Alex's Picks (2 Live)
Alex's Past Picks
Anthony Davis will be facing a Detroit Pistons squad on a 14 game losing streak. Davis is having a solid year for the 10-8 Lakers who have Championship aspirations. AD's scoring has been down this year and is averaging 4 PPG less than he did last season. I think his scoring is down largely due to the Lakers roster being deeper and having more talent than they did last season, thus AD focusing less on scoring. I believe they'll need his scoring tonight as the Lakers are playing with a short rotation and this is a very low number.
It's been an up and down season for Pascal Siakam and the Toronto Raptors as they adjust to life without their PG Fred VanVleet and HC Nick Nurse who both made up a big part of Toronto's identity. The proverbial keys to the franchise have been handed to Scottie Barnes but Siakam is still the 1B and has a massive role on the team. Siakam's scoring is a bit down but I largely think it can be attributed adjusting to a new system and teammates. This looks like a great spot at home against a Suns team that gives up the most points to opposing PFs in the league.
Desmond Bane has been the Grizzlies leading scorer while Ja Morant serves a 25 game suspension. Bane is averaging a combined 34 PRA and will be looking to bounce back after two consecutive down games against the Wolves and the Suns. He will face a Utah Jazz team that is ranked 8th in Pace of play but 27th in Defensive Efficiency. Look for Bane to get back on track against a Jazz team that lacks quality perimeter defenders.
Keyonte George is quietly having an excellent rookie season for the Jazz. He's surprisingly an advanced playmaker and has been Utah's starting PG over the last 8 games. George has eclipsed this line in 7 of those 8 games while averaging over 11 combined RA. No Lauri Markkanen tonight which could lead to some additional usage for George.
This number is simply way too low for Henderson who is projected to play a minimum of 28-32 minutes tonight against the Pacers. Indiana is top 5 in PACE and bottom 5 in Defensive Efficiency which is simply a match made in heaven when searching for potential ceiling/spike games. The Blazers are also short handed and look to be using a 9 man rotation so even in the event of a blowout, Scoot's minutes should be safe regardless.
We have two defenses that started the year poorly but have played much better lately. The Vikings have bought into Brian Flores scheme. Vikings D was bottom 5 in nearly every defensive metric over the first 4-5 weeks of the season but have improved across the board and presently 8th in coverage grade, 14th in EPA per dropback. MIN rush d is stout as well and are 6th in EPA allowed per rush and 12th in defensive run grade. The Bears are 4th in EPA allowed per rush and 10th in Run Stop Win Rate. Chicago has done a great job of limiting explosive passing plays and much like the Vikings D they were getting torched early in the season but have made significant improvements.
Jaylen Warren continues to prove why he is the more explosive and talented RB in PIttsburghs backfield with three consecutive games with at least 88 rushing yards, while averaging 12 rushing attempts per game, and a ridiculous 9.1 yards per carry over that 3 game sample. While I don't expect Warren to sustain those numbers, I do think he has earned 12-15 rushing attempts moving forward and with Steelers OC Matt Canada out the door, the interim OC Eddie Faulkner would be wise to lean heavily on Warren. I expect that to be the case today against a dismal Bengals run D that is 29th in EPA allowed per rush and 29th in Run Stop Win Rate.
LaMelo Ball has been one of the hottest players in the league over the last two weeks and has 30+ points in 5 of his last 6 games, while averaging a 33.5 PPG over that span. Ball has been a usage monster and is playing great but will have a real test against the Magic and their top rated defense. Orlando is first in DEF Efficiency and possess an excellent defensive backcourt. Jalen Suggs will be primarily tasked with guarding Ball and Suggs has been arguably the best perimeter defender in the league this season. There is also some blowout risk here with how well Orlando is playing which could lead to Ball finishing the game on the bench.
Victor Wembanyama is truly a generational talent and the definition of an NBA unicorn. For the uninitiated, an NBA unicorn is a rare kind of player possessing the unique physical gifts and the talent to be above the rest. While this fits Wemby to a tee, he is still 19 years old and is a long ways away from being a finished product. He will face Aaron Gordon tonight who is a very good defender and his primary tas tonight will be to make life difficult on Wemby.
Jalen Johnson is in the midst of a third year breakout. The Hawks oened up minutes for the former Blue Devil by moving on from John Collins in the offseason. Johnson is well rounded and able to contribute in a variety of ways. This game has a massive 250 point total and if it remains competitive for four quarters, Johnson should stuff the stat sheet.
I've written at length about why this is an automatic play for me at this number even with this much juice. Wembanyama possesses arguably the most unique skillset in NBA history and at 7'4'' with an 8 foot wingspan with impeccable instincts and timing, he is capable of getting there in a single rotation or in just blocks or steals alone.
It’s been an up down and season for Calvin Ridley who is playing in his first year for the Jaguars after spending two full seasons on the shelf due to a suspension. Ridley has flashed elite upside back when he was the focal point of Atlanta’s passing attack but has also been a distant second in target share to Christian Kirk resulting in some duds. This looks like a fantastic spot to back Ridley against a depleted Texans pass defense in a game that projects to be a shootout with a 48 point total.
Jonathan Taylor has reclaimed his role as the bell cow RB and engine of the Colts offense. Despite dominating touches and rendering Zack Moss (who was excellent while Taylor was on the PUP list) to a pure backup role, Taylor has not been very efficient. He has rushed for 83+ yards just once and his 3.8 YPC is the worst mark of his career by a significant margin. The underlying metrics don’t paint a pretty picture either. Taylor will face a Bucs run defense that I will acknowledge is overrated considering they’re 1st in EPA allowed per rush. However Tampa is certainly an above average unit, will have a healthy Vita Vea, and are a significant pass funnel due to their poor defense.