Nine games are on the NBA slate Wednesday, with Phoenix, Washington and Denver on the tail-ends of back-to-back ses, with the Nuggets heading into Boston straight off a bad road loss to Detroit. As of publication time, Vegas sees a lot of value in the Rockets/Hornets matchup with a 221 Over/Under, and if you watched the last Houston game, I can see why. As we first look at our high-salary picks, itís looking like itís all about James Harden.
James Harden, CHA at HOU ($11,600): itís hard to describe how good his 17-assist performance was on Monday. Harden and Clint Capela have perfected a play that the Pelicans had no answer for. Harden drives left into the lane, lobs an underhand up and right about two feet from the glass, and Capela is there to slam it down, in sort of a sideways alley-oop. They did it again, and again Ė and again. They did this with DeMarcus Cousins in action, and unless Dwight Howard and the Hornets can find an answer to these antics, Harden is simply too good to fade. Howard has had success against the Rockets, but Chris Paul wasnít around for that contest. The Hornets have a tendency to tire late so I have a small fear for a blowout, but not enough to shy away.
Elsewhere in the spend-up zone, Russell Westbrook ($11,200) faces the Pacers again, a team he lit up for 72 DKFP when they last met. I donít have to tell you to play Westbrook -- that would be DFS rookie-speak. All too easy, as Darth Vader would say (only two more days until Episode Eight). But the underlying problem with Westbrook is the Thunderís overall volatility, and our goal to get to 300-plus depends on upside, so when it comes to meeting value, I like Hardenís chances better.
The other elites clash in the Bucks/Pelicans game, with DeMarcus Cousins ($11,000) facing Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,200) and an undersized Bucks frontcourt. If Anthony Davis sits again, Cousins has an excellent chance to make value on a slate that is cluttered with questionable tags at the center position. The Greek Freak should also see a slightly smaller ownership than usual and makes for another good spend-up option.
Weíll now look at everyone else, with three options (high end, DK median and budget prices) per position.
This position is by far the most plentiful on Wednesdayís slate. You have a lot of flexibility here, with a myriad of options. I should note that while I select three players to highlight, the names I mention in name only hold equal weight.
Victor Oladipo, IND vs. OKC ($9,200): With Kyle Lowry struggling and Kyrie Irving and John Wall dealing with injuries, Oladipo emerges as the safest guard candidate. Of course, Chris Paul and Damian Lillard are there as well, but the 25-year-old Pacers standout has delivered 40-plus DKFP in seven out of his last 10 contests, a claim that only Lillard can match. The Pacers will also be without Darren Collison, so look for Oladipo to log more assists than usual.
Lou Williams, LAC at ORL ($7,700): I had to stop in this range before I moved further south because the pure-shooting veteran canít be ignored any longer. As the Clippers regroup from the Blake Griffin injury, Williamsí minutes have now stabilized in the 30-35 range. Williamís ceiling has always been high, and his ownership will be low with all the sparkly options around him.
Goran Dragic, MIA vs. POR: ($6,200): Say what you will about the effect of cross-country trips, but itís a real intangible that you need to target when you can. After a five-game skid and a loss to the Warriors in Oakland, the Blazers need some time to rest and regroup, and a trip to the Heat isnít their idea of a respite. Portland is tough defensively, but I like Dragicís chances to meet value at home. Heís settled right at the 30 DKFP range for the season, so while he isnít as exciting in a GPP, he offers stability at the median price.
Other guards to consider: Damian Lillard, POR at MIA ($9,000), DeMar DeRozan, TOR at PHO ($8,300), Kris Dunn, CHI vs. UTA ($6,300), Cory Joseph, IND vs. OKC ($4,200)
Lots of places to spend down here. In general, I will spend the least amount of my available funds at forward on Wednesday.
Khris Middleton, MIL at NO ($6,800): Middleton should have an opportunity to slice through the Pelicansí softest spot at the wing, and I see Giannis looking for him often as he tangles with Jrue Holiday and EíTwaun Moore. Itís primarily a game-flow prognostication, but the offense should flow to Middleton at a higher rate in this matchup.
Serge Ibaka, TOR at PHO, ($5,700): Itís a long trip for the Raptors, but couple Ibakaís success against the Suns in their last matchup with Phoenixís back-to-back, and you have s good setup for Ibaka at a decent price. Ibaka has been notoriously under-owned this season, as heís often overlooked with so many favorable options in Toronto. If Kyle Lowry can shake off his mediocre play, Ibaka should be a primary beneficiary of those dimes.
Trey Lyles, DEN at BOS ($4,400): Itís time to sit up and take notice of this development in Denver. Kenneth Faried has been just fine as Paul Millsapís replacement, but with Nikola Jokic also out, the Nuggets need a lot of help underneath. While Mason Plumlee ($4,400) has seen a good bit of time at the same price, the 6-10 Lyles finally gets an opportunity to shine in Denver, where weíre seeing flashes of what he did in Kentucky three years ago. Both Plumlee and Lyles can easily meet value at this price right now.
Other forwards to consider: Carmelo Anthony, OKC at IND ($6,500), Jonathon Simmons, ORL vs. LAC ($6,400), Nikola Mirotic ($5,200)
Nikola Vucevic, ORL vs. LAC ($8,800): Vucevic has been on a torrid, three-game tear where heís averaged 24.7 points and 15.3 rebounds, and the Orlando big man has become practically matchup-proof this season. His elevated price is well-warranted, but if youíre fading Cousins, Vucevic is a great way to go for about 3K less.
Rudy Gobert, UTA at CHI ($6,600): Gobert is finally scraping the 30-minute range since his return from injury, and at this price the Utah big man has some nice value against the Bulls. After dipping down to $6,200 after some disappointing outings, his price is back on the rise, so take advantage while you can. I like Gobert in my utility spot.
PUNT PLAY: Bam Abedayo, POR at MIA ($4,300): I usually spend a buck or two on a GPP with a few punt plays, and Adebayo fits the bill here. Kelly Olynyk will be where most people go with Hassan Whiteside injured, but Adebayo has every opportunity to outdo Olynyk here, and his propensity for a few blocks and steals in Whitesideís absence is an added bonus. Plus, his name is Bam. How can that not be fun to play?
Other centers to consider: Dwight Howard, CHA at HOU ($7,600), DeAndre Jordan, LAC at ORL ($7,300), Jonas Valanciunas, TOR at PHO ($4,700)
Thatís all for Wednesday. Check your lineups before tip-off tonight to keep track of late scratches and any questionable tags you may be playing.