Easy Breezy: Chalk Stack
The Miami Heat have been playing at an above average pace this season, ranking 10th in the NBA in pace through 19 games. They’ll still see an uptick tonight, though, as they get a matchup against the Atlanta Hawks, who have been playing at the fastest pace in the league this season. Miami has struggled quite a bit offensively this season, though, ranking only 25th in the NBA in offensive rating thus far. This is a plus matchup, though, as Atlanta only ranks 23rd in the league in defensive rating. The Heat are -8 point favorites in a game set at 223.5 points, and they feature an implied total of 115.8 points tonight.
Wayne Ellington is expected to draw the start at point guard with Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson injured. Surprisingly, Ellington only played 23 minutes in his last start, but he topped 30 minutes in each of his three prior to that. In those three games, he averaged 12.0 points, 1.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.3 blocks (24.3 DK points) in 35.0 minutes per game. He isn’t an elite talent, but it’s a short slate, and his low price tag and expected minutes are enough to garner some ownership. James Johnson is another cheap option, who can take advantage of this matchup. He’s an athletic big man that will benefit from the pace. He has struggled since returning from injury this season, averaging only 12.8 DK points in 21.0 minutes per game. In his career, though, he’s averaging 13.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.6 blocks on a per-36 minute basis. He has been in the midst of one of his worst seasons in the NBA, and it’s only a matter of time before he gets back on track. Josh Richardson is the final part of the stack, as he’s more of the “name brand” type of player for the Heat. Through 19 games, he’s averaging 20.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.1 steal (34.2 DK points) in 34.5 minutes per game. He dominated the Hawks in their only matchup, as well, posting a 32/1/3/1/2 line in 37.5 minutes. Hassan Whiteside and Rodney McGruder will also feature some ownership because of the small size of the slate, but I’m siding with the three players listed above.
Wildcard GPP: Low Owned Stack
Surprisingly, the Denver Nuggets have been slowing down the pace in games this season, ranking only 26th in the NBA in pace in 2018. They get a matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers, who currently rank fourth in the league in pace. Los Angeles has featured an above average defense, ranking 10th in the league in defensive rating through 19 games. With that being said, Denver ranks eighth in the NBA in offensive rating, and can still take advantage of this matchup. The Nuggets are -3.5 point favorites in a game set at 218.5 points, giving them an implied total of 111 points.
The Nuggets feature a few players that will command ownership tonight, but we’re going to use the guys that could go overlooked in this stack. Jamal Murray has been heating up once again, as he’s averaging 18.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 1.0 block (38.8 DK points) in 37.8 minutes per game. He also posted 40.5 DK points in his only matchup against the Lakers this season. Trey Lyles has posted the second highest usage rating for Denver on the season, recording a 24.5% usage rating in 2018. He has played 20 and 18 minutes in his last two games, scoring 23 and 26 DK points. On the season, he’s averaging 1.0 DK point per minute, and he should see around 20 minutes tonight. He’s expected to command extremely low ownership, and he possesses 30+ DK point upside. Lyles comes with terrible risk, but his upside is undeniable for his low price tag, and he makes a great leverage option in tournaments. Juan Hernangomez fills out the stack. He’s coming off of a great game, scoring 32 DK points in 35 minutes against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He has played 29+ minutes in each of his last eight games, scoring 40+ DK points in two of them. He’s a player that is seemingly going overlooked on a nightly basis, but he comes with tremendous upside each night. His price tag remains a bit low because of his inconsistencies, but he adds a plethora of value to a Denver stack on a small slate.
Hidden Gem: Value Guard
Morris has been a breakout player for the Denver Nuggets in 2018. Through 20 games, he’s averaging 8.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 4.1 assists (20.0 DK points) in 23.4 minutes per game. In his only matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers, Morris was able to score 41.3 DK points in only 27.2 minutes.
He could potentially see 30+ minutes tonight with Gary Harris injured. Harris’ status is currently uncertain, and it’s something to keep an eye on leading up to the game. If he’s starting, Morris will lose value, but can still be considered for his price. If Harris is out, Morris can be locked into all leagues. He was left out of the Denver stack because his ownership should be extremely high, though. For now, his value depends on Harris.
Hidden Gem: Value Big
Bridges has been enjoying a solid rookie season, but he has somewhat struggled in terms of fantasy. He’s averaging 7.7 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1.4 steals (15.6 DK points) in 22.3 minutes per game. He has also seen an uptick in minutes recently, as he’s averaging 28.4 minutes per game over the last 10 days. Bridges has also flashed upside recently, scoring 32 DK points against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
He gets a matchup against the Indiana Pacers, who will be without their best defender in Victor Oladipo tonight. He’ll see an uptick in pace, adding to his value. Bridges has also been named the start, and he should continue to see minutes in the high-20s or low-30s tonight. His upside has been put into question at times this season, but he’s extremely cheap and will continue to play big minutes.
Follow Justin Bales on Twitter (@BalesSJustin)
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