The number of the day is… 54.
As in, the ridiculous number of points Kevin Durant scored on Friday night against the Warriors. It was incredible to watch, as he only missed nine out of 28 shots. Many would make the case for Durant as the early season MVP, and while he is clearly deserving, I’m going a different route.
Not many people in the league are playing at a higher level than LaMarcus Aldridge right now. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone playing better basketball. Averaging 24 points, 11.2 rebounds and one block per game, LA has the Blazers at the top of the Western Conference. He’s my MVP, and I’ll talk more about him in a bit.
Note: FPPG totals are based off FanDuel.
Trey Burke, PG (@ MIN)
FPPG allowed to PG: 41.44 (22nd)
You want a dark horse rookie of the year candidate? Look no further than Burke, who has really come into his own as of late. Over his last five games, the rookie is averaging an impressive 16.4 points, 8.6 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.8 triples per contest. The Jazz are an immensely better team with Burke running the offense, and I love the budding point guard tonight against the fast-paced, defensively challenged Timberwolves. They are surrendering the ninth-most fantasy points per game to the point guard position this season, and Ricky Rubio is a sieve on defense. Minnesota plays at the second-highest pace in basketball, so Burke should see some extra possessions this evening. Burke hasn’t been the most consistent or impressive shooter, shooting less than 40 percent from the field on the year, but point guards against the Wolves are sporting the fourth-highest field goal percentage (44.32%).
Lance Stephenson, SG (vs LAC)
FPPG allowed to SG: 35.11 (17th)
You might as well pencil in almost a triple-double for Stephenson every single night. The NBA’s league leader in that regard, Stephenson is putting together an outstanding, All-Star worthy campaign, averaging career-bests in nearly every statistical category. His scoring hasn’t been consistent, but he is coming off an impressive career-high 28 points, and I’m fine with rolling him out again tonight against the Clippers. J.J. Redick is nothing to fear from a defensive standpoint, and Lance should be able to handle him with ease. The Clippers, meanwhile, are allowing just above the league average when it comes to fantasy points to shooting guards on the year, and he should play plenty of minutes in what should be a close game. A guy who thrives in peripheral stats, Stephenson should bode well against the Clippers, who are coughing up the second-most assists per game to shooting guards (5.33).
Terrence Jones, SF (vs MIL)
FPPG allowed to SF: 37.91 (25th)
Yes, I know. Jones is a power forward, but on sites like DraftDay, he’s small forward eligible. And because I’m putting Aldridge at power forward, Jones is going here. Also, it’s my column, so… yeah.
Jones has been outstanding as of late, averaging an impressive 15.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 1.2 steals over his last five outings. That is just incredible, and because of his recent play, his minutes have gone up, as he’s logging 35 per game during that span. His price has certainly gone up, but he’s still worth it, especially in tonight’s matchup, Even if Jones does play some small forward, Milwaukee struggles defending that position, so that bodes well. However, I love his prospects at power forward, where the Bucks are coughing up almost 42 fantasy points per game. His rebounding potential is through the roof, as Milwaukee is allowing the most rebounds per game to power forwards (13.94). They are also coughing up the second-most offensive boards (12.6) and fifth-most defensive rebounds (33.4) per game this year.
LaMarcus Aldridge, PF (@ DAL)
FPPG allowed to PF: 40.85 (16th)
Back to my MVP, shall we?
Averaging 43.4 fantasy points per game, there aren’t many safer, higher-upside options in fantasy land than Portland’s big man. He’s incredible, and although his price is among the highest in fantasy, he’s well worth it, especially tonight. The Mavericks are a very undersized, rather soft frontcourt, and the last time these teams met, he posted a solid 19 points, 13 rebounds, two assists and a steal. I think he has a better game than that, especially since Dallas plays at a pretty high pace. Not much else to say, just fire him up and watch the fantasy points climb.
Joakim Noah, C (vs PHI)
FPPG allowed to C: 47.62 (28th)
You didn’t think I’d go this whole column without mentioning the Sixers, did you?
Noah is one of the more productive centers in basketball, providing very nice peripheral stats. Over his last five games, he’s averaging 14 points, 14.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.4 steals. His upside tonight against the 76ers is incredible because, well, they are the worst defense in basketball, allowing the most points per game (110.2). In three games against Philadelphia last year, Noah averaged an awesome 18.7 points, 13.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, five blocks and 1.7 steals per game. Holy moly. The Sixers league-leading pace will allow Noah to see more possessions than usual, and he should destroy this soft frontcourt.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.