NBA Starting Five – 3/27

I took a week off from writing because I had a rather busy week away from DFS, but I’m back this week which will likely be my final week with NBA articles, since MLB starts a week from today. If you haven’t already inquired about a lineup package subscribtion with us, I strongly recommend doing so, as our team has already began preparation for this season and we look to build on last year’s success. 

Tonight, we’ve got a nice 6-game NBA slate that features a marquee matchup between the Cavaliers and the Spurs, one that will likely be the focal point of DFS lineups. Below is tonight’s schedule with each game’s respective Vegas totals:

  • 7:30 PM ET: Magic (+8) @ Raptors (-8) – 207.5 O/U
  • 7:30 PM ET: Pistons (-2) @ Knicks (+2) – 208.5 O/U
  • 8:00 PM ET: Cavaliers (+5) @ Spurs (-5) – 212 O/U
  • 8:30 PM ET: Thunder (-1) @ Mavericks (+1) – 205 O/U
  • 10:30 PM ET: Grizzlies (-5.5) @ Kings (+5.5) – 198 O/U
  • 10:30 PM ET: Pelicans (+6.5) @ Jazz (-6.5) – 199 O/U

One quick change to the Starting Five – when I list “other options”, I am going to italicize the options that are my favorites. Here is my Fanduel Starting Five for tonight’s slate:

Point Guard

Mike Conley ($7,900)

Whether Marc Gasol suits up tonight or not, I love Mike Conley at point guard. He’s coming off of a 29-point, 6-assist performance against the Warriors over 37 minutes and will look to build on it tonight in Sacramento. Conley’s minutes are extremely secure, netting at least 35 minutes in 11 of his last 14 games and failing to see less than 31 in that span. Over those 14 games, Conley has averaged 23.5 points, 6.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game with a 26.3% usage rate and 38.2 Fanduel points per game. If you take his current $7.9k salary and his average Fanduel points over this stretch, he’s averaging 4.84x value on a nightly basis, just shy of 5x. He gets a Sacramento Kings squad tonight that’s been getting torched by opposing point guards lately, allowing an average of 55.4 FD points per game over their last ten games, and 64.2 FD points per game over their last five. To put how bad they’ve been into perspective, their season average is 47.5 FD points per game allowed. If Marc Gasol sits tonight, Conley’s outlook only gets better, and if he suits up, you can expect a bump in Conley’s assist rate – essentially a win-win situation.

Other options: Russell Westbrook ($12,900), Kyrie Irving ($9,100), George Hill ($6,100), Derrick Rose ($5,900), Ish Smith ($4,500)

Shooting Guard

Rodney Hood ($3,700)

Shooting guard is by far and away the ugliest position on the board tonight, and the position in which I’ll most likely be spending way down, starting with Rodney Hood. This play is completely dependent on the availability of Gordon Hayward, but he missed shootaround which leads me to believe that he’s closer to doubtful than probable on the infamous questionable spectrum. Hood has, for the most part, been a massive disappointment this season, showing a gross level of inconsistency on the court, and a rash of injuries throughout the season, but he may get a chance to shine tonight. With Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors off of the court, Hood receives the largest usage bump (5.4%) up to 28.9%, the highest on the team. His per-36 minute numbers this season sit at 16.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. If he sees anything around 30 or more minutes tonight if Hayward sits, I see no outcome in which he doesn’t eclipse at least 5-6x value.

Other options: DeMar DeRozan ($9,200), Victor Oladipo ($6,000), Courtney Lee ($4,500), Tony Allen ($4,100), Jordan Crawford ($3,500)

Small Forward

Kawhi Leonard ($9,100)

Kawhi is by far and away my top play on the slate and I have a feeling I’m not alone. This is a pivotal game for both Cleveland and San Antonio, so I don’t expect either team to be resting players. Kawhi has been somewhat erratic lately, something that’s tended to happen occasionally this season, but there’s no better “get right” game than a date with King James. Remember what happened the last time the Spurs faced off with the Cavs? Kawhi dropped 41 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, a steal and a block in 46 minutes of action. LeBron also came out recently to explain how tough this season has been on him, showing that the King is tired, another advantage for Leonard and a great explanation as to why the Cavs’ defense has been so bad lately. The Cavs are sixth worst in the entire NBA in terms of DvP against the small forward position, allowing an average of 42.9 FD points per game to the position. This game currently carries a 5-point spread in favor of the Spurs, indicating that it’ll likely remain tight throughout all four quarters, a game-environment that Leonard thrives in.

Other options: LeBron James ($10,900), Harrison Barnes ($5,600), Terrence Ross ($4,200), Joe Ingles ($4,100), PJ Tucker ($3,900), Joe Johnson ($3,800), Mindaugas Kuzminskas ($3,700)

Power Forward

LaMarcus Aldridge ($7,300)

Much like the Leonard write-up, I expect Aldridge to be an extremely popular play tonight but for good reason. He’s seen extremely stable minutes lately, averaging 33.1 minutes over his last five while producing 21.4 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.4 blocks per game, yet his salary still sits at only $7,300. In his last meeting against the Cavs, Aldridge, much like Leonard, had a nice game. He went for 16 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 blocks in 42 minutes. If this game can stay competitive, we could easily see massive minutes again from the two Spurs stars. The Favs are somewhat stingy against opposing power forwards, allowing only 43.1 FD points per game to the position, but they’ve surrendered 47.7 over their last five. For $7,300, Aldridge needs 36.5 Fanduel points to hit 5x value, something that should be expected in a game like tonight’s.

Other options: Anthony Davis ($10,800), Kristaps Porzingis ($6,700), Serge Ibaka ($5,700), Tobias Harris ($5,400), Aaron Gordon ($5,200), Jon Leuer ($4,300)

Center

Nikola Vucevic ($8,200)

I need to buy myself a Vuc jersey because I’ve developed a ridiculous infatuation with him over the course of this NBA DFS season, and he clocks in as my favorite center option tonight. Through his nine games played in the month of March, Vuc is looking like he did last season for the Magic, averaging 18.4 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks in 29.9 minutes per game. The trade of Serge Ibaka was expected to clear up a lot of usage on offense and rebounds and it’s certainly shown. In his three games against the Raptors this season, his numbers are right on par with his current production (a bit lower), averaging 17.7 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.7 blocks in 29.5 minutes per game. He only played 25 minutes in their last meeting, but exploded in the meeting previous to that, posting 25 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks in 33 minutes. Since March 1st, Vucevic carries the highest usage rate on the team (27.1%) as well as the highest rebunding rate (19.5%). The addition of Serge Ibaka certainly strengthens the Toronto frontcourt, but Vucevic has also shown his ability to step out and drain a handful of shots from beyond the arc on a nightly basis as well, creating a matchup nightmare. For $8,200, I view Vucevic as the top center on tonight’s slate in a position in which I’m determined to pay up for tonight. Maybe they should start calling me the Vuc-Whisperer.

Other options: Rudy Gobert ($8,700) – a little pricey for my liking, Andre Drummond ($7,600), Marc Gasol ($7,600), Pau Gasol ($5,600)

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