EuroLeague Primer: Round 21 - Thursday

EuroLeague Primer: Round 21 - Thursday

This article is part of our EuroLeague Primer series.

PREGAME UPDATES

STATS AND INFO.

THE SLATE

Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade at Zalgiris Kaunas

Per an official announcement from the EuroLeague, "The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 21 game Zalgiris Kaunas vs. Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade, originally scheduled to be played on Thursday, January 13, has been suspended. Zvezda requested the suspension after several team members tested positive for COVID-19, which leaves the team without the minimum eight players on the Authorization List fit to play."

Zenit Saint Petersburg at Olympiacos Piraeus

Per an official announcement from the EuroLeague, "The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 21 game Olympiacos Piraeus vs. Zenit St Petersburg, originally scheduled to be played on Thursday, January 13, has been suspended. Zenit requested the suspension after several team members tested positive for COVID-19, which leaves the team without the minimum eight players on the Authorization List fit to play."

AS Monaco at FC Bayern Munich

Status Check: Jerry Boutsiele (ASM), Darrun Hilliard (BAY), Paul Zipser (BAY), Nihad Djedovic (BAY), Gavin Schilling (BAY)

Best Bets for Success: Just two of the five games originally set to be played Thursday will go off as planned, and the first one features two teams needing a win to remain in striking range of a playoff spot. Both squads got the job done their last time out, and the oddsmakers are expecting both to bring their best again Thursday, as the home team is favored by only a few points – even with the French team winning by 23 points last time these teams met. Monaco has not played a EuroLeague game in a couple weeks, but they did play a domestic game Sunday, so they won't be coming in cold. They will be led by Mike James, who himself comes in hot, having averaged a sizzling 16.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 11.0 assists and 1.3 threes over his last four EuroLeague appearances. James is the priciest player on Thursday's DraftKings slate, but he is also returning some of the most average value on the board. Bayern – who knocked off Zalgiris on Tuesday – will no doubt be fired up for this one, and they will lean on their leader, Vladimir Lucic. He too comes in on a roll, having averaged 14.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.0 threes in six EuroLeague games since the start of December. Lucic – $500 cheaper on DraftKings than he was earlier this week – will be in position to keep the momentum going, as he will take on a Monaco team ceding the most points and the second most rebounds to players at the frontcourt positions. 

DFS Darlings: Given Monaco's issues with forwards and centers, Lucic won't be the only member of Bayern's frontcourt to look at. Deshaun Thomas checks in at an affordable $7,700 on DraftKings, and he brings plenty of upside to the table, having topped the 20-point mark on that website seven times this season. Othello Hunter is interesting at $8,300, and Leon Radosevic could be worth a dart throw at $3,600, as no team has fared worse against centers than Monaco. It's unclear how the rotation will shake out for the French squad, as three guards who did not play in their last EuroLeague game will be available Thursday. However, Leo Westermann and Donta Hall definitely deserve consideration, as at their current price points they are returning far more average value than anyone else on the board. Bayern ranks top-5 against forwards in four of the six counting stats, so by process of elimination Donatas Motiejunas and a couple other inexpensive Monaco guards also carry some appeal. The over/under in the second game of the day is a few points higher than this one, but this contest is expected to be pretty high-scoring as well, so there's no need to avoid it.

UNICS Kazan at AX Armani Exchange Milan

Per an official announcement from the EuroLeague, "The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 21 game AX Armani Exchange Milan vs. UNICS Kazan, originally scheduled to be played on Thursday, January 13, has been suspended. UNICS requested the suspension after several team members tested positive for COVID-19, which leaves the team without the minimum eight players on the Authorization List fit to play."

Anadolu Efes Istanbul at FC Barcelona

Status Check: Vasilije Micic (EFS), Krunoslav Simon (EFS), Egemen Guven (EFS), Dogus Balbay (EFS), Nick Calathes (BAR), Dante Exum (BAR), Alex Abrines (BAR), Pierre Oriola (BAR), Michael Caicedo (BAR), Gael Bonilla (BAR)

Best Bets for Success: There will be no shortage of intrigue in this contest, as it will be a rematch of last year's Final and pits teams that sit first and in the all-important eighth spot in this season's standings. It will also feature a player who likely would have an MVP award if not for the pandemic, the player named MVP last season and the player who is the favorite to take home the trophy next time it is handed out. If that's not enough, it also includes the two highest-scoring teams in the league and only a five-point spread. The only cause for concern in that regard is rust, as due to a COVID-19 outbreak the defending champions have not taken the court since 2021. It's not clear who will play and who will not for Efes, but when we last saw the Turkish team they were being carried by Shane Larkin, who sure looked a lot like the guy who was the best player in the league two seasons ago. Over his previous seven EuroLeague appearances Larkin averaged 17.7 points, 4.1 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 2.6 threes – good for a whopping 34.9 DraftKings points per game. Assuming Micic is available, the reigning MVP is also a pretty intriguing option, as he averaged 25.7 points over his last three matchups with Barcelona and has seen his price drop below $10,000 on DraftKings. Barcelona has been pretty tough on guards, but they are also allowing them to get up more shots than any other team, so both Larkin and Micic could come through. Neither of those players will be as appealing as the frontrunner for this season's MVP award, though, as Nikola Mirotic will take on an Efes team that ranks bottom-2 against forwards in both points and rebounds. Even on a slow night Mirotic put up 26.3 DraftKings points his last time out, and he stacked up all kinds of stats when these teams squared off in Round 13. Plus, he's returning the most average value among the upper-end options on the board.

DFS Darlings: The over/under on this game suggests both teams will do plenty of scoring, which bodes well for bargains. Given how Efes is faring against forwards and the fact they are allowing the most three-pointers in the league, things shape up nicely for Kyle Kuric, even if he checks in nearly $1,000 more expensive than he has at any point this season. Cory Higgins remains in play at a meager $6,900, and Sertac Sanli – just $7,200 – is a good bet after putting up a season-high 33.3 DraftKings points last time he saw his former team. There's certainly a degree of uncertainty on the Efes side, but Tibor Pleiss can't be overlooked at $7,800 – over $1,000 cheaper than he checked in at in Efes' last EuroLeague game. If Simon plays, he is worth considering at just $7,100. If this game is as close as anticipated rotations could be short, so when considering value plays, you may not want to look too far down the list.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Kevin O'Brien plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: kevob100, DraftKings: kevob100.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kevin O'Brien
Kevin mans the Packers and Brewers beats and moonlights as RotoWire's Director of Operations.
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