We’ve got a solid eight-game ledger on tap Wednesday, with no shortage of playoff-relevant matchups. The likes of Pacers-Pelicans, Raptors-Cavs, Clippers-Bucks and Wizards-Spurs should feature plenty of urgency from each squad, and even games like the Nuggets-Bulls and Hornets-Nets – which only have one squad in the postseason conversation – still have robust projected totals. That sets up a plethora of lineup options at each price tier, which we’ll get right to the business of exploring:
Kemba Walker, CHA at BKN ($15,700): The Hornets continue to hold on to a sliver of postseason hope, so Walker should be going all out in what will represent an up-in-pace game for the Hornets against a defensively inept squad. Walker has already averaged 26.0 points (on 57.6 percent shooting), 6.5 assists and 2.0 steals across 33.0 minutes in two games against Brooklyn this season, and they continue to bleed fantasy production to point guards across the league, allowing the second-most fantasy points to the position over the last 10 (60.9) and last five (67.8). Walker is also coming off a 50.00 fantasy-point tally versus the Sixers on Monday -- a game that he played without backcourt mate Nicolas Batum (Achilles). With Batum listed as doubtful for Wednesday’s tilt, Walker’s 26.4 percent usage rate and average of 1.09 fantasy points per minute with his teammate off the floor also become important numbers to hone in on.
Will Barton, DEN at CHI ($13,100): Gary Harris is already ruled out for Wednesday’s contest with his knee injury, affording Barton starting two-guard duties once again. The veteran wing produced 45.00 fantasy points in Monday’s double-overtime thriller against the Heat, and he’s demonstrated upside north of 40 fantasy points in numerous other starting opportunities this season as well. The matchup lines up particularly well for him Wednesday, as the Bulls have allowed 55.5 fantasy points to shooting guards over the last five and also rank next-to-last in defensive efficiency against the position on the season (23.3 offensive efficiency rating allowed). Barton is also a strong rebounder any time he’s on the floor, so it’s worth noting that Chicago comes in with the worst team shooting percentage (43.7) on the season, which should afford him a robust amount of opportunities on the boards to round out his production with. Finally, the fact that Barton touched up this same squad for 37 points (on 68.4 percent shooting) three assists, two rebounds and three steals across 35 minutes in his one prior meeting with them only serves to further his formidable case.
Antonio Blakeney, CHI vs. DEN ($7,600): Blakeney has come on over the last five games, scoring over 20 fantasy points in two of those contests and no fewer than 15.25 in any game during the sample overall. He’s seen over 20 minutes in four of those games as well, and with Kris Dunn (foot) already ruled out and Zach LaVine (knee) likely headed for the same fate Wednesday, Blakeney should be in for a similar workload. He’s been less than efficient with his shot thus far (36.0 percent success rate over the aforementioned five-game sample), so even a slight uptick would likely lead to even better overall production. With the game also having a robust 220 projected point total and the Nuggets less stout against two-guards with Gary Harris (knee) out of the lineup, Blakeney stands a solid chance of offering a strong return on a very reasonable price.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL vs. LAC ($19,800): Antetokounmpo went toe-to-toe with LeBron James on Monday, scoring 60.75 fantasy points on the strength of a 37-point, 11-rebound double-double. It represented the third straight contest in which the Greek Freak eclipsed the 60-mark -- a glimpse at what his ceiling can be as Milwaukee continues to push for a postseason spot. He’s likely to see sky-high usage again Wednesday in another pivotal matchup against a Clippers squad that’s allowed 46.7 fantasy points to power forwards over the last five, a sharp increase over their 38.7 season figure. Interestingly, they’re also tied with several other teams for the second-most points in the paint allowed over the last three (53.3), a near 10-point increase over their 43.9 season number and potentially relevant stat when considering Antetokounmpo, as he logs 16.0 points per game (58.3 percent of his total scoring) in that area of the floor.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, BKN vs. CHA ($12,600): Hollis-Jefferson has hit his stride after an extended layoff due to a groin injury, as he’s now scored 33.25 to 45.50 fantasy points in five of the last six, impressively hitting the high end of that range twice during the sample, with one of those games notably coming against the Hornets on March 8. There’s a trio of double-doubles within that stretch as well -- unsurprising given that RHJ is capable of stuffing the stat sheet on any given night. Charlotte remains vulnerable to power forwards – perhaps currently more so than at any point in the season – as they’ve allowed the third-most fantasy points (65.8) to the position over the last five. They’re also yielding the second-most rebounds (17.8) to fours during that span, which could certainly spell trouble against a proficient glass cleaner like Hollis-Jefferson. The combination of two top-10 paces (Brooklyn: 102.6 possessions per game/ Charlotte: 101.7 possessions per game) only serves to bolster RHJ’s case further at a price that he’s often outpaced recently.
Ante Zizic, CLE vs. TOR ($7,300): Larry Nance (hamstring) will remain out Wednesday, which should once again open up some decent minutes for Zizic off the bench. He’s parlayed such opportunities into a pair of 22.50 fantasy-point tallies over the last two games -- contests in which he saw 20 and 16 minutes, respectively. He also produced 27.25 and 18.00 in two other contests over the last five while seeing minutes in the teens as well, so he comes in with a solid recent track record of efficiency with that type of workload. Meanwhile, the Raptors come in allowing the third-most fantasy points (48.5) to centers over the last 10, including 49.4 over the last five, and are tied with multiple teams for second-most points in the paint allowed over the last three contests (53.3). That latter figure is at least worth noting, considering 84.7 percent of Zizic’s scoring originates in that area of the floor.
Nikola Jokic, DEN at CHI ($17,400): Jokic eviscerated the Heat in Monday’s double-overtime loss to the tune of 60.25 fantasy points on the strength of a 34-point, 15-rebound double-double. Things could get equally ugly for the Bulls, considering they’ve allowed the second-most fantasy points to centers on the season (38.3), including the second-most over the last 10 (50.1). As those rankings imply, they check in allowing bottom-five or bottom-10 figures in multiple categories to the position over both spans. They also check in allowing the seventh-highest offensive efficiency rating (31.2) to fives on the campaign. Jokic has also scored over 60 fantasy points on two other occasions and eclipsed 50 in another instance during the last seven games -- a glimpse at a massive upside that should once again be on display in a game with a 220 projected point total.
Victor Oladipo, IND at NO ($14,900): Oladipo and the Pelicans’ shoddy two-guard defense project as a match made in fantasy heaven, especially with the Pacers still looking to improve playoff positioning. New Orleans has allowed the most fantasy points to two-guards on the season (45.2), including 52.5 over the last five, as well as the fourth-highest offensive efficiency rating (22.8) to the position on the campaign. They’re also yielding the seventh-highest percentage of scoring from three-pointers (33.9) over the last three, while Oladipo is taking a career-high 5.8 three-point attempts this season while draining them at a career-best 36.6 percent clip. A bit of a downturn recently (26.50 to 33.50 fantasy points in the last four) has led to a price drop, making it an opportune time to jump on him against the second-fastest-paced team in the NBA (104.8 possessions per game).