The NBA kicks off Thanksgiving week with a big 11-game slate that features the likes of Russell Westbrook, DeMarcus Cousins and LeBron James in action. With plenty of shiny high-dollar options to consider, let’s break down who’s worth the investment and which mid-tier and value plays can help you round out your lineups.
Russell Westbrook, OKC at NO ($21,500): Considering the impossibly high standard that he’s set over the last few years, Westbrook has undoubtedly disappointed many who’ve rostered him early this season and expected 70 fantasy points from him with regularity. However, he’s still averaging an impressive 48.48 fantasy points per contest, and with the Thunder needing to get things turned around, he could start to take matters into his own hands beginning with a favorable matchup Monday. The Pelicans had been relatively tough on ones early on when Jrue Holiday was manning the point, but the defensively challenged Rajon Rondo is seeing an increasing number of minutes at that spot now. Some cracks have already started to show, as New Orleans is allowing 52.8 fantasy points per game to point guards over their last five, a bump of more than five fantasy points over their season average. Westbrook still sports a team-high 31.7 percent usage rate and averages 1.37 fantasy points per minute, so the potential for an explosion is as present as ever.
Kyrie Irving, BOS at DAL ($15,900): Kemba Walker ($16,400) is an interesting mid-tier alternative as well if you have a few hundred dollars extra at your disposal, but Irving continues to be priced reasonably for a player of his upside. He’s scored between 35.25 and 45.00 fantasy points in the three games since he returned from his facial injury and draws a matchup Monday with a Mavericks squad that’s allowed the fourth most fantasy points (51.6), third most points (25.1) and fifth most made three-pointers (2.6) per game to point guards.
Danny Green, SA vs. ATL ($8,800): If John Wall is forced to sit out another game for the Wizards on Monday, Tim Frazier ($6,600) also presents as a very viable value option. However, Green is in a nice spot in his own right, considering the Hawks have allowed shooting guards to bombard them all season, especially from three-point range. Atlanta has surrendered 54.1 fantasy points per game to twos, along with the third most made three-pointers (4.4) to the position. Green is coming off a season-high 44.50 fantasy points against the Thunder on Friday and has eclipsed 30 fantasy points on four other occasions this season, so the tournament upside is certainly there, especially at his price.
LeBron James, CLE at DET ($20,600): Following totals of 58.25, 57.00 and 68.00 fantasy points over his last three games, James is averaging 56.00 fantasy points per contest on the season, making him a solid value even at his current price. His matchup Monday could lead to one of his more explosive totals, as the Pistons check in allowing 62.3 fantasy points per game to small forwards over their last five, third highest over that span and more than 21 points over their season average. James boasts a 30.0 percent usage rate and is averaging 1.36 fantasy points per minute during the Cavs’ current four-game winning streak, and he’ll be well-rested Monday after last having taken the court Friday.
Nikola Jokic, DEN at SAC ($16,800): Jokic surely drew the ire of many on Sunday with a second-quarter ejection, which left him with a final tally of just six points, six rebounds, one assist and one steal over 12 minutes. That alone could give him a lower ownership rate than usual Monday, which makes him particularly appealing in a matchup against a Kings squad that’s allowed the third most fantasy points per game to centers on the season (43.1) and over the last 10 (45.0). Sacramento has also allowed the most rebounds (14.0) and highest shooting percentage (57.0) to the position, while Jokic checks in averaging a career-high 11.3 rebounds and shooting a career-best 41.5 percent from behind the arc.
Nikola Vucevic, ORL vs. IND ($13,400): Vucevic’s fantasy production has undeniably gone through its share of fluctuations, but he’ll be in a position for one of his better outings Monday. Myles Turner continues to have a difficult time consistently defending opposing big men, especially in recent contests. The Pacers have allowed the fourth most fantasy points (46.8) to centers over their last five games, more than seven fantasy points per game over their season average of 39.2. Vucevic had a rough go of it last time out against the Jazz, but he’d scored between 30.00 and 42.75 fantasy points in five of his prior six games, providing a glimpse at his upside.
Bradley Beal, WAS at MIL ($14,700): Beal is an appealing play overall, but becomes especially valuable if Wall (knee) is forced to miss a second straight game. The Bucks have been a bit more vulnerable than usual to two-guards recently, with the 49.7 fantasy points per contest they’ve surrendered to the position over the last 10 representing a nearly four-point rise over their season average of 45.8. They’re also allowing 4.1 made three-pointers and a 45.0 percent success rate from the field overall to the position, with both figures ranking them in the bottom 10. Beal has scored less than 30 fantasy points in only two games and boasts a mammoth 36.6 percent usage rate with Wall off the floor this season.
Khris Middleton, MIL vs. WAS ($12,200): Middleton brings 50 fantasy point upside and faces a Wizards team that’s allowed the sixth most fantasy points (44.6) to small forwards on the season, along with the third most points (25.4) and fifth highest shooting percentage (46.0) to the position. Despite Giannis Antetokounmpo serving as the clear-cut focal point of the Bucks offense, Middleton is still sporting a solid 23.5 percent usage rate and averaging career highs in points (18.9), rebounds (5.5), assists (4.8), shot attempts (16.2) and three-point shot attempts (4.9).