NBA Bargains 3/2/17
Three games slate are difficult in general but finding bargain amongst these six teams is no easy task. Right now, there are no glaring injuries that could potentially open up value other than maybe Victor Oladipo and Alex Abrines but there has been no update on that situation to this point. Guts and game theory are going to be necessary tonight in order to win because there are multiple players who could score anywhere from five to 40 fantasy points. If willing to take a shot on those types of players, this could be your lucky day. 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
Since there are only so many values tonight, there is no reason to split them up by position. Instead, they will be listed in descending order of how many shares I will have tonight (in ascending order; meaning my favorite plays are at the bottom):
Nikola Mirotic, Bulls – Okay so Nikola Mirotic is coming off a disappointing outing against the Nuggets in a fast-paced environment, but to be fair, the Bulls were getting blown out so Mirotic’s second stint was cut short. Having said that, there certainly is a possibility for blowout once again tonight as the Bulls will square off against arguably the best team in the league: the Warriors (even without Kevin Durant). Prior to last game’s dud, Mirotic had played 29-plus minutes in consecutive games since the team shipped both Doug McDermott and Taj Gibson out of town. Mirotic is volatile in nature but it should be noted the Warriors’ bench has allowed the second most three-pointers of any bench in the league and the team overall plays at the second fastest pace. With virtually on him tonight, he has a shot to revert to the Dr. Jekyll version of himself.
Allen Crabbe, Trail Blazers – Although Allen Crabbe is one of the least fun players to roster in maybe the entire league because of his painful inefficiency (0.60 fantasy points per minute), the pace of this game should promote scoring…and that is sort of all he does. On a per-36 minute basis, Crabbe has averaged 13.0 points (PTS) but only 0.9 combined steals (STL) and blocks (BLK) plus only 1.5 assists (AST). If Crabbe is not scoring, then he is not contributing to a fantasy team. Over the course of his last two games, he has played a whopping 66 minutes so he spends plenty of time on the court. The last time the Trail Blazers squared off with the Thunder was on Feb. 5 and Crabbe played 30 minutes and took 10 shots. Now, Crabbe is priced only $200 over the minimum on DK so he just needs to make a shot or so more than usual to eclipse 6.0x value. Again, he is not a player I actively seek out to roster, but his price tag may be needed to fit others in the lineup.
T.J. Warren, Suns – An ongoing theme from this point on in the article is going to be Suns youngsters since a youth movement appears to be happening in the Phoenix organization. The older players are either seeing a decrease in minutes, have been flat-out benched or have been traded (like P.J. Tucker) which is opening up minutes for players like T.J. Warren. On paper, the individual matchup against Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is not incredibly favorable but Warren will head into this game having topped 28 fantasy points and 33 minutes in three consecutive games. In fact, Warren has played 38-plus minutes in two of his last three games. As a starter this year, Warren has shot significantly better (48.6 versus 38.5-percent) and he has killed it since the All-Star Break (65.9-percent) mostly because over one-third of his shots come inside five feet (and even more so lately). Look, the matchup is not ideal, but the minutes are there and Warren is starting to get into his groove. For a player who should come at significantly less than 10-percent ownership, he is worth the shot.
Maurice Harkless, Trail Blazers – Speaking of guys eating up the minutes, Maurice Harkless has played 38, 36 and 37 minutes respectively in his last three games which has led to 29, 30.75 and 24.50 fantasy points in those three contests. Thus far, the Thunder rank 19th in defensive efficiency to opposing SFs including the 10th most PPG allowed to the position. Tonight, the Trail Blazers are listed as 1.5 point favorites in game with a projected 220.5 over/under so this is clearly the game to target. Most of Harkless’ minutes coincide with those of both Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum so his usage rate (USG%) will never be that high but Harkless has been racking up the rebounds (REB) and defensive stats as of late; he has grabbed at least five REB in each of his last three games to go along with eight combined STL/BLK during that span. The fast-paced environment should only help him contribute in those categories and his price is still well within reason ($4,800 on DK). For cash game purposes, Harkless is as safe as they come.
Taj Gibson, Thunder – There are multiple factors not working in his favor tonight but Taj Gibson is still one of my favorite value plays due to price alone. Hell, his price has fallen all the way to $3,700 on DK and $7,300 on FDr aka the lowest it has been in recent memory. Strangely, Gibson actually played the most minutes he has as a member of the Thunder in the last contest so his minutes and price are going in opposite directions. With 26-plus minutes likely on the horizon again, Gibson is simply too good of a player to pass on. Even so, the risks should be noted and the main one is having to face off against Al-Farouq Aminu with both coming off the bench. Aminu is probably the best defender on the Trail Blazers and almost all of his minutes should coincide with Gibson’s which limits his upside. Nevertheless, the price tag alleviates most of the risk and Westbrook should help create some offense for Gibson anyways. Like Harkless, he is a better cash game play.
Marquese Chriss, Suns – A recent trend worth noting is opposing PFs have dominated the Hornets. Since Feb. 23, Marcus Morris has dropped 16-8 against the Hornets, both Anthony Tolliver/Ben McLemore (who played PF for a stretch at the end) produced nice games, Blake Griffin reigned supreme to the tune of 43-10-5 in an overtime game and Julius Randle just posted one of the best games of his career (23-18-6) against them last time out. Clearly the defense of Marvin Williams and/or anyone else at the spot is not really slowing down opponents. With that being said, Marquese Chriss will be the latest PF to square off against this defense and he has played 33-plus minutes in two of his last three games. Furthermore, Chriss has topped 22 fantasy points in three of his last four games and 33 fantasy points in two of his last four. With T.J. Warren dealing with a tough matchup, more of the offense may funnel through Chriss than normal. As per usual, Chriss will have to stay out of foul trouble to contribute but Williams nor Cody Zeller are real threats to draw fouls. Therefore, Chriss rates as one of the best tournament plays on the slate.
Enes Kanter, Thunder – If reasoning through this situation logically, Taj Gibson will be forced to deal with one of the better defenders on the league in the second unit so most of the usage will have to be run through Enes Kanter. The return of Victor Oladipo to the rotation does not help Kanter’s cause but he still has gone out and topped 30 fantasy points in back-to-back games heading into this one. Despite topping out at 27 minutes during that span, Kanter has attempted 21 shots and made 13 of them. The Trail Blazers’ bench unit as a whole ranks 19th in defensive efficiency and they allow the seventh most defensive REB per game. Kanter did not fare well in the one earlier meeting against the Trail Blazers this season but that does not make this any less of an enticing spot considering his opponent ranks 25th in defensive efficiency against opposing Cs. UPDATE: Victor Oladipo is questionable so his absence would only enhance Kanter’s appeal and USG%.
Alan Williams, Suns – Last but certainly not least, Alan Williams is one of my favorite value plays on the entire slate due to his ridiculous efficiency. During his short career as a professional (303 total minutes), Williams has averaged an impressive 1.33 fantasy points per-minute on the heels of posting 17.2 PTS, 15.8 REB, 1.7 STL and 2.6 BLK per-36 minutes. By comparison, Nikola Jokic has only averaged 1.28 FPPM during his nearly two seasons although he clearly has played significantly more minutes. His price tag continues to rise, but as noted in the Chris tidbit, the Hornets have been getting lit up by opposing frontcourts. This season, the Hornets rank 24th in defensive efficiency to opposing Cs and the 218 over/under suggests this game should be reasonably fast-paced. Williams predictably struggled against a slow, defensive-minded Grizzlies team last game but he had busted out for nearly 50 fantasy points in the game before (versus the Bucks). With Tyson Chandler out of the rotation at this point, Williams is a solid bet for 20-plus minutes. If Alex Len were to get in foul trouble, or Williams were to get hot, his minutes could get stretched far beyond that. He requires a leap of faith but one worth taking in my opinion.
Good luck everyone and grind on….
If you have any questions you can reach me on Twitter @RSandersDFS or in the FanVice.com premium Slack channel.