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NBA Daily Games Cheat Sheet: Sunday

Michael Chua

Michael Chua

Michael Chua is a basketball statistics expert from the Philippines. He has worked as a student manager for the University of Wisconsin Men's basketball team. He is also the basketball program consultant for his high school alma mater, Shanghai American School, in China.

TEAM ANALYSIS

Defenses to Avoid
Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors: The Raptors have quietly been one of the better defensive teams in the league, allowing just 101.0 points (seventh-best) per 100 possessions to opponents. Meanwhile, the Magic have been struggling lately, going just 1-3 over their last four games. They have several solid options available, but it may be hard to trust the Magic to put up significant performances against the Raptors, as they lost 83-98 in their first meeting of the season. On a day with other viable offensive-minded teams, don't be too quick to deploy Magic players to action.

Offenses to Use
Brooklyn Nets at Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers are certainly not among the top offensive teams in the league, but Sunday's matchup provides several value players who can produce better than their price tag indicates. The Lakers are the second-fastest team in the league, with a pace of 99.81 possessions per game, allowing the entire rotation to produce heavy minutes. Newly acquired Kent Bazemore ($3,200) and Marshon Brooks ($3,300) had solid performances in their debut, and perhaps could be considered possible budget plays with low risk. While the return of Nick Young (knee) could eat into their minutes, the Lakers have been riding the hot hand this season, and it will only take a spark for Bazemore or Brooks to light up. If you're in search for players to fill up your salary cap, consider the budget options on the Lakers a possible choice.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Los Angeles Clippers
Second game of a back-to-back: Brooklyn Nets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Washington Wizards

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Point Guard
Russell Westbrook, OKC (vs. LAC), PG ($7,200): I've always been one to jump the gun on players returning from injuries who have seen a significant decline in their price tag. Rightfully so, Westbrook's return against the Heat saw him putting up just 16 points, five rebounds, two assists, and three steals in 24 minutes of action. It would make sense that he'll continue to have a minutes cap for at least one week, but his glaringly cheap price tag tempts me to ride on him anyways. If you're the type who likes to play safe, Westbrook can be ignored for the next week or so. However, if you're up for a high-risk, high-reward play, ride on Russ and hope his knees take you somewhere.

Other suggestions: John Wall (at CLE) PG ($9,000), Isaiah Thomas (at DEN), PG ($7,600), Deron Williams (at LAL), PG ($6,600)

Shooting Guard
Kent Bazemore, LAL (vs. BKN), SG/SF ($3,200): The newly-arrived Bazemore serves as a possible budget play Sunday against the Nets. He put up 15 points (5-10 FG, 2-5 3Pt, 3-4 FT), three rebounds, four assists, and two steals in 33 minutes of action in his Laker debut Friday. His per-36 minute averages this season are 14.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.6 three-pointers made, numbers that closely resemble his performance on Friday. While he may not necessarily exceed the 30-minute mark on a consistent basis, there's a good chance he'll hit the high-20's as the Lakers are scrambling for the hot hand with all the injuries on their roster. Helping his case is that the Nets give up 23.7 points (worst) and 45.7 percent FG (sixth-worst) to opposing eligible shooting guards. Bazemore's price tag is hard to complain about, and daily gamers who need a cheap filler option could consider him worthy.

Other suggestions: Bradley Beal (at CLE), SG ($6,800), Wesley Matthews (vs. MIN) SG/SF ($6,100), Joe Johnson (at LAL), SG/SF ($5,300)

Small Forward
Rudy Gay, SAC (at DEN), SF/PF ($7,300): Gay has been struggling recently after returning from an Achilles injury, averaging just 15.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.8 steals, 1.0 blocks, and 0.8 three-pointers made per game. This recent performance has lowered his price tag, but his fantasy potential exceeds his current value by a large amount. Some can blame his injury for his recent slump, but my best guess is that the absence of DeMarcus Cousins has affected him as well. He was shooting poorly from the field in Toronto as their main option, but he's turned that around as a member of the Kings. Now with Cousins back on the court, there's a good chance Gay will return to his usual efficient production as a member of the Kings. His most recent performance in Cousins' return—22 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and two three-pointers made—was the best he's had in nearly three weeks.

Other suggestions: Kevin Durant (vs. LAC), SF/PF ($11,500), Chandler Parsons (at PHX), SF/PF ($7,400), Wilson Chandler (vs. SAC) SG/SF ($5,600)

Power Forward
Terrence Jones, HOU (at PHX), SF/PF ($4,700): Jones has been on a massive slump over recent games, averaging just 6.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.4 blocks, and 0.2 three-pointers made over his last five contests. His price tag has certainly taken a dump in similar proportion, and there's no guarantee he'll break out of his cold streak on Sunday. Yet, with a price tag so low, and considering the fact that his last fantasy-relevant game—putting up 19 points, nine rebounds, two assists, three blocks, and one trey—occurred two weeks ago against none other than the Suns, I wouldn't mind taking a gamble on the explosive sophomore on Sunday.

Other suggestions: Kevin Love (at POR), PF/C ($11,100), Serge Ibaka (vs. LAC), PF/C ($7,300), Markieff Morris (vs. HOU), PF/C ($5,600)

Center
DeAndre Jordan, LAC (at OKC), C ($7,600): Jordan has been one of the most consistent fantasy centers this season, averaging 9.9 points, 14.0 rebounds, 1.0 steals, and 2.4 blocks per game. With many high-end options at the center spot in tough matchups Sunday, Jordan could be considered a safe option with a high ceiling. He hasn't posted a double-double over the last three games, but he had five consecutive double-doubles in the previous stretch of games. In a marquee matchup between the Clippers and Thunder, expect Jordan to have the opportunity to put up a solid performance.

Other suggestions: Dwight Howard (at PHX), PF/C ($10,000), Pau Gasol (vs. BKN), PF/C ($7,100), Marcin Gortat (at CLE), C ($6,200)

INJURY REPORT

LaMarcus Aldridge (groin) will miss at least a week.
Eric Bledsoe (knee) intensified his rehab Saturday but is still without a timetable to return.
Kobe Bryant (knee) is without a timetable to return.
Xavier Henry (knee) will miss at least one more week.
Arron Afflalo (ankle) will not play Sunday.
J.J. Redick (hip) will miss three-to-five weeks.
Anderson Varejao (back) is without a timetable to return.
Dion Waiters (knee) will not play Sunday.
Kevin Martin (thumb) will not play Sunday
C.J. Miles (leg) will not play Sunday.
Kendrick Perkins (groing) will not play Sunday.

Game-Time Decision
Chris Paul (thumb) is expected to play Sunday.
James Harden (elbow) practiced Saturday and is expected to play Sunday.
Ty Lawson (ribs) is a game-time decision Sunday.
Nikola Pekovic (ankle) is questionable to play Sunday.
Nicolas Batum (stomach) is dealing with gastroenteritis but isn't expected to miss time.
Jimmy Butler (ribs) is a game-time decision Sunday.
Nick Young (knee) is expected to return Sunday.
Steve Nash (back) is questionable to play Sunday.
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