NBA DEEP DIVE 11/26/16

POINT GUARD

Russell Westbrook is the top player on this slate, which is the case pretty much anytime he plays.  He has maintained a usage rate over 40 percent this season to go along with an assist percentage of 54.7 percent.  His price on FanDuel and DraftKings remains way too low today, and it even dropped $300 on DraftKings despite having more games with greater than 80 DraftKings points than games with less than 60 DraftKings points over his last 9 contests.  He will obviously be a very popular option today, but he should be a staple in your lineups in any format because it is just too difficult to make up 60+ raw points from one player on a five game slate.

John Wall is in an interesting spot today.  His price on FanDuel is $9,300, which is a tough sell on the second half of a back-to-back after playing 38 minutes in the first game.  It does give him tournament appeal, however, because, even if his minutes are monitored more closely today, he can produce a ton of fantasy points in 30-32 minutes in this matchup with Tony Parker.  He is too quick for Parker to successfully defend and he runs the PnR on 43.6 percent of his plays, ranking in the 65th percentile in the league with 0.88 points per possession.  Parker is allowing 1.13 points per possession against the PnR this season, which is worse than 92.6 percent of point guards.  It is likely that people overlook Wall at his price because of the possibility that his minutes are limited and the perceived bad matchup against the Spurs- even though it is actually a really good one.  It is very difficult to find someone with Wall’s upside on a five-game slate that may not be highly owned.  On DraftKings, he is only $8,100.  It is unlikely that he goes overlooked at that price regardless of it being a back-to-back against the Spurs.  We should not care about his popularity at this price point, however, because there is so much excess value it is better to overweight the field than to hope he somehow has a bad game in this matchup at home.

Stephen Curry’s price remains too cheap considring he has passed Kevin Durant for the highest usage rate on the team (28.8 percent) and also leads the team with a 27.1 assist percentage.   Curry usually sees about 30 minutes in blowouts and 35 minutes if the game stays relatively close into the fourth quarter.  He can easily produce an acceptable fantasy score in 30 minutes tonight and should easily exceed his price if Minnesota can hang in the game, which I think is pretty likely despite the 14 point spread.

Kemba Walker makes for an interesting tournament play today because of his performance last night.  Derrick Rose is not as good a matchup for him as we would expect because he is surprisingly good at defending the PnR, which is Walker’s bread and butter, so his performance last night was not particularly surprising.  Tonight is a little bit different, however, even though it is a rematch against the Knicks.  Rose played 38 minutes in the overtime game last night, so it is likely that his minutes are somewhat limited tonight and that he is not as fresh and plays worse.  Both of these possibilities work in Walker’s favor.  In addition, this game is in Charlotte where Walker has always played better- although his home/road splits are not as drastic now as they once were.  His price, especially on DraftKings, is still too low so there is merit to rostering him in GPPs and hoping for a bounce-back game, hopefully at reduced ownership because people will look at yesterday’s game log against the Knicks and see he did not do well.

Mike Conley  is an excellent play today and is even better if Goran Dragic is out for Miami.  Conley came off the bench last night in a weird effort to limit his minutes on the first half of a back-to-back.  This means that we should expect his normal minute allotment tonight- he is averaging 32.5 minutes per game this season and saw only 23 last night.  This should be a slow-paced, low-scoring game but Conley’s price is low enough across the industry that he has upside because of his 26.6 percent usage rate, 31.5 percent assist rate and improved shooting this season.

Ish Smith is never someone that you feel great about playing, but he is very much in play on this small slate in a fast-paced matchup against the Oklahoma City Westbrooks.  Smith is $4,900 on DraftKings and $5,200 on FanDuel despite playing at least 30 minutes in five of his last seven games (the two games that he failed to play 30 minutes were both blowouts) and recording a 31.4 percent assist rate this season along with a decent 20.1 percent usage rate.  The high assist rate gives him a high floor, while the relatively low usage rate limits his ceiling.  At this price point he is priced to his floor rather than his expected production, however, so there is a decent ceiling for the price.  He is a decent play in tournaments if he price gets you a high upside piece elsewhere because it is unlikely he hurts your team- and he could help it since the Thunder play at the fourth-fastest pace in the league and Westbrook turns the ball over constantly as a result of his high usage.  He is an even stronger play in cash games because his ceiling is less of a concern and his floor is very high for his price.

Tony Parker is an interesting tournament play today against John Wall and the Wizards.  Parker is a very risky play because he is inconsistent and on the second leg of a back-to-back, but he only played 23 minutes yesterday so there is a decent chance he sees his normal allotment of minutes today.  Before yesterday, Parker had played more minutes than his season average in five straight games.  The appeal to Parker today is his price ($4,000 on DraftKings and $4,500 on FanDuel) and his matchup against a Wizards team that has struggled with driving point guards this season.  Washington has faced 9 starting points guards who average at least 7 drives per game (Parker averages 7) and those guards have average 1.08 DraftKings points per minute against the Wizards.  In addition, Parker had success in this matchup last season when he produced 26.5 DraftKings points in 30.2 minutes and 34 DraftKings points in 25.8 minutes.  Keep an eye out for news on Parker because, if he is going to play, he makes for a strong high-risk/high-reward tournament option at his very low price.

Brandon Jennings is a decent dart-throw tournament play because Rose played 38 minutes in yesterday’s overtime game so it is likely that Jennings sees a few extra minutes today, especially since he only played 15 yesterday after playing at least 22 minutes in his previous three games and four of his last five.  There is risk since he comes off the bench and his minutes are fluid, but the upside is there if he sees an uptick in minutes.  Andrew Harrison is in play again tonight, although we should not expect him to play as well as he did last night.  His price is too low for his role in the depleted Grizzlies’ rotation, however.  The game before last, when he did not start, he was the second player off the bench after Vince Carter and he played all 10 minutes of double overtime which indicates that the team trusts him.  He has played at least 24 minutes in seven straight games, which gives him value at the near minimum across the industry.  He does not have a high ceiling, especially in a slow matchup against Miami, but 20-25 fantasy points is not unreasonable and is perfectly fine at his price in cash games.

Core: Russell Westbrook, John Wall (DraftKings), Stephen Curry

Secondary: Kemba Walker, Mike Conley

Value: Ish Smith, Andrew Harrison

GPP: Tony Parker, Brandon Jennings, John Wall (FanDuel)

SHOOTING GUARD

Shooting guard is kind of an awkward position today because there are appealing options but they are mostly priced a little bit higher than they have been in previous games, which makes rostering them slightly less appealing.  Nicolas Batum produced very well against the Knicks last night and there is no reason not to expect another big performance.  Shooting guards have dominated the Knicks all season and Batum contributes in every category across the board so he has a high floor and, on nights he puts everything together, a high ceiling despite his low 19.8 percent usage rate.  Bradley Beal has averaged about 39 minutes per game since having his minutes restriction lifted, because apparently the Wizards have not yet learned that playing him 40 minutes per game is not a good way to keep him from getting injured.  For us, that means that we can roster him when he is actually on the floor as long as we are prepared for an injury once in a while.  He is not a great cash game option today in a difficult matchup with San Antonio, but he is worth a look in tournaments because of the massive minutes he is being allowed to play and his 26.3 percent usage rate for the season.

Victor Oladipo has found his groove in Oklahoma City and his price still has not caught up.  He has played at least 36 minutes in six consecutive games and has not produced less than 30 DraftKings points in any of them.  He is a very strong cash game option because of his heavy minutes and consistency now that he appears to be comfortable in OKC.  He can be used in tournaments as well because he is capable of significantly outproducing his price tag, but we should be a little concerned about his upside because this stretch of increased production has coincided with playing nothing but fast-paced teams.  Detroit will be the first team Oladipo has faced that is not in the top 15 in pace (excluding Sacramento because they now play at an increased pace) since the last time Oladipo faced Detroit.  In that game, he only played 23 minutes because it was a blowout and he produced just 15.5 DraftKings points on 4-of-17 shooting.  He is still a very stong play today, but there is merit to being underweight in tournaments because of the downgrade in pace and the other shooting guard options in the same price range.

Zach LaVine disappointed last night in a good matchup with Phoenix but there is no reason not to jump back on board tonight against Golden State.  19.4 percent of LaVine’s offensive plays come in transition and he has produced 1.18 points per possession in transition this season.  Golden State plays at the third-fastest pace in the NBA, so this is a prime spot for LaVine.  He was only 6 percent owned in DraftKings tournaments yesterday despite the great matchup, so hopefully we can get him at low ownership again today despite the short slate.  His price is way too low for his ceiling, but is a little too high for cash games because he is an inconsistent producer and there are more consistent options priced around him.

Dion Waiters, despite his slowly increasing price, is a strong option today if Winslow and Dragic are out.  He continues to go overlooked but has a 26 percent usage rate this season when they are both off the floor.  It is likely he goes overlooked again today because of his difficult matchup with Memphis, but that just makes him a stronger tournament play because he has a high ceiling with his current usage and his willingness to chuck up shots.  Kentavious Caldwell-Pope draws a nice matchup today with Oklahoma City where the Pistons will be forced to play faster and KCP’s defensive stats can benefit from two high usage guards in the opposing backcourt.  He almost always goes overlooked but he is a strong play at his price in any format, just don’t expect him to repeat his 10 assist performance from last night.  Danny Green is playing well right now for San Antonio. He is very inexpensive across the industry and has a nice matchup today with a Washington team that struggles defensively and he will get to defend a high usage player in Bradley Beal.  Green has played at least 26 minutes in seven of his last eight games and is averaging 0.8 points per minute this season.  At only $4,000 on DraftKings and $4,200 on FanDuel, he should not have trouble producing a nice line for his price since he contributes across the board offensively and defensively and is in a good matchup for rebounds and defensive stats, as well as scoring.

Core:  Nicolas Batum, Victor Oladipo

Secondary: Dion Waiters, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Value: Danny Green

GPP: Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine

SMALL FORWARD

Kevin Durant is in a great spot today against Andrew Wiggins and the Timberwolves.  His price is high but he should be worth it, especially if this game stays relatively close.  He has a 28 percent usage rate with his new team and consistently sees close to 30 minutes even if the game is a blowout.  His consistency is also helped by the time he spends playing with the second unit where he does not have to share the ball with Curry and Green.  Durant will likely defend Andrew Wiggins and his 30.2 percent usage rate for most of the game, which gives Durant the opportunity for defensive stats to go along with all of the offense that he produces.

Kawhi Leonard faces the Wizards today and should have his way with Otto Porter and the Washington defense.  Leonard offers a nice price discount from Durant on a day where there is not a ton of value available.  He has a 31.8 percent usage rate, 16.8 percent assist rate and 11.2 percent rebound rate this season and is an elite play in this matchup.

Carmelo Anthony gets a rematch with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist after a big night last night.  There is no reason to expect Anthony to struggle tonight, as he has scored at least 20 real points every time he has faced Kidd-Gilchrist in his career.  There is merit to pivoting off Anthony in GPPs since his ownership will likely be inflated as a result of people seeing yesterday’s game log, but his price is so low that it is difficult to see him really letting everyone down.

Andrew Wiggins had a decent game last night but still nowhere near to what we saw earlier in the season.  I will continue to ride him at his decreased price because his poor performances have been a result of poor shooting and that will turn around eventually.  Over his last four games, he has shot 18.2, 27.8, 10.5 and 38.9 percent from the field.  His season average is 43.2 percent.  He is still playing extended minutes and shooting the ball a ton, so there is no reason to think he will not rebound sooner rather than later and this is a nice spot in an extreme uptempo game against Golden State.

James Johnson is a decent option if you are looking to punt small forward.  He continues to see steady minutes for Miami, averaging almost 28 minutes per game over his last six and seeing at least 30 in each game without Goran Dragic.  The matchup with Memphis is not ideal because the pace will be slow and there is not a ball-dominant wing for him to defend, but he is still inexpensive and can easily produce an acceptable stat line at his price.

Core:  Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant

Secondary: Carmelo Anthony, Andrew Wiggins

Value: James Johnson

POWER FORWARD

Kristaps Porzingis’s matchup today is not perfect, but his price is still too low for his usage and how talented he is.  He struggled from the field yesterday, shooting only 37.5 percent in this matchup, but still recorded 37.5 DraftKings points which is perfectly fine at his price.  If anything, his usage should start to increase because Jeff Hornacek said they need to start getting him the ball more often in crunch time.

LaMarcus Aldridge gets an elite matchup with the Wizards today where we have seen power forwards that are capable  shooters have a lot of success.  Aldridge is fairly priced on FanDuel at $7,000 and makes for a strong tournament option, but on DraftKings he is a strong play in all formats at just $6,300.  He is averaging 32.5 minutes per game this season with a usage rate of 26.3 percent.  There is no reason to think he does not outproduce his price in this very favorable matchup.  On the other side of the floor, Markieff Morris should also succeed in this matchup.  Morris has a strong mid-range game and Aldridge has struggled to defend that this season, allowing opponents to shoot 6.7 percent higher than usual on field goal attempts more than 15 feet from the basket.  Morris’s price has plummeted and today is a great day to jump on board in GPPs.

Frank Kaminsky is averaging 31 minutes per game over his last four and there is a good chance that Marvin Williams does not play today.  Kaminsky has not played a game without Williams yet this season, but last season he saw his minutes increase from 21 minutes per game with Williams active to 27.7 with him inactive.  We should see a nice boost for him today, as well, if Williams is out.  He is a tournament play if Williams is active but becomes a very strong cash play if Williams sits.

Core:  LaMarcus Aldridge (DraftKings), Kristaps Porzingis (FanDuel), Frank Kaminsky (if Williams out)

Secondary: LaMarcus Aldridge (FanDuel), Tobias Harris, Gorgui Dieng, Draymond Green (if playing)

Value: JaMychal Green (FanDuel), Jon Leuer

GPP: Markieff Morris

CENTER

Karl-Anthony  Towns should have a huge day against Golden State.  He is incredibly athletic and will benefit from the fast pace of this game.  In three games against Golden State last season, he averaged 40.4 DraftKings points in 37.7 minutes.  In four games against Zaza Pachulia, he averaged 44 DraftKings points in 33 minutes.  Today, those two opponents come together and Towns should eat.  It may be tough to pay up at center today since there is not a ton of value available at other positions, but if you can get up to KAT wihout sacrificing a ton elsewhere, it is recommended to do so.

Marc Gasol is in a strong bounce-back spot for tournaments today after being limited to only 26 minutes yesterday.  He has been inconsistent in previous matchups against Whiteside, but he has shown the ability to post big fantasy games and at his middling price that is worth taking a chance on in tournaments.  Gasol is not reliant on scoring around the rim, so Whiteside’s defense should not be as much of a concern as it is for opposing centers who cannot shoot well.  Anyone watching game logs will be turned off by his performance last night, so this is a good spot to have some tournament exposure.

Marcin Gortat is a very strong play at $5,500 on DraftKings.  He is a double-double machine with the increased minutes Scott Brooks is giving him and he should not have trouble in a matchup against Pau Gasol.  At $6,200 on FanDuel he is in play, but it is not as appealing as on DraftKings.  Cody Zeller is back from injury and makes for a nice value option at center if you are looking to pay up elsewhere.  He only played 23 minutes last night but he should be able to handle a few more tonight, especially if Williams is missing from the Charlotte frontcourt.  He is averaging .98 DraftKings points per minute this season so, even if he does only see minutes in the low-to-mid 20s, he should be able to produce an acceptable score for his price.

Core:  Karl-Anthony Towns, Marcin Gortat (DraftKings)

Secondary: Marc Gasol, Steven Adams

Value: Cody Zeller

GPP: Pau Gasol