I’m not one that truly believes in reading too much into revenge games, but I can’t help but read into Bledsoe vs. the Suns. The departure from Phoenix was not necessarily a good one. We all remember the tweet from Bledsoe stating that “I don’t want to be here anymore” but he later stated that was about being at a hair salon. While that doesn’t help or establish why you should play the Bucks point guard, it gives us something fun to look at. Milwaukee will once again be without All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee) in this one, which means we should see a bump in usage for both Bledsoe and backcourt mate Khris Middleton. The Suns have struggled to stop opposing point guards and find themselves ranked as the fourth worst team in the league at defending the position over their last five games.
Lillard always seems to play with a bit more grit leading up to the announcement of the Western Conference All-Stars. He’s been fighting to make the All-Star team for three years now, but unfortunately has been unable to find himself on the roster. He could be looking at another snub once again this year, as the West continues to get better and better. The Nuggets fall inside the top-10 as one of the league’s worst at defending the point guard position. Lillard has made value in two out of the last three outings, and with a solid matchup against Jamal Murray, we could be looking at big night from Dame D.O.L.L.A.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are finally looking like the team most were hoping to see out of them after a big offseason. The development of Andrew Wiggins defensively has been a big part of their success. With Jimmy Butler (knee) and Jamal Crawford (toe) both already ruled out for their second-consecutive game, you can expect to see Wiggins get all of the minutes he can handle against a Clippers team that ranks dead last at defending the shooting guard position.
Burks hasn’t seen much playing time since the Utah Jazz got healthy, but with their roster filled with injury-prone players you knew it was just a matter of time before we saw him slide back into the rotation. Rodney Hood (lower leg) has already been ruled out of Monday’s matchup against the Atlanta Hawks, which marks the second-consecutive game he will miss due to the injury. Burks saw 18 minutes against the Clippers to finish with 15 points and six rebounds. The Hawks rank 26th in the NBA in defensive efficiency (107.9) and 23rd in turnovers per game. Burks is a value play, but with his price and the Hawks defensive numbers, he’s worth the risk.
Richardson is probably going to be one of the highest owned players of the day because the Miami Heat have already ruled out Goran Dragic (knee) and Tyler Johnson (ankle). The Heat are thin when it comes to point guards, but we have seen Richardson put together solid lines as the team’s leading guard. He’s going to get all the minutes he can handle as the Heat go up against a high-powered offense in the Houston Rockets. He has exceeded value in three straight games and as long as he can avoid foul trouble, you can expect that streak to continue.
His price is just too good to pass him up. The Clippers continue to need a small forward and Johnson continues to fill the void while Danilo Gallinari is sidelined. Johnson has seen 28.6 minutes per game over his last three games which have resulted in averages 14.3 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks.
With Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson already ruled out, James Johnson could be tasked with being the teams secondary facilitator after Josh Richardson. Johnson will be used in a Draymond Green type of role with the Heat roster thin because of injuries. His ability to grab boards, rack up defensive stats and knock down the occasional 3-pointer makes him a strong play, even if this game against the Rockets turns into a blow out.
It’s going to be an up-and-down game anytime you face the offensive monster that is the Houston Rockets. The Heat are going to be experimenting with lineups all night long and one lineup that I would expect to see get major minutes is – Josh Richardson, Wayne Ellington, James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk and Hassan Whiteside. It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Olynyk cross the 30 minute mark in tonight’s game with the Heat being strapped with injures.
BOOGIE!!!! This first time All-Star starter needs no explanation to be put in your roster. In the last matchup against the Bulls, the Pelicans came out sluggish. However, the team has been playing at a different level the last five games and tonight could be more of the same. The price tag for Cousins is high, but the return could be phenomenal as the Bulls are ranked as the 8th worst team at defending the center position. I’m expecting to see a Boogie type of night from DeMarcus Cousins.