The play-in tournament is officially here, and Tuesday features a two-game slate starting at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Ah, competitive basketball, how I’ve missed you so. We should get some good games on Tuesday, and the Celtics stand out as one of the top teams to target. They own the top implied team total on the slate vs. the Wizards, and they will still be playing without Jaylen Brown.
Kemba Walker has been one of the biggest beneficiaries with Brown off the court this season. He’s increased his usage rate by a team-high +4.5%, resulting in an average of 1.17 DraftKings points per minute. He’s been even better when he’s been on the court recently, averaging 1.27 DraftKings points per minute over the past month. Overall, he’s one of the best values of the day at just $7,300 on DraftKings given his Bargain Rating of 98%.
The one downside of playoff basketball is that value is very tough to come by. That said, there is a scenario where Aaron Holiday would become viable on this slate. The Pacers have listed a bunch of players as questionable vs. Hornets, including starting point guard Malcolm Brogdon. Holiday is also questionable, but he would make some sense if he’s in and Brogdon is ultimately ruled out.
The Pacers’ injuries are going to be extremely important on this slate, so make sure to monitor the situation using the Labs Insiders tool.
The big question on Tuesday’s slate is can you afford Russell Westbrook? He’s obviously an elite fantasy option, but he’s going to be very tough to fit in your lineups given the lack of value. Unless the Pacers are without a bunch of players, I’m not sure jamming him into your lineup is a viable strategy at the moment.
LaMelo Ball stands out as the best pure value at the position on FanDuel. He’s priced at just $7,200, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 86%, and Ball has averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.80 with a comparable salary this season (per the Trends tool).
Terry Rozier has carried a monster workload for the Hornets recently. He’s averaged more than 40 minutes over his past six games, and he’s averaged 1.06 DraftKings points per minute this season. The Hornets remain without Gordon Hayward and Cody Martin, which means Rozier should be looking at another huge workload on Tuesday. The Pacers’ defense also struggled mightily over the second half of the year, allowing an average of 114.9 points per 100 possessions.
Rozier leads the position with 13 Pro Trends on FanDuel, where his $7,200 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 80%.
Marcus Smart has struggled to end the year, posting a negative Plus/Minus in each of his past four games. That said, it’s hard to ignore him at his current price tag across the industry. He’s currently projected for 34 minutes in an excellent matchup – the Wizards have played at the fastest pace this season – and Smart has averaged 0.90 DraftKings points per minute for the year.
Devonte’ Graham is another potential option for the Hornets. He’s been nearly as effective as Rozier on a per-minute basis recently, averaging 0.94 FanDuel points per minute over the past month. He’s not expected to see quite as much playing time as Rozier, but he’s still projected for a sizable 31.5 minutes in our NBA Models.
Bradley Beal shouldn’t command a ton of ownership on today’s slate, but he does stand out as a nice value on DraftKings. He’s priced at just $9,000, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 98%. That makes him an interesting contrarian option for tournaments.
Evan Fournier is one of the easiest plays of the day on DraftKings. He’s been asked to pick up the slack with Brown out of the lineup recently, and he’s thrived in that role. He’s exceeded salary-based expectations in each of his past seven contests, including in his last game despite playing just 24.4 minutes. Overall, he’s posted an average Plus/Minus of +6.50 over his past 10 contests, and his $6,000 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 99%.
The Pacers were just dealt a huge blow heading into the playoffs. Caris LeVert has been ruled out for health and safety protocols, and he’s expected to miss multiple games if the Pacers can advance past the Hornets. Add in all their questionable players, and the Pacers have the potential to be extremely thin.
Justin Holiday is someone who should see a solid handful of minutes, and he’s increased his production to 0.76 DraftKings points per minute over the past month. If any of the questionable players are ruled out, he would become an even stronger value.
Miles Bridges is arguably the top play at the position on FanDuel. He leads the position in a variety of different categories: Opponent Plus/Minus (+1.86), Bargain Rating (72%), and recent fantasy production (1.06 FanDuel points per minute over the past month). He also leads the position with 38.2 projected minutes, so there is plenty to like with him vs. the Pacers.
Rui Hachimura has been inconsistent for the Wizards this season, but he should be expected to carry his usual workload on Tuesday. He’s currently projected for 34 minutes in our NBA Models, and players with comparable salaries and minute projections have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +3.45 on FanDuel.
With Brown out of the lineup, Jayson Tatum is going to be asked to carry the load offensively for the Celtics during the playoffs. That’s a role that Tatum can handle. He averaged 25.7 points, 10.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 2.2 blocks + steals in 17 playoff games last season, and those came with Brown in the lineup. Tatum has increased his production to 1.35 DraftKings points per minute with Brown off the court this season.
Jalen McDaniels has emerged as an important role player for the Hornets to end the season. His playing time has fluctuated a bit, but he’s averaged 30.0 minutes over his past eight games. He’s also been productive when on the court, averaging 0.82 DraftKings points per minute. His matchup vs. the Pacers is also a good one, resulting in an Opponent Plus/Minus of +1.24.
On the other side of that matchup, Doug McDermott could be asked to replace LeVert in the starting lineup. Even if he doesn’t, he will almost certainly be looking at a few additional minutes. McDermott has averaged 0.82 FanDuel points per minute over the past month, and his matchup vs. the Hornets results in an Opponent Plus/Minus of +1.88.
Oshae Brissett is another potential value option for the Pacers. He has thrived when given the opportunity to play big minutes this season, which is not surprising given his average of 0.95 DraftKings points per minute. That said, most of his big games came when the team was playing without virtually all of their big men. He clearly has upside, but guys like Holiday and McDermott are safer options considering the difference in price.
I’m fully expecting Domantas Sabonis to be in the lineup despite being listed as questionable. He was also questionable for their last game, and he ended up playing 39.3 minutes. As long as he’s active, he should be able to deliver excellent fantasy value vs. the Hornets. He has served as the Pacers’ offensive focal point recently, increasing his fantasy production to 1.65 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, and he should benefit from the absence of LeVert. He would become close to a must-play if Brogdon is also ruled out.
Cody Zeller is in contention with guys like Walker and Fournier in terms of best pure value on the slate on DraftKings. He’s been excellent recently, which is not surprising since he’s played at least 29.4 minutes in three of his past four games. Zeller has averaged 1.06 DraftKings points per minute this season, so he can do some damage with that much playing time. His matchup vs. the Pacers is also juicy, resulting in an Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.04 on FanDuel.
Robert Williams is probable for the Celtics, so he should be back in the lineup on Tuesday. That makes him an interesting buy-low option. It’s unclear how much playing time he’ll see in his first game back, but he’s averaged a stout 1.26 FanDuel points per minute this season. That means he doesn’t need a ton of minutes to potentially return value.
Photo Credit: Will Newton/Getty Images
Pictured: Russell Westbrook