Now that the NFL season is officially finished, our NBA weekends will mostly feature a trio of full slates. This weekend is no exception, with 12 games on Friday, seven on Saturday, and nine on Sunday. The busy schedule means a bunch of teams will have difficult stretches of three games in four days, so make sure to keep that in mind for Saturday and Sunday.
One of the first things I noticed for the upcoming weekend is a plethora of strong options at small forward, which has largely been the most difficult position to deal with this season. Now, it's difficult in a different way, as there are a bunch of different directions you can go in.
There aren't a ton of obvious injury-related value plays, but as always, we've got some situations worth watching closely.
Perhaps most important, the Bucks have been relying on small lineups and John Henson ($5600) over the past few games, with Zaza Pachulia (calf), Ersan Ilyasova (groin), and now Kenyon Martin (ankle) sidelined by injuries, which has led to extra minutes for all of Henson, Khris Middleton ($6100), Giannis Antetokounmpo ($6000), and Jared Dudley ($4600).
While the prices are finally catching up to the production for Friday's game in Houston, all four of those guys are still solid plays, if Pachulia and Ilyasova sit. Middleton has been posting the gaudy numbers, but Henson and Antetokounmpo actually carry better prices, and they're more likely to benefit from the fact that their opponent also has a banged up frontcourt. Milwaukee faces two fast-paced opponents this weekend, drawing the Rockets on Friday and Celtics on Saturday.
Of course, it would be silly to not mention Russell Westbrook ($10,900), who is coming off games of 73.75 and 63.5 DK points, sans Kevin Durant (toe). Westbrook faces the Pelicans on Friday and Clippers on Sunday, after roasting the Pellies for those 63.5 points Wednesday night. If Durant sits again, Westbrook is the top overall play for both Friday and Sunday, ignoring price.
Looking ahead to the six teams that don't play Friday, Bradley Beal's toe injury – suffered Thursday night – should free up some more minutes for Rasual Butler, who would become a reasonable punt play in the event Beal misses time. Also, the Mavs' sans-Rondo point guard situation remains interesting, with J.J. Barea thus far looking like a better option than Devin Harris.
That's all I've got for now. Here are some of the top choices for the upcoming weekend (Fri.-Sun.) on DraftKings…
Marcus Smart, BOS (Fri. vs. PHI, Sat. at MIL), $4600 – Smart's playing time has been up-and-down throughout the season, but he's finally getting all the minutes he can handle, having logged 30, 37 and 41 over the past three games. While there's always some risk when dealing with Brad Stevens' rotations, Smart is one of the few players around the league with a decent chance to top 40 minutes Friday night. Also, the rookie draws a favorable matchup against Philadelphia, and he's averaging a respectable 18.0 DK points over 23.4 minutes this season. Saturday's matchup is considerably more difficult, but Smart will still be a strong option, so long as his price stays south of $5000.
Other options: Russell Westbrook, OKC (Fri. vs. NO, Sun. vs. LAC), $10,900; Chris Paul, LAC (Fri. at TOR, Sun. at OKC) $9200; Elfrid Payton, ORL (Fri. vs. LAL, Sun. vs. CHI), $5500; Trey Burke, UTA (Fri. at PHO, Sat. vs. SAC), $4700 Damian Lillard, POR (Sat. vs. DAL, Sun. at HOU); J.J. Barea, DAL (Sat. vs. POR)
Kevin Martin, MIN (Fri. vs. MEM, Sun. at DET), $5700 – Martin has been a strong play since he returned from a wrist injury last week, and even with the price creeping back up for a difficult matchup, he offers an excellent ceiling for a sub-$6000 player. He's averaging just shy of one DK point per minute this season, and he has logged 37, 39 and 40 minutes in the three games since he rejoined Minnesota's starting lineup. I like Martin a lot for both Friday and Sunday.
Other options: Klay Thompson, GS (Fri. at ATL, Sat. at NY), $8200; Victor Oladipo, ORL (Fri. vs. LAL, Sat. vs. CHI), $6600; Giannis Antetokoumpo, MIL (Fri. at HOU, Sat. vs. BOS), $6000; Jamal Crawford, LAC (Fri. at TOR, Sun. at OKC), $5000; Nick Young, LAL (Fri. at ORL, Sun. at CLE), $3000; Gerald Henderson, CHA (Sat. vat PHI, Sun. vs. IND); Monta Ellis, DAL (Sat. vs. POR); Ben McLemore, SAC (Sat. at UTA, Sun. vs. PHO)
Tobias Harris, ORL (Fri. vs. LAL, Sun. vs. CHI), $5800 – Although there's some uncertainty with the rotations in the wake of Jacques Vaughn's firing, Orlando still offers a slew of interesting options over the weekend, with Friday's matchup particularly intriguing. Harris carries a depressed price tag because of the limited minutes he was playing in late January, but he logged 41 and 38 minutes in Orlando's last two games. He'll be a very popular choice Friday, given the combination of low price and friendly matchup. I still like Harris for both games this weekend, even with the expectation that he'll have a sky-high ownership percentage. He's a good bet to provide six DK points per $1000 of salary.
Other options: Kawhi Leonard, SA (Fri. vs. MIA, Sun. at TOR) $7700; Khris Middleton, MIL (Fri. at HOU, Sat. vs. BOS), $6100; Josh Smith, HOU (Fri. vs. MIL, Sun. vs. POR), $5800; Luol Deng, MIA (Fri. at SA), $5100; DeMarre Carroll, ATL (Fri. vs. GS, Sun. at MEM), $4100
Lou Amundson, NY (Fri. at BKN, Sat. vs. GS), $4200 – Amundson doesn't offer a whole lot from a real-life perspective, but he's one of the many players on New York's barren roster to benefit from a surprisingly heavy minutes load this season. It won't necessarily last long, but coming off back-to-back performances of 36 minutes, Amundson offers double-double upside at a bargain-bin price. He's averaging a respectable 11.1 DK points over 14.5 minutes this season, and while I wouldn't quite expect him to match that per-minute production, a slight dip should be offset by the likelihood he plays 30-plus minutes. Of course, if Cole Aldrich (leg) and/or Amar'e Stoudemire (ankle) end(s) up playing, I'll likely audible to a mid-price option like Milwaukee's John Henson or Boston's Jared Sullinger.
Other options: Blake Griffin, LAC (Fri. at TOR, Sun. at OKC), $9400; Greg Monroe, DET (Fri. vs. DEN, Sun. vs. MIN), $8200; Jared Sullinger, BOS (Fri. vs. PHI, Sat. at MIL) $6500; Robert Covington, PHI (Fri. at BOS, Sat. vs. CHA), $5700; John Henson, MIL (Fri. at HOU, Sat. vs. BOS), $5600; LaMarcus Aldridge, POR (Sat. vs. DAL, Sun. at HOU)
Roy Hibbert, IND (Fri. vs. CLE, Sun. at CHA), $5500 – Hibbert has essentially been splitting minutes with Ian Mahinmi, who suffered a sprained right ankle during Wednesday's game against the Pistons. Hibbert ended up recording 42 DK points over 36 minutes in that game, and with Mahinmi already ruled out for Friday, Hibbert has a chance to approach 35 minutes again. While you obviously can't ever count on Hibbert to handle that kind of workload, the mere possibility that he will do so creates tremendous upside for this price tag. I'm a fan of the two-center lineup for Friday, with Hibbert and Nikola Vucevic the preferred duo.
Other options: Nikola Vucevic, ORL (Fri. vs. LAL, Sun. vs. CHI), $8100; Brook Lopez, BKN (Fri. vs. NY, Sat. at WAS) $6300; Mason Plumlee, BKN (Fri. vs. NY, Sat. at WAS), $5000; Rudy Gobert, UTA (Fri. at PHO, Sat. vs. SAC), $5000; Chris Andersen, MIA (Fri. at SA), $3000; Joakim Noah, CHI (Sat. at NO, Sun. at ORL)