Today’s Thursday NBA slate is just five games, one of which is a back-to-back rematch between Dallas and Memphis. As usual, there are plenty of stars to choose from, so you’ll need to save salary at some point. In this column, I generally set $6000 as the bargain threshold, and I try to indicate when I think a position is particularly well-suited--or not--to using the cheap plays given the landscape of the particular slate.
J.J. Barea $5100: Barea has yet to have a bad game this season. His role off the bench is one he’s thrived in for years, and he’s certainly feeling it to start the 2017-18 season. He currently ranks ninth among point guards in player efficiency (21.8 PER) while enjoying a 31 percent usage rate while on the court. He only played 19 minutes last night in this top 10 PG matchup, meaning there should be plenty left in his tank for tonight’s rematch.
De’Aaron Fox $5700: Fox is settling in nicely with a solid 15-point, five rebound, five assist average in the Kings first four games. He draws a tougher assignment against Jrue Holiday tonight, but this should be a fast and high scoring game like those he has thrived in so far (e.g. Phoenix Monday night).
Lou Williams $5100: Williams missed the mark for the first time in the Clippers’ short season vs. Utah but should bounce back tonight in what Vegas has as the highest scoring game of the slate. He’s been generally the same ol’ Lou Williams, enjoying a high usage rate while on the court (27.5 USG) with the ninth best mark in PER among SGs. Williams should be a safe cornerstone at a position you’ll be able to save at tonight.
Bogdan Bogdanovic $4600: We’ve seen just one game out of Bogdanovic, who took his time to recover from a preseason ankle sprain, but it was a good one. Granted, most guards look good against the Suns, but he gets another favorable opponent tonight as the Pelicans are second in fantasy points allowed to SGs so far this season (and dating back to last year).
E’Twaun Moore $4200: The Kings are also a weak perimeter defense, which is a good spot for the extra-cheap Moore. He’s not without risk, but has three of four games over 20 fantasy points to start the season. This feels like the kind of game his high minutes (26-34 mpg) will translate into solid fantasy production.
James Ennis III $4300: Just when it was looking like Dillon Brooks was going to solidify his position at the three for the Grizzlies, Ennis starting pouring it on. He’s now played 37 and 33 minutes in the last two games, and is contributing in multiple statistical categories. He looks like the Memphis SF to use if you want to save, but tonight is a slate I’d prefer to roster two of the top three SF options.
Al-Farouq Aminu $5200/Ed Davis $4200: The Portland forwards are both in play depending on your salary saving needs. Davis isn’t getting as many minutes off the bench, but is putting them to very efficient use. He boasts a 27.6 rebounding rate and ranks 10th among PFs in PER. Aminu, too, is a value primarily for his rebounding, especially defensive, but can also get hot from the field. This game has the highest point total (212), so while it isn’t a great DvP situation for these guys, I think they can both reach value at their low salaries.
John Collins $5700: Collins is a somewhat risky play at this salary, given that he averages fewer than 20 minutes per game, but he’s put up back-to-back double doubles in the Hawks last two games and seems to have carved out a comfortable role on this young team. The Bulls are the best PF matchup on the slate, so if Ersan Ilyasova remains out tonight, I think you can use Collins with some confidence.
Robin Lopez $5800: It will be hard to get away from the top center options tonight, but it’s actually Lopez who draws the best DvP matchup (Atlanta allows the third most fantasy points to opposing centers and everyone has had big games against them). Lopez has been a stabilizer on this young team, scoring double digit points in each of the Bulls games while kicking in solid rebounding, a few blocks and nearly three assists per game.