We’re down to an unusually small four-game slate for a Saturday night -- one that simplifies the lineup construction process to an extent but also potentially prompts a bit more risk-taking on value plays. A potential absence on the part of Pau Gasol does open up some possibilities, and both the Spurs-Thunder and Magic-Clippers tilts actually have a bit of high-scoring potential. Let’s try to sift through the selections and come up with a viable option at each tier on the abbreviated ledger:
Bradley Beal, WAS at MIA ($16,100): For those that can’t quite fit in Russell Westbrook ($20,400), Beal makes for a viable pivot at over $4K less. He just lit up the Heat for 49.00 fantasy points two games ago and has eclipsed the 40-mark in seven of the last 10 games overall. He’s sporting a 27.6 percent usage rate and averaging 1.14 fantasy points per minute over that span while shooting 48.1 percent, including 43.9 percent from distance. The Heat continue to struggle against the shooting guard position, allowing the fourth-most fantasy points (42.4) to the position on the season, along with the second-most points (24.5). Moreover, they’ve seen a notable spike in their vulnerability to three-pointers lately, allowing the fourth-highest percentage of scoring from distance (36.7) in the last three games, a significant increase over their 27.6 percent season figure.
Mario Hezonja, ORL at LAC ($11,300): Hezonja underwhelmed some in a starting assignment against the Kings (as compared to his previous production as a starter), putting up a rather lackluster 21.25 fantasy points. However, we know the upside is definitely there with the young swingman, who scored 32.25 to 46.50 fantasy points in the last three games before the All-Star break while playing between 28 and 35 minutes. He should get another run with the starters Saturday at either small forward or power forward against the Clippers, who have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points (47.4) to threes over the last five, and 48.3 to power forwards over the same span, with both figures representing notable bumps from the season figures they’ve allowed. With a bump in price of just over $3K from yesterday, Hezonja could potentially see ownership in the high single digits in GPPs despite the small slate, making him an intriguing tournament play at a price that isn’t unreasonable.
Corey Brewer, OKC vs. SA ($6,900): Brewer parlayed a Thursday start against the Suns into 25.50 fantasy points on the strength of a 17-point effort. The veteran is likely to run with the first unit again Saturday given that performance, as the two-guard position has been an offensive black hole for the Thunder most of the season. While the matchup against the Spurs typically isn’t one to seek out, San Antonio is far from the same team as years past this season, and they’ve been displaying some vulnerability to shooting guards recently. The Spurs come in allowing 49.0 fantasy points to the position over the last 10, more than 11 fantasy points per contest over their 37.8 season figure. They’re also yielding the fifth-highest shooting percentage (45.0) to the position over the aforementioned 10-game sample, and Brewer wouldn’t have to do an inordinate amount to justify the sub-$7K investment.
LaMarcus Aldridge, SA at OKC ($15,000): Aldridge proved his ankle was back to health against the Warriors on Thursday, posting 57.75 fantasy points on the strength of a 30-point, 17-rebound double-double. He also lit up the Thunder for 26 points, nine rebounds and one assist across 36 minutes in one prior meeting against them this season, and there’s at least a 50-50 chance that he operates without frontcourt mate Pau Gasol (shoulder) again Saturday. Aldridge already averages 1.22 fantasy points per minute without Gasol on the floor this season and the Thunder come in allowing the 10th-most fantasy points (50.6) to fours over the last 10 games, more than 12 fantasy points per contest than their 38.0 season figure.
DeAndre Jordan, LAC vs. ORL ($14,100): Jordan has been even more dominant on the glass than usual recently, hitting the 20-mark in three of the past four games and double-doubling in all four contests. That type of production has led to fantasy-point tallies of 39.00 to 55.00, excellent returns on his current price. The veteran big man will be poised for another potentially explosive return Saturday, considering the season-long vulnerability of the Magic frontcourt. Orlando has allowed the most points in the paint on the season (49.2), including the most on the road (50.6) – numbers that dovetail nicely with the fact Jordan scores 80.3 percent of his points in that part of the floor – and they’ve also yielded the sixth-most fantasy points (36.1) to centers on the season, including the sixth most (46.1) in the last 10 games. The fact that Jordan posted 16 points, 20 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals in his one previous meeting with Orlando only serves to further his case.
Davis Bertans, SA at OKC ($8,400): Bertans could well be in for another run with the first unit Saturday if Pau Gasol (shoulder) is forced to miss again, but at his price, he’s worthy of consideration even if he fills his usual second-unit role. The emerging big has scored 20.25 to 29.00 fantasy points in the last four, with Bertans coming off the bench in three of those games. He’s eclipsed the 20-mark in three other games over the last 10 as well, putting him firmly in play against a Thunder squad that he’s averaged a solid 12.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks across 20 minutes against in two games this season.
Nikola Vucevic, ORL at LAC ($15,600): Vucevic has mostly been in impressive form since returning from his long layoff due to a hand injury, as he’s scored 32.00 to 53.50 fantasy points in seven of the nine games he’s played thus far. While he did see a slight downturn to 24.25 fantasy points against the Kings on Friday, he’ll be poised to bounce back against a Clippers squad that’s allowing 38.8 fantasy points to centers over the last 10 games, as well as the sixth-highest offensive efficiency rating (31.5) to the position on the season. Vucevic also thrived in his one prior meeting against Los Angeles this season, generating a 14-point, 12-rebound double-double that also included three assists, four steals and two blocks across 31 minutes.
Tobias Harris, LAC vs. ORL ($14,900): Harris has averaged 19.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals across 30.0 minutes in two prior meetings this season against his old Magic squad, and he’ll be in a position for perhaps even better returns Saturday. The big man has taken his production up a notch since arriving on the West Coast, scoring 40.25 to 51.00 fantasy points in the last three games, and scoring at least 30 in six other contests during this Clippers tenure thus far. Orlando has also allowed the third-most fantasy points (60.2) to power forwards in the last five games, along with the bottom-five or bottom-10 figures in multiple categories to the position over that stretch.