5 Players Who Can Help Your Jan. 22 FanDuel NBA Lineup

Jan 20, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives to the basket in front of Charlotte Hornets center Cody Zeller (40) during the third quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 20, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives to the basket in front of Charlotte Hornets center Cody Zeller (40) during the third quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports /

Here are the top five picks for your FanDuel NBA lineup, relative to their costs towards the $60K salary cap:

Friday night’s nine-game NBA slate is highlighted by intra-conference matchups that include the Chicago Bulls visiting the Boston Celtics, the Miami Heat traveling north of the border to face the Toronto Raptors and the Oklahoma City Thunder heading to Dallas to meet the Mavericks, who are hopefully closer to full strength this time.

A Los Angeles Lakers-San Antonio Spurs tilt used to be the game of the night, and it still conjures up memories of Derek Fisher‘s buzzer beater in the 2004 NBA Playoffs, but unfortunately the only present-day story is whom the Spurs are going to rest for what will probably be the most lopsided mismatch on the docket.

There are multiple elite players in action tonight on FanDuel NBA, but since you can’t reasonably fit all of them into a competitive $60k lineup, here are some of the preferred options as well as a couple of value plays from the second tier:

(5) Pau Gasol, Chicago Bulls ($8,500) @ Boston Celtics: Gasol’s performance can be frustrating to forecast because of his low floor, as evidenced by a recent 31-point, 12-rebound explosion at Detroit that was followed by his meager 10.6 fantasy point (courtesy of one actual point) outing against the Golden State Warriors in the subsequent game. Yes, the Bulls had their “assets” handed to them that night, but that doesn’t completely explain a player of Gasol’s caliber going 0-for-8 from the field.

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Despite being listed as a power forward on FanDuel NBA, Gasol spends most of his time at center, if not all of it now that Joakim Noah is out for several months following shoulder surgery. Although Boston can be stingy on defense (fourth overall in defensive rating at 102.0), containing opposing centers has been a liability for them (perhaps due to instability in their own frontcourt rotation), as they are in the bottom third overall in their past five games.

As a result, tonight could be a good opportunity to roster the Meal Ticket since he gets to face a more familiar opponent (since donning a Bulls jersey) in the Celtics, against whom the Spaniard managed an impressive 42.3 fantasy points (courtesy of 18 points and 17 boards in the last meeting), so he has recent history on his side as well.

(4) Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks ($7,600) @ Houston Rockets: Although he is listed at shooting guard on FanDuel NBA, Antetokounmpo typically lines up either at small forward or stretch-4 in reality, but that’s just splitting hairs since the Rockets have been among the worst in the league at containing everyone that doesn’t line up against either Patrick Beverley (who might not play) or Dwight Howard (who has already been ruled out).

In their two meetings last season, the Greek Freak averaged 22.0 PPG and 11.0 RPG, both of which were wildly in excess of his 12.7 PPG and 6.7 RPG for that campaign. Antetokounmpo’s run of four consecutive double-doubles came to a screeching halt in the team’s ugly win over the Miami Heat on Tuesday, but tonight the stage is set for him in the Space City to continue his recent success against a Rockets team that is currently ranked 27th in points allowed (105.7 per game) and lacking their mercurial (albeit effective) center.

(3) James Harden, Houston Rockets ($9,900) vs. Milwaukee Bucks: Turnabout is fair play, but in any case it would be difficult (if not foolhardy) to avoid recommending Harden after his ridiculous triple-double versus the Detroit Pistons in a losing cause. While the Bucks have been tough on opposing shooting guards for much of the season, they’ve actually slipped into the middle of the pack over their past 10 games, and Harden tends to be a rule breaker in that regard anyway, since Detroit was in the top third themselves against his position before the Beard went ballistic on them.

Last season Harden averaged 33.5 PPG in two meetings with Milwaukee last season, which was well above his 27.4 PPG overall, so he should be able to continue that trend against a Bucks squad that sports a 7-18 road record (as opposed to 12-7 at the Bradley Center). As with Pau Gasol, the Beard’s inconsistency can be maddeningly frustrating from a fantasy perspective, but being rested on a home-stand with a weak road team coming to town could provide a chance for him to build on his last outing.

(2) Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors ($11,100) vs. Indiana Pacers: With 52-plus fantasy points in four of his last five contests, we may have reached the stage where only Curry’s rising cost can bounce him from the top spot.

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That said, his price point hasn’t become too unsavory to merit consideration on a night when there are plenty of low-cost fillers from injury-depleted teams like the Houston Rockets, the Miami Heat or the aforementioned Spurs, who could rest one of their aging vets due to playing the latter half of a back-to-back series.

Curry’s initial meeting with the Pacers this season was a veritable score-fest, and the Chef was able to produce a full stat line of 29 points, 10 dimes, seven boards and three steals in 36 minutes as a result. Given the opening total of 215.5 for the rematch, it appears that the oddsmakers are proposing more of the same tonight.

The Pacers haven’t fared nearly as well away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse (just 10-13 on the road) but hopefully they’ll be ready for another up-tempo affair and hang tough long enough for Curry to get his once again.

(1) Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder ($10,700) @ Dallas Mavericks: The tension between these two conference rivals became palpable at the last encounter when Westbrook was tossed for repeated confrontations with the comparatively smaller J.J. Barea in a game that the Mavs had practically handed to them from the outset by resting all five starters.

With the Mavs closer to full strength this time around, perhaps Westbrook can find someone his own size with which to grapple, or better yet, air out his frustration on the court against a Dallas team that is middle of the pack overall against his position on FanDuel NBA.

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Since the teams’ last meeting, Westbrook has resumed his assault on the league with 49.2 FPPG over his past four contests and 53-plus fantasy points in his last two games, so it appears that he has moved on from that fiasco. Prior to having his night cut short in the most recent tilt, the former Bruin had enjoyed a 31-point, 11-assist performance in the teams’ first meeting, so it seems fair to expect more of the same as long as cooler heads prevail.

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