Welcome to the Friday edition of NBA Top Plays! We have eight games on the schedule tonight with action tipping off at 7:00 PM EST, and several of these games should be interesting from an actual basketball perspective in addition to being strong for DFS purposes. Make sure to keep up with the RotoGrinders DFS Alerts app for up-to-the-minute injury updates to ensure the players listed below are still viable come lineup lock.
The Hornets will be without Frank Kaminsky and Cody Zeller tonight and while that doesn’t directly impact Walker, it may lead to them leaning a little more heavily on their top scorer against a Chicago defense that struggles more with PGs than any other position. The Bulls rank 24th against PGs on the year and while I think Kris Dunn will become a really good NBA defender, I don’t see his presence negatively impacting Walker’s outlook tonight. Walker is averaging 1.07 FPPM with both Zeller/Kaminsky off the floor with Dwight Howard actually leading the team in usage in that split, so pairing these two up in GPPs has some merit. It also doesn’t hurt that Walker averages 3.4 more DK PPG while at home. Elfrid Payton has a ton of appeal at a cheaper price tag on DraftKings, while Dunn has some DFS intrigue himself on the other side of this matchup.
Shooting Guard – Will Barton ($7,200 on FanDuel, $6,900 on DraftKings)
Gary Harris is getting a lot of love tonight after a strong four-game stretch, but with Barton priced negligibly above Harris, I’ll take the ceiling that Barton provides. Barton sees a small bump in usage without Jokic/Millsap on the floor, but he’s typically running the second-unit when those two are healthy so it’s evident why his usage has stayed relatively stagnant now that he’s running with a new group of starters. He’s averaging 1.05 FPPM with Jokic/Millsap off this season and hasn’t had to fight for minutes, playing at least 34 in three of the team’s past four games. Orlando ranks 27th and 26th in terms of defensive efficiency against shooting guards and small forwards. You can make the case that Harris is the better cash game play between these two given that his minutes are more secure, but I’ll take the upside play in Barton for GPPs.
Small Forward – Jonathan Simmons ($6,100 on FanDuel, $5,600 on DraftKings)
With Evan Fournier, Terrence Ross and Jonathan Isaac off the floor this year, Simmons is third on the Magic in minutes with a very strong 31.6% usage rate (identical to Nikola Vucevic) and 0.89 FPPM mark, numbers that will make him an excellent value if he gets anywhere near his projected minute total (38). It’s likely that the Magic start Arron Afflalo at the SG spot in place of Fournier, but Afflalo isn’t the same type of player at this point in his career and should instead be expected to take on a similar role to Terrence Ross – a volatile shooter/scorer who will disappear at times even with an ample minutes load. Simmons should be as involved tonight as he’s been all year as a starter and while I also have a lot of interest in other members of the Magic, Simmons offers the best dollar per point value of the starting group.
Power Forward – Marvin Williams ($4,400 on FanDuel, $3,900 on DraftKings)
Williams isn’t an exciting player to roster, but with both Frank Kaminsky and Cody Zeller out of action, the Hornets are shorthanded enough in the front-court that Williams becomes a strong DFS target. He’s priced under $4K on DraftKings and is dirt cheap on FanDuel, giving him an excellent shot at returning value if he’s able to see at least 28-30 minutes of floor time. He’s second on the team in minutes with the two aforementioned players off the court (Dwight Howard leads the way) and I don’t expect Johnny O’Bryant to suddenly work his way into meaningful rotation minutes, so it’s hard not to expect a bump in court time for Williams. The Bulls don’t play small all that often which should help to keep the Hornets lineups bigger, making it tough for them to roll out a guy like Treveon Graham in some smaller units. Expect about 30-32 minutes for Marvin which should be plenty to pay off his price against a below average Bulls defense. On the high end at PF, Aaron Gordon is my favorite option with Draymond Green not far away.
Center – Nikola Vucevic ($8,400 on FanDuel, $8,100 on DraftKings)
Vucevic owns a 31.6% usage rate with Fournier, Ross and Isaac off the floor this year, and in that split he’s averaged a very strong 1.23 FPPM. I’d suspect that the Magic will try to lean a little more heavily on the starters given the recent slew of injuries to some key rotation players, and Vucevic should be the offensive centerpiece against a Denver defense that has been rolling with a combination of Mason Plumlee, Kenneth Faried and Trey Lyles in the front-court. I don’t think any of those players will give Vucevic much trouble and given how dominant he’s been recently (at least 57 FPs in two of his last three games), it’s likely that Orlando feeds him early and often. I have a lot of love for Gordon, Simmons and Payton also which will make getting heavy exposure to Vucevic a little tough if I want considerable exposure to all of them, but he’ll be the Orlando player I end up with the most of.