After a busy and eventful Sunday, the NBA takes a Monday night breather with a modest four-game slate. There’s still a nice array of selections across the pricing scale, however, ranging from the likes of Russell Westbrook and Giannis Antetokounmpo at the top end to some solid sub-$10K value plays for those who need the savings. A balanced lineup that still includes a couple of elite options is very much feasible on the abbreviated slate, so let’s get down to the business of identifying who some of the best investments at each price tier might be.
Damian Lillard, POR vs. MIA ($17,000): Lillard offers some nice savings over Russell Westbrook ($20,800), and lately, almost as much upside. The Trail Blazers’ linchpin has scored 45.50 to 55.25 fantasy points in his last three, while also eclipsing the 60-point milestone thrice and the 50-mark two additional times over the last 11 games overall. Lillard is sporting a 35.5 percent usage rate while averaging an impressive 1.41 fantasy points per minute during that span, and he could be primed for more of the same Monday against the short-handed Heat. Miami was stingy against point guards earlier in the season but has been much more vulnerable of late, allowing 51.1 fantasy points per contest over the last 10 to the position, a notable bump over their 38.5 season figure. They’ve seen a similar spike in their percentage of scoring allowed off three-pointers over the last three (34.0 percent, seventh most during that span and a significant increase over their 27.5 percent season figure), while Lillard has drained 46.2 percent of his whopping 10.5 three-point attempts over the last five contests.
Buddy Hield, SAC at OKC ($10,000): Hield had a one-game outlier two contests ago in which he went scoreless over 29 minutes, but he bounced back in the subsequent outing against the Nuggets on Sunday to post 33.25 fantasy points in a 27-minute stint. The performance was his fifth over 30 fantasy points in the last 10 contests, impressive production based on his current price. The Thunder make for a good fantasy dance partner for him Monday, as they come in allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per game (42.4) on the season to shooting guards, including the most (71.5) over the last 10 contests. They’re also yielding the most rebounds (10.8) to the position over the latter span, while Hield is supplementing his typically solid scoring numbers with 5.2 boards over his last 10 games. Moreover, the Thunder allow the second-highest percentage of scoring from three-pointers (32.3) on the season, while Hield is taking an elevated 6.3 attempts from distance over the last three contests.
Corey Brewer, OKC vs. SAC ($7,300): Brewer’s price remains largely stagnant despite outputs of 25.50 and 20.75 fantasy points against the Suns and Spurs, respectively, in the last two games. He should be in for another run with the first unit Monday, and the combination of his bargain price and matchup once again put him squarely in play. The Kings have been about middle of the pack against two-guards this season but much more vulnerable lately, allowing the seventh-most fantasy points per game (55.8) to the position over the last five, along with the third-most points (37.6), most rebounds (12.0), third-most assists (8.8), second-most steals (3.0), most blocks (1.4) and third-most made threes (4.4). Those numbers essentially give Brewer every possible path available to fantasy success, and his modest cost ensures he can offer a solid return if his production simply falls within the range of his last two games. That appears to be a likely proposition if the elevated usage and efficiency he’s displayed in the last three games endure, as the 9.3 shot attempts he’s put up over that stretch (which he’s drained at a 50.0 percent clip) are a dramatic surge from his 3.5 season figure.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL at MEM ($19,000): Antetokoumpo keeps rolling along as the Bucks push for the postseason, now having scored 50.50 to 61.25 fantasy points in four of the last five, and 43.25 in the other contest during that span. The All-Star forward is sporting a 30.7 percent usage rate and averaging 1.32 fantasy points per minute during that stretch, and he already touched up the Grizzlies for 27 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and two steals across 44 minutes in one prior meeting this season. Memphis also comes in displaying much more vulnerability to power forwards of late, as the 48.5 fantasy points per game they’ve allowed to fours over the last five contests represents a leap up from their 37.8 season figure.
Kelly Olynyk, MIA at POR ($11,300): Hassan Whiteside (hip) has already been ruled out for Monday’s contest, and Olynyk is sporting a solid 22.6 percent usage rate and averaging 1.04 fantasy points per minute with his teammate off the floor this season. Moreover, Olynyk has been coming on in recent contests anyhow, eclipsing 30 fantasy points in three of his last five despite not seeing more than 23 minutes in any of those games. He should be in for a nice bump in playing time and potentially even a start at center Monday, giving him an opportunity to build on the 57.1 percent success rate from the field he’s generated over the last five. The fact that the Trail Blazers have been yielding more fantasy points over their last five to both centers (40.5, as compared to 34.5 on the season) and power forwards (45.0, as compared to 37.8 on the season) only serves to further his case.
Jabari Parker, MIL at MEM ($8,800): Kosta Koufos ($9,300) also comes in at a cost that he’s consistently outpaced recently, but Willie Cauley-Stein’s return Sunday makes Koufos a bit of a riskier play, despite the fact he thrived with reduced minutes in the contest against the Nuggets. Meanwhile, Parker is seeing a steady diet of minutes in the low-to-mid 20s and typically outplaying his price tag as well, as he’s scored 21.25 to 31.50 fantasy points in six of the last eight games. Moreover, he’s taking a robust 10.6 shot attempts over his last five, a welcome spike from his 8.8 season figure and potentially a sign that he continues to build confidence in his surgically repaired knee. Given the combination of savings and upside, he makes for a highly viable tournament play that could also conceivably be deployed in cash if you’re trying to spend up elsewhere.
Marc Gasol, MEM vs. MIL ($13,400): Gasol should be well rested after sitting out Saturday’s contest against the Mavericks, and he’ll once again be primed for extra usage with the trio of Andrew Harrison (wrist), Tyreke Evans (ribs) and Mario Chalmers (hamstring) already ruled out Monday. The veteran big man has a 26.9 percent usage rate and averages 1.20 fantasy points per minute with the first two off the floor this season, and accordingly he’s posted an impressive 35.00 to 51.75 fantasy points in the last six contests. He also tallied a solid 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in his one prior meeting with the Bucks this season, and Milwaukee comes in allowing the second-highest offensive efficiency rating (33.3) to centers on the season, fortifying the case for Gasol at a price he’s outproduced consistently of late.
C.J. McCollum, POR vs. MIA ($12,200): McCollum has taken it up a notch over the last five games, scoring 36.00 to 53.00 in four of them while posting a solid 32.00 in the other contest during that sample. The sharpshooting two-guard has been especially aggressive and effective from distance during that stretch, as both his 6.6 attempts from behind the arc and 51.5 percent success rate are notable improvements over his respective 5.9 and 42.3 season figures in those categories. He walks into one of the more appealing matchups for shooting guards Monday against a Heat squad that he already lit up for 28 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals in one prior meeting, and that comes in allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game (42.5) to the position on the season, along with the fourth-highest shooting percentage (43.0).