Scouting the NBA 12/18/17

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports


Plays of the Day


Value: Richaun Holmes produced a double double over 33 minutes on Saturday and should see at least that amount of run tonight with Joel Embiid (rest) out for the Sixers.

Fade: Karl-Anthony Towns is heating up, but could slow down in a tough matchup against Jusuf Nurkic and the Blazers, a team that ranks 2nd in defensive rating this season.


Point Guards


Chris Paul – (9,000 DK/9,900 FD)

Recently, Paul has essentially been producing on the same level as James Harden at a much lower price tag, and he draws the better individual matchup tonight against Ricky Rubio and the Jazz. Utah has given up the second-most RPG (7.69) and ninth-most FPPG (48.27) to opposing PGs over the last month and CP3 contributed to those totals with 18 points, 9 rebounds and 13 assists in Utah earlier this month. He should keep rolling along with the rest of the Rockets offense at home tonight.

Lonzo Ball – (6,900 DK/7,300 FD)

Ball continues to fill the box score with peripheral stats and he’s found his stroke from long range of late. A home tilt against the defending champion Warriors is no longer as intimidating with Draymond Green (shoulder) and Steph Curry (ankle) expected to be in street clothes. With Curry out at times, the Dubs are allowing the sixth-most FPPG (49.76) and most PPG (25.18) to opposing PGs over the last month while maintaining their blinding pace of play. Always more dangerous in the open court, Ball went for 15 points and 10 assists in a meeting with the Warriors earlier this year and he’s operating as more of a true threat at this point.


Potential Value

Isaiah Canaan – (3,300 DK/3,700 FD)

Canaan provided a nice lift for the Devin Booker-less Suns on Saturday and should see more run tonight as a result.



Kris Dunn – (6,800 DK/7,500 FD)

Dunn continues to carry the Bulls and they should get into a close game at home against the Joel Embiid-less Sixers.


Shooting Guards

Donovan Mitchell – (6,700 DK/7,400 FD)

Mitchell is clearly a top play in what should be an offensive shootout with James Harden and the fast-paced Rockets tonight. Mitchell leads all rookies at 18.1 PPG and he’s posting one of the highest usage rates (29.1%) in the league. With Rudy Gobert (knee) out indefinitely, Mitchell’s responsibilities should increase even further and he’ll have to go off to keep Utah competitive at red-hot Houston, so give him a look as a correlation play alongside Paul or Harden.

Gary Harris – (6,100 DK/6,700 FD)

An early frontrunner for Most Improved Player of the Year, Gary Harris has expanded his offensive repertoire to a mind-boggling degree. Formerly just a pure shooter and good defender, he’s taking defenders off the dribble and making plays this year. Harris has produced 86 points and 22 assists over his last four appearances and is averaging 38.25 MPG during that span. Even with Will Barton (back) returning and Nikola Jokic (ankle) working his way back to speed, Harris remains a key cog in the Nuggets high-powered offense.



Potential Value

Troy Daniels – (4,000 DK/3,600 FD)

Daniels is worth a look in GPP formats as he fills in for Devin Booker.



Victor Oladipo – (8,700 DK/9,300 FD)

Oladipo shouldn’t get overlooked despite facing the Celtics top-ranked defense tonight.


Small Forwards

Kevin Durant – (11,600 DK/12,000 FD)

Durant is close to a must play tonight with Steph Curry and Draymond Green ruled out for the Warriors and few other studs worth spending on. He’s forced to do so many things and is averaging 1.52 FPs per minute with Green and Curry off the court this season. He managed 29 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists in an OT win over the Lakers with Curry active and was arguably outplayed by Brandon Ingram in that contest, so look for the world’s second-best player to come out motivated and ready to carry his squad on the road.

 Nic Batum – (5,700 DK/6,400 FD)

Batum is clearly getting healthier after offseason elbow surgery, as he’s played 34, 37, and 38 minutes over his last three games and produced his usual plus peripheral stats with 16 rebounds and 18 assists during that span. Batum found his range, going 5-for-9 from deep in a close loss to Portland on Saturday and now he’ll face a Charlotte team that allows the second-most 3PT attempts (32.8) and fourth-most 3PTM (11.9) per game this season.


Potential Value

Joe Ingles – (4,900 DK/5,300 FD)

Ingles has been consistent all year and is forced into more of a versatile role with Derrick Favors (eye) out in addition to Rudy Gobert (knee).



Robert Covington – (6,300 DK/7,400 FD)

Covington should step up along with several other Sixers in the absence of Joel Embiid.

Power Forwards

Bobby Portis – (4,700 DK/5,000 FD)

If Lauri Markkanen (back) misses another game, Portis would remain a clear-cut value play worth deploying in any format. He’s coming off a 27-point, 12-rebound double double in Milwaukee on Friday and will face a Sixers front line that will be much more vulnerable with Joel Embiid (rest) inactive tonight. Portis is posting career-best averages of 21.3 points and 11.2 rebounds per 36 minutes and is playing well alongside Mirotic despite their early-season spat.

Richaun Holmes – (4,100 DK/4,500 FD)

Earlier this year, when Joel Embiid was forced to rest, Holmes wasn’t healthy enough to step in and play big minutes for the fragile center. Yet he managed 33 minutes in a start at PF last Saturday and produced 15 points and 11 rebounds over that playing time. Holmes is the likeliest candidate to man the middle for Embiid tonight and he draws a good matchup against a Bulls team that’s given up the seventh-most RPG (16.36) to opposing centers over the last month.



Potential Value


Jordan Bell – (4,500 DK/4,700 FD)

Bell should start at PF for the Warriors with Draymond Green (shoulder) ruled out.




Nikola Mirotic – (5,900 DK/7,000 FD)

Mirotic continues to fill it up for Chicago and he’ll likely remain in a high usage role even if Markkanen returns to steal minutes at PF.




Greg Monroe – (5,100 DK/5,900 FD)

Monroe is averaging 11.8 PPG and 9 RPG over his last six appearances and appears to be seeing more usage with Devin Booker (groin) out. He’s been able to slide over to PF at times to accommodate another surging big man in Alex Len ($4.9k, $5.4k) and Dallas has coughed up the most RPG (15.05) and seventh-most FPPG (48.12) to opposing PFs over the last month. Mavs starting 4 Dirk Nowitzki is clearly a below average defender at this late stage in his career and Monroe has a wide array of post moves with which to victimize the veteran.

Ekpe Udoh – (3,700 DK/4,700 FD)

With Rudy Gobert (knee) and Derrick Favors (concussion) out, Udoh is a great value option tonight. He peaked with 9 points, 7 rebounds, 6 blocks, 3 assists and 3 steals over 33 minutes in Cleveland on Saturday and he could draw an even more favorable matchup tonight if Houston’s starting center Clint Capela (heel) is unable to play. As long as Udoh can avoid foul trouble while contesting drives from Harden, he should play enough minutes to exceed value once again.


Potential Value


Kelly Olynyk – (5,000 DK/6,200 FD)

Olynyk will be forced into big minutes with James Johnson (ankle) out in addition to Hassan Whiteside (knee).




Dwight Howard – (7,800 DK/8,500 FD)

Howard could dominate the paint tonight, especially if Kristaps Porzingis (knee) is unable to play for the Knicks.