NBA DEEP DIVE – 11/12/16
Chris Paul is on the second game of a back-to-back, which may actually be a good thing. Paul has been phenomenal this season despite frequently only playing three quarters because the Clippers are blowing out their opponent. They are only 4.5 point favorites today at Minnesota, so it looks like there is a good chance that Paul plays into the fourth quarter. He is still reasonably priced across the industry as a result of only averaging 30 minutes per game and he should easily outproduce his salary if this game stays close. Isaiah Thomas has taken on a huge role in the Boston offense due to the absence of Jae Crowder and Al Horford. Thomas has played 84 minutes alongside Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart with Crowder and Horford on the bench this season and has a 31.7 percent usage rate. He only played 28 minutes last night against New York, so he should be fresh for tonight’s game. Indiana plays at the 9th fastest pace in the NBA, which represents a boost for Thomas and the Celtics. Thomas should have plenty of success against Jeff Teague and the Pacers, who have the sixth worst defensive rating in the league. This is Kyle Lowry’s first back-to-back of the season and he played 36 minutes last night, so there is some risk, but that is fine given that his price is still too low for his production. Lowry has a 24.9 percent usage rate this season, despite DeMar DeRozan taking 24 shots a game so far this season, so he is still a huge part of the Toronto offense. In addition, the Knicks’ frontcourt of Porzingis and Noah has been the worst defensive frontcourt against the pick-and-roll so far this season. Lowry should be able to take advantage and post a very nice line. Jeff Teague gets another nice matchup tonight after facing the Sixers for the last two games. His price is creeping up but it still is too low for his ceiling. He has only put everything together in one game so far this season where he combined actual points with assists and rebounds. Boston is in the top half of the league in pace this season and the Vegas total is 215 so there should be plenty of fantasy points available for Teague. Dennis Schroder is still very inexpensive and has a very nice matchup with the Sixers today. Sergio Rodriguez is not an intimidating matchup and the Sixers are in the bottom half of the league in defensive rating. In addition, Joel Embiid will not be playing so Philadelphia’s rim protection takes a hit. It is still kind of tough to roster Schroder in tournaments because he tends to be relatively highly owned (especially in an obviously good matchup) and even when he has had big games this season, it has not resulted in enough fantasy points for him to be a top tournament option at point guard. I am perfectly fine going with other options in tournaments until Schroder shows me he can actually produce 40-50 fantasy points.
Tim Frazier’s minutes have rebounded nicely since the release of Lance Stephenson, seeing 32, 32 and 34 minutes in his last three games. It is good to target Frazier when Anthony Davis is in a good spot because Frazier’s fantasy points have been positively correlated with Davis’s this season. Davis should do very well in a fast paced game against the Lakers’ frontcourt, so we can give Frazier a nice boost. Frazier’s price is way too cheap across the industry for this matchup. Rajon Rondo finally had a big game in his last game, and there is a good chance he has another one tonight against a Wizards’ front court consisting of Tomas Satoransky and Marcus Thornton. The Wizards are the 7th worst team in the NBA in total rebounding percentage and have trouble defending the perimeter so Rondo has a great chance at piling up rebounds and assists tonight. He makes for a great tournament play as a pivot off of Tim Frazier. Ish Smith gets a pace-up game today against the Nuggets, who have played at the 6th fastest pace so far this season. Smith is averaging just over 29 minutes per game this season and has a 21.4 percent usage rate. He is only $5,400 on FanDuel and $5,100 on DraftKings, which is slightly too cheap for his likely production. He is not as strong a play in cash games as Tim Frazier where he is in the same price range, but is perfectly viable on DraftKings in any format. Marcus Smart has played at least 34 minutes in each of the last two games and should see heavy minutes again tonight as the Celtics will likely use their three-guard lineup against in an up-tempo game against Indiana. Smart’s usage rate with Thomas and Bradley on the floor with him is only 14.7 percent, but it is trending up and he contributes in categories across the board which gives him a nice floor. He is a strong play in any format and gains value where he is shooting guard eligible.
Core: Chris Paul, Isaiah Thomas, Dennis Schroder (Cash), Tim Frazier
Secondary: Kyle Lowry, Jeff Teague, Rajon Rondo, Ish Smith
Value: Marcus Smart
James Harden gets a rematch with the Spurs tonight in Houston. It is a tough matchup, obviously, but Harden is matchup proof because of his ridiculous minutes and usage. In his last game against San Antonio, Harden recorded a triple-double in 41 minutes with 24 points, 15 assists, and 12 rebounds. He has a high floor and ceiling in any matchup, but the matchup tonight is tough enough that I likely will not be forcing him into my lineups although I think he is a fine play. DeMar DeRozan is someone I typically hate rostering, but this is a really strong matchup for him because he is very good as the ball handler on the pick-and-roll and the Knicks have a lot of trouble defending it. His high price point should keep his ownership down somewhat and there is finally merit to actually rostering him in tournaments today as he should have an even better game than usual. Devin Booker only attempted nine shots in his last game, which is a little concerning because it coincided with a lineup change for Phoenix with Chriss and Len starting in the frontcourt. They are both higher usage players than who they replaced, so it was not surprising to see Booker’s production take a hit. If Tyson Chandler returns to the starting lineup today that should help Booker. It is also worth noting that Booker has a 28.6 percent usage rate when he is on the floor with Bledsoe, Warren and Chriss this season- although that is only in 20 minutes. It is likely that Booker’s last game was an anomaly and that he rebounds nicely tonight against the up-tempo Nets. There is a lot of value at shooting guard today, so Booker is likely more viable in tournaments than cash games. Zach LaVine makes for a very solid tournament play tonight against the Clippers. Someone will need to score for Minnesota, and it is likely that LaVine is their best option among the wings. Luc Mbah-a-Moute will probably defend Andrew Wiggins, taking him out of the picture, and Chris Paul will likely defend Ricky Rubio. This leaves LaVine against Redick, who is a capable defender in his own right. It is still a better matchup than Rubio or Wiggins have, however, so some extra scoring opportunities could be funneled to LaVine.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has a nice matchup against the Nuggets tonight at cheap prices across the industry. He should benefit from being on the court with the turnover-prone Emmanuel Mudiay and from the extra touches he will get due to the extra possessions the Nuggets’ pace will allow. KCP is averaging 33.2 minutes per game with a 17.5 percent usage rate and is a viable option in any format tonight. Marcus Thornton is a strong option tonight as he should bounce back nicely from his letdown game last night. John Wall will be sidelined tonight along with Bradley Beal so Thornton should see more usage than he did last night. In 67 minutes with Wall and Beal on the bench this season, Thornton has a 23.1 percent usage rate, compared to 17.7 percent with Wall on the floor and Beal off. His ownership should not be as high as it was last night since he killed everyone’s lineups and we can look to capitalize on that in tournaments. Tomas Satoransky is a solid cash game option where he is shooting guard eligible. He should see a ton of minutes at the point tonight with Beal and Wall sidelined. He is not a high fantasy point per minute player, but the minutes should be there which gives him a high floor.
Core: James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Secondary: Devin Booker, Zach LaVine
Value: Nick Young, Marcus Thornton, Tomas Satoransky
Kawhi Leonard is in a great spot tonight against the Rockets. The pace will benefit Leonard and he will also have an opportunity for increased steals because he will be defending the high-usage James Harden. Leonard’s price has still not quite crept into the same range as other elite players, and there really is no reason why it hasn’t. T.J. Warren has come back to Earth a little bit, but is still a very strong play. Tonight’s game should be very fast paced and he has attempted at least 12 shots in every game this season, with an average of 17.2. He will be starting alongside Chriss and Len tonight, which could eat into his usage a little bit, but his price is still low enough (especially on FanDuel) that he is a very strong play. Gordon Hayward has been on a tear lately and that should continue tonight if Dante Exum starts at point guard again. Utah and Miami should be a very slow-paced game and Justise Winslow is a quality defender, but Hayward’s usage without George Hill this season is 28.8 percent, which is just too high for his price regardless of matchup. He is more accurately priced for this matchup if Hill plays, so keep an eye out for that news.
Justise Winslow is in a poor matchup against Hayward and the Jazz, but his price is still too low. He sees heavy minutes and relatively high usage every night, and he will have an increased opportunity for defensive stats because he is defending Hayward who is a ball-dominant player in the Utah offense. Winslow has a nice floor tonight despite the tough matchup and can put up a very nice line if he gets his shots to fall. Bojan Bogdanovic is an interesting tournament play tonight. He is a very volatile player but he can explode on any given night. The extra possessions that the Nets will have in this game as a result of playing the fast-paced Suns gives Bogdanovic a good chance of having a good night. His price is way too low for his ceiling so I really like him as a tournament play at a pretty weak small forward position.
Core: Kawhi Leonard, Gordon Hayward
Secondary: T.J. Warren, Marcus Morris, Justise Winslow, Trevor Ariza
Value: C.J. Miles, Bojan Bogdanovic, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Anthony Davis is in another very nice spot against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers are playing at one of the fastest paces in the NBA and Davis is clearly athletic enough to thrive in a fast-paced game. He should be able to do whatever he wants against the Lakers’ frontcourt. The Lakers are in the top ten in the NBA in total rebounding percentage, but the extra shot attempts due to pace should make up for that. Davis is my favorite expensive player on the slate. Blake Griffin, along with Chris Paul, is having a tremendous season for the Clippers. He should have another nice performance tonight as the game is expected to be close so he should see more minutes than usual. He is a great option on his own or paired with Chris Paul because their performances are highly correlated.
Derrick Favors remains too cheap across the industry. Miami is in the bottom ten teams in the league in rebounding percentage, despite the presence of Hassan Whiteside. Favors has played 35 and 36 minutes in his last two games, so the training wheels have clearly been removed. The only risk with Favors is that it is the second game of a back-to-back, and third game in four days, so it is certainly possible that he returns to the 26-28 minutes range. He has already shown that he can pay off his inexpensive salary in that amount of playing time, however, so he is worth considering despite the risk. Markieff Morris should be the number one scoring option for the Wizards tonight. The Bulls have a strong defensive frontcourt but, at Morris’s price, the volume he should get as long as he stays out of foul trouble will more than make up for any inefficiencies. He is one of my favorite plays on the slate because his usage rate increases from 21.2 to 25.1 percent with Wall and Beal off the court (in limited minutes, so I think it will actually be even higher). Otto Porter will be dealing with Jimmy Butler, so it is likely that some extra looks make their way to Morris.
Dario Saric is an excellent value play tonight with Joel Embiid inactive. In 6 games with Embiid this season, Saric is averaging 25.8 minutes and 4.7 rebounds. In his two games without him, Saric is averaging 31.3 minutes and 9.5 rebounds per game. It is likely that Saric goes overlooked tonight, but that would be a mistake.
Core: Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Markieff Morris
Secondary: Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors, Trevor Booker, Taj Gibson
Value: Dario Saric, Terrence Jones, Jon Leuer, Larry Nance
Andre Drummond faces the Nuggets tonight in a rematch of a game recent game where he scored 19 points with 20 rebounds. The Nuggets have the highest total rebounding percentage in the NBA, but have been destroyed by certain big men this season, including Drummond. The pace of this game and volume of missed shots should work to Drummond’s advantage and I like him to put up another monster line tonight. Dwight Howard is a great pivot off of Drummond. Jahlil Okafor is not a good defender and Howard should have his way with him in the paint, in addition to grabbing plenty of rebounds. Howard is only averaging 28 minutes per game this season, which makes him slightly lower than Drummond on my board, but he is in a great spot tonight. Marc Gasol remains much more inexpensive than he should be and gets a nice matchup with the Milwaukee front court that has allowed big games to several centers so far this season. Gasol has a high usage rate and will even get you some bonus points from three on sites that do that. He has attempted at least 14 field goals in every game this season and should be able to pick up a couple of extra rebounds in this spot as well. Jusuf Nurkic should have a very nice game against Andre Drummond, who is very prone to defensive lapses. In his previous meeting with Drummond, Nurkic recorded a double-double in 24 minutes. He should produce a similar line tonight at a very reasonable price point. His minutes are always an issue, but he is producing well over one fantasy point per minute on average this season which helps negate the risk somewhat.
Kelly Olynyk has seen 26 and 30 minutes in his two games back from injury and is in a nice spot tonight in a fast paced game against Indiana. He is still minimum priced, or really close, on most sites and is firmly in play because he has a high floor and ceiling at that price point.
Core: Andre Drummond, Marc Gasol, Jusuf Nurkic
Secondary: Dwight Howard, Karl-Anthony Towns
Value: Kelly Olynyk