NBA DEEPER DIVE 10/27/16 (Premium)

POINT GUARD

Damian Lillard- POR- $9,200 DraftKings/ $9,100 FanDuel

Lillard faces Chris Paul tonight in Portland in a game with a Vegas total of 208.5.  Paul has been able to contain Lillard in the past, but those games were not played right after Lillard announced that he plans on being the MVP this season.  Lillard has shown many times in the past that when he can score at will when he is really motivated, so he does have GPP appeal to me tonight despite the tough matchup.  In addition to the MVP narrative, Lillard thrives at home.  He only scored less than 40 DraftKings points in four home games last season (two of those games were 39.5 and 38.3), and he never scored less than 30.  While Lillard does not project to be one of the best point-per-dollar options at point guard tonight, he does have a very high ceiling that makes him attractive in GPPs despite the difficult matchup.

Chris Paul- LAC- $8,800 DraftKings/ $9,500 FanDuel

Paul draws a very nice matchup against the offensively-minded Lillard.  He has been good, but not great, in recent matchups with Lillard, excluding an 84.5 DraftKings point outburst in April of 2015.  One difference between most of those games and the game tonight, however, is that he was sharing the floor with Blake Griffin for most of the game.  Doc Rivers has said he wants to stagger Paul and Griffin this season, so Paul will get more time on the floor without Griffin.  When Griffin was off of the floor last season, Paul’s usage went up 1.3 percent to 28.6, so he has an even higher floor and ceiling than we are accustomed to.  Paul is a better cash game play than Lillard, and is a strong option in GPPs as well.

John Wall- WSH- $8,200 DraftKings/$9,400 FanDuel

Wall is in a difficult matchup with the Hawks tonight, but makes for an outstanding GPP play based on his ownership and upside.  On DraftKings, he is $600 less than Paul and $1,000 less than Lillard despite having similar raw point upside (although he is less likely to hit his ceiling in this matchup than either of them are).  The savings in salary and the difference in ownership between Wall and the other two star point guards should make up for the matchup against a Hawks team that plays very good team defense (although moving from Horford to Howard could weaken the interior defense depending on if Howard feels like playing defense or not).  On FanDuel, Wall is $100 less than Paul and $300 more than Lillard.  There is obviously no salary benefit to rostering Wall over them, but that is likely to make his ownership incredibly low for a four-game slate.  Since the slate is so small, rostering the clearly inferior (relative to the other options) expensive player can be a great way to differentiate your team without sacrificing upside.  The percentage of the time that Wall is the highest scoring point guard on this slate is likely to be much higher than his ownership dictates.  Rostering him in GPPs instead of Paul and Lillard is not a high percentage play, but it is one of my favorite GPP angles tonight.

Isaiah Thomas- BOS- $7,200 DraftKings/ $8,000 FanDuel

Thomas is on the second night of a back-to-back after playing 33 minutes against the Nets last night.  Since it is early in the season, and Marcus Smart is out, he is at low-risk of having his minutes limited even though he played last night.  Boston is playing in the game with the highest projected total on the slate and Thomas should be relied upon heavily on offense after spending 20 minutes last night on the floor together with Bradley, Crowder and Horford and recording a usage rate of 29.7 percent.  He is a little bit more expensive than I feel comfortable paying for in cash, especially because he did play 33 minutes last night, but he is a strong tournament option because he has a high ceiling in this matchup and his ownership will be lowered because of the presence of bigger-name point guards.

Dennis Schroder- ATL- $6,500 DraftKings/ $6,500 FanDuel

Schroder gets the reigns to the Atlanta offense with Jeff Teague gone and tonight is his first chance to prove he can handle it.  He draws a tough matchup on paper against John Wall, but the Wizards can be susceptible to the pick-and-roll and Schroder loves to run it.  We will have to wait and see if Dwight Howard goes along with that plan or not but, if he does, Schroder should be in for a very productive night.  He is reasonably priced across the industry and is a viable option in all formats.

Rajon Rondo- CHI- $6,200 DraftKings/ $7,500 FanDuel

Rondo is a much more interesting play on DraftKings than on FanDuel because of the difference in price.  It is going to be very interesting to see how the Chicago offense operates because the pieces that they have do not seem to fit together very well.  This game has the highest total on the slate and Rondo has upside because of the extra possessions.  Isaiah Thomas is also a weaker defender than Crowder or Bradley, so Rondo may be looked to to provide a little more scoring than usual to go along with the assists and rebounds that he always accumulates.  In 39 preseason minutes on the floor with Butler and Wade, Rondo’s usage was 20.3 percent (Butler was 16.3 and Wade was 24.7) so there is not a reason to think he is going to disappear alongside Wade and Butler.  He is my favorite play of the three today.  Oh, and revenge game.

SHOOTING GUARD

C.J. McCollum- POR- $6,800 DraftKings/ $6,900 FanDuel

McCollum is probably going to be the highest scoring shooting guard on the slate, it is just a matter of whether or not to pay for it.  He has consistently scored 30 to 35 DraftKings points against the Clippers in recent games, which is going to be tough to expect from many other options at the position plus he has the potential for a lot more.  McCollum’s playing time is also staggered with Lillard, so he gets minutes as the point guard with the second unit.  Anytime you can roster someone who gets time at the point in a shooting guard slot, it is advised.  The main issue with McCollum today is that there is better value at shooting guard than there is at other positions, but do your best to get him in your lineups.

Avery Bradley- BOS- $4,900 DraftKings/ $5,600 FanDuel

Bradley is a strong option in any format tonight, as he should see extended minutes because he will need to guard Dwyane Wade and/or Jimmy Butler.  He showed an improved shooting stroke in the preseason, as well as last night, and was second to Isaiah Thomas in usage during the preseason when the core players were on the floor for Boston.  In addition to his scoring, Bradley is able to pick up defensive stats and contribute in other categories so he is a very strong play while he remains underpriced across the industry.

Allen Crabbe- POR- $3,700 DraftKings/ $4,300 FanDuel

Crabbe is not thought of as an exciting option for daily fantasy but, if he continues to see usage like he did against Utah, he will be.  Crabbe played 3 minutes alongside Lillard and McCollum, 13 minutes alongside only Lillard and 12 minutes alongside only McCollum.  He did absolutely nothing in the 3 minutes alongside both, as expected.  In the 13 minutes alongside Lillard, his usage was 18.2 percent.  Given Crabbe’s low price tag and weak position, a 18.2 percent usage rate is interesting.  In the 12 minutes he played alongside McCollum, though, his usage rate was a whopping 30.5 percent.  Obviously this is a small sample size, but it is reasonable to think that Crabbe will continued to see high usage with the second unit while McCollum runs the point and Evan Turner continues to try and learn the offense.  As the season goes along, Turner will probably eat into his usage significantly, but right now he is a familiar face to Lillard and McCollum who knows the offense, so he should continue to contribute in the short-term.

SMALL FORWARD

Kelly Oubre- WSH- $3,400 DraftKings/ $3,600 FanDuel

Oubre will be coming off the bench tonight for the Wizards.  He is only an option in GPPs, but he does have some upside at a terrible position and a very low price.  The Hawks are a very strong team defensively, but their defense drops off some when the second unit is on the floor.  Oubre will be relied on to score points for the Washington second unit (his usage rate increased 2.4 points when Wall, Beal and Morris were off the floor last season), and he showed last season and during the preseason that he can put up fantasy points in a hurry when he is playing well.  If things go well, he could score around 25 DraftKings points, which would be very good at his bargain basement price given the lack of other quality options at the position.

Evan Turner- POR- $4,700 DraftKings/ $5,500 FanDuel

Turner played 26 minutes off the bench for Portland in the opener and should see similar minutes tonight.  He had a very low usage rate against Utah, but that will not continue all season.  Eventually, he will be a very important part of Portland’s second unit as he learns the offense and handles the ball more.  We are not at that point yet but, on a four-game slate at a bad position, there is merit to rostering a player who we expect to have an increased role throughout the year, because he will most likely show flashes of fantasy goodness before he starts contributing consistently.

Kawhi Leonard- SAS- $8,400 DraftKings/ $8,400 FanDuel

Leonard is the best small forward option on the slate and it is not even close.  He is a focal point in the San Antonio offense and contributes defensively as well.  The Kings do not have personnel that like to play defense, and can be very sloppy offensively, so Leonard has a very high floor and ceiling tonight.  Lock him into your lineups.

 

POWER FORWARD

Blake Griffin- LAC- $8,600 DraftKings/ $8,600 FanDuel

Griffin should be able to impose his will against a small Portland frontcourt in a game with the second highest total on the slate.  Griffin did not see a difference in usage with or without Paul on the floor last season, but he was a very strong option either way.  His price is more than fair across the industry and he should be the first power forward in your lineup.

Markieff Morris- WSH- $5,400 DraftKings/ $5,600 FanDuel

Morris is a very interesting GPP play tonight on the four-game slate.  He should go overlooked since he is so inconsistent, but he does have a couple of things working in his favor.  After joining the Wizards last season, he had the highest usage rate of anyone when he was on the court with Wall, Beal, Porter and Gortat at just over 23 percent.  It remains to be seen whether that will continue under new coach Scott Brooks or if it was a result of a small sample size or an attempt to get him comfortable in the offense last season, but it is worth noting because there could be some upside at low ownership.  He also faced Paul Millsap twice after the Wizards acquired him, and he performed very well.  In the first game, he played 26.5 minutes and was 5-of-11 shooting with 14 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, a block, and 2 three-pointers.  In the second game, two days later, he played 26.2 minutes and was 8-of-12 shooting with 19 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, and 3 three-pointers.  Again, this is obviously a small sample size but on a slate this small we need to be looking for upside everywhere that can differentiate us from the field.  Morris is a strong way to roster that upside at an inexpensive price tag in GPPs.

Taj Gibson- CHI- $4,100 DrafKings/ $5,300 FanDuel

Gibson is not an exciting player, but he is valuable tonight, especially on DraftKings where he is only $4,100.  This should be a fast-paced game with a lot of missed shots, so he has a very nice floor because of his rebounding opportunities.  He is unlikely to contribute a ton offensively, but it is very possible that he puts up a 12 point and 12 rebound line and nicely pays off his salary on both sites.

CENTER

DeMarcus Cousins- SAC- $10,300 DraftKings/ $9,800 FanDuel

Cousins only played 25 minutes last night because of foul trouble, so he should be fresh and ready to go in the inaugural game in the Kings new arena.  He has had success against LaMarcus Aldridge in the past, going back to his days with Portland.  In Cousins’ last 8 games against LaMarcus Aldridge, he has only failed to record a double-double twice (35 points and 9 rebounds and 17 points and 9 rebounds) and has scored at least 21 points in all of them but one).  Portland’s team defense was not as good as San Antonio’s is now, but Aldridge should still struggle to slow down Cousins.  In his two games against Aldridge and San Antonio last season, Cousins recorded 21 points and 12 rebounds followed by 22 points and 10 rebounds.  He is firmly in play in all formats tonight, and is also power-forward eligible on DraftKings.

DeAndre Jordan- LAC- $7,700 DraftKings/ $8,000 FanDuel

Jordan enjoyed a lot of success against Mason Plumlee and the Blazers last season.  In four games against Plumlee last season, Jordan averaged 14 points and 16.5 rebounds in 33.9 minutes.  He is a very strong option tonight because the game should be up-tempo and he will have plenty of opportunities for rebounds that will give him a very nice floor regardless of how involved he is offensively.

Dwight Howard- ATL- $7,500 DraftKings/ $7,500 FanDuel

It remains to be seen how well Howard is going to fit into the Atlanta offense with Schroder at the point and Paul Millsap next to him in the frontcourt, but he showed a lot of promise in the preseason.  It is unclear how Millsap will affect him since they only got to play a couple of games together but, in 31 minutes of floor time alongside Schroder, Millsap and Bazemore, Howard had the highest usage rate at 28.1 percent.  Combine the usage he saw with this group in the preseason with the likelihood that Washington struggles to rebound the ball this season and Howard is a very good play tonight.

Mason Plumlee- POR- $4,300 DraftKings/ $5,100 FanDuel

Plumlee is way too cheap for this matchup, despite letting some people down in the opener.  In his four games against Jordan and the Clippers last season, Plumlee averaged 14.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in 25.75 minutes.  He eclipsed the 30 point mark on DraftKings in three of those four games, and scored 25 DraftKings points in the other one.  He is not someone that makes you very comfortable when you roster him, but he is very underpriced today and offers a nice ceiling for the price.  He is a viable GPP option on both sites, and worth of cash consideration on DraftKings where his price is absurd and DeMarcus Cousins is power-forward eligible.