you can see why it’d be a good idea to roster Russ tonight. In his three games against the Warriors this season, Russ is averaging 31.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, 10.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks per game and carries a league-leading 41.8% usage rate. For $13,400, some may find it hard for Russ to hit value (67 FD points)…c’mon, stop finding an excuse not to roster him. He’ll shatter value with ease tonight.
Other options: John Wall ($10,200) – Great GPP pivot, Steph Curry ($9,900), Chris Paul ($8,400), Kemba Walker ($8,000), TJ McConnell ($5,400)
Tim Hardaway Jr. ($5,600)
The Hawks are extremely depleted at the worst time of the season. They will be without both Kent Bazemore and Paul Millsap for tonight’s contest with the Hornets, leaving a lot of scoring to go around. With Bazemore out, Hardaway Jr. slides into the starting lineup. As a starter this season (18 games), THJ has averaged 17.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 33.2 minutes per game. With Bazemore and Millsap off of the court, THJ sees his usage rise to 25.8%, second on the team only behind Dennis Schroder. The Hornets are surprisingly bad against opposing shooting guards, allowing an average of 43.7 FDP per game to the position, fourth worst in the entire NBA. They’ve been even worse over their last five games, allowing 45.5 FDP to opposing shooting guards. The game carries a 5.5-point spread in the Hornets’ favor and with so many playoff implications on the line, you can expect this game to be competitive throughout. Expect a heavy dosage of minutes and usage from Hardaway tonight.
Other options: James Harden ($12,200) – Interchangeable with Russ as top overall play, Nic Batum ($7,100), Klay Thompson ($7,000), Victor Oladipo ($6,000), Will Barton ($5,800), Evan Fournier ($5,400), Eric Gordon ($4,800)
Taurean Prince ($3,700)
If I asked you who received the biggest usage bump with Kent Bazemore and Paul Millsap off of the court, I assume you’d say Dennis Schroder or Tim Hardaway, right? Wrong. The answer is none other than Taurean Prince, who receives a 4.1% usage boost up to 21.4%. While he can into this season and played much of the first half with a rather undefined role, he’s flourished since the All-Star break, shooting 53.8% from beyond the arc. Over his last four games, Prince has seen his playing time spike as he’s seen at least 29 minutes in three of those four games. Over that stretch, he’s averaged 11.5 points, 4 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game in 25.2 minutes. These are obviously not eye-popping numbers, but keep in mind we’re talking about a near-minimum salaried player. He’s topped 23 Fanduel points in three of his last four and only needs 18.5 FDP to eclipse 5x value tonight. With how depleted the Hawks are and in such a competitive matchup, I see no reason why Prince doesn’t flirt with 6-7x value while freeing up cap space for you to roster Westbrook.
Other options: Carmelo Anthony ($7,900), Robert Covington ($7,200), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist ($5,100), Andre Iguodala ($4,900), Lance Thomas ($4,400), Joe Ingles ($4,200), Andre Roberson ($4,000)
Draymond Green ($8,100)
The game of the night, the Warriors vs. Thunder, only carries a 1-point spread. I repeat, the WARRIORS game carries a ONE point spread. This is a fantasy goldmine, and my favorite target on the Warriors’ side of the ball is Draymond Green. He’s seen a slight dip in minutes over their last two games due to blowouts, but is still nearly averaging a triple double over their last three contests (12.3 ppg, 9 rpg, 8 apg, 2.3 blocks, 2 steals) in only 30 minutes per game. In his three games against the Thunder this season, Green’s averaging 9 points, 9.7 rebounds, 6 assists, 2.7 blocks and 1.7 steals per game. The biggest key in tonight’s game? The lack of Kevin Durant. Without KD on the court, Green’s assist rate becomes the highest on the team (29.6%) and he sees a bump in his rebounding rate as well (13.7%). Green is a sure-fire bet to cause problems tonight on the court, whether it be with his play or his attitude, but I’m locking him in and hoping it’s due to his play.
Other options: Nikola Jokic ($10,500), Blake Griffin ($8,700), Kristaps Porzingis ($6,500) – GTD, Enes Kanter ($5,500), Aaron Gordon ($5,400), Richaun Holmes ($4,800), Ersan Ilyasova ($4,500)
Nikola Vucevic ($8,000)
I’m somewhat stuck at the center position tonight, but as of now I’m fixated on Vuc. He’s come out of the All-Star break looking like his former self, averaging 18.9 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks per game over 29.6 minutes. The playing time obviously leaves a little to be desired, but the production is there. Vucevic, dealing with a minor ankle issue, absolutely dominated the Suns over 32 minutes on Friday, going for 18 points, 17 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists. Tonight, he gets the easiest matchup he’ll get all season. The 76ers are dead last in the league against centers, allowing a season-long average of 53.6 FDP per game. Think that’s bad? Over their last five games, they’ve allowed an average of 60.2, and over their last ten – an average of 63.4 FDP per game. The nice thing about this game is that it only carries a 5-point spread in favor of the magic with a healthy 214 over/under. I think I just convinced myself to lock in Vucevic tonight, and I suggest you do the same.
Other options: DeAndre Jordan ($7,600), Dwight Howard ($6,800), Mason Plumlee ($6,100), Clint Capela ($5,300), Steven Adams ($5,200)
Patrick Beverley ($4,900)
Beverley is flat-out mis-priced. Sure, he’s struggled over his last two games, averaging only 5 points, 6 rebounds and 1.5 steals, but he still saw north of 30 minutes in each of those contests and is averaging 30.6 minutes per game on the season (this includes games in which he was limited returning from injury). On the season, Beverley has shown his ability to contribute across the stat sheet, averaging 9.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game while showing absolute tenacity on the defensive end. The Nuggets are the second worst team in the NBA against point guards, allowing an average of 52 FDP per game to the position on the season, and 48.6 over their last ten games. The Rockets are the heavy 9-point home favorites, but the over/under of this game sits at 236.5. You NEED exposure to this game, and Fanduel is ultimately giving you a free square with how low they’ve priced Pat Beverley.