The NBA is a bit upside down this weekend, as what was a modest Saturday slate is followed up by an unusually larger Sunday ledger that has no shortage of intriguing storylines. Both James Harden (knee) and Anthony Davis (ankle) shape up as game-time decisions, while the Cavs and Lakers close out the night in a game where several players were in the opposite team’s uniform less than a month ago. There’s also a battle of Western Conference playoff contenders and an interesting clash of styles in the Jazz and Pelicans, while the Curry-less Warriors face a tough challenge against the conference-rival Timberwolves. Without further ado, let’s dive into some lineup construction on what looks to be a fun afternoon and evening of cash game and tournament play:
Chris Paul, HOU AT DAL ($14,100): James Harden is shaping up as a game-time decision Sunday due to a sore knee, and Paul sports a 30.6 percent usage rate and averages an impressive 1.61 fantasy points per minute with the latter off the floor this season. However, even if Harden suits up, Paul is in play at a price that’s come down in the recent days despite the fact he’s cleared 40 fantasy points in three of the last 10 games while eclipsing 30 on four other occasions during that stretch. The Mavericks shape up as willing facilitators as well, as they’ve allowed the fifth-most fantasy points (57.5) to point guards over the last five, a notable bump over their already-robust 42.2 season figure.
Ricky Rubio, UTA at NO ($12,500:) Rubio has become a more offensively involved player this season, while still offering solid assist and rebounding numbers. Most recently, he’s scored 28.75 to 41.50 fantasy points in the last six games, hitting double digits in the scoring column in all of those contests while also checking off virtually every other box on the stat sheet in impressive fashion. The veteran’s usage has been even higher in the last three, a stretch during which he’s averaging 12.3 attempts, an increase of nearly two shots per game over his 10.4 season figure. The Pelicans bring a nice bump in pace for the Jazz, as they’re generating the most possessions at home (105.4) in the NBA, along with surrendering the sixth-most fantasy points (57.1) to point guards over the last five games. They’re also yielding the fourth-most assists (11.5) to ones over that span, a particularly relevant stat when considering a skilled facilitator like Rubio at his reasonable price.
Tyler Dorsey, ATL vs. CHI ($7,700): Eric Gordon ($10,000) is certainly very worthy of consideration as well, especially if Harden misses. Meanwhile, Dorsey certainly doesn’t come without risk, but his price, matchup and recent production are such that he’s worth the roll of the dice if you need some serious savings in a tournament lineup. The 2017 second-round pick is averaging 13.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists across his last three games while taking 13.3 shot attempts per contest, a drastic increase over his 5.4 season figure. That spike in usage has led to fantasy-point tallies of 23.50 and 25.25 in two of those contests, and Dorsey had also eclipsed the 20-mark in three other contests dating back to Feb. 6. The Bulls also come in allowing 47.0 fantasy points to shooting guards over the last 10, furthering Dorsey’s case as a cost-savings option.
Kevin Durant, GS at MIN ($19,100): Naturally, a case can always be made for LeBron James ($20,600) as well, but given Stephen Curry’s forthcoming absence Sunday, it’s arguable that Durant brings the same upside at $1.5K cheaper. The All-Star forward has eclipsed 60 fantasy points in both the game that Curry hurt his ankle in – during which he played only two minutes – and the contest he missed against the Trail Blazers entirely on Friday. Durant’s usage rate this season without his star teammate on the floor now stands at 29.4 percent, and his matchup Sunday could leave him primed for another 60-plus fantasy-point tally. The Timberwolves have already allowed a 28-point, 11-assist, 10-rebound triple-double that also included three blocks and two steals to Durant in one prior meeting this season, and Golden State comes in logging the second -highest pace of play on the road (104.9 possessions per game). Durant is averaging a whopping 23.5 shot attempts over the aforementioned two-game sample without Curry, and he should near that level again Sunday in what projects to be a wire-to-wire affair.
Rudy Gobert, UTA at NO ($14,300): Clint Capela ($12,200) is also very much in play at this level, particularly if Harden sits out Sunday. However, Gobert is another Jazz player who should benefit from the aforementioned increase in pace that the Pelicans present, especially on their home floor at Smoothie King Arena. The Stifle Tower also comes in on a tear, as he’s scored 45.00 to 58.50 fantasy points in four of the last five games while averaging 1.20 fantasy points per minute. He’s been as dominant as ever on the boards as well, hauling in 12 to 17 rebounds in all four of those contests and hitting the double-double bonus in each. The Pelicans could well lay out the welcome mat again Sunday, as they’ve already surrendered 38.00 fantasy points to Gobert on the strength of a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double in one prior meeting, and they also yield the fourth-most points in the paint (47.8) on the season, an area of the floor that 71.2 percent of Gobert's scoring occurs in.
Brook Lopez, LAL vs. CLE ($10,200): For those that need to save a lot more, Jeff Green ($6,700) is also an excellent option with a projected start Sunday against the Lakers. However, Lopez is very much in play in that same game, as he comes in having scored 33.00 to 43.75 fantasy points in the last three contests. The veteran is putting up 15.7 shot attempts over that span on his way to an average of 23.3 points (on 61.7 percent shooting). He’s even taking 5.7 attempts from distance during that stretch, a level of aggression that should lead to strong results against a defensively-challenged Cavs squad. Cleveland has allowed the third-most fantasy points to centers (36.4) on the season, including the most (59.8) over the last five. They’re also allowing the highest shooting percentage (58.0) to fives on the campaign -- as well as the third-highest percentage of scoring from three-pointers (32.2) overall -- furthering the floor-spacing Lopez’s case.
Ben Simmons, PHI at BKN ($15,500): Simmons already racked up 38.50 fantasy points against the Nets in his one prior meeting with them on Jan. 31, and he’s scored 36.00 to 46.50 fantasy points in the last five contests. The second-year phenom is shooting 63.5 percent during that stretch, while the Nets have made life easy on point guards all season. They’ve yielded the sixth-most fantasy points to ones (42.4), including the third most over the last 10 (57.6). Brooklyn is also allowing the most points (31.4) and highest shooting percentage (51.0) to the position over the latter span, and the second-most points in the paint (57.3) over the last three, an area of the floor that 79.7 percent (13.1 points per game) of Simmons’ scoring originates from. In a battle between the fifth (Sixers)- and sixth-fastest paced teams in the league, Simmons makes for an excellent play in either cash or tournaments.
Larry Nance, Jr., CLE at LAL ($13,800): There’ll be no shortage of revenge narratives in the Lakers-Cavs tilt, and Nance is certainly in the thick of that theme. He’s been excellent in his three-game stint as the starting center for Tristan Thompson (ankle), scoring 36.50 to 47.75 fantasy points in those contests on an average of 1.24 per minute on the floor. He should have plenty of motivation against a Lakers squad that he began his career with and that’s allowing the third-most fantasy points (53.3) to centers over the last five, along with league-worst or bottom-five figures in several other categories to the position. Furthermore, Los Angeles’ second-most points in the paint allowed (48.7) and league-high pace of play (105.1 possessions per game) both also work heavily in Nance’s favor at a price that he’s already outproduced in all three games with the first unit.