Defense To Avoid
Detroit Pistons, vs. Los Angeles Lakers: While the Spurs and Jazz are also in action Wednesday, I give a slight edge to the Pistons at home against a Lakers squad that sports a bottom-10 shooting percentage (44.4) overall, and a 43.1 percent figure on the road. The Pistons have been stingy all season as well, giving up the fifth-least points per game (101.9) and already having held this same Lakers squad to 97 points on the road in their one previous meeting this season.
Offense To Use
Washington Wizards, at Brooklyn Nets: The Warriors are always in play for this designation any time they’re on the slate, but the Wizards are in a prime position to have their way with a Nets team that’s dropped 10 straight games and will be on the second night of a back-to-back. Brooklyn gives up the most points per game (114.1) in the league, while also surrendering a robust 46.2 percent success rate from the field. They also continue to be the most turnover-prone team in the league with 16.5 per game, setting up opposing squads with plenty of fast-break opportunities. The Wizards have been running hot on offense as well, having scored between 112 and 135 points in five of their last seven contests.
Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Sixers, Cavaliers, Jazz, Celtics
Second game of a back-to-back: Nets
Kyle Lowry, TOR at MIN ($8,200): With four guards priced in five figures Wednesday, Lowry presents as a viable alternative at a significant discount. Even with DeMar DeRozan back in the lineup Monday night, Lowry still scored a solid 42.5 fantasy points against the Clippers. The Timberwolves give up 54.5 fantasy points per game to point guards, and they’re also tied with several other teams in surrendering the fourth-most assists (9.0) to the position, along with the third-most steals (2.1). In what should be a competitive game, Lowry could be in prime position to provide a robust stat line.
Tim Hardaway, Jr. ATL at DEN ($5,700): Bradley Beal ($7,100), Jeff Teague ($7,100), George Hill ($6,100) and Dennis Schroder ($6,000) are also viable options for those who wish to pay up a bit, but Hardaway checks in a strong value play despite having seen a notable bump in price after scoring 47.25 and 35.25 fantasy points back-to-back games last week. While he came back down to earth a bit with 23.25 fantasy points Monday, that effort came against the stingiest defense in the league in the Jazz. The matchup he draws Wednesday is the polar opposite, as the Nuggets have given up the most fantasy points (47.2), points (24.3) and assists (5.0) to shooting guards, along with the second-highest field-goal percentage (46.1).
Jaylen Brown, BOS at SAC ($3,800): Jamal Murray ($4,000), Joe Ingles ($4,000), Vince Carter ($3,900), Ish Smith ($3,700) and Kelly Oubre, Jr. ($3,700) are also all in good spots Wednesday and make for viable plays at this tier as well. Meanwhile, Brown will draw another start at two-guard for Avery Bradley (Achilles) and will face off against a Kings defense that’s given up the second-most fantasy points (48.7) to shooting guards over the last five games and fourth-most (43.9) on the season. They’ve also surrendered the second-most points (23.5), most three-pointers (3.5) to the position, furthering Brown’s case as a sneaky value play Wednesday.
Blake Griffin, LAC at NY ($9,300): Griffin checks in at a notable discount over the likes of LeBron James ($10,600) and Giannis Antetokounmpo ($10,200), and has been offering a robust ceiling himself lately. He’s scored between 50.0 and 62.75 fantasy points in three of his last four games, with the high end of that range having come on the strength of a triple-double against the Raptors on Monday night. The Knicks have been particularly vulnerable to power forwards lately, giving up the sixth-most fantasy points (51.4) over the last five games to the position, and the third-most points (21.0) on the season.
Otto Porter, Jr., WAS at BKN ($6,300): Other appealing options at this level include LaMarcus Aldridge ($7,100), Wilson Chandler ($6,600), Markieff Morris ($6,600), Jae Crowder ($6,400) and Marcus Morris ($6,000). However, Porter may have the best matchup overall, considering the Nets will be on the second night of a back-to-back and have surrendered the most fantasy points (48.0) and points (23.0) to small forwards, along with the second-most rebounds (8.8) and third-highest field-goal percentage (47.2). Porter has scored 28.5 to 48.75 fantasy points in five of his last six, is averaging 30.5 fantasy points on the road this season, in addition to 29.3 fantasy points over his two previous encounters with the Nets this season.
Kelly Olynyk, BOS at SAC ($3,700): Anthony Tolliver ($4,000) also makes for an interesting option in this same game if he draws the start at the four for the suspended DeMarcus Cousins, but Olynyk is even a bit cheaper and has averaged 22.4 fantasy points across 23.4 minutes over the last four games. He packs plenty of upside at his current price if he gets the minutes, as evidenced most recently by two games in the last 10 when he’s eclipsed the 30-fantasy point mark. He remains aggressive when on the court, with a solid 19.8 percent usage rate over the last month, giving him a good chance to provide solid returns on his bargain price.
Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN vs. TOR ($9,800): Towns has eclipsed 50 fantasy points in five of his last 10 and has crossed the 60-mark on three occasions over that span, as well. Those returns are worthy of a five-figure salary, yet Towns checks in under that figure and with a solid matchup against a Raptors squad that ranks in the bottom-10 in points (21.2) allowed to centers. Towns also sports a 27.8 percent usage rate this season with Zach LaVine (knee) off the floor, adding to his appeal Wednesday in what should be a high-scoring, competitive affair.
Rudy Gobert, UTA at NO ($6,900): Gobert should be able to clean up on the glass against a Pelicans squad that’s been abundantly generous to centers his season. They’ve surrendered far and away the most rebounds (17.1) to the position, along with the fifth-most fantasy points (51.7) and second-most assists (3.4). Gobert has scored between 32.75 and 66.25 fantasy points in nine of the last 10 contests, with the possibility of another performance within that range very much in play Wednesday, given the circumstances.
Willie Cauley-Stein, SAC vs. BOS ($3,500): Cauley-Stein has been a bit hard to get a beat on for fantasy purposes, as he’s been over 20 fantasy points in five of the last 10 games, but has also scored 6.25 to 12.0 fantasy points in four other contests during that span. However, with DeMarcus Cousins (suspension) out for Wednesday’s matchup, Cauley-Stein should see some extra run, and he’s already sporting a 20.0 percent usage rate with Cousins off the floor this season. He averages a fantasy point per minute this season when playing without Cousins, Garrett Temple, Rudy Gay and Omri Casspi.
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