Yahoo Plays and Strategy for Monday, January 2

The NBA begins the week in style with 11 games on the Monday schedule. The red-hot Nets, who have won 11 games in a row, will be back in action when they host the rebuilding Spurs. An intriguing big-man battle will occur in Philadelphia with Joel Embiid and the 76ers hosting Zion Williamson and the Pelicans. The amazing Luka Doncic will also be a part of the slate when the Mavericks make the short trip to Houston to face the Rockets. With so many players to consider on Yahoo, let’s try to narrow down the list by highlighting some of the best to target, as well as a few to possibly avoid.

Guards

Luka DoncicFROM TO HOU ($60): Rolling with a player that has a salary this high does a number on your budget. However, Doncic might still be worth it. Over his last three games, he has scored at least 75.9 Yahoo points each time. The last two times he faced the Rockets, he scored 76.6 and 75.9 Yahoo points, respectively. Given that the Rockets have the third-worst defensive rating in the league, don’t expect them to slow down Doncic.

Caris LeVert, CLE vs. WHO ($18): When the Cavaliers played the Bulls on Saturday, Darius Garland (thumb) sat out. LeVert took his place in the starting lineup, posting 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists and one steal over 37 minutes. With Garland listed as doubtful for their rematch, LeVert has an excellent opportunity to provide value.

Guard to Avoid

Tyrese Maxey, PHI vs. NO ($26): After missing over a month with a foot injury, Maxey returned Friday against the Pelicans. He came off the bench, playing a total of just 19 minutes. He then sat out Sunday’s matchup with the Thunder for rest. Given that the 76ers want to bring him along slowly in his return, he will likely continue to play limited minutes in this game.

Forwards

LeBron JamesLAL at CHA ($46): James has been playing a ton, averaging 37 minutes over his last 11 games. He hasn’t shown any signs of aging, providing 32.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game during that stretch. Combine his heavy minutes with the Hornets playing at the eighth-fastest pace in the league, and James should provide another juicy stat line.

Jalen McDaniels, CHA vs. LAL ($15): McDaniels is logging a career-high 26 minutes per game for the Hornets this season. Before that, he had never averaged more than 19 minutes in any of his first three seasons in the league. He should maintain a significant role in this game, especially with Kelly Oubre (hand) out. In the last two games that Oubre missed, McDaniels scored 23.9 and 21.7 Yahoo points, respectively.

Forward to Avoid

Ben Simmons, BKN vs. SA ($23): Simmons played only 19 minutes in a lopsided win over the Hornets on Saturday, scoring 6.6 Yahoo points. Over the last six games, Simmons has logged 25 minutes or fewer four times. This game has plenty of blowout potential, so if the Nets secure a big lead early, Simmons might not see much time on the floor in the second half.

Centers

Nic Claxton, BKN vs. SA ($25): A move to the starting five has resulted in Claxton providing improved production. In 28 minutes per game, he has averaged 12.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.5 blocks, while shooting 74.7 percent from the field. Even with the Nets producing some blowout wins lately, Claxton has played at least 30 minutes in four straight games. At a salary that won’t destroy your budget, Claxton has the potential to at least approach a double-double in this matchup, while also providing multiple blocks.

Thomas BryantLAL at CHA ($22): One of the reasons why the Lakers have been able to remain afloat with Anthony Davis (foot) out is that Bryant has been excellent while replacing him in the starting lineup. As a starter for the last eight games, Bryant has averaged 14.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists. He started against these same Hornets a little over a week ago, providing eight points and 13 rebounds across 33 minutes.

Center to Avoid

Rudy Gobert, MIN vs. DEN ($24): It’s been a strange season for Gobert. One of the most prolific rim protectors in the league, he is averaging only 1.3 blocks. It would be the first time since he played 10 minutes per game as a rookie that he provided fewer than 2.0 blocks per game in his career. His rebounding numbers are also down, despite Karl-Anthony Towns (calf) appearing in only 21 games. Add his muted production to potential foul trouble in a matchup with Nikola Jokic, and Gobert is a risky option.

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