By: Eric Romoff
Tuesdays in the NBA typically mean a shorter slate of games, and tonight is no different as we’re looking at three games across the Association. What is somewhat unique about today’s affair is that many of the top performers have already been ruled out with injury or are expected to get a load-management day. This affects the approach we should take on Jock MKT by narrowing the list of candidates to finish inside the top three while significantly expanding the pool of players with legitimate top-10 upside. Tonight I’ll be building a foundation of blue chips with the premier stars in my portfolio and looking to speculate in the mid-cap range for players who can rise from mediocrity to finish near the top of the leaderboard. The game environment matters so much more when role players are thrust into the starting lineup so I’ll mostly be targeting players in the game between Phoenix and Portland as well as those with positional matchups working in their favor.
Kevin Durant | SF | Brooklyn Nets
Jock MKT Projection – 47.17 (1st)
Max IPO Bid -$15.75
Break-Even Rank – 4.38
Durant really has it all going for him tonight. He carries the highest projected point total on the board and is clearly the most likely option of the short list of players to wind up at the top of the list when it’s all said and done, as demonstrated by his 79.25-point effort his last time out. On a slate bereft of star power, Durant would have to have a career-worst type of performance to not finish in the top five. He gets involved in so many aspects of the game that a median performance could be the highest total on the board. This year in Brooklyn he’s averaging 29.4 points on 52.9% shooting, 7.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game, all of which are marks ahead of his career averages. It’s his efficiency and secondary stats that make him such a safe play to me. Even on a night where the Nets don’t need Durant to score he can easily flirt with a double (or even triple) double and readily find himself in the 40-point neighborhood on Jock MKT. The downside of targeting the top-projected player on a small slate is that you will have to pay a premium for him. Right now his projected IPO price is just a hair over $15 and, while I think we end up seeing it come in under that mark, I’m willing to bid as high as $15.75 in order to add his safe returns to my portfolio.
Damian Lillard | PG | Portland Trail Blazers
Jock MKT Projection – 37.61 (9th)
Max IPO Bid -$11.20
Break-Even Rank – 8.9
It looks like it’s more bad news for Lillard’s running mate in CJ McCollum, whose rib injury is thought to have punctured one of his lungs. Obviously, our thoughts are with CJ for a full and speedy recovery but we’d be remiss if we didn’t highlight the impact of his absence on the rest of his team. Nobody sees more of a boost when McCollum is off the court than Damian Lillard. Dame immediately picks up the majority of the scoring responsibility when McCollum is unavailable and is averaging roughly 46 fantasy points in the last calendar year in those games. Tonight Lillard gets a to face off against a Phoenix team that is eighth in fantasy points allowed to opposing point guards and is expected to be without many of their starting players on the second half of a back-to-back. He is one of the few players on the board tonight whose median projection should have him into the 40’s in scoring and comfortably within the top 10 of fantasy points on a short slate. His name recognition and McCollum’s absence will likely drive his IPO price up a good bit but even to that extent, Dame is poised to deliver solid returns on my max bid of $11.20.
Kevin Knox | SF/PF | New York Knicks
Jock MKT Projection – 14.58 (38th)
Max IPO Bid -$3.80
Break-Even Rank – 33.24
Kevin Knox exploded onto the scene last time out for the Knicks and I expect that to continue tonight against the Warriors. More than anything, the NBA is a game of opportunity and Knox took full advantage of his against Milwaukee; scoring 18 points, securing five rebounds and contributing one assist and 1onr steal in his first meaningful action of the season. This was due in large part to the absences of Alec Burks, RJ Barrett and Obi Toppin. Burks is expected to return but both Barrett and Toppin remain on the COVID list and that leaves Knox in a position to see time on the court once again. I’m not expecting him to flirt with 28 fantasy points or 30 minutes once more but 24 minutes and a 20-point outing are fairly reasonable totals for him tonight against the Warriors. The story of the 2021 season for the Warriors has been one of defensive efficiency but if they have a weak spot in that armor, it’s against opposing wings. They’ve allowed small forwards to contribute 20.9 points, 8.8 boards, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game this season and should offer just enough give for Knox to yield a nice return. It’s hard to tell how the market will treat him coming off the one-game sample so I’m inclined to bid aggressively to ensure I can add Knox to my portfolio.