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DRAFT NBA: Saturday Focus

Alex Barutha

Alex writes primarily about the NBA for RotoWire. His work has appeared on CBS Sports, Bleacher Report and other sites. He enjoys both year-long and daily fantasy. Vince Carter and Alex both first dunked during their respective sophomore years of high school.

Following a jam-packed 11-game Friday, things are set to slow down a bit. Saturdayís eight games are a bit easier to digest from a DRAFT, and daily fantasy in general, standpoint. Especially of note is the injury to Jimmy Butler, who the Timberwolves will be without for their bout against the Bulls, and perhaps beyond. That leaves Andrew Wiggins with a bigger load to bear on the wing, while also giving some fantasy relevance to bench guys like Nemanja Bjelica and Jamal Crawford (who can be considered in especially deep drafts).

Wiggins, among others with favorable matchups, is featured below. Iíll outline their fantasy value by discussing their recent play, play against their respective opponents, and/or their opponentís ability (or lack thereof) to guard specific positions. Without further ado, letís jump in.


Donovan Mitchell, UTA vs. DAL
Mitchell has taken at least 20 shots in each of the past five games, averaging 37.7 fantasy points along the way. Itís no secret Mitchell has been a high-usage, top-tier fantasy guard most of the year, but this recent stretch is the first time all season heís taken 20 shots in more than three straight contests, so heíll be entering Saturdayís contest with some of the highest usage heís seen throughout his rookie campaign. Plus, the Mavericks have been especially poor defending against shooting guards over the past 10 outings, allowing the third-most fantasy points to the position over that stretch.

Kyrie Irving, BOS at NYK
Irving has continued his strong overall season over the past nine games, averaging 36.9 fantasy points via 24.3 points, 5.6 assists and 3.2 rebounds in 31.1 minutes. Irving undoubtedly gets taken early in many drafts, but Saturday represents an especially appealing matchup for two reasons. First, the Knicks are allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to point guards over the past 10 games, including the third-most assists. Second, Irving has performed well against New York this season. In the teamsí two matchups, Irving has averaged 38.9 fantasy points.


Andrew Wiggins, MIN vs. CHI
Jimmy Butler (knee) going down opens up more usage for Wiggins, who has, understandably, put up better fantasy outings when Butler isnít available. When Butler missed four contests in late January, Wiggins averaged 35.5 fantasy points on the back of 25.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and a combined 1.3 steals/blocks -- a significant increase over his season average of 28.7 fantasy points. Wiggins, listed as a forward on DRAFT, will likely play big minutes at both shooting guard and small forward in the wake of Butlerís injury, depending on how coach Tom Thibodeau opts to utilize his bench players (namely, Jamal Crawford and Nemanja Bjelica). Either way, the situation should be a positive one for Wiggins, as the Bulls allow the eighth-most fantasy points to shooting guards and sixth-most to small forwards across the past 10 tilts.

Paul George, OKC at GSW
George has moved past his inconsistent play from the beginning of the season, posting fewer than 33 fantasy points just once over the past 15 games. During this stretch, heís averaged 28.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.1 steals (45.3 fantasy points) across 36.7 minutes and will be taking that momentum into Saturdayís game against Golden State. Despite the Warriorsí impressive defense against small forwards all season -- they allow the second-fewest fantasy points from the position -- George has taken it upon himself to shatter those expectations. In the teamsí two prior bouts this season, George has averaged 57.6 fantasy points via 29.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 5.0 steals, 2.0 assists and 1.0 block.


Rudy Gobert, UTA vs. DAL
Gobert has been one of the most consistent players in the league over the past 15 games since returning from a leg injury. Over this stretch, heís fallen under 33 fantasy points on only two occasions while averaging 37.3 per game. His best mark over the past 15 contests occurred against Toronto, against whom he dropped 46.5 fantasy points by way of 18 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal. He could be in for a similar outing Saturday against the Mavericks, who, like most teams, lack a center with the type of skill and athleticism to check Gobert. Thatís reflected in not only in the teamís horrid defense against centers over the past 10 games -- Dallas allows the second-most fantasy points to the position across that time period -- but also in their previous attempt at defending Gobert. Last time these two teams faced off, The French Rejection posted a dominant 61.4 fantasy points via 17 points, 12 boards, six dimes, six rejections and two steals in 33 minutes.

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The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.