EuroLeague Primer: Round 22 - Thursday

EuroLeague Primer: Round 22 - Thursday

This article is part of our EuroLeague Primer series.

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STATS AND INFO.

THE SLATE

FC Barcelona at UNICS Kazan

Status Check: Nikola Mirotic (BAR), Nick Calathes (BAR), Alex Abrines (BAR), Pierre Oriola (BAR), O.J. Mayo (UNK)

Best Bets for Success: The first full day of games in a long time begins with a bang, as first-place Barcelona heads to Russia to take on a UNICS amid a 10-3 run in EuroLeague play. One of those three losses came at the Palau Blaugrana less than a month ago, when the Spanish squad escaped with a 111-109 overtime victory. Thursday's matchup is not expected to be as high-scoring, but it is expected to be just as close, as both teams are favored on different websites, with the spread being no more than two points in either direction. Barcelona will be without its top player in Mirotic, but they are expected to get back Calathes, who has not played in two months. We normally advise avoiding players returning from injury, but at least on DraftKings, Calathes appears to be Barcelona's best fantasy option in Round 22. The point guard was seemingly ready to return Sunday, but Barcelona's domestic contest wound up being cancelled. Calathes was afforded a few more days to get back into playing shape, so chances are he will handle his regular role. He also checks in at just $8,400, so he is returning more value on average than any of the players near the top of the board. There's certainly risk involved with Calathes, but – particularly against a team that has only been average against opposing guards – there is a lot of upside too. It has been three weeks since UNICS played its last EuroLeague game, but they were able to shake off some rust in a domestic game Sunday. Lorenzo Brown and Mario Hezonja stuffed the stat sheet that day like they usually do, and as such, we will list them both here for Round 22. Only once did either player put up fewer than 24.5 DraftKings points over UNICS' last eight EuroLeague games, and both had big nights last time these teams met. Neither has a particularly inviting matchup, but note that Brown is returning more average value at his current price point.

DFS Darlings: With Mirotic sidelined and Calathes set to return, things will look quite a bit different on the Barcelona side than they have the last couple months. UNICS remains top-5 against players at the forward spots in five of the six counting stats and is limiting them to the lowest field goal percentage, so we will focus on the other positions. Up front, Brandon Davies seems most likely to capitalize on Mirotic's absence, and Sertac Sanli should as well. Cory Higgins handled a full workload his last time out, and with his backcourt mate back, he could be a bargain on DraftKings at just $7,100. UNICS' top-heavy roster does not leave much room for value, but with Barcelona a bit thin in the frontcourt, you could check out Tonye Jekiri, who put up at least 21.0 DraftKings points in each of his last five EuroLeague appearances.

AS Monaco at Zenit Saint Petersburg

Status Check: Donta Hall (ASM), Leo Westermann (ASM), Shabazz Napier (ZEN), Arturas Gudaitis (ZEN), Conner Frankamp (ZEN), Tyson Carter (ZEN) 

Best Bets for Success: The next game up features two streaking teams, with the visitors going 3-0 over their last three EuroLeague games and the home team riding a four-game winning streak. No player in the league is as hot as Mike James, with Monaco's star guard averaging 18.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 9.5 assists and 2.3 triples over his last six EuroLeague appearances. James is averaging the most fantasy points in the league and is also returning some of the most average value on DraftKings despite his lofty price tag, but he will have his work cut out for him Thursday, as Zenit limited him to eight points when these teams met last month and ranks top-3 against opposing guards in all of points, three-pointers and field goal attempts per game. Zenit has not played a EuroLeague game in three weeks, but they looked plenty spry Monday when they easily dispatched CSKA in a domestic contest. Their top option remains Jordan Loyd, who is leading his team in all of points, assists and steals. Loyd put a total of just 15 points on the board over his last two EuroLeague games, but he did hit the 20-point mark when these teams squared off in Round 16.

DFS Darlings: It's not clear if either Hall or Westermann will play Thursday, but considering both were unavailable just two days ago, it seems likely they will sit out. Another Hall absence would benefit Donatas Motiejunas, who has ripped off at least 20.0 DraftKings points in four straight appearances. James is the only Monaco guard producing consistently and Zenit is allowing both the fewest points and rebounds to opposing forwards, so there isn't a lot more to like on their side. On the other hand, the French team is allowing opposing frontcourt players – particularly centers – to do a lot of damage, so there will be some options to consider on their roster. We will start with Jordan Mickey, who has been inconsistent but has put up at least 24.3 DraftKings points on six occasions and could take on a bigger role with Gudaitis sidelined. Alex Poythress also deserves consideration having averaged 11.5 points and 5.3 rebounds during Zenit's winning streak, and you could justify a dart throw at a $3,300 Anton Pushkov. Last but not least, it appears neither Napier nor Frankamp will be available, so Billy Baron could be worth a look even at a season-high $8,200.

Zalgiris Kaunas at Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul

Status Check: Joffrey Lauvergne (ZAL), Janis Strelnieks (ZAL), Tai Webster (ZAL), Paulius Jankunas (ZAL), Arturas Milaknis (ZAL), Regimantas Miniotas (ZAL), Jan Vesely (FBB), Nando de Colo (FBB), Pierria Henry (FBB), Danilo Barthel (FBB), Marial Shayok (FBB)

Best Bets for Success: Most teams playing Thursday will only be down one key player or two, but not these squads. Fenerbahce in particular will be severely limited, as they will be without their top two producers and potentially their next-best option in Henry. With Henry questionable at best, Achille Polonara and Devin Booker look like the safest plays for the Turkish team in Round 22. Booker is a bit more affordable on DraftKings and is returning more value on average, but it's tough to look past the 19.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.5 threes Polonara averaged in the two EuroLeague games Fenerbahce has played since its two stars went down. We will switch teams but stick with the center spot, as Josh Nebo remains the man for Zalgiris. Nebo averaged 11.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks over his last five EuroLeague games and was the only player on his team to top the 20-point mark on DraftKings in each of Zalgiris' last two contests. Nebo is the player on his team most likely to produce, but it will not be easy for him to do so Thursday, as Fenerbahce ranks top-2 against players at the center spot in all of the points, rebounds, assists, blocks and FGA categories.

DFS Darlings: The spread in this game is a concern, as despite being down its top players Fenerbahce is still a double-digit favorite. However, the glut of absences will give several players on both teams added opportunities, most notably Dyshawn Pierre and Marko Guduric. Pierre hit the 30-point mark in each of his last two EuroLeague games and Guduric reached the 20-point threshold his last time out despite playing just 11 minutes. If Henry sits, Melih Mahmutoglu will also be in consideration at just $5,100. A Henry absence would also benefit Zalgiris' guards, as they would not have to contend with one of the best defenders in the league. Lukas Lekavicius will be an option either way, and Mantas Kalnietis also earns a mention after dropping a double-double last time these teams squared off. While the Turkish team has been stout against centers, they rank bottom-5 against forwards in all six counting stats, so Edgaras Ulanovas will at least have the matchup in his favor. 

Real Madrid at ALBA Berlin

Status Check: Edy Tavares (RMB), Rudy Fernandez (RMB), Tristan Vukcevic (RMB), Johannes Thiemann (BER), Malte Delow (BER), Jonas Mattisseck (BER)

Best Bets for Success: It is generally pretty easy to identify the top fantasy option for Real Madrid, as few players league-wide are as productive as Tavares. However, he will not play Thursday, so we will be forced to go a different direction in Round 22. Guerschon Yabusele and Vincent Poirier were the Spanish squad's top two producers in Round 21 with Tavares unavailable, and both will be in position to deliver again. Madrid's frontcourt is as loaded as ever, but that did not stop Yabusele from hitting the 30-point mark on DraftKings his last time out, and he has hit the 20-point mark 13 times this season. Poirier, meanwhile, will likely be his team's only active player at the center spot and has averaged 8.0 points, 12.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 blocks in the two EuroLeague games Tavares has missed this season. Like Tavares, you can pretty much pencil ALBA's Luke Sikma into this spot whenever he plays, and that will remain the case, particularly with "Sergeant Swat" not on hand to patrol the paint. Sikma has not scored 10 points in a EuroLeague game since mid-November, but he did average 8.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists over his last four appearances, and Calathes is the only player expected to play Thursday returning more average value. Just be wary of the matchup, as Madrid does rank top-2 against forwards in all three of the categories Sikma does best in.

DFS Darlings: Madrid is in the midst of a 10-1 stretch in EuroLeague play, and they got even better this week, bringing Gabriel Deck back into the fold. He is set to play Thursday, and while it's unclear what role he will fill, you could certainly gamble on him at $4,600, as he he may already be past the readjustment period. We don't suggest going overboard with players in the Spanish squad's frontcourt because there are only so minutes to split up, but you can also consider Trey Thompkins at $5,700. Thomas Heurtel is also worth a look, as no team is allowing guards to rack up more assists than ALBA. With Madrid putting the clamps on opposing forwards, it's to find too much else to like on the ALBA side. Tamir Blatt could be an option, though, and Ben Lammers could also take advantage of Tavares' absence on the opposite side.

Olympiacos Piraeus at Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv

Status Check: Shaq McKissic (OLY), Ante Zizic (MTA), Khyri Thomas (MTA)

Best Bets for Success: The last game on the docket features two of the most storied teams in the EuroLeague, and even though Olympiacos sits 10 spots higher in the standings, it is expected to be a battle. That was not the case last time around when the Greek team cruised to an easy victory, but Olympiacos is a different team on the road, and Maccabi will be in desperation mode after dropping eight straight EuroLeague games to close out 2021. They could also be rusty, as they have not played a game in nearly three weeks. As such, they will need a big night from their best player, Scottie Wilbekin. Olympiacos shut down Wilbekin last time these teams met, but he has been sizzling since, averaging 16.7 points, 2.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.6 steals and just a hair under 30.0 DraftKings points over his last seven EuroLeague appearances. Olympiacos has been getting steady production from all of Sasha Vezenkov, Tyler Dorsey and Kostas Sloukas, and it's tough to omit any of them in Round 22, particularly with all three coming through last time these teams squared off. Vezenkov scored at least 12 points in eight straight Rounds before having his streak snapped his last time out, Dorsey will face his former team and takes on a defense giving up the third-most points and threes to opposing guards, and Sloukas hit the 30-point mark on DraftKings three times over his last six appearances. 

DFS Darlings: While both McKissic and Zizic are listed as game-time decisions, it seems likely they will play, so both teams should essentially be at full strength. That limits the potential for value plays a bit, but you can consider Moustapha Fall, who dropped a double-double in the previous meeting and is as cheap on DraftKings as he has been since October. Thomas Walkup is also worth a look at a season-low $7,000. On the Maccabi side, it's unclear how things will shake out with Zizic back at full speed and James Nunnally back in the fold, but both Jalen Reynolds and Derrick Williams – neither more than $7,700 – can be considered.

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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