It’s February 2. Happy Groundhog Day! You know, writing this article is a little like Bill Murray re-living the same day over and over and over again. I wake up. I check the Lakers’ injury report. LeBron James is questionable. Every single time.
Los Angeles isn’t on tonight’s nine-game slate, but there are several key players listed on injury reports. Let’s break it all down and find some value.
SF Lu Dort, Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Charlotte Hornets, $3,900
If this seems like a really low price for Dort — it is. The veteran wing has generally hovered in and around the $5K range for the first three months of the season, with tonight marking the first occasion that he’ll be listed below $4K. Is some of this justified? For sure. Dort’s seen his minutes reduce in 2023-24, thanks primarily to an improved supporting cast in Oklahoma City. However, Dort is also shooting a career-high 38.4% from three-point range. He’s not suddenly bad or unplayable. It’s just a numbers crunch. A numbers crunch that won’t apply on Friday. With Jalen Williams (ankle) and Isaiah Joe (chest) sidelined, there’s simply more minutes to go around. Dort logged 36.3 minutes in Wednesday’s victory over the Nuggets and I’d expect a similar role in this evening’s tilt with the Hornets. It also doesn’t hurt Dort’s viability that Charlotte ranks dead-last in defensive rating (121.4).
SF Aaron Nesmith, Indiana Pacers vs. Sacramento Kings, $5,700
Nesmith is a little more expensive than the assets I usually write up in this space, but this spot could be extremely juicy. Not only is this a matchup between two uptempo teams with an implied total of nearly 250 points, but there are massive question marks in the Pacers’ rotation on the second night of a back-to-back. First and foremost: Will Tyrese Haliburton ($9,300; hamstring) be available? My gut says no. It’s possible the minutes restriction the All-Star has been playing under the last two games was designed to allow Haliburton to suit up two contests in a row, yet it feels more like a preventative measure. Indiana is going to be cautious with their franchise star. On top of that, it’s also unclear if Bennedict Mathurin ($4,800; toe) will return from his own injury. That would leave a lot of opportunity available for someone like Nesmith, who thrived in Haliburton’s initial absence. Heck, the former first-round pick is just averaging 39.5 DKFP across his last five games. That includes a 57.0 DKFP outburst against the Celtics.
PF Naji Marshall, New Orleans Pelicans vs. San Antonio Spurs, $3,900
There’s a lot of uncertainty at the four spot for the Pelicans on Friday. Zion Williamson ($7,300; foot) is questionable. Herbert Jones ($4,300; thigh) is questionable. Larry Nance Jr. ($3,500; ankle) is questionable. For Williamson and Jones, specifically, the duo are in danger of missing their second straight contest. Marshall didn’t start in Williamson’s place on Wednesday, yet the forward did log 31.0 minutes off the bench, finishing with 10 points, seven rebounds and 24.25 DKFP. That’s a greater output in every category than Dyson Daniels ($3,500), who was the player picked to join the team’s starting five. In fact, Marshall was even more productive than Trey Murphy III ($4,700). If Zion is ruled out once again, Marshall should have another big performance.
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