Injuries cloud decision-making ahead of this Friday’s NBA slate which features five games, including Joel Embiid’s Philadelphia 76ers, LeBron James’s LA Lakers, Devin Booker’s Phoenix Suns and Jimmy Butler’s Miami Heat.
The injury concerns on James, along with teammate Anthony Davis as well as Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell, will impact decisions on premium players.
Also note the 76ers, the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks are all playing back-to-back games, so look out for managed minutes or rests.
LAST GAME LEARNINGS
Seth Curry (SG $11,050) re-discovered some form for the 76ers with 22 points, five rebounds and three assists against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, although his inconsistency will scare some off. His past two DS scores are 34.3 and 39, but he’s dropped as low as 6.5 and as high as 41.8.
On the topic of consistency, Heat small forward Jimmy Butler (SF $18,500) is exactly that, with his 23 points, six rebounds and six assists (47 DS points) against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday maintaining his average of 48.1 DS points per game. Reliable.
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul’s (PG $15,140) landmark 18 assists on Tuesday fueled him to 53.3 DS points (his second highest score of the season), while Boston’s Jayson Tatum (PF $16,740) recorded a season low 31.5 DS points, following up an ordinary 33.5, meaning he’s off the boil.
If Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Josh Giddey (SF $12,150) isn’t on your radar, then put him on it. Giddey had 15 points, five rebounds and seven assists on Monday, posting his second-best DS score of 38.8.
Lakers star LeBron James (SF(PF) $18,180) is questionable for Thursday’s game against OKC as he continues to battle an ankle problem. Malik Monk (SG $6,000) got more minutes when James missed games earlier this season. Anthony Davis (PF(C) $18,190) is probable despite a knee worry.
Ignore the misreporting, Jazz center Rudy Gobert (C $16,560) should take his place on Thursday against the Houston Rockets, with the similarly-named Rudy Gay (heel) injured, not the Frenchman. Teammate Donovan Mitchell (SG(PG) $15,740) however is listed as questionable with an ankle issue, although he did return to play with it on Tuesday. Monitor.
The 76ers are missing Danny Green (hamstring) and Tobias Harris (COVID-19) which has opened the door for Matisse Thybulle (SG (SF) $7,590) and Furkan Korkmaz (SG (SF) $8,790) to get more minutes, but Georges Niang (PF (SF) $9,290) has seen the biggest spike in his DS scores during their absence.
We’ve already mentioned Australian rookie Giddey (SF $12,150) but he still remains a great value option, having posted DS scores of 38.8, 38 and 47 in three of his past five games.
Lakers veteran Carmelo Anthony (PF $10,450) has been hit and miss this season but is averaging 31.8 DS points with a low-high of 9.5-42.3 and might be worth a gamble, especially if injury rules out other key players, offering him more minutes.
Teammate Dwight Howard (C $6,000) has had injury issues this season but monitor his role pre-game as he has bottomed out in price.
If you’re looking for bargain basement value, looks no further than Rockets rookie KJ Martin (PF(C) $6,000) who has managed scores of 23.5 and 20 DS points in his past two games with increased minutes.
Butler (SF $18,500) stands out as an option with his consistency and high ceiling, aided by good points and his ability to gather steals. He shouldn’t relent against the Celtics.
Russell Westbrook (PG $18,250) appears to be finding his groove with the Lakers and his average will only rise after his awful 18.3 DS score to start the season. With doubts on James and Davis, the NBA’s all-time triple-double leader may take things to the next level against the 1-6 Thunder.
Joel Embiid (C $18,970) hasn’t been at his best this season but he comes up against the lowly Detroit Pistons making him tempting. But Embiid’s season-low DS score of 27.5 occurred against the Pistons last week, even playing 31 minutes, so tread carefully. The 76ers are playing back-to-back games too, so the injury-prone big man may be managed in a likely routine win.
Devin Booker’s (SG(PG) $15,600) shooting radar has been off at times this season, meaning his numbers have dropped. Booker is shooting at 40.5% from the field, down on his career 45.4%, and down to 27.8% from three-point range from his career 35%.