Saturdayís slate is packed with four playoff contests, and only one team is poised to close out the first round and move forward. The Pelicans have looked impressive in neutralizing the Trail Blazers and they should be all over your lineups on Saturday. Anthony Davis ($58) is our headliner and is a great anchor, and there are some other excellent targets in New Orleans that weíll get into below.
To round out our $50-plus options, Russell Westbrook ($55) will look to rebound after a Game 3 that they should have won were it not for a dreadful fourth quarter where the team could not buy a basket. Speaking of dreadful games, James Harden ($50) is coming of an awful 2-for-18 shooting night, as the T-Wolves were extremely effective in restricting him to 12 points. He still managed to churn out 40 YFP due to his work in ancillary categories, but it seems Minnesota has found an answer for holding off the Beard. Ben Simmons ($49) hangs on the periphery of $50 so itís prudent to add him to this list. The addition of Joel Embiid ($40) has brought guys like Ersan Ilyasova back to Earth but Simmonsí stock only goes up with Embiid under center. In terms of ranking the elites, I have to give Westbrook the nod at the top because although Davis is a great play, the slate has big men like Embiid and Towns that are cheaper gets. Iíd put Simmons next and then round out the group with Harden, who will need to figure out how Minnesota stifled him in Game 2.
In order to afford one of these guys, weíll have to reach in a couple of spots. As I highlight two players per position, Iíll be sure to make one under-$25 selection in each spot, ands also offer one player to fade at each position.
Ricky Rubio, UTA vs. OKC ($30): Rubio has been superb in this series with an average of 42.4 YFP over the first two games. Donovan Mitchell is probable to play but will be dealing with his foot injury, so Rubio will once again get more looks in the backcourt. Heís too good to pass up at this price.
Corey Brewer, OKC at UTA ($14): Itís rare that you call out a name for the Thunder that isnít Westbrook, George or Anthony, but Brewer came up with almost 28 YFP in Game 2 and has collected five steals in two games. There are many options at guard on the slate but if you elect to go cheap here, I think Brewer is the best value, especially in a large-field tournament format.
Other guards to consider: Chris Paul, HOU at MIN ($30), Rajon Rondo, NO vs. POR ($29), Gerald Green, HOU at MIN ($12)
GUARD TO AVOID
Jeff Teague, MIN vs. HOU ($24): Teague should see a bit of a boost at home, but Teague just hasnít been seeing enough time on the floor to merit a roster spot. Itís entirely possible that he could show up with 35 YFP but thatís a likely milestone for several other guys on the slate that I have a lot more confidence in.
Nikola Mirotic, NO vs. POR ($31): I guess without a beard, Mirotic turns into some kind of post-season behemoth. This trade has totally paid off for the Pelicans, and Mirotic is a key reason why theyíre going to advance. Heís averaged 46 YFP over the series and as long as Rajon Rondo can dish it in to him, look for another big game. My only hesitance is a high ownership, but heís a green light for my cash lineups.
Marco Belinelli, PHI at MIA ($15): I was a bit worried about how Belinelli would be affected in the game script with Embiidís return, but it looks like heíll continue to see 30 minutes or so off the bench. Yahoo still has him designated as a small forward even though heís ostensibly playing the two on the regular for Philly, but itís a good thing because I doubt I would have been able to find room for him at guard with all the favorable backcourt options available.
Other forwards to consider: Paul George, OKC at UTA ($35), Dario Saric, PHI at MIA ($23), James Johnson, MIA vs. PHI ($21)
FORWARD TO AVOID
Ersan Ilyasova, PHI at MIA ($19): With Embiid back on the floor, Ilyasovaís output will go bye-bye, but it was a nice three-game run for the big man. Iíd only roster him in the future if we see evidence that he supplants Saric and Covington with some regularity.
Obviously, I favor Davis and Embiid here, but I wonít waste a highlight on either player. Instead weíll check out some alternate options that run a bit less expensive.
Rudy Gobert, UTA vs, OKC ($30): To be honest I think Gobert and Clint Capela are practically interchangeable here, but I tilt to Gobert because the team has realized theyíre simply more successful when they get him more involved in the offense. Heís been shoved aside offensively by Rubio and Mitchell but you canít get past Oklahoma City without some special play in the paint. Look for Gobert to build on the excellent play he demonstrated in Game 2.
Kelly Olynyk, MIA vs. PHI ($20): Olynyk has been putting up 30-plus YFP lines like clockwork in this series. Part of that is due to Hassan Whitesideís conspicuous absence, and barring some sudden resurgence from him it looks like Olynyk will continue to shoulder a lot of the load inside. Embiidís presence didnít seem to affect his totals at all, but Embiid has proclaimed himself the best defensive player in the NBA. Will Olynyk listen?
CENTER TO AVOID
Hassan Whiteside, MIA vs. PHI ($21): As previously stated, Whiteside has been largely MIA this entire series, and no one is exactly sure why, to my knowledge. I thought that once Miamiís struggles against the Sixers were obvious, we would see more of him, but that hasnít occurred. Maybe Saturday is the night, but with so many other options available, I canít find a way to take that risk.