Isn't Friday just the best?
The weekend looms large. People around the office have a little extra bounce in their steps. But perhaps most importantly, the work day wraps up early and conveniently bleeds right into happy hour.
And today, lucky for us, 28 of the 30 NBA teams will be in action, creating an Applebee's-esque all-inclusive menu to whet your NBA appetite.
So while you're sipping that ice-cold beer at O'Malley's Pub, check out some of the pro hoops on the flat-screen TV above the bar.
Michael Carter-Williams ($7,000) vs. Lakers
MCW just hit the lottery. Last year's Rookie of the Year was dealt from the toiling Sixers to the upstart Milwaukee Bucks. He also gets to play under second-year head coach Jason Kidd.
Kidd, you basketball lifers might recall, was a terrible shooter in his first two seasons out of Cal. But he was so good at all the other aspects of basketball—court vision, ball-handling, defending multiple positions, etc.—that he overcame his poor shooting to win Rookie of the Year.
Carter-Williams' first two seasons are eerily similar to Kidd's:
OK, there's one major difference: Kidd showed significant improvement between his first and second seasons. MCW has had a slight drop-off.
Regardless of the early-career shooting woes, I expect Kidd 2.0 (that's what I'm calling him now) to dominate the opposing Lakers' guards Friday night. Los Angeles allows the most points in the league to opposing point guards, and Carter-Williams is the type of athlete who can make a massive fantasy impact without depending on his jump shot.
Jimmy Butler ($7,900) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
Derrick Rose went down with another major injury. He's out for the season again. But while Chicago fans sulk, daily fantasy basketball players should rejoice. Check out Jimmy Butler's splits with and without Derrick Rose in the lineup:
|With Derrick Rose||39.2||19.8||5.7||3.1||1.7|
|Without Derrick Rose||38.9||21.6||6.6||3.9|
Though his minutes take a slight dip, his numbers improve across the board. That's because he finishes a much higher percentage of the team's possessions when his trigger happy back-court-mate is out. Over the next month or two, Butler's cost will likely jump. Play him while he's still (relatively) cheap.
Denver's oft-injured Italian has thrived since the departure of Arron Afflalo. He plays both wing positions and spreads the floor offensively.
My advice: Monitor the Chandler situation. If he's ruled out, play Danilo; if Chandler plays, switch to the Charlotte Hornets' Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
MKG is a tenacious defender with a terrible jump shot but plays within his limits and crashes the boards like a maniac. Tonight's opponent, Boston, plays at the fourth-fastest pace in the league and allows the sixth-most fantasy points per game to opposing small forwards.
Pau Gasol ($9,800) vs. Timberwolves
With double-doubles in nine of his last 10 games, Pau is enjoying the best rebounding season of his career. He's averaging 12.1 boards per game, fourth-most in the league and first among non-centers.
He's also posting 2.1 blocks per game, his highest mark since 2007.
Minnesota is allowing over 47 fantasy points per game to opposing power forwards, the third-most in the league. Instead of mourning the loss of their franchise point guard, Bulls fans should celebrate their franchise power forward's renaissance season.
Marcin Gortat ($5,200) vs. 76ers
The Washington Wizards' Gortat is coming off three straight solid outings:
|vs. Golden State||29||16||11||1||36.75|
He should stay hot on Friday against a Sixers team that allows the most fantasy points in the league to opposing centers.
Let's get one thing straight: These two will never be stars in the league. Canaan is a tough point guard in his second season in the league who, get this, graduated from Murray State.
Through one-and-a-half seasons, he hadn't made much of a fantasy impact before being dealt to the Sixers at the deadline. In the three games since, as a starter on the laughingstock of the league, Canaan has averaged over 30 minutes and 21.6 fantasy points per game.
Plus, he did this!
Denver's Hickson is a minus defender who tends to fly past shooters who pro-hop or pump-fake. He can't shoot free throws and commits nearly twice as many turnovers as assists.
But man, can this guy rebound! Throughout his seven-year career, he's averaged 11 rebounds for every 36 minutes he's been on the floor. With starting center Jusuf Nurkic out with an ankle injury, Hickson will start and should cruise to a double-double.
Derrick Favors ($7,400) vs. Nuggets
This is simple: Always play the power forward against the Nuggets. Granted, the defensive combination of Kenny Faried and J.J. Hickson is good for three or four amazing defensive plays on a given night, but both lack discipline. Against the Jazz, they should be Favors' fodder.