Who else watched the TNT broadcast on Thursday night and thought, “Damn, do I really watch more basketball than Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley?” Then again, some of y’all have probably felt that way for years. (The terrifying thing is many of you might be correct.)
Let’s begin today’s picks by revisiting that, and for great reason.
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Elites - Yah
Elites - Yah
👍 Donovan Mitchell, SG/PG, Utah Jazz
Yahoo: $33 | DraftKings: $7,900 | FanDuel: $8,200
We’ve all seen the Donovan Mitchell and Shaq clip by now, right? Cool. Did everyone watch the actual analysis to follow where Barkley said Mitchell needed to get at least 10 rebounds 25 times a season and at least 10 assists 30 times a season? It’s unfair to Mitchell, who has actually been quite underrated this season.
Though he is far from the most expensive player, even at his own shooting guard position — with point guard eligibility on DraftKings — he’s the driving force to the Utah Jazz’s 11-4 start. Through 15 games, the Louisville alum is averaging over 24 points, with nearly five assists and four rebounds. He’s shooting close to 44 percent from the field and nearly 41 percent from three. He’s also on a brilliant scoring tear at 27.1 points per game through his last nine contests, shooting close to 50 percent during the run. Mitchell is one of the best values at guard and is a great option to have for those who can’t stomach James Harden’s ongoing steep price tag. Mitchell has the Golden State Warriors tonight. Other elites who should have favorable nights ahead include Luka Doncic, Bam Adebayo, Joel Embiid, and Nikola Jokic.
Instead of picking on Anthony Davis, who underwhelmed again (fantasy-wise), let’s head to Brooklyn, who is coming off back-to-back losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers. This has nothing to do with Harden’s performances or fit in Brooklyn so far as much as it is his price tag; and the fact that an aforementioned Mitchell or fellow two-guard Zach LaVine are perfectly viable alternatives. Harden’s the designated playmaker on the Brooklyn squad, which has never been Kyrie Irving’s calling-card. Irving’s a shot creator extraordinaire, but Harden will touch 10 or more assists on many occasions. Irving’s only done that four times since joining the Nets, and seldom did so beforehand.
Even so, Harden has been shooting far less in his early Brooklyn days (he only shot 6-of-14 last night in Cleveland). It doesn’t appear we’ll get Houston Harden in the immediate, and we probably shouldn’t ever again from a basketball standpoint, at least. But for fantasy, his price needs to drop before we’re comfortable spending the huge dollars on him over Doncic, Jokic, Embiid, or even Kevin Durant on his same team. Harden faces the Miami Heat tonight, which may even serve Irving (value-wise) more than it does for him.
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😴 Kendrick Nunn, PG/SG, Miami Heat
Yahoo: $15 | DraftKings: $5,600 | FanDuel: $6,500
If you haven’t been paying attention, Kendrick Nunn is back! (Temporarily, at least.)
He’s upgraded from a “Fuck It” option to a true sleeper for tonight’s encounter with Brooklyn. After being bumped out of the rotation and falling off his near Rookie of the Year campaign due to COVID in late 2019-20, Nunn has rebounded to play his best basketball since before the bubble. Tyler Herro is still out with a neck injury, which will sideline him into next week. In his last three games, Nunn’s scored 68 points on 58 percent shooting, while adding 17 rebounds, 13 assists, and even six steals, coming off Miami’s bench. Even so, he’s logged 34, 35, and 39 minutes, respectively, across those three games as he regains the spark established immediately as an undrafted rookie 15 months ago. Jimmy Butler and Avery Bradley remain out due to COVID protocol, and with Herro away for at least three more games, Nunn’s opportunities will increase so long as his production heightens. It’s been a two-guard heavy day, so some sleepers to consider at other positions include Mikal Bridges, Thaddeus Young, Jae’Sean Tate, and Naz Reid.
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🤷🏽♂️ James Wiseman, C, Golden State Warriors
Yahoo: $17 | DraftKings: $5,200 | FanDuel: $4,800
Maybe it’s natural growth, maybe it’s part of the packaged potential, or maybe it’s Draymond Green’s wisdom, but Wiseman is clearly figuring something out. The rookie 7-footer has been inconsistent through Golden State’s first 15 games, but ever since Green pulled him aside to disrespect Marc Gasol (right in front of Gasol himself) to boost Wiseman’s confidence, we’ve seen a fantasy switch flipped. Following just four points and three rebounds in under 13 minutes against those Lakers, Wiseman recorded 20 points, six rebounds, and four assists in a win over the San Antonio Spurs, followed by a 15-point, eight-rebound performance in a loss to the New York Knicks. It’s not probably the wisest (sorry) option at center, but “Fuck It,” it’s budget-friendly upside that’ll benefit elsewhere.