NBA DEEP DIVE 11/21/16

POINT GUARD

Giannis Antetokounmpo is not a skilled shooter. Actually, he’s downright terrible, having shot a putrid 22-86 (25%) from outside of five feet this season. Fortunately, Antetokounmpo doesn’t need to shoot well in order to produce, as his size, handle and antelope-like strides to the hoop have allowed him to shoot 67 percent at the rim, where he’s attempting a ridiculous 57 of his field goals. A quick look at Giannis’ shot chart illustrates his unconventional, yet effective way of scoring, and he should be able to continue producing in this fashion against the Magic. Orlando is allowing the second highest field goal percentage at the rim (55.8%), while coughing up the fifth most second chance points and 10th most points in the paint. Antetokounmpo’s career-high 29 percent usage rate and 28 percent assist rate have placed him in a spot to excel every night, and his poor outside shooting will hardly make a difference when he’s driving to the rack at will and getting to the line at a semi-frequent rate. The Greek Freak is in play across the board, but his $8,800 price tag on DraftKings is simply too cheap to overlook.

John Wall has been an elite fantasy producer for some time now, but he’s never excelled as either a shooter or a scorer. Through nearly one month of his 2016-17 campaign, however, Wall has been surprisingly aggressive, averaging career highs in points (24 PPG), usage (34%) and field goal attempts (18.2 FGA/G). Moreover, Wall’s assist rate remains in the mid-40 percent range while he’s shooting at a very respectable 47 percent clip. Seeing slightly limited minutes as a result of some recent ailments (33 MPG) won’t help his fantasy value, but the Wizards’ offense runs through Wall, which makes him highly effective for every second he’s on the court.

Wall is producing at a near 1.4 FPPM clip, and should continue to smash against a Suns backcourt that’s surrendered the most points to opposing guards this season. Phoenix’s backcourt defense ranks bottom-five in FG%, 3PT% and OEff allowed, and just recently allowed 21 points on 8-9 shooting (5-6 3PT) to the unimposing Nik Stauskas. There’s too much value here not to love Wall in what’s guaranteed to be a fast-paced, high-scoring affair. He’s the cash play on this slate, while Stephen Curry is the preferred GPP play, who offers more upside than Wall but also owns a lower floor playing alongside Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. Unlike Wall, Curry has the luxury of taking a backseat role when one of his All-Star teammates is knocking them down. We’ve seen him finish with fewer than 40 fantasy points in seven of 13 starts this season, while Wall has done so in only two of his first 10 games. The ceiling is with Curry, but the safety comes with Wall.

Jeff Teague may quite possibly be one of the higher owned point guard on Monday, as he draws a lightning-fast matchup with Golden State and is coming off one of the best fantasy performances of his career. There’s some concern about the back-to-back, but there’s also reason to believe Indiana will show up for a home meeting with this Western Conference juggernaut. Paul George has already been ruled out, so we can expect Teague to eat up a ton of the Pacers’ possessions, resulting in more scoring opportunities and an inflated assist rate. Teague is sporting a near 27 percent assist rate with George off the court, while the Warriors are allowing the fifth most points on the year. With an average of 40 DKPT per game over his last seven starts, Teague finds himself in an elite spot to continue this surge on Monday.

The reason for Mike Conley’s surge in scoring this year is easy to diagnosed; through his first 12 games the veteran point guard is shooting an eye-popping 48 percent from beyond the arc, and he’s attempting north of five threes per game! While this shooting isn’t sustainable, Conley still makes for an intriguing GPP pivot away from Teague. In the event that Indiana gets blown out on the second of a back-to-back, Teague could see his minutes decrease significantly. Conley’s Grizzlies should be able to keep this game competitive, and although the Hornets have been stout on defense, they’re allowing the most three-point attempts to opposing guards on the year. He’s only viable in tournaments where you’re looking for a low-owned 40-45 fantasy points, but Conley has been shooting well enough to warrant attention in passable matchups.

Matthew Dellavedova hasn’t been overly impressive, but he’s managed to stay relevant in a year where playing alongside Antetokounmpo should’ve significantly lowered his fantasy totals. With a 30 percent assist rate and 30 MPG over his last six starts, Dellavedova is involved enough to have value at his low-$4K price point. Ish Smith is slightly more expensive, but he’s also more appealing in a home matchup with Houston. Smith has logged 30-plus minutes in six of his last eight games, and is surprisingly still sporting a usage rate north of 20 percent. Smith can’t shoot, but he can get to the rim, and he can absolutely facilitate at the point (34% AST). With Houston having holes in all areas of their defense I wouldn’t be too concerned with Patrick Beverley’s return. This game should be both close and relatively high scoring, so 30-33 minutes from Smith should be enough to return solid totals on his price tag.

CORE – Giannis Antetokounmpo [DraftKings]

SECONDARY – John Wall; Jeff Teague

VALUE – Matthew Dellavedova; Ish Smith

GPP – Stephen Curry; Mike Conley; Ricky Rubio

SHOOTING GUARD

James Harden is the only player priced above $10K on both FanDuel and DraftKings, so if you’re paying up for a guaranteed 50-plus fantasy points with upside for much much more, he’s definitely your guy. Harden has yet to finish with fewer than 45 fantasy points through his first 13 games, while posting 60-plus fantasy points eight times in that span! Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a solid defensive guard, but you simply cannot guard Harden, as evidenced by two explosive performances against Kawhi Leonard and his Spurs. For the sake of argument, though, let’s consider Harden can’t get his shot to fall on Monday — he’s still going to rack up double-digit assists with plenty of rebounds and a handful of steals. With 33 percent usage and 12.5 drives per game, I’d expect him to torch Drummond around the basket, and although the Pistons have played quality defense, they aren’t prepared to handle Harden. Due to the plethora of excellent $8-9K plays on the board this evening, Harden isn’t a must play, but he’s literally never a bad play, either. My recommendation would be to see how your lineup looks with and without him. If we have enough value to make it work, there’s no reason to avoid it.

As counterintuitive as this may seem, Nicolas Batum is one of the most consistent fantasy players when he’s playing well. Fortunately for those of us considering him on Monday, Batum is playing lights out basketball over the last one-plus weeks, averaging 17.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.4 steals, one block and 41.6 DraftKings Points through his last five starts. As you can see, Batum’s versatility as a fantasy contributor is what gives him value, but the fact that he’s shooting 47 percent from deep over than span hasn’t hurt, either. Memphis doesn’t boast the same elite defense they once did, and with Mike Conley set to guard Kemba Walker on Monday, Batum could see some additional shooting volume thrown his way. Furthermore, Tony Allen re-aggravated his hamstring on Saturday and is questionable to suit up tonight. If Allen is sidelined, Batum’s matchup will get that much better.

Bradley Beal generally isn’t a player I’m willing to recommend, but this home matchup with Phoenix is too juicy to ignore. The Suns struggled mightily to defend opposing two-guards last season when Beal torched them for a 34-point, 57-fantasy point eruption, and they haven’t improved even slightly in 2016, allowing the most points and highest 3-PT% to opposing shooting guards. If you’re looking to get exposure to the Wizards backcourt without having to roster Wall, Beal should definitely be considered. Eric Bledsoe will be tasked with guarding Wall, and now that Otto Porter is playing excellent basketball, Earl Watson won’t bother to stick P.J. Tucker on Beal (if he starts). Devin Booker owns a putrid 113 DRtg on the year, and won’t be able to contain Beal across 35-plus minutes of work. His price point across the industry is unavoidable, especially considering this contest owns a whopping 218 over-under at the Verizon Center. EDIT: T.J. Warren is listed as OUT Monday, while Tyson Chandler is doubtful and Devin Booker is questionable. We now have to approach this game with more caution, as we could definitely see an early blowout. I mean, hell, the Sixers blew Phoenix out over the weekend.

In GPPs, both Klay Thompson and Monta Ellis are in play. Thompson has yet to exceed 40 DraftKings Points in a game this season, and his value has definitely taken a hit with the arrival of Durant, but he’ll eventually break out for a monster performance, and there’s no better time to do so than tonight in a matchup with the Pacers. Opposite of Thompson is Ellis, who is hardly shooting at all this season, and owns a career-low usage rate of 16 percent. Despite the underwhelming campaign, Ellis still owns plenty of GPP appeal with Paul George and C.J. Miles sidelined. He won’t hoist up 20-plus shots like we would’ve seen a few years back, but Ellis will still see an elevated assist rate, and should play close to 40 minutes if this game stays eve remotely competitive.

The problem with Ellis and Thompson, however, is the fact that this game likely won’t remain competitive, and both of them will likely require a full allotment of minutes in order to pay off their salaries. I’m still very much in favor of targeting them in tournaments, though, as we’ve seen Golden State struggle on the road despite some inviting matchups.

Value is unsurprisingly barren at the shooting guard position, but Jonathan Gibson makes for a very intriguing play. Gibson has logged 20 and 32 minutes over his last two games, while posting 20.5 and 41.5 fantasy points respectively. If he can finish somewhere in the middle of those two performances we’ll be sitting pretty knowing that he’s priced below $4K across the board. There’s obviously some volatility here considering Gibson was just signed by the Mavericks last week, but I have a tough time imagining him not getting an abundance of blowout run in a road matchup with the Spurs. Dallas is a whopping 17-point road dog on a night where they’ll be without Deron Williams, J.J. Barea, Dirk Nowitzki and Andrew Bogut. Rick Carlisle has already waived the white flag by resting Bogut, which means he will likely afford his bench players ample run in a non-competitive game. Gibson owns a 35 percent usage rate through his first two games, which means he’s running the offense and seeing plenty of opportunity in useless minutes in mop up duty. There’s a lot of appeal here, fellas.

It’s worth noting that Dion Waiters is questionable to play on Monday, which means Tyler Johnson would make for an excellent $5K play against the Sixers if he sits. Keep an eye on any developments here, as Johnson has produced well with volume, and even with Dragic back he’d have value in such an appetizing matchup.

SECONDARY – James Harden; Nicolas Batum; Bradley Beal

VALUE – Jonathan Gibson; Tyler Johnson [If Waiters is out]

GPP – Klay Thompson; Monta Ellis; Tony Snell

SMALL FORWARD

Kevin Durant is surprisingly averaging a career-high fantasy points per 36 in his first season with the Warriors. We can attribute this to the fact that Golden State’s embarrassment of riches makes them unguardable, but also their ultra-fast pace, league-leading offensive rating, and Durant’s personal efficiency as a scorer (63.3 eFG%). He’s been so impressive that ignoring him against the George-less Pacers would be foolish. That being said, Durant could easily play fewer than 30 minutes in a game where the Warriors are 13-point favorites on the road. I’ll have plenty of exposure to Durant in GPPs, but won’t be taking the risk in cash. He banged his knee up last time out, and Kerr may look to rest him if Golden State takes an early lead.

NOTE: The small forward position is entirely different on FanDuel than it is on DraftKings, so we’ll focus primarily on the former since the luxury of multi-position eligibility isn’t in play. DraftKings offers plenty of SF/PF options that are only PF eligible on FanDuel, so we’ll get to them at the next position.

Otto Porter has been absolutely smashing of late, yet he still owns a low-$6K price point across the board and particularly on FanDuel. Scott Brooks is feeding him upwards of 40 MPG, which should serve him well against the Suns, as even if this game develops into a blowout he’ll still see 30-plus minutes of run. Phoenix has been absolutely deplorable on defense this season, coughing up a league-high 114 points per game with the most free throws allowed to their competition. Even with P.J. Tucker’s defense in the starting lineup the Suns have been a sieve, surrendering 120 points in five of their last seven, with 116-plus points allowed all but once in that span. Look for Porter to post quality numbers at a respectable cost, and even if this game gets out of hand he should see enough work to be viable.

Andrew Wiggins draws a tougher matchup now that Jae Crowder is back for Boston, but at $6,900 on FanDuel there’s no reason to ignore him. This contest owns a respectable 208 over-under, but more importantly, the Celtics are only one-point favorites on the road. Wiggins could easily play 40 minutes in this game, and Thibs is no stranger to running his starters for huge minutes in competitive games. Wiggins isn’t viable on DraftKings where we have a bounty of small forward options, but on FanDuel you can absolutely consider him and his league-leading .482 points per touch.

Glenn Robinson III was fantastic in his spot start for the injured Paul George and C.J. Miles, finishing with a 16-point (6-14 FG/2-5 3PT), 10-rebound, 34.25-fantasy point double-double through 45 minutes against the Thunder. This game went to overtime, but Robinson still played 40 minutes in regulation, and at his current price point there’s no reason to ignore him against the Warriors. With Indiana being very shorthanded at the small forward position, and Rodney Stuckey still being limited, Robinson could see ample run even if this game develops into a blowout. We don’t need high usage or 20 field goal attempts here; so long as Robinson continues to play nearly all of the team’s minutes at the three, he’s going to offer huge value across the board, and a fast-paced affair with Golden State only makes him more attractive.

P.J. Tucker should draw another start with T.J. Warren sidelined, and although he isn’t an elite or even above average FPPM producer, Tucker remains cheap enough to consider at a relatively weak position. This game owns the second highest over-under on Monday’s nine-game slate (218), so Tucker should see plenty of opportunity to produce peripherals even if he isn’t making shots. James Johnson has also played well in Justise Winslow’s absence, and should continue to produce respectable fantasy totals against the Sixers. His minutes are safe off the bench, but Johnson could see even more playing time if Dion Waiters sits. I prefer Robinson over both of these value options, but Tucker and Johnson are virtually interchangeable at low-$4K price points.

CORE – Glenn Robinson III

SECONDARY – Otto Porter; Andrew Wiggins [FanDuel]

VALUE – P.J. Tucker; James Johnson

GPP – Kevin Durant

POWER FORWARD

Draymond Green finally failed to produce 35-plus fantasy points for the first time this season, finishing with 29 in a three-point road win over Milwaukee. I don’t see him continuing that trend on Monday, though, as the Pacers have been absolutely deplorable against opposing frontcourts, ranking bottom-five in points, rebounds and offensive efficiency allowed. They’ve also funneled a lot of teams’ shooting through their bigs, which isn’t as applicable with the Warriors, but could still benefit Green if even only slightly. He’s $7,700 on DraftKings and $8K on FanDuel, which is simply too cheap to ignore in a 220 over-under game. Green will always be in play at this cost, especially when facing one of the league’s worst frontcourt defenses.

The mid-range power forwards are very appealing on Monday, but we’ll have some difficult decisions to make as a result. Jabari Parker faces an Orlando team that can’t defend the rim — 47 percent of Parker’s field goal attempts are coming within three feet of the basket — and this game is projected to stay close throughout. Milwaukee is entirely devoid of scoring outside of Antetokounmpo and Parker, as Teletovic has struggled, Dellavedova can’t shoot, and Greg Monroe has effectively been benched. Expect Parker to continue producing at a high clip, as his 27 percent usage rate is more than six percent higher than his career average.

Markieff Morris is also a highly appealing option against his former team, and while he’s definitely more volatile than most, Kieff offers immense upside in quality matchups. Brooks continues to stagger Morris’ minutes so he’s seeing time with Wall and Beal off the court, and unless he slips into early foul trouble we’re going to get at least 33 minutes from the veteran forward. Kieff tweaked his ankle last time out, but is expected to play without limitation. He’s always a risk, but we could be handsomely rewarded on Monday with this matchup coming against the Suns’ horrendous defense. Marquese Chriss does not play defense and Tyson Chandler is doubtful, so Morris should eat all night long if he manages to stay on the court.

Tobias Harris has been extremely unreliable this season, so we can’t consider him in cash at a position where several other options take priority. He is, however, in a great spot against the Rockets on a night where we should see a very competitive affair. Harris has been as boom or bust as they come, which makes him GPP appeal high on a slate where his ownership will be low. I won’t be considering him cash with each of the aforementioned forward being safer plays, but there will be some Harris sprinkled in throughout GPPs.

Thaddeus Young finally had that big game we’d all been waiting for on Sunday, and he’ll draw an opportunity to post similar numbers against the Warriors. Young’s price tag has dropped considerably across the board, which puts him in play now that George and Miles are sidelined. He attempted a season-high 18 field goals last night, and is a perfect fit to face a Golden State team that plays small and runs the court. I’m in favor of targeting Young as a value forward, but he isn’t a priority at the position with it being rather deep on this slate.

CORE – Draymond Green [DraftKings]; Jabari Parker

SECONDARY – Draymond Green [FanDuel]; Myles Turner

VALUE – Markieff Morris; Thaddeus Young

GPP – Tobias Harris

CENTER

If you intend on paying up at center, here’s what I would recommend: play whoever fits the rest of your lineup best. The position is stacked at the top, and there’s no real way to separate any of them outside of price point. Hassan Whiteside is significantly more expensive than the rest of the group, but he’s also been significantly more consistent, posting 40-plus DKPT in nine of 12 starts, while finishing with 50-plus DKPT six times in that span! I would never suggest fading Whiteside, especially now that his usage rate is up a full four percent (24%) from 2015. Joel Embiid has been impressive on defense, but he’s on a minutes limit and is still a rookie with much to learn. Whiteside will feast on the boards, and I don’t see him having any trouble slamming down putbacks against this Sixers frontcourt. That being said, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andre Drummond are considerably cheaper than Whiteside, and are both capable of matching his production in their respective matchups.

Karl-Anthony Towns would be preferred over Drummond on FanDuel, but is slightly more expensive than him on DraftKings. He continues to score at an impressive clip, but his rebounding has been pedestrian for a big man with his attributes. I’d like to believe he can improve upon those numbers against a weak rebounding Celtics team, but the fact that he is top-five in deferred rebound chances suggests that maybe his opponent’s rebounding isn’t what we should be worried about. Still, Towns makes for a sexy play in this matchup, where he shouldn’t see blowout-shortened minutes, and will enjoy an uptempo pace against the Celtics.

Andre Drummond is $7,800 on DraftKings, which is a result of some inconsistent production in blowouts and difficult matchups. I’d expect Drummond to produce solid numbers on Monday, though, as the Rockets don’t have enough size to contain him around the basket. My one concern is foul trouble against the driving James Harden, which could curtail his production big time. Towns has been too consistent to place behind Drummond, but I do project both of them for similar totals on the night.

Myles Turner also tweaked his ankle last night, and is also expected to play Monday against the Warriors. Assuming he’s healthy enough to suit up without any restrictions, the second-year big will offer solid upside in this fast-paced affair, as he is highly versatile, athletic, and has impressive range for his size. Turner just hasn’t offered much upside this season, so we have to be slightly concerned with a blowout. That being said, no George and no Miles will continue put him in play. Marcin Gortat is also projected to be in a blowout, but he’s been splendidly consistent through the first month of the season. Gortat is averaging a double-double on the year, and isn’t seeing restricted minutes under Scott Brooks. As a cash game play, you can’t do much better than Gortat, who seems to always churn out serviceable totals regardless of the score.

Alan Williams has been brilliant off the bench for Phoenix over his last two games, posting impressive double-doubles in each with a combined five blocks and four steals in the process. Williams is getting a ton of blowout run with this Suns team dealing with injuries and awful defense, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t see another 23-25 minutes with the Suns being nine-point road dogs to Washington. Williams is definitely risky in the sense that he had played a combined 10 minutes on the season prior to his last two games, and his production is blowout-dependent, but this is certainly a risk I’m willing to take in GPPs, where stars and scrubs lineups will be making the money on Monday night.

CORE – Karl-Anthony Towns

SECONDARY – Hassan Whiteside; Andre Drummond; Marcin Gortat

VALUE – Alan Williams; Joel Embiid [FanDuel]

GPP – Myles Turner; John Henson