Easy Breezy: Chalk Stack
The Houston Rockets have been slowing the pace down this season, ranking only 28th in the NBA in pace thus far. They get a matchup against the Phoenix Suns, who rank 11th in the league in pace through 69 games. While they have been playing at a slower pace, Houston ranks second in the NBA in offensive rating. Phoenix, on the other hand, ranks 29th in the league in defensive rating. The Rockets are -12 point favorites in a game set at 225.5 points, giving them an implied total of 118.8 points tonight.
Chris Paul has been ruled out for rest tonight. That thrusts James Harden into an even more featured role, and his usage rating is expected to sit around 40% tonight. He has been struggling a bit recently, averaging 28.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 2.2 steals (50.5 DK points) in 35.0 minutes per game over the last 10 days. That doesn’t truly represent his value tonight, though, as his price tag was sitting thousands of dollars higher with Paul injured earlier this season. In his only matchup against Phoenix, Harden posted 72 DK points, and he comes with similar upside at home tonight. Eric Gordon is another player that will see increased usage on this slate. He’s averaging 19.0 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 1.8 assists (25.8 DK points) in 31.2 minutes per game over the last 10 days. He has also scored 32.5 and 34.25 DK points in two of his last three games. Gordon hasn’t played in a matchup against Phoenix this season, but they have struggled against guards throughout the season, and Gordon should feature plenty of ownership tonight. Austin Rivers isn’t an elite fantasy option, but he makes sense in this stack. Over the last 10 days, he’s averaging 24.5 minutes per game, and that’s expected to increase with Paul out. He’s only averaging 11.2 DK points in those minutes, which is far from elite. With that being said, he scored 14.5 DK points in 28.4 minutes in his only matchup against the Suns. Rivers is near the minimum price, which makes it a bit easier to afford Harden tonight. Rivers may not be an elite fantasy option tonight, unless you’re utilizing his price tag to get the more productive Houston guards.
Wildcard GPP: Low Owned Stack
The Portland Blazers have been playing at a below average pace throughout the 2018 season, ranking 18th in the NBA in pace through 67 games. They get a matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans, who rank fourth in the league in pace this season. Portland also ranks fifth in the NBA in offensive rating, while New Orleans ranks 23rd in the league in defensive rating. The Blazers are -7.5 point favorites in a game set at 235 points, and they feature the highest implied total on the slate at 121.3 points.
Damian Lillard will likely feature a bit of ownership tonight, but there’s no reason to avoid him in this stack. He has been playing well recently, averaging 28.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 9.5 assists (49.1 DK points) in 36.5 minutes per game over the last 10 days. He has been extremely inconsistent, but he also recently scored 76.75 DK points against the Oklahoma City Thunder. In two matchups against New Orleans, Lillard is averaging 45.0 DK points in 33.5 minutes per game, and he won’t have to deal with the defensive prowess of Jrue Holiday tonight. He’ll be locked into big minutes, making him an elite option tonight. Jusuf Nurkic is another boom or bust option for Portland. He’s averaging 13.3 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.0 block (36.9 DK points) in 28.0 minutes per game over the last 10 days. Over his last five games, he has also scored 44.75 and 60.25 DK points against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Charlotte Hornets. New Orleans has struggled defensively against centers this season, and Nurkic is averaging a healthy 1.4 DK points per minute against them. He’s expected to find around 30 minutes tonight, and he comes with tremendous upside for a reasonable price tag. C.J. McCollum is another expensive option, but there’s plenty of value to consider on this slate to make this stack work. McCollum has been one of the hotter players on the team, averaging 28.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.0 steal (41.5 DK points) in 36.3 minutes per game over the last 10 days. He has scored 53 and 41.25 DK points in his last two games, while posting 50+ DK points in three of his last eight games. These three players have the potential to dominate in the same game, and Portland could go overlooked in a plus matchup.
Hidden Gem: Value Guard
Mudiay has found plenty of success this season, as he’s averaging 14.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists (25.3 DK points) in 26.0 minutes per game through 49 games. He has played 25+ minutes in four of his last 10 games, scoring 30+ DK points in each of those games. He also played 32 minutes in his last game, scoring 37 DK points.
Dennis Smith Jr. has been ruled out tonight, leaving Mudiay to pick up extra minutes. He’s currently expected to see around 30 minutes, which would be an uptick from his season average. He gets a plus matchup against the San Antonio Spurs, who he posted 1.08 DK points per minute against earlier this season. Mudiay will feature plenty of ownership, but it’s difficult to avoid him in any leagues tonight.
Hidden Gem: Value Big
Layman has featured plenty of ups and downs throughout the season, but he has mainly seen limited minutes. Through 56 games, he’s averaging 7.9 points and 3.2 rebounds (15.0 DK points) in 18.4 minutes per game. He has played 25 minutes in each of his last two games, but only found 15 and 19.75 DK points in those games.
Moe Harkless has been ruled out tonight, leaving Layman to pick up a few extra minutes. He’s expected to see similar minutes tonight, and he could play extended time if this game turns into a blowout. Layman is an athletic forward, who is averaging 20.9 DK points in 17.1 minutes per game against the New Orleans Pelicans. He shouldn’t be considered in cash games, but he makes a solid salary relief option in tournaments.
Follow Justin Bales on Twitter (@BalesSJustin)
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