By: Eric Romoff
It’s Tuesday and that means the NBA has a shorter slate in store for us. Tonight we’re looking at a clean five-gamer that does not feature any team playing on a back-to-back. On these short slates, injury news typically dictates who will win the night and I often find myself prioritizing the steady returns of the blue chips. All five games are clustered together, carrying game totals ranging from 211.5 to 221. This leaves me looking for teams in pace-up spots and with favorable defensive matchups, namely the Lakers, the Jazz and the Suns.
Luka Doncic, PG/SF, Dallas Mavericks
Jock MKT Projection: 48.95 (2nd)
Max IPO Bid: $14.25
Break-Even Rank: 5.75
This play is an exercise in regression. Luka Doncic has had an up-and-down start to the young NBA season where the nights that he hits are typically coming by way of contributing secondary stats. His scoring average is down approximately five points from last year as Luka is shooting just 25% from long range. It’s fair to expect Luka will get things going from behind the arc, giving him the scoring upside to finish number one on the slate. The second consideration that puts me on Luka tonight is how top-heavy this five-game slate is. Each of the Lakers’ big three are projected to finish inside the top five on Jock MKT tonight and I see it very likely that all three being available cannibalizes each player’s output. This serves to not only raise Luka’s floor but limits the pool of players who can push for the top spot tonight.
Devin Booker, PG/SG, Phoenix Suns
Jock MKT Projection: 38.2 (11th)
Max IPO Bid: $11.25
Break-Even Rank: 9.5
Devin Booker got off to an ice-cold start in the opening game of the season and that looks to have influenced his projection ever since. On opening night he shot just three of 15 from the field and delivered only 20 fantasy points on Jock MKT. Since that game, he’s averaged nearly 40 fantasy points and has delivered better than 25% return on his average IPO price of $6.55. As I mentioned in the open the Suns are in one of the more favorable matchups carrying a 113.25 implied total against a Pelicans team that is 10th in the league in pace of play. Booker also sits on the backside of a projection cliff where the next player is a full two points behind Booker’s projected output. While he may not have the upside to finish first on the slate his position on that cliff gives him a fairly safe floor, which is something I covet for my mid-cap plays.
Pat Connaughton, SG/SF, Milwaukee Bucks
Jock MKT Projection: 21.52 (45th)
Max IPO Bid: $5.15
Break-Even Rank: 33.88
This one is setting up perfectly for Connaughton. The Bucks are in one of the lower game totals on the sleep and have several usual starters either ruled out or doubtful heading into tip-off. Connaughton has stayed very active defensively, averaging better than six rebounds and nearly one steal per game over his last five. Given how much scoring will be absent for the Bucks I expect Connaughton to be the primary beneficiary and convert the added opportunity into a significant fantasy return. The secondary Bucks pieces typically don’t draw much attention from fantasy players and I expect that to keep Connaughton’s IPO price very low, even on the short slate.