The NBA is back in full force Friday night, with a giant, 10-game slate on tap. There’s an almost overwhelming number of choices as a result, which can certainly be a positive in terms of lineup differentiation for tournaments and in affording an abundance of cash-game selections.
With plenty to pore over, let’s get to the business of honing in on some solid options at each price level:
Russell Westbrook, OKC at PHO ($22,100): Westbrook already lit into the Suns for 26 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds and two steals across 34 minutes in his one prior meeting against them this season, and he’s eclipsed the 50-fantasy-point mark in eight of his last 10 games. He’s averaging a triple-double of 22.0 points, 11.6 assists, 10.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals during that stretch, and that caliber of production is certainly conceivable again Friday given the matchup. The Suns come in allowing the sixth-most fantasy points (42.1) to point guards on the season, including 51.0 over the last five. Phoenix also comes in allowing the fifth-most points in the paint (47.4) on the season, another factor that should work in Westbrook’s favor given his elite ability to drive to the basket.
Devin Booker, PHO vs. OKC ($15,700): Booker should once again be in for sky-high usage while trying to keep pace with Westbrook and company Friday, which should leave him in a favorable position to extend a three-game streak where he’s scored 48.50 to 66.50 fantasy points and posted a 35.1 percent usage rate. Booker tallied 26 points, four assists and two rebounds across 31 minutes in his one prior meeting against the Thunder, and OKC comes in allowing the second-highest percentage of scoring from three-pointers (32.3) on the season. That latter figure is particularly relevant when considering Booker’s viability, considering he’s put up 9.8 attempts from distance over the last five. The Thunder have also surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points to shooting guards on the season (42.2), including the third most (62.8) over the last five. They’re allowing a whopping 5.0 made threes to two-guards over the latter span as well, further Booker’s already-strong case.
Wesley Matthews, DAL at CHI ($9,600): With such a large slate, there’s unsurprisingly a number of appealing options above and below Matthews as well in the affordable tier, including Ricky Rubio ($11,500) against his old T-Wolves teammates on the higher end, and the likes of Milos Teodosic ($8,800), Isaiah Taylor ($8,500) and Fred VanVleet ($8,400) for those that need further savings. Meanwhile, Matthews has scored 22.75 to 41.50 fantasy points in seven of his last eight contests, a span during which the veteran is sporting a 56.1 effective shooting percentage. The Bulls have been mostly helpless against two-guards and small forwards – the two positions Matthews could potentially play -- this season as well, allowing the fifth-most fantasy points (55.3) to shooting guards over the last 10 and the third most to small forwards on the season (36.5), including 45.3 over the last 10 as well. Moreover, Chicago comes into Friday allowing the fifth-highest percentage of scoring from three-pointers (31.7) -- including the third most over the last three (36.6) – and Matthews is draining a solid 41.0 percent of his 7.8 three-point attempts over the last five.
Kevin Durant, GS at ATL ($18,200): Durant is in the midst of a five-game stretch where he’s scored 42.25 to 72.75 fantasy points while generating team highs in usage rate (30.9 percent) and fantasy points per minute (1.44). Notably, Durant has also been more effective away from Oracle Arena this season, averaging 27.1 points (on 52.9 percent shooting), 6.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.8 blocks across 28 road tilts. The Hawks have been a sieve against small forwards all season, too, allowing the second-most fantasy points on the season (39.2), including the second most (57.8) over the last five. They’re also allowing the third-most made threes (2.5) and highest shooting percentage (49.0) to the position over the former span, while Durant is shooting 56.5 percent on an average of 18.4 shot attempts – including 6.6 from three-point range – over the aforementioned five-game sample, with all three numbers representing improvements over his season figures.
Rudy Gobert, UTA vs. MIN ($12,900): Steven Adams ($13,500) is one of a few who also hold appeal at this level if you have some extra cash, but Gobert is priced right relative to potential production. The Stifle Tower has scored no less than 27.50 fantasy points in the last 11 contests, eclipsing the 30-mark in nine of them. Gobert also posted a 10-point, 13-rebound double-double in his one previous encounter with the T-Wolves this season, and Minnesota comes in allowing 38.5 fantasy points to centers over the last five games, along with the highest shooting percentage (58.0) to the position on the season (including 70.0 percent over the aforementioned five-game sample). They’re also notably more porous in the paint on the road (47.5 points allowed in that area away from Target Center, as compared to 43.6 at home), while Gobert is logging 70.7 percent of his scoring near the basket.
Montrezl Harrell, LAC vs. NY ($9,200): Paul Millsap ($10,200), John Henson ($9,300) and Reggie Bullock ($9,000) are among others who hold appeal at this tier, and Jabari Parker ($8,700) would become an excellent value play if Giannis Antetokounmpo (eye) is unable to go Friday. Meanwhile, Harrell continues to make excellent use of his second-unit opportunities, as he’s now scored over 20 fantasy points in six straight, topping out at 32.50 versus the Rockets in his most recent contest. The one guarantee with the third-year big man is aggressiveness, as he’s averaged 6.4 attempts over 15.9 minutes this season, and 11.7 over his last three contests. The Knicks also sport a sizable disparity between points in the paint allowed on the road (46.2) compared to Madison Square Garden (38.3), while Harrell is scoring 80.8 percent of his points in that area of the floor.
Kemba Walker, CHA at PHI ($14,200): Walker draws a nice matchup against a Sixers squad that’s allowed the eighth-most fantasy points (41.4) to point guards and that’s playing at the fifth-highest pace in the league (103.0 possessions per game). The All-Star point guard has scored over 40 fantasy points on four occasions and over 30 twice over the last seven contests, while shooting a red-hot 54.9 percent – including 55.3 percent from distance on 7.6 attempts – over the last five. Given what should be a more uptempo contest than usual for the Hornets and a competitive affair overall, Walker is poised to pay off what is a recently reduced price.
Enes Kanter, NY at LAC ($12,200): Kanter saw only 17 minutes against the Warriors in his last contest, leading to a disappointing 18.25 fantasy points. There’ll be no small-ball factors affecting his playing time Friday, however, as the big man should see a full load of minutes while helping counter DeAndre Jordan down low. That sets Kanter up for a potentially rewarding night, considering the Clippers have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to centers over the last 10 (43.5), including the second most over the last five (51.5). They’re also yielding the fifth-most points in the paint (54.0) over the latter span -- a notable uptick over their 43.3 season figure – while Kanter has logged a career-high 79.8 percent of his scoring in that area of the floor this season. He’d also scored 32.00 to 52.50 fantasy points in five of the six games prior to the outlier against Golden State, above-average-to-excellent returns on his current reasonable price.