NBA Bargains –12/29/16

With six games on tonight’s slate, only three of them possess over/unders of 200-plus. All the low-scoring games on tap make it difficult to find cheap players in great spots. That means you will have to get creative with roster construction tonight in order to win big. Without further ado, let’s get to work…

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)

D’Angelo Russell, Lakers – Other than Julius Randle, many of the Lakers players number were down last game due to a difficult matchup against the Jazz. Not only do the Jazz rank 29th in pace but they allow a league-best 95.3 points per game (PPG). Unfortunately, the Mavericks are the only team to play a slower brand of basketball however they allow 100.7 PPG, struggle against opposing PGs (20th in efficiency) and Russell has already torched them this season (28.25 fantasy points in 26 minutes in their only meeting). Fortunately for Russell, his price only increased $200 above the ridiculously low bargain cost he was listed as against the Jazz so there is plenty of room for profit at $5,300 on DK. At this price, Russell has topped 5x value in four of his last six games and eclipsed 6x value in two of his last six games. Although he is still best reserved for tournaments, he is an excellent play in the format.

Marcus Smart, Celtics – A lot of the time DraftCheat likes to talk about the funnel theory where the offense will run through another player when one of the team’s stars is facing a difficult matchup. If the Cavaliers game plan is at all similar to last game, DeAndre Liggins will draw the matchup against the opposing team’s stud PG aka Isaiah Thomas. Last game, Thomas and Marcus Smart spent approximately 14 minutes of Smart’s 28 on the floor together meaning he truly does have an opportunity to shoulder the load if Thomas if smothered. Even without the Liggins factor, Smart has played at least 28 minutes in back-to-back games and has registered 30-plus fantasy points in each. In a game the team will need to win, and will be looking for defensive help off the bench, Smart should play a healthy amount of productive minutes once again.

Shooting Guards (SGs)

Nick Young, Lakers – All good things must come to an end as Nick Young’s recent string of consistency has come to a crashing halt over the course of the last three games. After producing 24-plus fantasy points in five straight games, Young has failed to reach 18 fantasy points in two of his last three. During that span, he has topped out at nine shots will he was taking 10-plus on pretty much a nightly basis beforehand. The good news is he has still played 27-plus minutes in two of his last three and he has shot a combined 26.7-percent in his two flops during that span. Since he relies almost completely on scoring, he is certainly going to have his off days. Vegas is projecting this game as the third highest scoring of the slate and expects it to remain close (Lakers 3.0 point favorites) plus the Mavericks rank 19th in SG efficiency defense. With Young listed at such a cheap price tag ($4,100), he certainly could eclipse value once again if his shots fall tonight.

Seth Curry, Mavericks – Every game for the Mavericks is one where they are forced to play up in pace since they rank dead last in the category. Even so, the Lakers rank fourth in pace so they will really force the Mavericks to speed it up if they are able to control the tempo. Fast pace certainly works for Seth Curry’s game as he combines scoring ability with the knack for finding open teammates. For the season, he averages 13.7 points (PTS), 4.1 assists (AST), 2.2 three-pointers made (3PM) and 27.22 fantasy points per-36 minutes. If converting that to a per-minute basis, he is right about 0.76. His minutes fluctuate a bit in concurrence with how he is performing but he has been floating around 25 minutes since the beginning of December. At $4,100, he needs 20.5 fantasy points to reach 5x value and the uptick in pace should help increase his fantasy efficiency. If the team decides to go small to counter all the Lakers’ guards, which they did against the Pelicans, Curry could easily find himself floating in the mid-20s in terms of fantasy points once again.

Small Forwards (SFs)

Robert Covington, 76ers – Both Joel Embiid and Gerald Henderson have been ruled out tonight which means the 76ers will be scouring for point scorers on their roster. One player up to the task is Robert Covington who thrives in situations where he can just launch. According to statmuse, Covington’s usage rate (USG%) increases from 18.2-percent when Embiid plays to 20.0-percent when he sits. With both Embiid and Henderson on the bench, Covington ranks fourth on the team with a 22.3 USG% behind only Jahlil Okafor, Ersan Ilyasova and Sergio Rodriguez, per nbawowy. The Jazz are not a great matchup for his skillset by any means but the price tag should alleviate most of the concerns about the pace and defense ($4,800). With Nerlens Noel likely to cut into Ilyasova’s minutes tonight, the team will be desperate for offense and Covington may be one of the few who can provide it.

Norman Powell, Raptors – Although Norman Powell has only averaged 8.3 fantasy points per game (FPPG) with DeMarre Carroll active this season, he has averaged a ridiculous 27.2 FPPG without him in a five game sample. Last night, Terrence Ross erupted for a monster scoring night off the bench so he will likely eat into the ownership and yet Powell has proven to be the guy in Carroll’s absence. The matchup legitimately could not get much better as the team will face a Suns team that plays the second fastest brand of basketball and allows the most PPG of any team (114.3). Both Powell and Ross may prove to be viable options tonight, especially if the Raptors win in blowout fashion, but Powell is the safer choice of the two.

Power Forwards (PFs)

Marvin Williams, Hornets  – Recently, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been the talk of the town in DFS with his three consecutive 29-plus fantasy points outings. He is once again a viable option once again but the Heat allow the sixth fewest rebounds to opposing frontcourts so his upside is limited. Then there is Marvin Williams who comes at a $400 cheaper price tag who has quietly averaged 5.43x value at this price tag over his last five games. Cody Zeller has struggled matching up against Hassan Whiteside so Williams has stepped up in previous games against the Heat. In his last five games against the Heat, Williams has topped 6x value at this price tag every single time, which makes sense for him having to make up for some of Zeller’s production. Both he and Kidd-Gilchrist are worthy of consideration but Williams is the more necessary option tonight with LeBron James in such a fantastic spot.

Ersan Ilyasova, 76ers – As noted in the Covington tidbit, Ilyasova ranks second on the team in USG% with the current members of the team active. Ilyasova has actually averaged slightly more FPPG with Embiid active (25.9) than with him sidelined (24.3) but Jahlil Okafor will be dealing with Rudy Gobert tonight. Therefore, Ilyasova will be counted on to score while on the court although his minutes could get limited due to reports suggesting Nerlens Noel could see 20-plus minutes tonight. He is best reserved for tournaments but we have seen some monster games out of Ilyasova in somewhat similar spots this season.

Centers (Cs)

Steven Adams, Thunder – For cash games, Steven Adams is the type of player worth targeting because he has not sunk below 22 fantasy points since Dec. 4. Assuming Marc Gasol plays big minutes (and why wouldn’t he?), the team will likely call upon Adams to match him during his time on the court since he is a solid defender in his own right. In two of his last three meetings against Gasol, he has played 25-plus minutes and right now he is playing the best basketball of his career. If looking for a semi-punt at the C position in order to make everything else work, Adams is extremely unlikely to ruin a lineup.

Lucas Nogueira, Raptors – Need a cheap tournament play with upside? Lucas Nogueira averages 0.91 FPPM and tends to play more in faster-paced games because Jonas Valanciunas cannot keep up. Hell, the last time Valanciunas topped 27 minutes was Dec. 14 against the 76ers and Noguiera was inactive that game. At a measly $3,800 price tag, Nogueira has topped 5x value in three of his last four games and topped 6x value in two of his last four. If this turns into a blowout (Raptors are nine point favorites), Nogueira could see even more run. Clearly his skill set/role combination dictates he is a tournament play only, the fact that he does not need many minutes to succeed certainly helps his cause. The preferred play is to spend up at C tonight but there are creative ways to construct a GPP roster if you want to get contrarian.

Good luck everyone and grind on….

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