This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We have just a modest three-game slate on tap Tuesday night, and four of the six teams in action have proven particularly proficient on defense thus far this season. Additionally, there are two huge absences for the Clippers in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard due to health and safety protocols, which will depress overall scoring even further. Therefore, we could be in for less-than-ideal conditions when it comes to DFS, and differentiation in tournaments will also be a bit more challenging than usual with the increasingly limited pool of players.
Here's a further look at the three games on Tuesday's slate:
Los Angeles Clippers at Atlanta Hawks (Projected total: 221.5 points)
The Clippers are scoring 114.8 points per game and give up the fourth fewest (107.2 per contest), while Los Angeles also averages a Western Conference-low 100.3 possessions per game. The Hawks are significantly improved on the defensive end, as the 110.1 points per game they allow is 9.6 points per contest fewer than last season. Factor in the confirmed absences of Leonard and George, and possible ones for Trae Young (back) and Clint Capela (hand), and this could be a particularly low-scoring contest than projected, one that perhaps produces just a couple of truly useful, "have to have" DFS scores.
Washington Wizards at Houston Rockets (Projected total: 233.0 points)
The Wizards jumped back into action Sunday against the Spurs after an extended COVID layoff and gave up 121 points, their seventh time allowing at least 120 points already. Washington is giving up a co-NBA-high 121.2 points per game and play at a league-high pace of 108.4 possessions per contest, a combustible combination that unsurprisingly leads to plenty of scoring for the opposition. The Rockets aren't necessarily optimally equipped to take advantage with Christian Wood likely to miss another game with his ankle injury and Houston ranked No. 18 with 110.7 points per game, but Washington's sieve-like defense makes plenty of teams look good.
New York Knicks at Utah Jazz (Projected total: 211.5 points)
If it weren't for the now-confirmed absences of George and Leonard for Los Angeles, this game would be a virtual lock for lowest-scoring game of the night. It's still projected to work out that way anyhow, considering New York is allowing an NBA-low 103.6 points per game and averaging a league-low 99.0 possessions per contest. The Jazz aren't far behind in either category, giving up a No. 3-ranked 106.1 points per game and averaging just 102.0 possessions per contest. In other words, despite some talented scorers on either side, this has all the makings of a classic grind-it-out affair.
Injury Situations to Monitor
NOTE: Injury reporting is especially fluid in the NBA, where the status of multiple players can change during the course of a day. Therefore, although the following serves as a foundation for the latest injury report as of the time the article is written, check back throughout the course of the day with RotoWire for the latest news regarding the status of all players on that night's slate.
Kawhi Leonard, LAC (COVID-19 protocols)/ Status: OUT
Leonard's confirmed absence projects to afford a starting opportunity to Marcus Morris at small forward and notably elevate the usage rates of remaining healthy members of the Clippers' starting five.
Paul George, LAC (COVID-19 protocols/hamstring)/ Status: OUT
George's confirmed absence projects to afford Luke Kennard a starting opportunity at shooting guard and notably elevate the usage rates of remaining healthy members of the Clippers' starting five.
Trae Young, ATL (back)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Young could be in danger of missing his second straight game. The usage rates of John Collins and Clint Capela (hand) would particularly see a boost, while Rajon Rondo and Brandon Goodwin would be set to absorb the majority of minutes at point guard once again.
Christian Wood, HOU (ankle)/ Status: DOUBTFUL
Wood's near-certain absence should afford DeMarcus Cousins another start at center, a role in which the big man most recently posted a 28-point, 17-rebound double-double against the Mavericks on Saturday night.
Clint Capela, ATL (hand)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Capela missed Sunday's game due to hand soreness, and if he were to sit for a second consecutive contest, rookie Onyeka Okongwu would likely be in for another start.
Patrick Beverley, LAC (COVID-19 protocols)/ Status: OUT
Rui Hachimura, WAS (COVID-19 protocols)/ Status: OUT
Reggie Bullock, NYK (neck)/ Status: OUT
Bullock's second straight absence should afford another start at shooting guard for Alec Burks.
Other notable injuries:
Cam Reddish, ATL (Achilles)/ Status: PROBABLE
Derrick Favors, UTA (knee)/ Status: PROBABLE
Danilo Gallinari, ATL (ankle)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Davis Bertans, WAS (COVID-19 protocols)/ Status: OUT
Deni Avdija, WAS (COVID-19 protocols)/ Status: OUT
Ish Smith, WAS (COVID-19 protocols)/ Status: OUT
Moritz Wagner, WAS (COVID-19 protocols)/ Status: OUT
Raul Neto, WAS (groin)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Austin Rivers, NYK (Achilles)/ Status: PROBABLE
Even with just three games on the slate, there are four players with five-figure salaries. However, with Kawhi Leonard ($10,800) out of action, the remaining trio priced over $10K consists of Trae Young ($10,600), Clint Capela ($10,500) and Bradley Beal ($10,300).
Young does carry a questionable designation due to a back injury as noted earlier, but he's scored 45.9 to 64.8 FD points in his last four healthy games. He would take on even more appeal if he suits up but Capela doesn't, and the inverse is true as well. Meanwhile, Beal has already delivered 5x value on his extremely robust salary on four occasions, providing a glimpse at his massive upside.
There are also several players with salaries in the high four figures that have the ability to deliver elite scores, including Russell Westbrook ($9,900), Julius Randle ($9,100), Victor Oladipo ($8,800) and Rudy Gobert ($8,300). From that group, it's worth noting Oladipo should have an elevated role with Christian Wood expected to be out of action, while Gobert has an excellent positional matchup against the Knicks. Finally, John Wall ($7,700) also carries some intrigue, considering his matchup against his former, and fast-paced, defensively challenged squad.
All of the names mentioned in Elite Players section are naturally going to be very popular Tuesday, but all projected Clippers starters should also be rostered heavily given the immense usage vacuum the absences of Leonard and George creates. DeMarcus Cousins is also very likely to see his rostering rate skyrocket based on Christian Wood's projected absence and Cousins' performance against the Mavericks on Saturday. John Wall should also be very popular given both Wood's absence and the fact he's facing his old Wizards teammates.
De'Andre Hunter, ATL vs. LAC ($5,600)
Hunter is a strong play at his salary even if teammates Trae Young and Clint Capela suit up, but he's naturally even more appealing without either or both of his teammates. The second-year wing piled up 44.8 FD points on 13-for-21 shooting with Young and Capela both out Sunday, pushing his usage rate to 26.0 percent and FD points per minute to 1.14 with his teammates off the floor this season. With Leonard, George and Beverley all out for Los Angeles on Tuesday, Hunter should also have a much easier path to offensive success, and it's worth noting he's already delivered over 5x his salary in nine of 15 games this season.
Nicolas Batum, LAC at ATL ($5,500)
With three starters out for Los Angeles, there's naturally several Clippers value plays to consider due to their expanded roles Tuesday. However, Batum, who's already been handling a starting role and has enjoyed a resurgent season of sorts, could be as good or better on a per-dollar basis than any of his healthy teammates outside of Serge Ibaka ($5,800), who's also worthy of consideration. Batum is putting up his best shooting percentage (50.4) since way back in the 2009-10 season and is also draining a career-high 45.3 percent of his three-point tries. What's more, the veteran has delivered at least 25.2 FD points in seven of 17 games, while the opposing Hawks also come in surrendering the fourth-most FD points per game to power forwards (48.7).
Alex Len, WAS at HOU ($4,000)
Len makes for a likely low-rostered tournament play, the kind that could well be necessary on a night with such a limited player pool. The veteran big just made his Washington debut in the Wizards' return to action Sunday, logging 20 minutes and compiling 19.5 FD points in that span. With Moritz Wagner (COVID-19 protocols) still out Tuesday, Len should once again split time fairly evenly with Robin Lopez down low, and he'll face a Houston squad that's giving up the fifth-most rebounds per game (17.8) to second-unit players. Meanwhile, Len has historically been very proficient on the glass and could benefit from both his own team's ultra-fast pace and the Rockets' pedestrian 44.9 percent shooting on their home floor.