After Kawhi Leonard signed with the Los Angeles Clippers instead of the Los Angeles Lakers this summer, the word you heard most among the talking heads in the NBA media was “parity.” While many teams could lay claim to formidable duos, it was the first time in a long time that the NBA Finals didn’t feel like a forgone conclusion. There were several organizations that had a shot in 2019-20 to take the title home and one of the squads experts seemed most excited about was the Jazz.
Well, flash-forward almost seven months, and Utah maybe hasn’t lived up to expectations, but its certainly been one of the more interesting case studies in the league. The Jazz have underperformed, they’ve reeled off long winning streaks without the services of Mike Conley, and, now that he’s back, they’ve lost five-in-a-row. There’s no team in the NBA that’s more difficult to read and the Blazers will have the chance to hand them loss No. 6 this evening.
Who should you play in the Captain’s slot?
Damian Lillard ($19,200 CP)
Sure, Lilllard has somewhat cooled from an insane six-game run that saw him average 48.8 points per night; yet the numbers he’s put up since Jan. 20 simply can’t be ignored. In that span of time, with a whopping 37.0% usage rate, Lillard’s managed to score 1.43 points per possession used, he’s averaging 1.88 DKFP per minute played, and, on top of all that, he’s still found a way to muster 16.0 potential assists per contest - the third-most of any player in the Western Conference in that same stretch. Considering the Jazz’s defense has allowed an unimpressive 111.4 points per 100 possessions in their past 15 games, I doubt they’re going to slow down the All-Star on Friday.
Who should I stack with Lillard?
Hassan Whiteside ($10,400)
Whiteside’s production in 2020 has been a little more inconsistent than it was in December, but the big man is still capable of tilting a slate on any given evening and that type of ceiling is always alluring in Showdown. Honestly, Whiteside’s past 10 games are the perfect microcosm for the risk and reward the 30-year-old brings to the table each and every night. In that stretch of action, while Whiteside has failed to bring back 30.0 DKFP on three separate occasions, he’s also exceeded 50.0 DKFP six times. As with most players, his viability mostly comes down to opportunity. Whiteside’s averaged 53.7 DKFP the past six contests he’s logged over 34 minutes, a grouping that includes a huge showing against this very same Utah team on Feb. 1. With Rudy Gobert as an opponent, I’d expect Terry Stotts to lean on Whiteside heavily.
Where can I find value in the contest?
Gary Trent Jr. ($2,800)
Trent’s impact in games has obviously lessened with C.J. McCollum returning from a brief absence a couple weeks back, though that doesn’t mean the sophomore guard is without value. Portland is a team that relies on it’s starters to shoulder a hefty burden of the workload each and every night, with all five players averaging over 32.0 minutes per contest in the team’s past six matchups. The only other person on the roster seeing more than 17.0 minutes within that same span? Trent, of course. The 21-year-old is averaging 23.4 minutes with an eye-popping 64.1% effective field goal rate. That’s more than enough volume and efficiency to get me interested.
Who should I fade?
Joe Ingles ($6,600)
We saw it at the start of the season and it’s rearing it’s ugly head once again: Ingles and Mike Conley just can’t co-exist from a fantasy standpoint. In the 353 minutes the duo have shared the court in 2019-20, the Australian possesses a paltry 12.6% usage rate and is averaging just 0.67 DKFP per 60 seconds on the court. Heck, if you need a more recent example, consider that Ingles has produced an underwhelming 15.1 DKFP the last four times both players have been active for the Jazz, despite Ingles seeing 30-plus minutes in three of the four games.
I am an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.