By: Eric Romoff
Several things make tonight’s NBA slate unique. Today marks only the fourth time this season that we have a four-gamer and, despite the short-slate, three of these games feature teams coming in on a back-to-back. Further complicating the slate is the game between the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers that has 13 players already ruled out and several more carrying “Questionable” designations. This certainly opens up the potential of lesser-known guys to pop into the top 20 of scoring, but also introduces a fair amount of risk as the small player pool will dictate higher prices on the low-end plays. Tonight I’ll be trying to build a base of steady returns by targeting the Blue Chip players and coupling that with several Penny Stock holdings that have the potential for significant returns given their game environment. It’s the type of night where 45 points can lead the slate and that opens up a long list of players who have that type of upside on their range.
Julius Randle – PF | New York Knicks
Jock MKT Projection – 38.19 (4th)
Max IPO Bid – $12.20
Break-Even Rank – 7.8
There are a couple things in play with the decision to invest in Randle. The first is that we saw him return from the health and safety protocols on Tuesday to a full complement of minutes and immediately regain his position as the focal point of this Knicks attack. He played 39 minutes against the Pacers and delivered 30 points and 16 boards en route to a 58-point performance that led the slate on Tuesday. He could have easily gotten over 60 points if he hadn’t chucked up seven three-point attempts, as his misses from long-range cost him with the negative scoring on Jock MKT. Tonight Randle faces off against a Boston Celtics team that is allowing the seventh-most fantasy point to opposing power forwards but is fairly strong defending them from the perimeter. This should find Randle spending more time down low where he can score easy buckets and collect plenty of rebounds against an undersized and elderly Celtics frontcourt. The second consideration for the Randle play is just how wide-open the board will be tonight. A 40-point performance will likely fall into the top five and there are no shortage of players who have that upside on their range. Spending more than about $12.50 on a player when there are so many guys who can bump them out of the top five is just a bit too risky for me and Randle’s price tag should fall in just under that threshold. Those factors combine to make Randle one of my favorite spend-up plays and he will be a centerpiece of my portfolio tonight on Jock MKT.
Josh Hart – SF – New Orleans Pelicans
Jock MKT Projection – 30.96 (14th)
Max IPO Bid – $8.85
Break-Even Rank – 14.2
The Josh Hart breakout season is finally here and I couldn’t be happier to see it. Hart has always been one of those raw players who has flashed his upside from time to time but now he is in a steady rhythm and has been delivering night after night on Jock MKT. He has surpassed his current projection in 10 of his last 12 games and has brought an astounding 472% ROI to his investors over that stretch. We’ve seen Hart steadily contribute secondary and defensive stats throughout his career but it’s his scoring that has led the way during this hot streak. He has routinely been taking an aggressive line toward the basket lately and has been rewarded with high-percentage shots and plenty of attempts from the free-throw line. This finds him in the mid-teens for points scored and getting better than six shots from the charity stripe per game to go along with all the other counting stats he was contributing. We’ve seen him break 40 points four times over this stretch of games and he has capped out with a 55-point explosion against the Thunder about 10 days ago. If Hart maintains his average from his recent games he stands to return a solid ROI as it is and anything close to the top end of his range will flirt with the top spot tonight. Hart is one of the few players in this mid-range that offers both safety and upside and I’ll have a ton of exposure to him in my portfolio tonight.
Justice Winslow – SF – Los Angeles Clippers
Jock MKT Projection – 12.18 (65th)
Max IPO Bid – $3.25
Break-Even Rank – 49.5
Justice Winslow is one of the better points-per-minute players in the NBA and has been for several seasons now. The issue for him has largely been availability as injuries have cost him several games season over season. Now a Los Angeles Clipper, Winslow is a staple of the rotation coming in off the bench and stuffs the stat sheet whenever he’s on the floor. Of late, Winslow has been healthy enough to play and the Clippers have plenty of minutes to give the veteran swingman as they battle a COVID outbreak in their locker room. Over his last three games Winslow has averaged 22 minutes and has delivered fantasy performances that double (or better) his current projection of 12.18. Tonight against the Suns should be no different as the Clippers have already ruled out six players and there’s a chance for Winslow to see even more run should the Clippers get boat-raced by the Suns, who are currently 11-point favorites. There simply isn’t anybody else whose recent play and current projection is so far apart so I’ll be bidding aggressively to acquire shares of Winslow to tonight’s market.