We’ve got four days of action ahead before the NBA heads to Toronto to celebrate its first half with, in at least one writer’s opinion, the best All-Star festivities among the four major professional sports. This week begins with a busy nine-game slate that features five players priced north of $10,000, including Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant in a dream matchup with the Suns.
PG: Kyrie Irving ($7,200) vs. SAC: Irving has turned a corner over the last two weeks, averaging 24.7 real points and 35.3 fantasy points in his last six games. He gets a great matchup Monday with a Sacramento defense that has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points per game to point guards this year. Even if this game results in a Cleveland blowout, Irving should turn a profit on his $7,200 price tag.
SG: Will Barton ($5,900) @ BKN: Barton went through a rough patch right around New Year’s Day, but he has been mostly good for the last few weeks. He has scored at least 18 real points in five of his last eight games, putting up an average of 23.9 fantasy points per game in that stretch. Take out the one dud among those eight games, and his average climbs to 26.4 fantasy points. He should get going against Brooklyn’s defense, which has surrendered the eighth-most fantasy points per game to shooting guards.
SF: Paul George ($8,700) vs. LAL: George has been in a groove in Indiana’s last two games, posting averages of 30.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists in that small sample. George is a completely different fantasy player when he’s scoring the ball efficiently, just as he has done in these last two games. He should keep it rolling on Monday against the Lakers, which have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points per game to small forwards.
PF: Markieff Morris ($5,600) vs. OKC: Fantasy owners don’t care what’s behind Morris’s resurgence in Phoenix’s lineup. Whether Earl Watson looks at him in a different light than Jeff Hornacek did, or if the team is simply trying to showcase him for a trade really doesn’t matter. Morris is getting plenty of minutes and making the most of that opportunity. He has had at least 42.4 fantasy points in two of his last three games, and should be in a great scoring environment with the Thunder in town Monday.
C: Gorgui Dieng ($6,100) vs. NO: Dieng is coming off one of his best games as a pro after scoring 24 points with 13 rebounds and seven assists in Saturday’s win over the Bulls. He’s now averaging 17.4 points and 9.9 rebounds in his last seven games and is playing quite well now that he’s getting a real chance to play alongside Karl-Anthony Towns. The Pelicans, meanwhile, have allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to centers this year.