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Kemba Walker, CHA (at PHI), PG ($7,900):
Defenses to Avoid
Toronto Raptors at Boston Celtics: The Raptors surge over the last month has been because of their defense; they're allowing just 94.1 points per game since sitting Rudy Gay (before trading him) on Dec. 8. But they've been even better of late, allowing less than 95 points in seven of their last eight games and are the second rated defense (94.3) in the month of January, behind only Indiana. Meanwhile, the Celtics have lost nine in a row and 12 of their last 13. They won't get Rajon Rondo back until the weekend at the earliest and have conversely been one of the worst offenses as of late (96.7 rating in January).
Offenses to Use
Utah Jazz at San Antonio Spurs: In terms of efficiency, it's the third-best offense in San Antonio (108.0) against the league's worst defense in Utah (107.9). So, it's a practical pick-your-poison when looking at any of the advanced metrics to defend this pick. Most telling, though, is Utah's biggest deficiency, their interior defense, which will play right into San Antonio's hands. The Spurs are top 3 in field goal percentage in both the restricted area and in the paint (non-restricted). Utah, meanwhile, is in the bottom third in both categories. Look for the Spurs to get plenty of easy looks from a wide variety of players.
Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Houston Rockets.
Second game of a back-to-back: Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings
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Yes, Walker is on the back end of a back-to-back, and yes, he might break your bank before you even assemble the rest of your lineup. But he's only the eighth-highest point guard in Wednesday's pool, and his value is actually a few hundred dollars lower than what it's been most of the year. But the real value here is because Walker and the Bobcats will take on a Sixers team that is particularly inept at defending anything. The Sixers are third in defensive efficiency and dead last in points allowed per game. That should be a good matchup for the do-it-all Walker who's really picked up his scoring lately.
Other suggestions: Brandon Knight
, MIL (vs. MEM), PG/SG ($6,000), Jeremy Lin
, HOU (at NOP), PG/SG ($5,900), Goran Dragic
, PHO (vs. LAL), PG/SG ($7,700), Darren Collison
, LAC (vs. DAL), PG ($5,700), Brian Roberts
NOP (vs. HOU), PG/SG ($4,300), D.J. Augustin
, CHI (at ORL), PG ($4,200)
Eric Gordon, NOP (vs. HOU), SG ($5,700)
: He was actually playing some of his best basketball of the season even before New Orleans lost guards Jrue Holiday
(leg) and Tyreke Evans
(ankle) last week. But with those two out (there's a chance Evans could return Wednesday) and forward Ryan Anderson
(back) also out indefinitely, there are simply plenty of shots to go around for the Pelicans. As is, Gordon is averaging 19.4 points over his last five games, with his minutes and shot attempts noticeably up from season averages as well. No, he won't give you much else, but when you can reasonably expect 20 points from a guy below $6,000, that's a pretty good deal. He's also averaging nearly three points more per game while playing at home.
Other suggestions: Jamal Crawford
, LAC (vs. DAL), PG/SG ($5,700), DeMar DeRozan
, TOR (at BOS), SG/SF ($7,800), Kevin Martin
, MIN (vs. SAC), SG/SF ($6,100), Dion Waiters
, CLE (at POR), SG, ($5,200)
Chandler Parsons, HOU (at NOP), SF/PF ($6,000)
: Parsons' value is way down thanks to a knee injury that has sidelined him for most of the new year. But he looked fine Monday night against the Celtics, and he'll face a banged-up Pelicans team that is typically one of the worst defensive teams in the league (they might be better without the guys they're missing, though). In any event, Parsons is almost too good to pass up at this value, especially in a game where Houston should be able to score with relative ease.
Other suggestions: Gerald Henderson
, CHA (at PHI), SG/SF ($5,900), Jeff Green
, BOS (vs. TOR), SG/SF ($6,300), Kawhi Leonard
, SAS (vs. UTA), SG/SF ($5,800), Trevor Ariza
, WAS (vs. MIA), SG/SF ($5,800)
Chris Bosh, MIA (at WAS), PF/C ($6,100)
: This is more or less banking on Bosh breaking out of a fairly prolonged slump that might have some Heat fans a little worried. He's been particularly miserable lately, shooting just 45 percent (27-for-60) in January (which actually includes a 9-for-9 against Orlando) while averaging 12.5 points per game in six contests. But he had 24 points last time out against Washington, which offers a favorable matchup considering Bosh's ability to space the floor against the Wizards' slower bigs. It also led him to getting to the line a season-high eight times.
Other suggestions: Channing Frye
, PHO (vs. LAL), PF/C ($5,000), Tobias Harris
, ORL (vs. CHI), SF/PF ($5,600), Tim Duncan
, SAS (vs. UTA), PF/C ($7,900), Patrick Patterson
, TOR (at BOS), PF/C ($4,500), Blake Griffin
(vs. LAC), PF/C ($9,500)
Anderson Varejao, CLE (at POR), PF/C ($6,000)
: He's been absolutely cleaning up the glass lately, averaging a ridiculous 14.2 rebounds per game in January. But this isn't merely a coincidence; he's clearly been a more effective player without Andrew Bynum
, and although his offensive potential is below average, he's a quality double-double candidate on a nightly basis. The matchup with Portland isn't necessarily ideal, primarily because the Blazers' rebounding rate ranks fifth in the league. But they're actually middle of the road on the defensive glass, which is where Varejao could do some damage.
Other suggestions: Al Jefferson
, CHA (at PHI), PF/C ($7,600), Jonas Valanciunas
, TOR (at BOS), C ($5,500), Enes Kanter
, UTA (at SAS), C ($5,200)
(knee) could return Friday against the Lakers.
(toe) could return Saturday against Portland.
(knee) is still without a timetable.
(leg) is still without a timetable.
(wrist) should return before the end of the season, but no timetable has been set.
(thigh) could be returning soon, although no date has been set.
(hand) claims he'll be back early than anticipated but hasn't said when.
(shoulder) probably won't return until mid-February.
(elbow) is working out again but won't return for a few weeks still.
(knee) is expected to be back by the end of the month according to coach D'Antoni.
(hamstring) should be until early February at the earliest.
(knee) didn't play Tuesday, and his status is unknown for Wednesday.
(back) is expected to be back by the end of the month according to coach D'Antoni.
(hand) is probably out for at least another week.
(knee) should return to the court sometime over the next week.
(Achilles) could return Wednesday against the Wizards.
(soreness) should return to the lineup Wednesday after a few days off.
(back) should be out until mid-March at the earliest.
(ankle) missed Monday's game but could be back Wednesday against the Rockets.
(leg) is without a timetable.
(ankle) is no longer wearing a walking boot and could play Wednesday.
(concussion) missed the last four games, but could return Wednesday.
(calf) did not practice Monday after being held out the past weekend.
(ankle) has been cleared to play, but his return is unknown.
(knee) should return at some point after the all-star break.
(finger) should miss four weeks.
(shoulder) should miss another two weeks.
(shoulder) was a full-participant in Tuesday's practice and should be good to go Wednesday.
(shoulder) has missed four in a row but is expected to play Wednesday.
(arm) was banged up on Monday but said he expects to play Wednesday.
(groin) is out Wednesday.
(hip) was on a minutes restriction for Monday's game.
(toe) played Tuesday and should be fine despite the back-to-back.
(back), like Gasol, played Tuesday and should be fine despite the back end of a back-to-back.
(quad) practice Monday and expects to play Wednesday.
(shoulder) could play Wednesday after a X-rays came back negative.
(ankle) missed his sixth consecutive game on Monday.
(hip) appears to be on track to play Wednesday.