***Last Minute update: Due to the late changes that have as we approach tip of tonight I recommend going with the optimal and tournament lineups. If you have been hesitant about becoming a RotoMinds member today is a great day to start to have access to lineups. When things change last minute like they have today (this happens all the time in the nba especially as the season goes on) it will be much simpler for you to just follow the optimal lineup. Use The Eye Test as normal, but note that some solid plays have been left out due to the time the article was published.
The Core Four
Zach Randolph– Randolph returns to Portland with a golden opportunity. Marc Gasol is questionable and could play a passive game by operating at the high post throwing duck in post ups to Randolph. Nobody playing for Portland has the physicality to play Randolph so Zach will feast on the ability to play bully ball. Memphis is also trying to get going from early season struggles so dumping the ball into the post makes sense for their slow it down kind of offense.
Jimmy Butler– This is a no brainer like his game against Charlotte. Jimmy will be carrying the load with a solid matchup on the perimeter with Durant/ the Oklahoma City wings. I cannot imagine the game Butler would have put together if it was not a blowout and Butler did anything besides makes shots.
Russell Westbrook– Oklahoma City has blown two games in a row and will be looking to rectify the situation tonight. Westbrook will have a monster game and if you think you can build a team without him you will have to have multiple guys play well for this to happen.
Aaron Brooks– No projection model will give Brooks any love and that is exciting to me. Rose has really struggled this season and reports are indicating he might be on his way out of Chicago (this is not be true in my opinion). Brooks has played extremely well off the bench so far this season and makes a great play no matter how many points he scores for your team.
Ed Davis– Meyers Leonard appears to be out tonight so that gives Ed Davis a solid bump in minutes. Davis will have to stay out of foul trouble, but I can see Portland’s coaching staff telling him that they cannot afford for Davis to do that. Davis is a hustling machine and gets plenty of looks around the basket because of that.
Marvin Williams– if you are not comfortable playing Ed Davis Williams is a great play as well. Williams’s gets the matchup with Nowitzki so the quickstep drives to the basket will be there. Williams absorbs a large portion of the minutes at power forward due to the lack of depth at the position for Charlotte so his playing time will not be in question. Pairing Williams or Davis with Zach Randolph is the only thing that makes sense for me tonight.
Kevin Durant– This is basically the exact same as Westbrook. The volume he gets on offense is just ridiculous and I see no reason to not play one of Durant and Westbrook at worst. Just think Chicago’s defense on the first unit is kind of poor especially inside. Durant will be driving the ball as much as he can to get to the line. I can understand not playing Durant but absolutely play Westbrook if you do that.
Alec Burks– I love how Utah plays Burks. He comes off the bench so it appears to the projection only looking eye that he does not make a huge impact on the game. Coach Quin Snyder mixes him in with both the first and second units to give the team scoring options at all times of the game. The starting 5 for Utah are designed to give the ball to Favors on post ups and Hayward to create. But when they start mixing Burks and Trey Burke into the game to mix with the starters they become a very dynamic team. The game is in Denver where games are always up and down because of the altitude. Utah Played last night, Gobert looked tired at times, and Favors is battling the flu. Combine that with Gordon Heyward not being aggressive on offense for whatever reason so far this season gives Burks a ton of upside that nobody even realizes (at least I think nobody realizes).
Rodney Hood-Everything I said above applies to Hood except the fact that Hood starts and has the ability to get off to a good start quicker and he is a cheaper costing player.
Brandon Wright– I think that even if Gasol plays Wright is a good play tonight. Portland’s frontcourt will not be able to defend his lobs so he should get 8 points with the rebounds and blocks. A 20-minute game seems like his floor
Hassan Whiteside– if you do not like the risk of Wright just go with Whiteside. Whiteside will battle Towns on the block all knight and probably continue his super efficient start to the season.
Al- Farouq Aminu– It is kind of crazy how good a leap Aminu has made in two years. He has a solid jump shot, improved lateral quickness, lower body strength is actual the equivalent of a normal person, while still bringing his athleticism and length to the table. Despite the tough matchup against Memphis Aminu has a solid floor because of his scoring now, which is weird to say because most players rely on scoring to create their opportunity. His complete floor game is his floor (no pun intended) and his scoring is his ceiling.
Nemanja Bjelica– It kind of makes sense tonight to completely punt one of your small forwards so you might as well play someone who will get good time off the bench. Bjelinca is a weird player and only recommend him because of his playing time and rebounding, but be ready to get frustrated at some point because of his constant committing of stupid fouls.
Serge Ibaka and Nikola Mirotic– I see these guys canceling each other out and letting the main players on their team try and handle the scoring load. Remember never play Ibaka if he actually has to guard someone on offense and never play Mirotic if someone who can cover stretch power forwards is playing him.
CJ McCollum– McCollum has not had a bad game yet this year and that ends tonight. You know Memphis will try and bottle him up with Tony Allen (or they should be doing that anyways) so expect McCollum to struggle from the field. His solid floor game makes him a tough fade but in reality you should not even have the money for him anyways when putting your lineup together.
Final Notes: I do not collaborate with Mike when writing this article every day. For all I know he could be leaning towards using everyone I say to fade. This article is intended to be another viewpoint. Always use the RotoMinds projections and Optimal Linueps as a primary source and use The Eye Test as another look on everything.