It seems like every NBA slate lately has had a TON of pre-lock news that has changed things significantly, which has led to these articles being pretty close to lock as I’ve scrambled to adjust them – which I think is something of a fool’s errand, as an article that comes out 20 minutes before lock ends up not being super useful even if it’s entirely up to date! So, I’m going to release these pieces earlier, and then if something changes, come catch up in Discord to discuss it.
Today’s slate is a nice 6-gamer since Brooklyn @ Minnesota was postponed – one thing this means is that, as it’s a relatively small slate, the raw floor of the big, low-multiplier studs is more in play than it is on a larger slate. That said, we only really have 2 minimal-multiplier studs on this slate: Westbrook and Jokic. With Beal back and in a bad matchup, I’m not very interested in Russ at a 1x multiplier, but as you’ll see when we get to the center spot I think Joker is definitely in play.
From a high level, this slate is really strong at guard, narrow at center with only a handful of viable choices, and then pretty diverse at forward, so I would approach my tournament constructions with a view of “play the chalk at guard and center, try to differentiate at forward.” There are also a lot of Kings and Jazz guys popping in projections, so think about correlation and restrictions via groups and/or max guys per team settings.
The top guards for me tonight are Curry, Mitchell, and Fox, all of whom come with decent multipliers. All are rather obvious plays as the primary scorers on their team in good matchups, and the gap between them and the next guys is meaningful enough that I’d be comfortable with a rule of at least 1 of the 3 in every lineup I build (if you want to just eat the chalk at guard and go off the board elsewhere, even using at least 2 of 3 in every roster is not unwarranted). As of right now before injury news throws us for a loop, I also like Ingles, Murray, Bazemore, Paul, Booker, and Morant. In Phoenix’s case, I wouldn’t pair Paul and Booker together (and in fact would only use at most 1 Sun), as Houston is going to be hard-pressed to keep up in this one – a competitive game is very, very unlikely, so you’re really just trying to catch a skewed scoring distribution in which one player gets the majority of the points.
Forward is a muddier position than guard today, which is why I’m so comfortable eating the chalk at guard. Here we have a whole pile of players projecting fairly close together. Ingles qualifies here, and I should also mention Bojan Bogdanovic here, as he’s great leverage off of the much-chalkier Mitchell and Ingles (you’re just hoping his shot is the one that’s falling and then Mitchell/Ingles fail due to a blowout – I would only play 2 of the 3 together in one lineup, and max 2 Jazz overall as we’ll see when we get to center). Williamson and Ingram are another pairing that I’d be wary of: both project well but with relatively modest multipliers, you need the scoring to favor one of them disproportionately, which means the other one is likely to not do enough to make it into the optimal (you can also consider James Johnson as a lower-owned pivot from the New Orleans duo here, similar to Bogdanovic in Utah). Holmes, DeRozan, Barnes, Porter, Ross, Anderson, LaVine, Wiggins, Green…all of these guys are entirely reasonable tournament options as well, with my preferences being Holmes/Barnes/Porter in that order.
Here the pool for me is fairly small – Joker, Gobert, Vucevic, and maybe a small sprinkle of Valanciunas, Ayton, and Poeltl. This spot just isn’t that strong today, and we also don’t have most of the forward-eligible centers on this slate (Holmes, oddly, is now just forward eligible – he’s somehow lost his center eligibility despite that being, you know, the position that he plays). I’m personally not interested in betting that someone like Adams or Bamba can keep up with the big boys on this one.