To put it bluntly, Fridayís six-game slate is going to be a bit frustrating. Due to injury ramifications, weíre going to be forced to wait until later in the day to see what develops in certain key situations if we want to really compete. The quandaries involve the only 10K-plus players on the slate. Here are the question marks:
Kevin Durant: Heís listed as questionable, and due to an unimportant game against the Kings it wouldnít surprise me if Steve Kerr decided to give him the day off. If that happens, weíre looking at a Warriors team that will take the court without Durant, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. We will see Draymond Green back, but there are still a myriad of options on the Golden State bench that could turn out to be nice value plays. Nick Young ($4,000) is my favorite replacement play here, and if Durant sits the floodgates open to include Omri Casspi ($4,200), Andre Iguodala ($4,400) and Kevon Looney ($3,400) as guys that could make an impact. Youíll have to wait and see on these guys to be sure, though (aside from Young, who will definitely start for Klay Thompson).
OKCís Big Four: Paul George is listed as questionable but I believe he will play tonight as the Thunder really need to hustle to keep a hold of their playoff position. I think heíll get some minutes but may be slightly limited. Steven Adamsí situation is a little murkier. Russell Westbrook ($11,600) emerges as a good spend-up option as he sees a usage bump (as if it could get any higher) and if George and/or Adams miss tonight, you have to give Carmelo Anthony ($5,900) a little more attention than you normally would.
If you want to avoid injury questions altogether, there are plenty of other places to look. The Nets-Sixers game stands out as a matchup that contains a lot of top-flite options, and though he doesnít eclipse 10K, I have to give Joel Embiid ($9,500) a special nod as he sets up to be an auto-add against the Nets, who may be without Jarrett Allen. He underperformed a bit with 39 DKFP when they last met, but the potential for absolute dominance is there.
Bostonís situation remains in flux as Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart remain out, but Al Horford may return. Terry Rozier showed he was worth the salary bump, but now heís jumped to 8K and I think thatís too high. The player who really showed up in this mess was Marcus Morris ($5,900), and I like his chances at this price against Orlando.
Another intriguing game is the Mavericks-Raptors (O/U: 213) matchup. This game has blowout written all over it, and as a result I think it will marginalize Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan to a degree. It might be a good night for Torontoís bench, however. Bench guys like Fred VanVleet ($4,600), C.J. Miles ($3,700) and Pascal Siakam ($3,700) are all possible value impact players, but they shouldnít be considered unless you need go low.
If Iíve given any of the above players a salary designation, they are worth consideration when constructing your lineups. With those players in mind, Iíll now highlight three players at each position, and Iíll endeavor to find a buy-low value pick at each spot.
Lou Williams, LAL at OKC ($7,400): Ben Simmons was a tempting first call but a look at his average history against the Nets pulled me off of him. The Clippers are making the big push for playoff relevancy and Lou is someone who knows how to make that happen, as heís been there many times before. Heís one of those special talents who knows how to find the basket nightly, and heís had a good amount of success against the Thunder this year.
Jonathon Simmons, ORL vs. BOS ($6,100): The Magic have nothing to play for but if they know whatís good for them, they should include Simmons in their future plans. The third-year hybrid guard/forward has put together some nice stat lines with Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier out, and itís reasonable to assume heíll see a lot of minutes until seasonís end. His floor is a bit volatile but the upside is tremendous. My only knock here is if Gordon or Fournier suit up, heíll be somewhat marginalized.
Wayne Ellington, MIA at LAL ($4,400): Ellington has now seen 30 or more minutes in his past three games and thereís now ample evidence to support a play for the three-point threat. The Heat are fighting to stay in the playoff hunt and theyíll happily ride the hot hand. If Ellington gets going early weíll see a lot of him on Friday.
Other guards to consider: DíAngelo Russell, BKN at PHI ($6,500); DeíAaron Fox, SAC at GS ($5,400)
Dario Saric, PHI vs. BKN ($6,300): Saric has been a consistent presence alongside Joel Embiid and heís done a lot more than just pick up the scraps. With Allen Crabbe potentially out the Nets are going to susceptible at the wing. Look for Saric to implement some of his excellent perimeter play and drain a few threes for good measure.
Jayson Tatum, BOS at ORL ($6,200): Itís a bellwether moment for Tatum, as it will be interesting to see how he responds after blowing two chances to win their last game against the Wizards. The youngster is now given every opportunity to succeed with the litany of injuries around him Ė itís now just a question of whether he can capitalize or not.
Caris LeVert, BKN at PHI ($5,000): With Allen Crabbe potentially out, I look for LeVert to see a bump and crush value at this price. There will be more focus on DeMarre Carroll so DíAngelo Russell should find a few ways to get the ball to LeVert against the Sixers, who can be hit or miss defensively against the wing.
Other forwards to consider: Draymond Green, GS vs. SAC ($8,600); Tobias Harris, LAC at OKC ($7,300); Serge Ibaka, TOR vs. DAL ($5,300)
Julius Randle, LAL vs. MIA ($8,200): Hassan Whiteside is out again on Friday, which opens up the door for Randle to tear things up inside early and often. Even though the Lakers are out of the playoff picture they are playing excellent ball when everythingís clicking. Look for the Lakers to attack the Heat where theyíre soft and make Miamiís playoff march a bit tougher.
DeAndre Jordan, LAC at OKC: ($7,500): If Steven Adams is out, pull the trigger here without a second thought. In fact, even if both Paul George and Adams suit up, they wonít be at full strength, so heís still a solid play. The Clippers will be fighting tooth and nail as this matchup has playoff implications for both teams. Jordan should snag enough rebounds to be relevant.
Bam Adebayo, MIA vs. LAL ($4,900): Even though I think LA will win the war inside in this one, Adebayo will start for Whiteside and heís actually averaged around 30 DKFP against the Lakers this year, while Kelly Olynyk hasnít fared as well. Bam wonít need to do much to reach value here.
To conclude, I think itís important to note that on nights like these where there is a lot of value that you donít OVERvalue your rosters. Cheap picks have their place, but they are recommended so you can spend up elsewhere. When you go low, always consider what you need at a higher price and justify your decision before you click, and gauge the risk/reward implications of the guy youíre targeting.
If youíre playing this slate itís obvious that you need to keep your ear to the ground for some late developments, and RotoWire will have all of them ready for you to digest in our Daily NBA section!