Tonight we have the first large NBA slate of 2020 where we have nine games and it is only the third Thursday since the NFL season started where we have no football contests. With that, the main attraction on SuperDraft is the $10,000 NBA Daily Dime contest which will have a $10 entry fee with the chance to win up to $1,250 in cash prizes!
The biggest storyline of this slate is two of the most injured teams in the league. One being the Minnesota Timberwolves who are without Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns and the other being the Toronto Raptors who are without Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol. How much will this factor into the top picks for tonight? Let’s get into it.
Kyle Lowry (1.3x) Toronto at Miami
Well we are answering that question immediately as Kyle Lowry is my pick for the top-tier guard spot. With the aforementioned injuries Toronto is dealing with, Lowry has had to take a bigger scoring role and has answered the call. In the past seven games with Siakam and Gasol out, Lowry is averaging 25.1 points, 8 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 44.8 fantasy points per game. With his 1.3x multiplier that gives him an average of 58.2 fantasy points per game. His averages before that were 19.1 points, 7.3 assists and 5 rebounds per game. Considering the fact he is facing a middle of the road defensive team in Miami (ranked 13th in defensive efficiency) he should be right around his average of 44.8 fantasy points from the past seven games. With this increased production, Lowry continues to bring good value at 1.3x.
Spencer Dinwiddie (1.35x) Brooklyn at Dallas
Like Lowry, Dinwiddie is a point guard who has benefited tremendously fantasy wise from an injury to one of his teammates. When Kyrie Irving was starting, Dinwiddie averaged 17.1 points, 4.6 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 28.1 fantasy points per game off the bench. In the games he started since Irving got hurt in the middle of November, he has played like an all star. In 21 games, he has averaged 26 points, 7.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 43.4 fantasy points per game. If you add in the multiplier value it pushes it up to 58.5 fantasy points per game.
The consistency of Dinwiddie’s usage is what separates him from the rest of the guards in this tier. Out of all the guards in the tier of 1.35x-1.65x for this slate, Dinwiddie has the highest usage rate of 32.8%. He has become one of the more reliable guards fantasy wise and you should go with him again here facing the 15th ranked Dallas Mavericks defense.
Shabazz Napier (1.8x) Minnesota vs Golden State
As mentioned in the beginning, the Wolves have been hit hard with injuries. One of the main fantasy beneficiaries of that has been former UConn star Shabazz Napier. In the past three games Wiggins has been out, Napier has averaged 18.3 points, 4.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game for an average of 31.9 fantasy points per game.
Before that he was averaging 7.1 points, 3.8 assists and 2.2 rebounds. With his 1.8x multiplier factored in to his recent average of 31.9, he is averaging 57.5 fantasy points per game. Considering they are facing the Warriors who rank 23rd in defensive efficiency, you should heavily consider putting Napier in your lineup as a value play.
Kawhi Leonard (1.25x) Clippers vs Detroit
One of the main storylines this season has been the load management of star players. Kawhi Leonard has been the face of that as he was load-managed last year in Toronto and this year in LA. While it feels essential for the pursuit of an NBA title, it could take a player out of rhythm which becomes a factor fantasy wise.
Leonard after one day of rest this season is averaging 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.6 assists on 50% shooting. On two or more days of rest he is averaging 23.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game on 40% shooting. There is a clear difference here and tonight he will be coming off of one day of rest against the Detroit Pistons.
Leonard has also feasted against poor defensive teams this season fantasy wise. In two games against the Wizards (30th ranked defense) he scored 57.25 and 49 fantasy points. Against the Hornets (26th ranked defense) he scored 61.7 fantasy points. Those are the only teams he has faced that are ranked worse in defensive efficiency than the Pistons at 25th. With rhythm and facing a poor defense, expect a monster game from Leonard.
Kevin Love (1.5x) Cleveland vs Charlotte
It has been a rough season for Kevin Love and the Cavs. After the departure of Lebron James two years ago the Cavs are back towards the bottom of the league at 10-23. While it has been a little bit of a down season statistically for Love, he is still putting up a solid stat line of 16.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 36.5 fantasy points per game. He is still capable of having big games as he has scored over 45 fantasy points eight times this season. One of these games includes a 50.50 point performance against the Hornets team he plays tonight.
This matchup against Charlotte is perfectly set up for Love to have a big game and provide great value at 1.5x. With Charlotte also a struggling team, this game should be competitive. Love is a different fantasy player in competitive games vs ones where the Cavs get blown out. In games that the Cavs have stayed within nine points or better, Love is averaging 20.1 points, 13.5 rebounds and 4 assists. Opposed to games where the Cavs lose by 10 or more where he is averaging 15.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists. With the Cavs favored by two points, you should expect to see the Love who is averaging 20.1/13.5/4. Combine this with the fact that Charlotte has the 26th ranked defense, Love is a great play tonight.
Chris Boucher (1.9x) Toronto at Miami
Boucher is another Raptor who has benefitted fantasy wise from the injuries to Gasol and Siakam. Before those injuries happened, he was a very small factor for the Raptors. In 11 minutes per game he averaged 5.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 0.7 blocks. In the past seven games he is now averaging 19 minutes, 10.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 23.2 fantasy points per game.
What makes him particularly intriguing is his two recent breakout games in this stretch. On Christmas day against the Celtics he put up 24 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks for a total of 39 fantasy points. Three days before that against Dallas, he recorded 21 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks and 2 steals for a total of 46.75 fantasy points. With this happening in 2 out of the 7 games and him still getting consistent minutes, this is a good gamble to make. If he lands in this range again, with his 1.9x multiplier, he could up between 74.1-88.8 fantasy points. If he hits, he could be a game changer in your lineup.
Nikola Jokic (1.25x) Denver at Indiana
There are not many choices at center in the top tier tonight even though there are nine games. The options are Nikola Jokic at 1.25x, Rudy Gobert at 1.25x, Andre Drummond at 1.05x and Karl Anthony Towns is questionable to play at 1.05x. Jokic is the play here for a few reasons.
The first being that he is just a more reliable fantasy player than Gobert. Gobert will get you blocks and rebounds consistently while Jokic will fill up the stat sheet in points, rebounds and assists. He is averaging 18.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 44.6 fantasy points per game. Gobert is averaging 14.8 points, 14.2 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 41.8 fantasy points per game. The more ways Jokic has to put up numbers gives him the slight edge over Gobert.
Typically Drummond would be the play here as he had a monster season averaging 17.9 points, 15.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2 steals, 1.8 blocks and 50.9 fantasy points per game. The issue here is he facing the Clippers. With this game being LA, it has blowout written all over it. With this game not being close, Drummond will not have the same chances to rack up numbers. The possibility of the blowout makes Jokic more appealing at 1.25x than Drummond at 1.05x.
Serge Ibaka (1.55x) Toronto at Miami
The Raptors injury problems have given many players great value. Ibaka is the third one we have here to benefit off the injuries of Gasol and Siakam. In the past 8 games Ibaka has averaged 17.6 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 0.9 blocks for a total of 35.3 fantasy points per game. Before that, his averages were 12.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1 block per game.
His consistency is what makes him appealing as in the eight games he has only had two games where he has scored below 30 points and he has had three games where he has gotten over 40 fantasy points. With the 1.55x multiplier his average goes up to 54.7 fantasy points per game. As long as Siakam and Gasol are out, Ibaka is going to provide consistently good value at his 1.55x multiplier.
Gorgui Dieng (1.7x) Minnesota vs Golden State
This play obviously hinges a lot on whether Towns plays or not, but Dieng has been so good in Towns’ absence he is a borderline lock right now if Towns is out. In the eight games Towns has been absent Dieng has put up 13.6 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 0.9 blocks and 36.4 fantasy points per game. Before that he was only averaging 4.4 points, 4 rebounds, 0.7 steals and 1 block per game. With the 1.8x multiplier factored in, Dieng has averaged 61.9 fantasy points per game.
Dieng looks even more appealing with the matchup against the Warriors. The Warriors are ranked 22nd in defensive efficiency and also 26th in rebounding rate. With the weak opponent, it is reasonable to expect Dieng to exceed his 36.4 average. This gives him tremendous value at 1.7x.
This article expresses the personal views of the writer and does not reflect the view(s) of SuperDraft in any way.