There is really only one solid play on this eight-game slate, and thatís Jordan Clarkson. When Clarkson plays a team named after a species of dinosaur, you really have no choice.
I couldnít resist that one. All kidding aside, the Cavaliers are solid plays against the Raptors, who are in the midst of a hellish stretch in which they are playing the second game of a road back-to-back, and their third game in four days. If there is any night to fire up LeBron James ($11,700) against a top-notch defense, itís in this contest.
Another team fighting like mad to stay relevant are the Clippers, and to say that the NBAís scheduling department was unkind to them would be an understatement. They face the exact same scheduling malaise as the Raptors, except they will be doing all of it on the road. The Timberwolves blitzed them on Tuesday, and now they have to play a rested Milwaukee Bucks team.
While itís not a must-win for the Clippers, itís pretty darn important, and the Bucks want to get as good of a playoff draw as possible. As the season winds down, you have to look at these pivotal moments as scoring opportunities, as players will reach into their reserve tanks and churn out some big numbers. For that reason, I think both the Bucks and the Clippers will give us solid value tonight. Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,100) is our second 10k-plus player and while I donít like him as much as LeBron, heíll show up big against the Clippers.
Then we have the Pelicans, who are in danger of dropping out of the playoff race entirely. They have the pleasure of playing three games in a row to offset the leaky-roof cancellation that happened earlier this season. The biggest injury designation to watch is the condition of Jrue Holiday, whose absence gave both Ian Clark and Rajon Rondo ($5,700) huge usage boosts. I like Rondo here at this price regardless of Holidayís status, and Clark would be a wise pivot only if Holiday doesnít show. The Pacers are thin at center currently so even though Anthony Davis ($11,500) is known to rest on stretches like this, itís do-or-die time for New Orleans. Heíll be on the floor and on a mission.
Speaking of must-wins, the Nuggets simply HAVE to beat Chicago, and if they donít, theyíre undeserving of a playoff spot. The team is packed with talent, and I think they will be working hard to win this one. I like every starter on this team here except for Paul Millsap and Wilson Chandler. They have both suffered cold streaks of late, especially since Gary Harris was sidelined with an injury. While that may not be the primary cause, there is definitely some kind of correlation there.
With so many games registering at Over/Unders in the 220 range, the only game Iím not keen on is the Wizards-Spurs matchup, which clocks in at a line of 206. As a result, this wonít be a night where I look at Bradley Beal or LaMarcus Aldridge despite their nightly potential.
Iíll now highlight three players at each position along with a small list at each spot that holds equal weight in my predictions. If Iíve given a salary designation to any player above, they are a favorable play and should also be considered.
Eric Bledsoe, MIL vs. LAC ($7,400): Over the past five games the Clippers rank 20th versus opposing point guards, and Bledsoe is averaging close to a double-double this month. While it would be nice to see scoring numbers more like the 23-points-per-game average he sported last season, heís ideally positioned against the Clippers, who are running tired and should be vulnerable in the backcourt.
Darren Collison, IND at NO ($5,500): Iíve targeted Collison in almost every game since his return and he hasnít disappointed, as his scoring and assist totals continue to trend upward. Collison gets a huge bump if Jrue Holiday is out, but this play mirrors the Bledsoe choice where we target a team with scheduling woes so I like him either way
Dwayne Bacon, CHA at BKN ($3,000): I aspire to give you a bargain-basement pick at every position, and Bacon is the top guard for me in that category. Heís enjoyed two straight games of decent output and had 24 DKFP against the Knicks two games ago. With Nicolas Batum likely out again Wednesday, Bacon should be with the second unit and has a chance to crush value at this price. Heís a good GPP option, but not a favorable cash play.
Other guards to consider: Jamal Murray, DEN at CHI ($7,100), DíAngelo Russell BKN at CHA ($6,900), Jordan Clarkson (how can I not?), CLE vs. TOR ($4,700)
Will Barton, DEN at CHI ($7,000): Iíll utilize Bartonís dual designation to spread out exposure to this game, as Barton has been excellent at the off-guard spot with Gary Harris currently sidelined. For Barton, itís simply a matter of heating up beyond the arc to make his stat line explode and unfortunately, heís been a little cold, but the Bulls are poor defenders at the perimeter. Barton should be able to get some open looks and drain more threes on Wednesday.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, BKN vs. CHA ($6,800): He lit up the Hornets for 45 DKFP in their last matchup and heís been on a roll this past week, averaging 20 points, nine rebounds and four assists over that span. Heís also exceeded projections in four straight games and has the ability to break 40 DKFP with the right matchup. The Hornets are perfect candidates.
Pascal Siakam, TOR at CLE ($3,700): Siakam comes in as my budget pick at this position for two reasons. He has matched up well against the Cavs this season and the Raptors will be leaning on their bench to survive their relentless schedule. If he can see 20 minutes or more, heís a virtual lock to see 20 DKFP, and heís surpassed that mark in four of his last 10 games. I wonít look to roster him in cash games, but heís a nice tournament option.
Other forwards to consider: Khris Middleton, MIL vs. LAC ($7,700) Bobby Portis, CHI vs. DEN ($6,700)
Nikola Jokic, DEN at CHI ($9,600): While heís no bargain, heís averaged 54.7 DKFP over the last five games and with the Nuggets in must-win territory, Jokic might be one of the best spend-up candidates you can find on Wednesday. I have a feeling that the sexier picks in the 10K range will leave Jokic with lower ownership, and he could easily give you a leg up on the field with an explosive game. I will likely be stacking a lot of Nuggets in some lineups, with a Murray/Jokic combo as my favorite play. If I shove LeBron in there and go budget elsewhere, Iím a happy camper.
DeAndre Jordan, LAC at MIL ($7,600): The Clippers are on the ropes but Jordan matches up well against Milwaukeeís undersized frontcourt If the playoffs arenít enough motivation, every game Jordan plays is an audition for another team, which seems likely when free agency frenzy rolls around. Heís an almost-nightly lock for a double-double, and Iíd expect another one against the Bucks.
Cheick Diallo, NO vs. IND ($3,500): I rode Dailloís double-double to a big GPP cash on Tuesday, and with the Pelicans fatigued I see them putting Daillo in there again to spell the frontcourt when needed. I may be a tad too superstitious to play him again, but thereís absolutely no reason why you canít take advantage of this value pick.
Other centers to consider: Kevin Love, CLE vs. TOR ($6,400), Enes Kanter, NY at MIA ($6,100)