This article is part of our FantasyDraft NBA series.
Although there are still two games coming up Thursday, Wednesday's mammoth 12-game slate is clearly the NBA's official send-off before the All-Star break. As customary with that large a number of games, there's no shortage of options at each price level. You could go any number of ways for either cash or tournament lineups, and with a multitude of games projected for at least 214 points, a few shootouts appear likely. Without further delay, let's get right to the task at hand in anticipation of what should be an exciting night of NBA DFS action:
Russell Westbrook, OKC at MEM ($20,900): Westbrook jumped right back into the fray and proved the fitness of his ankle against the Cavs on Tuesday, posting a 22-point, 12-assist double-double that also included seven rebounds and two steals across 39 minutes. He'll be in another favorable matchup against the Grizzlies on Wednesday despite the drop in pace, as Memphis has been increasingly vulnerable to the point guard position of late. They've allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to ones over the last 10 (50.9) -- including the second most over the last five (60.2) – and Westbrook already posted a 20-point, 14-assist, 11-rebound triple-double in his one prior meeting against them on Dec. 9.
Damian Lillard, POR vs. GS ($16,800): Lillard already lit up the Warriors for 39 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals across 42 minutes in his one prior meeting against them this season, and Golden State continues to shape up as a relatively favorable matchup for point guards overall. The Warriors have allowed 42.0 fantasy points per contest to ones over the last five games, and they're currently playing at the third-fastest pace (103.6 possessions per contest), including the second fastest on the road (105.2 possessions per game). Moreover, Lillard has taken his production up a notch recently, scoring 44.00 to 69.25 fantasy points in four of the last six games while generating a 32.7 percent usage rate and averaging 1.30 fantasy points per minute. The Warriors' penchant for giving up points in the paint (47.6 per game, fourth most in the NBA) could also serve Lillard well, given his ample ability to drive to the basket.
Joe Ingles, UTA vs. PHO ($10,800): Given recent performances, the Magic's Mario Hezonja ($11,500) also shapes up as a strong play at this level for those that can afford him. Ingles' game has risen to new levels in its own right recently, as he's scored 36.25 to 42.25 fantasy points in four of his last five games, a span during which he's shooting a blistering 57.6 percent, including 56.3 percent from distance on a robust 6.4 three-point attempts per contest. That surge has largely coincided with the departures of Rodney Hood and Joe Johnson at the trade deadline, and it has a solid chance of continuing against a defensively challenged Suns squad that's allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to small forwards over the last five games (55.4), a drastic increase from the 34.6 they've yielded to the position on the season. They're also yielding the highest shooting percentage (68.0) to threes over the aforementioned five-game span and have given up the third-most points from three-pointers (40.0) overall in the last three contests, a number that could spell trouble against a long-range marksman like Ingles.
Anthony Davis, NO vs. LAL ($21,100): As expected, Davis has been very busy in the absence of DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles), sporting a 33.9 percent usage rate and averaging 1.47 fantasy points per minute in the eight games the latter has missed thus far. That's led to four fantasy-point tallies of 60 or more and one over 80 during that stretch, and a matchup Wednesday against a Lakers squad he already posted a 27-point, 17-rebound double-double (which also included three assists, three steals and three blocks) against this season could leave him poised for more of the same. Los Angeles has actually been much improved against centers as the season has gone on, but several numbers work in Davis' favor. One is certainly the massive 26.3 shot attempts he's taken per contest over the last six games, while the other is the 48.7 points in the paint – second most in the league – that the Lakers have allowed, considering Davis has scored more than half his points (53.3) in that area of the floor.
Julius Randle, LAL at NO ($14,200): Meanwhile, Randle will be in a highly favorable spot in his own right, considering the vulnerability the Pelicans have shown against bigs down low this season. New Orleans is allowing the third-most fantasy points (41.9) to power forwards on the season, including 50.6 over the last five. They're also allowing the fifth-highest shooting percentage (51.0) to the position over the latter span, while Randle is shooting 58.1 percent over his last five games on an elevated total of 14.8 shot attempts. Those numbers have helped lead to fantasy-point tallies of 35.00 to 44.00 in four of those contests, and the 46.2 points in the paint per game New Orleans has allowed – eighth most in the NBA – dovetail nicely for fantasy purposes with the fact that Randle has generated a career-high 71.6 percent of his scoring in that area of the floor.
Lance Stephenson, IND at BKN ($10,900): Stephenson's teammate Myles Turner ($12,400) is also in play for those who have the extra cash, while Ed Davis ($8,900) is a very viable cost-savings option as well, especially if he draws a start for Jusuf Nurkic, who's suffering from multiple injuries. However, Stephenson comes at a nice discount and has been seeing plenty of minutes off the bench, helping him generate double-digit point totals in eight of his last nine games. Stephenson has eclipsed 30 fantasy points on three occasions during that stretch, and he'll draw a matchup potentially conducive to that type of production Wednesday, as the Nets have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points (35.4) to threes on the season, along with bottom-five or bottom-10 figures in points (18.6), rebounds (7.5), steals (1.3) and shooting percentage (44.0).
Kemba Walker, CHA at ORL ($15,400): It bears mentioning that Walker's teammate Dwight Howard ($14,600) is also a very viable option for those that need to save a few hundred. Meanwhile, Walker has averaged 31.5 points, 8.5 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.0 block across 35.0 minutes against the Magic in two games this season, and he's eclipsed 50 fantasy points on three occasions over the last seven games. He's also averaging an elevated figure of 20.7 shot attempts in the last three contests, an encouraging trend heading into a matchup against an Orlando squad that's allowed 40.0 fantasy points per contest to point guards on the campaign.
Isaiah Thomas, LAL at NO ($11,500): Thomas generated impressive returns in his first game as a Laker on Saturday against the Mavs, compiling 33.25 fantasy points over 30 minutes. That amount of playing time was especially encouraging, and with Lonzo Ball (knee) still projected to be out Wednesday, Thomas is in play again versus a Pelicans team that's been vulnerable to point guards throughout the season. New Orleans ranks only ahead of the Cavaliers in fantasy points allowed to ones on the season (42.4), including 56.7 over the last five. They're also yielding the second-most assists (11.4) to the position over the latter span and have generated the second-fastest pace of play (104.4 possessions per game) on the season, including the fastest (113.4 possessions) over the last three contests. Given that he'll likely see at least another 30 minutes in a game with the highest projected scoring total of the night (229), Thomas makes for an appealing option at his reasonable price.