Fridayís nine-game slate is chock-full of opportunities, but the frenzy associated with Thursdayís NBA trade deadline puts some low-salary, high-value targets in play since most of the newly-traded assets wonít be taking the floor. This puts a team like Cleveland on the map due to a wide variety of cheap targets that will be forced to take the floor.
Teams on tail end of back-to-backs: Atlanta, Portland, Boston, Charlotte
Vegas is kind to a number of games in the form of high Over/Under lines, with the NO/PHI and DEN/HOU leading the pack with an O/Uís of 221.5. Coming not too far behind is the CLE/ATL matchup at 216.5, and it bears the most scrutiny due to the aforementioned lineup deficiency Cleveland is left with in the aftermath of their prolific Thursday at the trade deadline. Although the team will be brimming with shiny new options by next week, the likes of Jose Calderon ($3,200), Kyle Korver ($3,800) and even Cedi Osman ($3,000) emerge as value plays on the night, and thereís little doubt that J.R. Smith ($4,800) will see his role increased Friday. This should be Smithís farewell to the starting five with the influx of backcourt talent moving to Cleveland. There are plenty lineup-worthy candidates for the Nuggets, Rockets, Pelicans and Sixers, and weíll highlight some of those below. A game that I will thoroughly enjoy watching is the Clippers/Pistons contest, where Blake Griffin ($9,100) and Tobias Harris ($6,700) will get their first crack against their old teams. While one wouldnít necessarily call it a revenge game, itís likely that both big men will be relishing the opportunity to excel in their homecomings on Friday night.
In our 10K-plus category, a quintet of the usual suspects headlines the list, although Andre Drummond ($10,200) has finally passed the threshold here, and itís a well-deserved bump for the Detroit rebound machine. Heís been an absolute beast over the past two weeks, averaging 58.7 DKFP over the past five games. He should be set up for another excellent outing against the Clippers. LeBron James ($12,100) will head a motley crew of backups against the Hawks, and while Atlanta is about as favorable of a defensive matchup you can get, James is a bit too cost-prohibitive when you consider how youíll have to budget yourself at other spots. James Hardenís ($11,200) 103.5 DKFP performance was over a week ago, but when Chris Paul is on the court his ceiling becomes a bit compromised. Heís facing a hot Nuggets team that leads the league defensively against backcourt foes, so while you can never fade him officially, Iím opting for other cheaper sports with similar floors. Anthony Davis ($11,100) headlines a Pelicans squad worth stacking on Friday, as they currently are one of the highest-paced teams on the slate, and with Joel Embiid currently questionable, Davis could be in line for a monster night. Finally, Giannis Antetokounmpo ($10,500) is often good for a double-double, but heís averaged 42.8 DKFP against the Heat in two contests this season and while thatís a great line for many, itís simply average for Giannis.
Iíll now highlight three players at each position, with an additional list at each spot that holds equal weight in my predictions. Whenever possible, Iíll be including at least one low-budget player to target.
Jimmy Butler, MIN at CHI ($9,600): Butler has yet to face his former team, and Butler has been humming at a 47 DKFP per game pace over the past two weeks. This confluence of events puts Butler in the spotlight as an alternative spend-up option to other guards like Curry, Paul, Harden and Lillard.
Jrue Holiday, NO at PHI ($7,800): In what should be one of the fastest-paced games on the slate, Holiday should be dishing it inside and putting up a lot of shots to keep up with the Sixers. Embiidís possible absence only accentuates the value of almost every New Orleans starter.
Jose Calderon, CLE at ATL ($3,200): You might as well throw in Kyle Korver ($3,800) here too, as the Cavs are going to have to reach deep to field a serviceable team on Friday. None of the new acquisitions are expected to take the floor, so there is a veritable wasteland at several positions. Obviously, there is considerable risk but itís a rare opportunity to grab some starters at an ultra-cheap price.
Other guards to consider: Ben Simmons, PHI vs. NO ($8,500), Lou Williams, LAC at DET ($7,600), Will Barton, DEN at HOU ($6,400), J.J. Redick, PHI vs. NO ($5,200)
As stated above, give Griffin and Harris some love in this Ďrevengeí game. Griffin can also be added at center.
Danilo Gallinari, LAC at DET ($6,500): Gallinari has slid right back into form for the Clippers, who suddenly look like playoff contenders. Gallinari should play a key role in that effort, as heís converting almost 60 percent of his shots in his return from injury. I project that most will flock to Lou Williams and Tobias Harris, but Gallinari will be a sneaky play and a good candidate to hit value.
Dario Saric, PHI vs. NO ($6,300): With Joel Embiid showing up as questionable on this morningís injury report, Saric becomes an excellent pivot who can put up a great stat line with or without The Process on the court. He put up 35 DKFP against the Pelicans in their last matchup, and this high-scoring game could yield even more to Dario on Friday.
Royce OíNeale, UTA vs. CHA ($3,700): An immediate reaction from my readers might be, ďRoyce who?Ē While thatís totally valid, OíNealeís potential to crush value could be imminent now that Rodney Hood and Joe Johnson have left town. If he can log 30 minutes, his ceiling could reach 30 DKFP, making him an excellent value.
Other forwards to consider: Nikola Mirotic, NO at PHI ($6,800). Lauri Markkanen, CHI vs. MIN ($6,700), Taj Gibson, MIN at CHI ($5,700), EíTwaun Moore, NO at PHI ($4,400)
Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN at CHI ($9,300): With Butler expected to be in rare form against his former team, Towns should be the primary beneficiary of Butlerís assist total. The almost matchup-proof Towns will once again be a good bet for double-double territory.
Jusuf Nurkic, POR at SAC ($6,000): Nurkic has a shaky history against the Kings, but his value at $6,000 is worth a look despite the back-to-back. He put 53 DKFP on the Hornets on Thursday, and Iím betting the short trip South to Sacramento wonít be much of a factor.
John Collins ($4,800) and Dewayne Dedmon ($4,700), ATL vs. CLE: With Jae Crowder out of Cleveland and Tristan Thompson the only viable option available in the frontcourt, the Hawks big men get a rare recommendation from me against the depleted Cavaliers. Both centers have fared well against the Cavs, and I think itís a toss-up as to which way to go, but Iíd lean toward Collins in cash games and Dedmon in tournaments.
Other centers to consider: Nikola Jokic, DEN at HOU ($8,900), Al Horford, BOS vs. IND ($7,900)