NBA Bargains –12/22/16

Tonight’s slate is lacking true superstars, at least in terms of pricing, but values will still be necessary to round out rosters. Four games are projected to be reasonably close (spreads of 5.0 or less) and all the games sport over/unders of at least 207 points. In other words, it should be a fun night despite only five total games. Without further ado, let’s get to work…

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Note: all fantasy point references are in regards to the scoring system on both DraftKings (DK) and FantasyDraft (FDr) which are the exact same other than triple-double bonus

Point Guards (PGs)

Austin Rivers, Clippers – Sans Blake Griffin, Austin Rivers is averaging 24.5 fantasy points per game (FPPG) compared to just 15.5 with Griffin active. Additionally, his usage rate (USG%) has increased from 17.2-percent to 19.2-percent, per statmuse. The threat of being guarded by Kawhi Leonard is present but in games past J.J. Redick has been the one to suffer the most in this very matchup; Redick only averaged 19.0 FPPG against Spurs last year without their superstar PF. Already encompassing my mentions on Twitter, people have said they will likely avoid this game because of pace, but the over/under is only 1.0 point lower than Lakers/Heat and 1.5 points lower than Celtics/Pacers. At this price tag on DK, Rivers has exceeded 5x value in five of his last six games. As long as he is playing, those rostering can take solace in the fact he will be doing plenty of shooting. The only question is whether or not the shots fall.

Tony Parker, Spurs – With the Spurs playing on National TV on the front end of a back-to-back tonight, there should not be much concern about Coach Gregg Popovich resting players. In the not too distant past, Popovich was fined for sitting players on a nationally televised broadcast so he will probably just wait until tomorrow. Tonight they play a fellow Western Conference super power, the Clippers, whereas they will head to Portland tomorrow to face a Blazers team that was very nearly blown out by the Mavericks last night. Basically, Coach Popovich has more motivation to try and win the game tonight. In the matchup against the Clippers last year, Tony Parker averaged 27.8 minutes per game (MPG) and 21.2 FPPG…mostly because these meetings were some of the few regular season games Coach Popovich actually cared about winning. Assuming the same holds true this season, Parker should exceed value with ease.

Shooting Guards (SGs)

Nick Young, Lakers – Nick Young and consistency have not exactly been synonymous in years past and yet here we are with “Swaggy P” regularly hovering around the mid-20s in terms of fantasy points. Hell, Young has only failed to reach 20 fantasy points in one of his last six games with a 45.00 fantasy point outburst sprinkled in during that span as well. As per usual, his game is built completely on scoring but he is attempting 13.7 shots per game over his last six. With that sort of volume, shots are simply bound to go in, especially with him playing around 27 minutes per night. Nothing stands out about the matchup against the Heat (second in SG efficiency defense) but Young will almost assuredly find a way to flirt with 5x value even in a worst case scenario tonight.

Danny Green, Spurs – Rostering Danny Green is typically a frustrating proposition but he quietly has topped 22 fantasy points in back-to-back games heading into Thursday’s tilt with the Clippers. Due to the very similar backcourt construction this year, it is worthwhile looking back at how the Spurs allotted minutes against the Clippers last year…and Green averaged 26.3 MPG. For the season, Green is a 0.68 fantasy points per minute (FPPM) producer which means he should average around 17.91 fantasy points if allotted 26.3 minutes. The good news is Green is a volatile contributor so he should be able to top this mark if he were to get hot. Regardless, he is only worth taking the shot on in tournaments despite his recent success because he is so reliant on his jump shot for fantasy production. If/when he struggles, Coach Popovich is not afraid to bench him.

Small Forwards (SFs)

Jae Crowder, Celtics – Minutes lead to fantasy production and Coach Brad Stevens has not been afraid to leave Jae Crowder on the court for extended periods as of late. Here are his minute totals from the last four games: 36, 35, 34 and 39 respectively. Despite playing heavy minutes, his price has depreciated on DK to its lowest mark since Nov. 28. The individual matchup against Paul George is not overly favorable (Pacers seventh in SF efficiency defense) but at least he will be called upon to play big minutes to guard George. The problem is Crowder has a bit of a Mr. Jekyll/Dr. Hyde complex to him as he has failed to reach 25 fantasy points twice in his last four games even while playing big minutes. If good Crowder shows up tonight, fantasy owners will be happy.

Luol Deng, Lakers – Luol Deng is relishing in the “mentor” role on a team full of youngsters. Over the course of the last seven games, Deng has played 32-plus minutes in six of those games and has failed to reach 27 fantasy points just once during that stretch. On a team full of scorers, Deng has still found a way to get up 10-plus shots per game as of late and he can still fill up a box score. If needing a cheap option at the SF position, why not take a guy who has reached 6x value in five of his last six games?

Power Forwards (PFs)

James Johnson, Heat – Tonight, the Heat will be missing Rodney McGruder, Dion Waiters and Wayne Ellington so they are pretty thin on the wing. Although James Johnson is listed as a PF on most DFS sites, he plays a fair amount of SF as well. According to nbawowy, three of the most common 15 lineups Johnson has been found in this season feature him playing SF. In a similar situation last game, Johnson played 28 minutes and scored 31.50 fantasy points. Johnson’s output from game-to-game is volatile but he is a 0.91 FPPM producer this season because he averages 7.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.9 steals and 1.3 blocks per-36 minutes. In a matchup against a Lakers team that ranks in the bottom 10 of both SF and PF efficiency defense, all he needs is minutes in order to produce.

Jeff Green, Magic – Using players off the bench can be nerve-racking and Jeff Green has personified exactly why as of late. After scoring 21-plus fantasy points in back-to-back-to-back games (Dec.10-14), Green flopped in consecutive games on Dec. 16 and 18. Although he rebounded last game to the tune of 21.25 fantasy points in 32 minutes, he needs his shot to fall in order to come close to approaching value. On the second unit, Green would dominate USG% on any other team but Elfrid Payton and Nikola Vucevic commonly come off the bench as well. Green is nothing more than a spot filler in GPPs who can provide some upside if needing to fully punt the spot.

Centers (Cs)

Bismack Biyombo, Magic – $4,300 is not exactly a steep price to play for a starting center who has flirted with 30 minutes just about every night as of late. At this price tag, 21.5 fantasy points are necessary for 5x value and he has topped that mark in five of his last six contests. In fact, he has topped 6x value in three of his last six contests (with another game coming 0.3 fantasy points short of value). Joakim Noah is not exactly the ideal C for him to match up against because he is the same sort of energetic player reliant on hustle but Noah’s minutes are constantly in flux. The opportunity cost is great at the C position tonight (Hassan Whiteside, DeAndre Jordan, Al Horford, Myles Turner) but Biyombo is a solid, cheap pivot nonetheless.

Al Jefferson, Pacers – It is difficult to call a player with an 18 minute limit safe, but Al Jefferson is about as close as it gets. Tonight, he will match up against a Celtics second unit that completely sucks at guarding opposing Cs. None of Tyler Zeller, Kelly Olynyk or anyone else who tries to guard him will have a chance so Jefferson should rack up the points quickly once again. Without having played more than 18 minutes in any of his last four games, he has taken 13, 10, 10 and 11 shots respectively in those contests. The shots have translated to 22.25, 22.75, 14.50 and 21.75 fantasy points in the four games and his price actually decreased since his last time out ($3,400 to $3,200 tonight). At $3,200, not much is needed of Jefferson, so it is difficult to imagine he does not provide at least 5x value. Again, the opportunity cost is great, but Jefferson is probably the safest bet of this entire article to reach value.

Good luck everyone and grind on….

If you have any questions you can reach me on Twitter @RSandersDFS or in the premium Slack channel.