NBA DFS Picks: R2-IT2
The hardest part about being a writer in any capacity is getting people to “want” to read what you write. In much more formal settings, it’s even more difficult, as a snappy lede doesn’t always do the trick. For me though, I can just bribe you. If you read this article, and scroll to the bottom, a pleasant video of Kawhi Leonard‘s top-10 plays awaits you.
PG: Isaiah Thomas
It took me two tries before I realized that typing in “IT2” didn’t give me a look at Isaiah Thomas‘ Basketball-Reference page this morning. When I finally got there, I was pleasantly surprised. Thomas has had a fluctuating role in the last few years, and as such, he’s had to transform in the minds of DFS players. He went from an electric bench player that was capable of stealing you GPPs to a starting point guard for Brad Stevens wacky rotations. Thomas’ role is quite safe now, and his production has matched it. His 36 minute averages are everything you could hope for from a point guard with a price below that of all the others. He has the ball in his hands a lot, and puts up a ton of shots (nearly 19 per 36) averaging over 20 points a game this season. If he’s not hitting shots, he’ll fill the rest of the sheet, not at a rate of Westbrook, but enough to fluff the floor a little. The reason I like him so much though is his price. He carries a more volatile floor, but a similar upside to Damian Lillard, Chris Paul and company, but he’s even cheaper.
SG: Will Barton
I have been fighting this play all season long, especially on FanDuel where you are FORCED to take two shooting guards but it is time to embrace it. Barton is an animal when he’s on the court. I know some are openly against using players that make their way to the floor via the bench, but he has been perhaps the most consistent producer on the Nuggets this season. Coming off the bench, Barton provides tons of energy and is involved with nearly every play. He’s that guy that jumps to grab a rebound instead of letting it fall to his center – yes, that guy. In just over 28 minutes per game this year, Barton is averaging 14.6/5.8/2.1 and his per 36 averages are even better. He doesn’t just come in with the second unit and stand in the corner, this guy has a 22.2% usage rate and is playing a hefty amount of minutes with the starters as well. He might not be the safest option, but it’s time to let him loose. He will “Thrill” you.
SF: Kawhi Leonard
Prior to the emergence of Kawhi Leonard, using any Spurs player was a deathtrap. The pre-jump scratches, minutes restrictions, weird bench players dominating in place of the guy you rostered – it was a mess. Now though, there is one guy you can always count on, “The Hand.” Kawhi literally does it all and in a game that figures to be “close” against the Clippers, I truly expect him to shine. He’s known for his defense, and while he’ll rack up plenty of blocks and steals, you might be surprised to know that Kawhi actually leads the league in three-point percentage, shooting nearly 50% from beyond the arc. Kawhi will provide you with a safe floor and a nice upside for the price.
PF: Anthony Davis
GIVE ME ONE MORE CHANCE! Uni is normally screaming this at DFS players after every time he’s burned a huge hole in a wallet. It’s happened a lot, and I know you’re frustrated, but trust me, this could be the night! This dude has such crazy upside that it’s maddening he can’t seem to unleash whenever he wants. The recipe for success though might be this matchup with the Phoenix Suns. On a deep slate, no game has a higher total (214) and with a spread of only three and a half points, expect Uni to be needed early and often. I normally don’t hold a ton of weight on what players have done in their last game against a team, but against Phoenix this year AD has recorded 69.75 and 54.75 DK points. HE’S GOING TO DO IT AGAIN. GIVE HIM A CHANCE.
DeAndre is a huge human being, perhaps the largest of all-time. Well, that’s not true, but you know what I mean. Thanks to his defensive prowess and essentially non-existent offensive usage, DeAndre doesn’t get much love in DFS. While he’s locked into a pretty decent floor thanks to his rebound rates and blocking ability, the inability to get going offensively has kept him from becoming a premier option. He’ll often be on the receiving end of a lob from Chris Paul or Blake Griffin, but you won’t see him making any moves with his back to the basket. Does that matter tonight? DeAndre will be squaring off against the Spurs in a game that he will actually be featured in an important offensive role – “Hack-a-DeAndre.” The Clippers have yet to play the Spurs this season, so we can’t bank on what Poppovich will do, but in the Western Conference Semi-Finals last year against the Spurs, DeAndre averaged 10 free throws a game, including three games of more than 15. The sad part is, he isn’t going to make that many, and if he starts to, perhaps Pop will go away from it. Nevertheless, keep this in mind when considering his upside tonight, it’s a bit higher than normal.