This article is part of our EuroLeague Primer series.
- Valencia's Chris Jones will not play Thursday.
- Luka Mitrovic will suit up Thursday for Red Star, but Hassan Martin will not.
- Mantas Kalnietis will be available Thursday for Zalgiris, but Ignas Brazdeikis and Liutauras Lelevicius remain sidelined.
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Real Madrid at Zalgiris Kaunas
Status Check: Gabriel Deck (RMB), Rudy Fernandez (RMB), Adam Hanga (RMB), Anthony Randolph (RMB), Carlos Alocen (RMB), Ignas Brazdeikis (ZAL), Lukas Lekavicius (ZAL), Mantas Kalnietis (ZAL), Liutauras Lelevicius (ZAL)
The Breakdown: The first game on the docket features two teams going in opposite directions, as the visitors are on a 7-1 run while the hosts enter the losers of three straight. Real Madrid has relied upon a defense that is now the top unit in the league in terms of net rating, which will not be a welcome sight for a Zalgiris team that averaged just 66.7 points over the last three Rounds. The Lithuanian team has won more often than it has lost on its home court, but Real Madrid is 5-1 on the road, and they are favored by 6.5 points in this one.
Best Bets for Success: After going through a bit of a pedestrian stretch, Walter Tavares has gotten on a major roll, averaging 16.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.3 blocks and 36.1 DraftKings points over the last four Rounds. He now checks in at a season-high $11,500 on that website, and he will take on a Zalgiris team that ranks top-4 against centers in both points and rebounds, so if you shy away because of the price, you could instead go with Dzanan Musa. Real Madrid's leading scorer averaged 17.3 points and 29.0 DraftKings points over the last six Rounds. Keenan Evans is the only Zalgiris player putting up big numbers on a consistent basis, and he will be in position to do so again Thursday, as Real Madrid is ceding the third-most points and the most field goal attempts to opposing guards.
Fantasy Factors: The matchups should dictate your strategy when it comes to picking value plays on the Zalgiris side, as besides being friendly to opposing guards Real Madrid is also ceding the most points and FGA to opposing centers. Meanwhile, they rank top-4 against forwards in all six counting stats and field goal percentage and are giving up fewer shots to players at those positions than any other club. If Brazdeikis plays he will be worth a look, and if he does not, you could consider Dovydas Giedraitis. The Spanish squad's frontline is imposing, but there is still reason to go with Kevarrius Hayes at $7,200. The Lithuanian team is giving up the fewest rebounds to opposing forwards, but with Deck still out, Guerschon Yabusele looks pretty good on DraftKings at $7,400.
EA7 Emporio Armani Milan at Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade
Status Check: Shavon Shields (EA7), Kevin Pangos (EA7), Luigi Datome (EA7), Luka Mitrovic (CZV), Nikola Ivanovic (CZV)
The Breakdown: The streaks are even more pronounced in this one, as Red Star has ripped off six straight wins while Milan has dropped nine in a row. Unsurprisingly, the Serbian squad is favored by as many as 5.5 points on its home court, where four of those six victories have come. Red Star does not exactly light up the scoreboard, but the Italian team owns easily the lowest-rated offense in the league and has scored more than 72 points just twice during their slide. It will be tough to find a lower over/under, as the total points expected in this game do not exceed 146.5. Possessions alone figure to be at a premium, as only one team plays at a slower pace than these two clubs.
Best Bets for Success: You could certainly make a case for two Red Star guards here, but Milan is ceding the fewest points and field goal attempts to opposing guards, so we are only going to list Luca Vildoza for Round 14. Vildoza put up at least 32.8 DraftKings points in four of his last five appearances, and he does not necessarily need to contribute in the points column to have a big night. For Milan, we are going to go with both Nicolo Melli and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. Red Star has also been stingy against guards, so players at other positions will likely need to lead the charge Thursday. Luwawu-Cabarrot is far cheaper both on DraftKings and in the EuroLeague Fantasy Challenge, which gives him a bit of an edge among the two.
Fantasy Factors: Given the matchups and the over/under, it will be tough to find value plays in this contest. Although he is a guard, Billy Baron -- who tied his season high with 18 points his lat time out -- is cheap enough to consider in both contests. No one on the Red Star side has been doing all that much with Vildoza and Nemanja Nedovic dominating the box score, but you could consider Filip Petrusev if Mitrovic remains sidelined.
Valencia Basket at FC Bayern Munich
Status Check: Chris Jones (VBC), Sam Van Rossom (VBC), Martin Hermannsson (VBC), Millan Jimenez (VBC), Vladimir Lucic (BAY), Augustine Rubit (BAY), Zan Mark Sisko (BAY)
The Breakdown: This will be a pivotal game for both squads, as a Valencia win would get them back to .500 and a Bayern victory would allow them to remain in shouting range of the eighth spot in the standings. The home team will be down two key pieces, and the visitors could also be shorthanded if they elect to give Jones a rest in Round 14. Both teams are below average in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and they are separated by only 11 points in point differential and 2.6 points in net rating. Bayern is favored by 3.5 points, but this one has all the makings of a toss-up.
Best Bets for Success: Jones would normally lead off this section, but he is dealing with a sore knee and could be limited or held out altogether after playing a season-high 29 minutes Tuesday, so it may be best to avoid him Thursday. One of Valencia's seems safer, and although it's tough to separate them, we are going to give a slight edge to Jasiel Rivero, who is more affordable in both contests than fellow big man Bojan Dubljevic. It's no easy task identifying the top option on the Bayern side, as seven different players led them in fantasy points over the last seven Rounds. The matchups indicate a frontcourt player will lead the way, as the Spanish squad is ceding more points to forwards than any other team and is allowing centers to make a higher percentage of their shots than any other club. We feel best about Isaac Bonga, who should continue seeing extra opportunities with both Lucic and Rubit sidelined.
Fantasy Factors: James Webb III nearly landed in the section above, so he is a cinch here after averaging 14.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 triples over the last four Rounds. Jared Harper and Xabi Lopez-Arostegui stand to benefit should Jones be held out. Valencia ranks top-3 against guards in points, rebounds, steals and FGA, and no team is switching up its starting lineup more frequently than Bayern, so it's probably best to stick to their forwards and centers. Othello Hunter had his best game since Round 1 his last time out, and Elias Harris is worth considering on DraftKings at $4,800.
Olympiacos Piraeus at LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne
Status Check: Tarik Black (OLY), Joffrey Lauvergne (ASV)
The Breakdown: These clubs have both won two games in a row, and they will square off in what is expected to be the highest-scoring game of the evening. ASVEL contained a couple quality offenses in the last two Rounds, but they will have their work cut out for them Friday, as an Olympiacos team clicking on all cylinders averaged 105.5 points over the last two Rounds and assumed the top spot in the offensive rating department. The French club has one of the better defenses in the league, but the Greek team ranks second in that area and is a whopping 19.7 points better in net rating. Add it all up and you get a 6.5-point spread in favor of the visitors.
Best Bets for Success: Sasha Vezenkov continues to produce, and he looks even safer than he did before, as despite averaging fewer than 20 minutes in his club's back-to-back blowouts he still averaged 29.0 points on DraftKings. ASVEL is not allowing forwards to get up many shots, but Vezenkov is the only player on the slate returning more than 3x value at his price point, and he dropped a double-double last time he faced the French club. Nando de Colo turned back the clock in his last two appearances, and ASVEL will likely need to lean on him again, as Olympiacos has been above average against forwards and stout against centers. The spread is a bit of a concern with de Colo, as after carrying a heavy load over the last week his playing time could be limited if Olympiacos runs away on the scoreboard.
Fantasy Factors: No team is allowing frontcourt players to get up fewer shots than ASVEL, which points us to Thomas Walkup and Giannoulis Larentzakis. The former is returning some of the most average value on the board and the latter averaged 11.0 points and 2.4 triples over his last seven appearances. Parker Jackson-Cartwright has not had a true breakout game yet, but he has done enough lately to earn a mention in this section. David Lighty is returning more average value than any other active ASVEL player, so he will be in the mix as well.