Monday, March 20, 2023

Fantasy Basketball: Wednesday’s best and worst performers plus a DFS pick for Thursday’s short slate

Only two teams have yet to play a regular-season game in 2022-23, and they’ll both hit the hardwood on Wednesday. The Milwaukee Bucks are set to visit the Philadelphia 76ers before the Los Angeles Clippers kick off their season against the rival Los Angeles Lakers. Stars like Giannis Antetokounpo, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George are looking to start off a new campaign on a high note. 

We’ll get into an under-the-radar Fantasy target that managers should keep an eye out for here, but first we’ll go over some studs and duds from Wednesday’s 12-game slate. 

Studs

I touched on how effective DeRozan has been without Zach LaVine ahead of Wednesday’s man slate, and the swingman finished as the main slate’s top performer. He poured in 37 points to go along with six rebounds and nine assists to help the Chicago Bulls take down the Miami Heat. Whether LaVine will return for his team’s Friday matchup against the Washington Wizards remains to be seen. Washington certainly struggled to contain the Indiana Pacers’ lesser wings on Wednesday, though.

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s injury-prone point guard ended up being ready for his team’s season opener and rattled in 32 points with six rebounds and five assists. He put his hard hat on defensively to contribute three steals and a pair of blocks as well. Skeptics think Loud City’s players will become risky options in the back half of the season because of tanking, but SGA and Josh Giddey seem every bit as good as advertised early on.

Murray’s blockbuster move from the San Antonio Spurs to the Atlanta Hawks shocked everyone, and his addition is already paying dividends. He struggled from the field in his Eastern Conference debut but scored 20 points. Murray also racked up 11 assists despite Trae Young amassing 13 dimes of his own. The defensive specialist will get plenty of opportunities to produce at a high level for Atlanta’s high-octane offense. He’s already snagged a league-high five steals and will certainly improve the Hawks’ defensive backcourt moving forward.

Duds

Paul got a chance for redemption against the Dallas Mavericks team that eliminated the Phoenix Suns from the playoffs last year on Wednesday but didn’t have a strong showing. He made just one of his six field goal attempts and tallied nine assists. Every other Suns starter scored at least 13 points and Damion Lee provided some much-needed offense off the bench to help the hosts pull off a comeback victory. I’m sure Paul will ramp things up in the coming weeks, but Wednesday’s stat line wasn’t anything to be excited about.

Sabonis was a Fantasy monster in the 15 games he spent with the Sacramento Kings last season. The former Pacers big man averaged 18.9 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 5.8 assists, but he only scored 13 points and snared four rebounds in his 2022-23 debut. Sabonis fouled out in 33 minutes as his new team fell to the Portland Trail Blazers. Sabonis grabbed at least five boards in 29 consecutive games before Wednesday night and will look to bounce back against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.

Thursday DFS play 

There’s already been talk of Kawhi Leonard coming off the bench in the Los Angeles Clippers’ season-opener. Their franchise player hasn’t played regular-season ball in quite a while, and Powell will most likely benefit most from Leonard’s modified workload. He paced the Clippers in minutes, points, and field goal attempts per game during the regular season. Powell also averaged 21.4 points per game through five appearances with the Clippers last season. The sharpshooter won’t hesitate to pull the trigger against a Lakers team that’s giving up a league-high 31 assists per game.

Still deciding who to lock in for your DFS roster? We’ve identified a player worth locking in and one to avoid ahead of tip-off below, but you can get my full selection of stud and value plays at each position by heading over to SportsLine.  

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