Welcome to another edition of our NBA Preview here at PlayON. Below is a breakdown of my top picks at each position for tonight’s game.
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The second round of the playoffs is underway. Here is where you might find players with good fantasy value among tonight’s two match-ups.
#1 Houston Rockets versus #5 Utah Jazz
Notwithstanding the obvious impact of the absence of Ricky Rubio at starting point guard, the most obvious imbalance in this series has been at centre. Clint Capela (C, $17.9 million) is thoroughly outproducing his counterpart Rudy Gobert, even though this was expected to be a key match-up. He is scoring through roll and lob passes Gobert cannot defend – he cannot step up to a driving James Harden, guard the driver, the rim, the bounce pass, the dink over the top and the shot attempt at the rim – and is also scoring with his occasional paint touches. And on the other end, Gobert, a very low-usage offensive player, is not requiring much guarding – the Jazz aren’t setting Gobert up like the Rockets are Capela. On the series, Capela is averaging 46.0 fantasy points, must-pick value that becomes even more so when it is considered that these two are basically the only centres on the slate at all tonight.
From a fantasy points of view, Utah does continue to offer the high-value pairing of Alec Burks (SG, $5.5 million) and Royce O’Neale (SF, $7.3 million). Burks, wild and flawed but energetic and aggressive, is variable in what he does from a fantasy perspective but does at least cost the minimum, while O’Neale is more of a reliable if much lower usage contributor. To that, we can also add Raul Neto (PG, $6.0 million), who has begun to get some minutes as another ball handling and driving options without Rubio. Neto is a bit overmatched physicality, but gives it his best, and has recorded a 17.5 fantasy points per game average over his last two. It is not a lot, but for the fantasy minimum, it is of course not bad,
#2 Golden State Warriors versus #6 New Orleans Pelicans
The Warriors are one game away from victory in this series, and if and when they do close it out, they can owe a great deal of it to the play of Draymond Green (PF, $18.0 million). Green’s ability to defend both the mid-range-and-in omnipresence of Anthony Davis (PF, $28.9 million), as well as the guard pairing of Rajon Rondo (PG, $15.5 million) and Jrue Holiday (PG, $20.7 million) that charged with the task of getting him the ball, has made it possible for Golden State to construct a defensive system that can slow a potent inside-outside attack and one of the best individual scoring talents on the playoffs.
Davis still gets his, for that is what it means to be great – a 56.4 fantasy point average is a bit below his prior average, but only because his prior average was so unassailably great. Yet it is because of Green’s ability to hedge and recover so fast, as well as play such good help defence, that allows him to defend both halves of the pick and roll at the same time, and rotate over should Davis post on someone else. The live ball turnovers and ball denial he creates sets up the Warriors via breaks he often leads – all told, that combination of defensive stats, rebounds, assists and the occasional straight-on three has seen him average 49.6 fantasy points of his own. All for a sub-$20.0 million price. Buy him tonight.
For the first time, the Warriors started their depth line-up last time out, meaning a backcourt pairing of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, and a forward pairing of Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala,alongside Draymond at centre. This line-up, so named because of how darn good it always is, always directly benefits the fantasy value of Iguodala in particular (SG, $9.9 million). Having started as a de facto point guard earlier in the postseason, Iguodala is back into his best role with Curry back – cutting, leading some breaks, finishing others, throwing plenty of solid extra passes, spotting up occasionally, and checking anyone at any position. In this defence-first role, he is playing his best fantasy roles, having recorded fantasy point outputs of 37.6 and 35.4 in the last three games, sandwiching a 13.9 fantasy point outing. A slow regular reason has lowered Iguodala’s price to this frankly low level, but he has kept something in reserve for the playoffs, from which we can now capitalise.
For the Pelicans, Rajon Rondo (PG, $15.5 million) has his first non-Playoff Rondo performance of this postseason, recording only 24.4 fantasy points. Golden State are leaving him unguarded, allowing him to shoot jumpers, and if he would rather drive instead, they are allowing that too, staying home on the shooters he wants to kick to and forcing him to try and make shots in the paint. He did not do that last time, and even if he did, or even if he did hit the resultant free throws the Warriors would gladly let him have, they would be OK with that. Nevertheless, with a 41.6 fantasy point average for the series even with that game four drop-off, rest assured that he has fantasy value. He is, like Draymond, getting everywhere.
MY TEAM TONIGHT:
PG – Rajon Rondo ($15.5 million)
SG – James Harden ($26.2 million)
SF – Royce O’Neale ($7.3 million)
PF – Draymond Green ($18.0 million)
C – Clint Capela ($17.9 million)
Bench – Ian Clark ($6.9 million)
Bench – Kevon Looney ($8.1 million)
That’s all for today’s analysis. Be sure to get your line-ups in!