Fantasy basketball tips and projections for Saturday

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New this season, ESPN Analytics will also generate daily NBA fantasy projections. By combining historical player and team data and specific game factors ESPN is able to accurately predict player box score stats. Accounting for injuries, trends in playing time, and other factors impacting future performance the statistical models can be used to help NBA fantasy players gain an edge in their league.

What you need to know for Saturday’s games

The big story from Friday night’s nine-game slate was the continued struggles of the LA Clippers in the bearded era. The Clippers got blown out by the Dallas Mavericks and now rank 25th in offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) in the brief, and winless, three games since James Harden joined the rotation.

The savvy fantasy take is likely to pursue any buy-low windows for Harden and a struggling Paul George, as larger samples suggest significant positive regression on the way. That said, it’s been a troubling start to another heliocentric Harden experiment. Those in deep leagues might take a look at Moussa Diabate, as the Clippers will need his size in the games ahead.

Another “H” is warming up, at least, as the Sacramento Kings’ Kevin Huerter is on a heater. Huerter has averaged 19.3 PPG while sinking nearly four 3-pointers per contest, including 28 points in a sound win over the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night. Huerter is rostered in just over half of leagues. Two more emergent names of note are Jacob Gilyard of the Memphis Grizzlies, who produced a full line in his first NBA start, and Utah Jazz rising rookie Keyonte George, who has 20 dimes over his past two games.

Check out Steve Alexander’ recent risers and fallers appraisal for more on George and Detroit Pistons’ Marcus Sasser.

Saturday features just four games. Make note of the earlier tip (6 p.m. ET) for the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic contest in Florida. This game claims the highest point total of the slate (232.5) thanks in part to the Bucks sitting just 25th in defensive rating. The good news is that Damian Lillard, who missed the team’s Thursday loss to the Indiana Pacers with a hamstring injury, isn’t listed on Saturday’s injury report. Meanwhile an injury in Orlando’s frontcourt inspires a streaming recommendation listed below.

The Miami Heat will be without key rotation contributors Tyler Herro and Caleb Martin, vaulting Kyle Lowry into a vital two-way role against the uptempo Atlanta Hawks (third in pace).

The other two games feature the Toronto Raptors as sizable road dogs against the Boston Celtics. It will be interesting to see how Scottie Barnes operates against an elite defense. Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors host the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland appears to finally be at full-strength, so it is important to watch how much run fringe fantasy contributors like Caris LeVert and Max Strus earn.

Saturday’s Stream Team

This segment nominates three key streaming options ahead of that day’s action. A streamer, by our standards, is a player available in at least half of ESPN men’s fantasy basketball leagues.

Kyle Lowry, PG, Miami Heat (8.9%): jnjuries to Herro and Martin, combined with Miami’s diminished depth in the wake of losing two key shooters this past summer, creates a big role for Lowry as a key creator on offense and as a point-of-attack defender. Lowry finished one assist shy of a triple-double earlier this week against the Grizzlies.

Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG/SF, Atlanta Hawks (rostered in 33.4% of ESPN leagues): The Hawks already have one waiver target in Jalen Johnson (56.3%), while Bogdanovic is rising thanks to double-digit scoring in six of his past seven games with a high steal rate and helpful peripheral numbers.

The Heat might have to going deeper into their second unit on Saturday night, aiding Bogdanovic’s potential matchups.

Jalen Suggs, PG, Orlando Magic (21.0%): Suggs is tied for third in the league in total steals and is finally seeing his shot fall in recent games. He is an atypically strong rebounder for his position and should help fantasy rosters in his third season in the NBA. Given the Bucks’ lack of defensive guard talent, Suggs could find success driving to the paint.

Goga Bitadze, C, Orlando Magic (2.9%): The absence of Wendell Carter Jr. has shifted Bitadze into the starting lineup over the past week. He has responded with 21 boards and eight blocks across those three starts. With Milwaukee’s lack of size in the frontcourt, Bitadze should see the court for well over 20 minutes on Saturday night.

Projections and Injury Reports

Fantasy projections powered by ESPN Analytics.* Projections assume all players who are listed as GTD will play. Injury aggregation by Players available in at least 50% of ESPN leagues are listed in italics.

Milwaukee Bucks at Orlando Magic
6 p.m. Amway Center, Orlando

BPI Projection: Bucks by 3.3 in the highest-scoring game of the slate.

Injury Report:
Bucks: Damian Lillard, (GTD – Calf)
Magic: Gary Harris, (GTD – Groin); Wendell Carter Jr., (OUT – Finger)

Bucks projections:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo, PF/C: 41.2 FPTS (27.1 pts, 9.4 reb, 4.2 ast, 1.2 blk)

  • Damian Lillard, PG: 34.5 FPTS (20.2 pts, 4.3 reb, 5.1 ast, 2.3 3PM)

  • Khris Middleton, SF: 22.5 FPTS (11.6 pts, 4.0 reb, 3.3 ast)

  • Bobby Portis, PF/C: 20.8 FPTS (10.9 pts, 5.4 reb, 1.5 ast)

  • Brook Lopez, C: 20.1 FPTS (11.6 pts, 5.2 reb, 0.9 ast, 2.2 blk)

  • Jae Crowder, SF/PF: 16.1 FPTS (6.1 pts, 3.5 reb, 1.4 ast)

  • Malik Beasley, SG: 15.2 FPTS (6.2 pts, 3.0 reb, 1.2 ast)

Magic projections:

  • Franz Wagner, SG/SF/PF: 36.0 FPTS (19.9 pts, 5.1 reb, 3.5 ast, 2.1 3PM)

  • Paolo Banchero, SF/PF: 34.9 FPTS (19.7 pts, 6.5 reb, 5.2 ast)

  • Markelle Fultz, PG/SG: 26.1 FPTS (12.3 pts, 3.6 reb, 4.1 ast)

  • Cole Anthony, PG: 25.9 FPTS (13.7 pts, 4.4 reb, 2.8 ast)

  • Jalen Suggs, PG/SG: 24.6 FPTS (11.1 pts, 4.7 reb, 2.6 ast)

  • Goga Bitadze, C: 17.7 FPTS (7.9 pts, 6.6 reb, 1.0 ast, 1.4 blk)

  • Anthony Black, PG/SG: 17.4 FPTS (8.8 pts, 4.4 reb, 2.7 ast)

Toronto Raptors at Boston Celtics
7 p.m. TD Garden, Boston

BPI Projection: Celtics by 6.2 in the 4th highest-scoring game of the slate.

Injury Report:
Raptors: Precious Achiuwa, (GTD – Groin); Christian Koloko, (OUT – Illness)
Celtics: Al Horford, (GTD – Knee); Neemias Queta, (GTD – Foot)

Raptors projections:

  • Scottie Barnes, SF/PF: 41.5 FPTS (20.5 pts, 7.9 reb, 5.5 ast, 1.5 blk)

  • Pascal Siakam, PF/C: 36.2 FPTS (19.2 pts, 6.3 reb, 5.0 ast, 1.8 3PM)

  • Dennis Schroder, PG: 32.0 FPTS (16.1 pts, 2.9 reb, 5.7 ast, 1.9 3PM)

  • O.G. Anunoby, SF: 26.7 FPTS (14.3 pts, 4.1 reb, 2.0 ast, 2.5 3PM)

  • Jakob Poeltl, C: 23.5 FPTS (11.1 pts, 8.9 reb, 1.2 ast)

  • Gary Trent Jr., PG/SG: 17.1 FPTS (10.1 pts, 2.4 reb, 1.1 ast)

  • Chris Boucher, PF/C: 14.6 FPTS (7.1 pts, 4.6 reb, 0.7 ast)

Celtics projections:

  • Jayson Tatum, SF/PF: 46.4 FPTS (27.5 pts, 8.0 reb, 4.0 ast, 2.9 3PM)

  • Jaylen Brown, SG/SF: 35.3 FPTS (22.0 pts, 5.2 reb, 3.1 ast, 2.4 3PM)

  • Jrue Holiday, PG/SG: 32.9 FPTS (15.5 pts, 6.2 reb, 5.2 ast)

  • Kristaps Porzingis, PF/C: 27.0 FPTS (16.1 pts, 5.4 reb, 1.9 ast, 1.3 blk)

  • Derrick White, PG/SG: 22.5 FPTS (10.6 pts, 3.2 reb, 3.2 ast)

  • Al Horford, PF/C: 15.8 FPTS (5.3 pts, 5.1 reb, 1.9 ast)

  • Payton Pritchard, PG: 12.2 FPTS (4.2 pts, 1.7 reb, 2.6 ast)

Miami Heat at Atlanta Hawks
7:30 p.m. State Farm Arena, Atlanta

BPI Projection: Hawks by 4.8 in the 2nd highest-scoring game of the slate.

Injury Report:
Heat: Jimmy Butler, (GTD – Knee); Nikola Jovic, (GTD – Illness); Caleb Martin, (OUT – Knee); Tyler Herro, (OUT – Ankle)
Hawks: Wesley Matthews, (GTD – Calf); Mouhamed Gueye, (OUT – Back); Kobe Bufkin, (OUT – Thumb)

Heat projections:

  • Jimmy Butler, SF/PF: 40.8 FPTS (22.8 pts, 6.7 reb, 4.4 ast)

  • Bam Adebayo, C: 39.6 FPTS (22.8 pts, 9.8 reb, 4.2 ast, 1.4 blk)

  • Kyle Lowry, PG: 22.6 FPTS (5.7 pts, 4.2 reb, 4.7 ast)

  • Duncan Robinson, SG/SF: 22.1 FPTS (11.5 pts, 2.2 reb, 1.9 ast, 2.6 3PM)

  • Kevin Love, PF/C: 20.2 FPTS (9.0 pts, 5.8 reb, 1.4 ast)

  • Josh Richardson, SG/SF: 16.3 FPTS (7.4 pts, 2.7 reb, 2.0 ast)

  • Haywood Highsmith, SF: 13.5 FPTS (5.5 pts, 2.6 reb, 1.3 ast)

Hawks projections:

  • Trae Young, PG: 42.7 FPTS (24.9 pts, 3.2 reb, 8.9 ast, 2.0 3PM)

  • Dejounte Murray, PG/SG: 39.7 FPTS (20.5 pts, 4.5 reb, 5.7 ast, 2.0 3PM)

  • Jalen Johnson, SF: 25.8 FPTS (11.4 pts, 6.7 reb, 2.5 ast)

  • De’Andre Hunter, SF/PF: 23.4 FPTS (12.9 pts, 4.2 reb, 1.3 ast, 1.8 3PM)

  • Clint Capela, C: 22.2 FPTS (9.6 pts, 8.7 reb, 0.9 ast)

  • Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG/SF: 22.1 FPTS (10.1 pts, 2.3 reb, 3.0 ast, 2.2 3PM)

  • Saddiq Bey, SF/PF: 19.8 FPTS (8.2 pts, 4.5 reb, 1.2 ast)

Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors
8:30 p.m. Chase Center, San Francisco

BPI Projection: Warriors by 4.2 in the 3rd highest-scoring game of the slate.

Injury Report:
Cavaliers: Ricky Rubio, (OUT – Personal); Isaac Okoro, (OUT – Knee); Sam Merrill, (OUT – Illness); Ty Jerome, (OUT – Ankle)
Warriors: None reported

Cavaliers projections:

  • Donovan Mitchell, PG/SG: 47.6 FPTS (27.4 pts, 4.3 reb, 5.6 ast, 3.4 3PM)

  • Evan Mobley, PF/C: 32.6 FPTS (15.2 pts, 10.5 reb, 3.2 ast, 1.9 blk)

  • Darius Garland, PG: 32.5 FPTS (18.9 pts, 2.1 reb, 6.0 ast)

  • Max Strus, SG/SF: 28.0 FPTS (12.5 pts, 5.1 reb, 2.6 ast, 2.7 3PM)

  • Caris LeVert, SG/SF: 26.9 FPTS (13.8 pts, 3.5 reb, 3.4 ast, 2.0 3PM)

  • Jarrett Allen, C: 23.6 FPTS (10.7 pts, 7.8 reb, 1.6 ast)

  • Georges Niang, PF: 14.7 FPTS (6.9 pts, 3.2 reb, 1.1 ast)

Warriors projections:

  • Stephen Curry, PG: 42.2 FPTS (24.2 pts, 4.2 reb, 4.9 ast, 4.6 3PM)

  • Klay Thompson, SG/SF: 25.7 FPTS (15.2 pts, 2.9 reb, 1.9 ast, 2.6 3PM)

  • Chris Paul, PG: 24.1 FPTS (8.6 pts, 3.2 reb, 4.7 ast)

  • Kevon Looney, PF/C: 21.2 FPTS (6.5 pts, 8.1 reb, 2.4 ast)

  • Draymond Green, PF/C: 20.8 FPTS (7.6 pts, 4.1 reb, 4.3 ast)

  • Andrew Wiggins, SF/PF: 19.9 FPTS (12.3 pts, 3.7 reb, 1.1 ast)

  • Dario Saric, PF: 17.6 FPTS (7.6 pts, 4.9 reb, 1.4 ast)

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