NBA Deep Dive – 11/29/16


Giannis Antetokounmpo is still a point guard on DraftKings and a shooting guard on FanDuel.  He faces LeBron James and the Cavaliers today and is an interesting tournament option, but not a must play by any means.  He will expend a lot of energy on the defensive end of the floor tonight defending James.  This has pros and cons, as it gives him a chance for increased defensive stats but also means he could be less effective on the offensive end.  The Cavaliers rank 9th as a team protecting the rim this season, which is not great news for Antetotkounmpo who attacks the rim frequently.  At $9,200 on DraftKings and $10,000 on FanDuel, he is viable for tournaments because he does have a high ceiling for the price.  It is important to focus on upside when constructing tournament lineups, so we can view his matchup with LeBron as a positive since there is a chance that he accumulates more steals and blocks.  When constructing cash game lineups, however, it is more important to focus on the floor so, for cash games, his matchup is a downgrade since it carries the risk of foul trouble and increases the likelihood that he is inefficient offensively as a result of all the work he has to do to defend LeBron.

Chris Paul’s price has increased on DraftKings to a point where it is difficult for him to produce an acceptable stat line if he does not play all four quarters (he has been priced this way on FanDuel all season).  Today he is on the road against Brooklyn in a game where the Clippers are 12.5 point favorites.   He gets a boost because the Nets are playing at the second fastest pace in the NBA so he will have more possessions.  In addition, the Nets have been starting Isaiah Whitehead at point guard and he is a turnover prone rookie who Paul should have success against defensively.  Whitehead is averaging 4.3 turnovers per 36 minutes this season which should translate into steals and transition points for Paul.  The downside to the increased pace is that it makes it easier for the Clippers to pull away early than it would be if Brooklyn ran a half-court offense that milked the clock.  I expect the Clippers to come out angry after getting their asses kicked in Indiana last game and I do not think this game stays close for four quarters.  That makes Paul a strong tournament option for me but someone that I can avoid in cash games as his price has increased and this game is not expected to remain close.

Kemba Walker is at home against the Pistons today.  It is good to target aggressive point guards against the Pistons because Detroit has strong wing defenders and Ish Smith is the weak spot defensively.  The presence of Nicolas Batum will most likely prevent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope from spending much, if any, time defending Walker so this is a very good spot for Kemba.  Smith ranks in the bottom half of the NBA with 0.83 PPP allowed to PnR ball-handlers and Walker runs the PnR on 53.2 percent of his plays, averaging 1.01 PPP which puts him in the 86th percentile among ball-handlers.  There is no reason to expect Walker to slow down anytime soon, as he has a 30.1 percent usage rate (up from 26.9 percent last season) and a 28 percent assist rate (up from 26.9 percent last season) so he is firmly entrenched as the catalyst of the offense.  He is a very strong play in any format today.

George Hill gets a pace-up matchup against the Rockets today and is shooting guard-eligible on DraftKings which makes him even more valuable.  His price is quickly increasing as a result of his production since return from his injury, but it has not yet reach a point that it is prohibitive in a strong matchup against Houston.  Patrick Beverley is a capable defender but the pace and Houston’s lack of defense in general outweighs the matchup with Beverley.  Hill has a 26.1 percent usage rate and 24 percent assist rate this season when alongside Gordon Hayward without Derrick Favors.  He is a big part of the Utah offense and his price is not quite high enough not to be interested in him today.

Tim Frazier continues to see heavy minutes despite the return of Jrue Holiday, as Alvin Gentry has shown a willingness to play him alongside Holiday.  His price has not increased despite his productivity, as he is still $5,500 on DraftKings and just $5,100 on FanDuel.  Frazier has played 69 minutes alongside Holiday and Davis this season and his usage rate is low, as expected, at just 12.3 percent.  His assist rate is 27.5 percent, however, so as long as his price remains this low he is a strong play.  When Holiday is off the floor (and Davis is on), Frazier’s usage rate is 19.7 percent and his assist rate is 39 percent, so Holiday’s presence clearly impacts him negatively.  In his last game, 14.3 of Frazier’s 31.4 minutes were played alongside Holiday so he is still getting plenty of time on the court without him.  He is a strong tournament play because if he has a good shooting day he has a very high ceiling for his price and at his price I do not have reservations about using him in cash games if it helps me get my favorite plays elsewhere.  Tonight’s game has a 217.5 point total with a 5.5 point spread so there should be plenty of fantasy points and it is difficult to see Frazier not paying off his salary if he sees over 30 minutes as he has in six consecutive games.  It is an added bonus to pair Frazier with Davis in tournaments, as they are positively correlated since most of Frazier’s assists are to Davis.

Elfrid Payton is a strong tournament option, especially on DraftKings at only $5,100.  This game will be slow and relatively low-scoring as the Spurs play at the 4th-lowest pace and the Magic the 7th-lowest.  That said, there will still be some points scored in this game and Payton has the chance to be responsible for a lot of them.  He does not do anything exceptionally well, but he contributes across the board which gives him a nice floor and the capability to produce big lines if his shot is falling.  Payton has been consistent so far this season with some upside as, over his last ten games, he has scored at least 25 DraftKings points 8 times, at least 30 DraftKings points 3 times and has one game over 50 DraftKings points.  Payton came off the bench last game, but that did not affect his playing time as he still saw 29.2 minutes and played almost the entire fourth quarter.  It remains to be seen if starts or comes off the bench tonight, but he is a strong tournament play regardless and cash game viable on DraftKings where he is cheaper than Tim Frazier.

Matthew Dellavedova faces his former team tonight and should benefit from a matchup with Kyrie Irving while LeBron defends Giannis.  His price is still slightly higher than I would like and it is really difficult to roster him at point guard, but he is shooting guard eligible on DraftKings which makes him more appealing.  He consistently plays between 26 and 30 minutes per game so he is on the floor enough to produce decently for his price, he just does not get a lot of usage at 16 percent for the season.  He is not someone I am specifically looking to get into my lineups, but he falls into the range of cheap players that I do not mind using to fill out a tournament lineup.

Tony Parker is an interesting tournament option in that price range as well.  He has not had a break out game yet, but he has played at least 26 minutes and attempted at least 10 field goals in five of his last 6 games.  If that trend continues he will occasionally produce some very nice stat lines and it is unlikely that he kills you at his price.

D.J. Augustin is a viable cash punt if he starts again tonight.  He played 25 minutes as the starter last game, which was an increase over his 19.2 minute season average.  Augustin has been very successful on the PnR this season, averaging 1.12 PPP and Parker ranks in the bottom 10 percent at defending it, allowing 1.12 PPP.  Augustin does not have a lot of upside so it is difficult to roster him in tournaments at high ownership unless you have differentiated elsewhere and really need someone in his price range.  He does have a high floor for his price, however, so is fine in cash games.

Core:  Kemba Walker, George Hill, Tim Frazier (FanDuel), Elfrid Payton (DraftKings)

Secondary: Giannis Antetokounmpo (DraftKings), Chris Paul, Tim Frazier (DraftKings), Elfrid Payton (DraftKings), Kyrie Irving

Value: D.J. Augustin, Matthew Dellavedova, Tony Parker


James Harden is a very strong play today despite his difficult matchup with Utah.  If he were priced correctly, then there would be more merit to fading him since it is a pace-down game and Utah has the third-best defensive rating in the NBA.  His price has been too low for his productivity all season, however, so the poor matchup just makes him somewhat closer to being priced accurately.  He has had success in this matchup in the past, recording 51.5, 56.8, 65.8 and 57.3 DraftKings points in his last 4 games against Rudy Gobert- although Gobert only played 15 minutes in the first game.  Harden has scored 33, 42, 26 and 31 real points in those games and his assists should increase in this game since his assist rate for the season is 18.7 percentage points higher than it was last season.  Anthony Davis is still in the better spot of the two, but it really just comes down to whether you prefer the alternate shooting guard options or power forward options more because rostering Harden over Davis is a perfectly acceptable move.

Jordan Clarkson has seen his price rise substantially on DraftKings, but he is still too cheap at $5,200 on FanDuel.  He is averaging over 31 minutes per game in his last four games without Russell and has attempted at least 14 shots in each of those games.  He could see a slight downgrade today, however, with Julius Randle likely to play.  Randle will most likely cut into Clarkson’s usage some when they are both on the floor together.  Randle’s impact is not enough to significantly affect Clarkson’s value, however, as he is firmly in play on FanDuel and too expensive on DraftKings.

Lou Williams is in the same boat as Clarkson.  He has been seeing less minutes and field goal attempts, so he is not as consistent as Clarkson and is only playable as a tournament option.  He is $5,700 on DraftKings which makes it very difficult to roster him, but at $5,000 on FanDuel he is a nice tournament pivot off Clarkson.

Sean Kilpatrick is difficult to trust against a Clippers team that ranks second in the NBA in defensive rating.  He is a fine tournament option, however, if Hollis-Jefferson misses today’s game.  In Kilpatrick’s last three games (RHJ played 15 minutes and was injured in the first and then missed the next two), he is averaging 29.7 minutes and 13.3 field goal attempts.  His price has risen to the point that there are better options for cash, but he is a strong tournament pivot despite the difficult matchup if RHJ misses the game.

Evan Fournier has seen his price increase now that he has broken out of his shooting slump.  If Payton and Vucevic come off the bench again today then Fournier is a tournament option as he will see a usage increase when he is on the court alongside Augustin, Gordon, Ibaka and Biyombo.  The extra shot volume makes him a decent tournament play despite the difficult matchup with the Spurs, but it is likely he is defended by Kawhi Leonard so there is still a lot of risk.

Rodney Hood has a nice matchup with Houston today and will likely be popular option. It is a pace-up game for Utah which should benefit Hood as he is not a very efficient scorer but he can rack up points if he gets enough shots.  He is more of a cash game play than tournament play for me today, however, because his usage drops from 23.4 percent overall this season to 18.3 percent when he is on the floor alongside Hill and Hayward as he will be today.  He does have a nice floor because of the increased pace and the plus matchup but, since I think he will be highly owned, I would rather pivot to higher usage options for tournaments and hope for the typical, inefficient, 25 fantasy points from Hood.

Core: James Harden, Jordan Clarkson (FanDuel)

Secondary: Giannis Antetokounmpo (FanDuel), Sean Kilpatrick (if RHJ out), Lou Williams (FanDuel), Rodney Hood, Lou Williams, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Value: Nick Young, J.R. Smith, Jamal Crawford



LeBron James has a difficult matchup with Giannis Antetokounmpo today and, while he is LeBron and he always has a high floor and has shown a nice ceiling so far this season, there are better point-per-dollar options at small forward today.  If the extra money does not get you anything, then feel free to roster LeBron in cash games but, assuming the extra money is useful on a slate with limited value, Leonard and Hayward are better options.

Kawhi Leonard remains priced in the mid-$8,000 range which gives him a very nice floor for his price.  He does not have many huge games because of the pace at which the Spurs play, but he is very consistent, recording at least 40 DraftKings points in six of his last seven games.  There is some blowout risk in this game as San Antonio is favored by 13 points, but Leonard’s minutes are pretty stable so he has a high floor at a weak position regardless.

Gordon Hayward has a 27.1 percent usage rate when playing alongside George Hill without Derrick Favors.  Today, he gets a pace-up matchup with Houston where he should thrive.  He has put his mini-shooting slump behind him, shooting at least 43 percent from the field in each of his last four games.  Do not be deterred by his dud against Houston the last time these two teams played, as he shot just 4-for-13 from the field and should do much better this time out.  In his four games against Trevor Ariza last season, Hayward averaged 54 percent shooting (buoyed by an 85 percent performance in one of the games) and scored at least 20 real points in three of the four games.

Core:  Gordon Hayward, Kawhi Leonard

Secondary:  LeBron James

Value: Aaron Gordon, Marcus Morris, Michael Beasley, Solomon Hill, Joe Johnson



Anthony Davis faces a Lakers’ frontcourt that he should thrive against, in New Orleans where he tends to perform better because of friendly scorekeeping.  Davis’s price seems to be the only superstar price that is consistently increasing, but he has been very steady this season thanks to his 34.8 percent usage rate.  He has recorded at least 62 DraftKings points in each of his last 5 games, excluding the game where he was injured partway through.  This should be a very fast-paced game with a lot of points to go around and plenty of rebounding opportunities.

Kevin Love is one of the best plays on the board today regardless of price.  He gets a very nice matchup with Jabari Parker against a Milwaukee frontcourt that has given up plenty of opposing rebounds this season.  In addition, it is a funnel spot as Anteteokounmpo defending LeBron will likely lead to increased opportunities for Love.  His price has increased as a result of his recent hot streak but it is not nearly high enough to fade him in this spot.

Blake Griffin is in a similar spot to Chris Paul.  I really like him as a tournament option in a pace-up game coming off a poor performance against the Pacers.  Brooklyn does not rebound well and Griffin should have his way with the frontcourt duo of Trevor Booker and Brook Lopez.  That said, there is definite blowout potential in this game that could limit Blake to three quarters of play.  The blowout risk, combined with the exceptional matchups for Davis and Love, is likely enough to keep me off him in cash games but he remains a strong tournament option.

Jabari Parker remains in play for tournaments.  He has remained relatively inconsistent this season but has shown flashes of upside.  This is not an ideal matchup for him as Kevin Love should be able to outrebound him and the Cavaliers rank in the top 10 in terms of rim protection.  His price remains too low for his ceiling, however, so I don’t mind him as a tournament play if it does not mean giving up on other good players since he is capable of producing 40 fantasy points any given night.

Frank Kaminsky is in play on DraftKings at $5,400 and still way too cheap on FanDuel at $4,700.  He is worth considering in cash games on both sites and is playable in tournaments as well.  He has consistently been seeing over 30 minutes per game and Marvin Williams will be inactive again tonight which solidifies his minutes.  He has not had a big game yet, but is very capable and his floor is plenty high for his price.

Core:  Anthony Davis, Kevin Love

Secondary: Blake Griffin, Serge Ibaka, Jabari Parker, Tobias Harris, Julius Randle

Value: Frank Kaminsky



Nikola Vucevic is an elite center option today.  He seems to be fully recovered from his shooting slump and his ceiling is way too high for his price.  Despite coming off the bench, he played 30 minutes last game and attempted at least 15 shots for the third game in a row.  He also shot at least 45 percent from the field for the third game in a row, which is very encouraging because it seems he is finally over his shoulder injury.  He gets a slight downgrade today if he is going to be defended more often by Dedmon than Gasol, but either way he is one of my favorite tournament options.

DeAndre Jordan is too cheap across the industry.  He does not hit his ceiling frequently because of the combination of blowouts and playing alongside Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but he is very consistent because of his rebounding abilities.  He should not have any trouble racking up rebounds tonight against Brook Lopez and if he can get some putbacks he could put up a monster double-double.  Jordan is my favorite cash game center and a strong tournament option, especially if you are allowed to roster him alongside Vucevic.

Clint Capela is likely to be underowned tonight but he makes for a nice tournament option.  The Rockets are running the PnR frequently against opposing big men and the connection between Harden and Capela has been virtually unstoppable.  His price has increased but he still has upside, as he showed in the matchup with Gobert last time where Capela recorded 39 DraftKings points.

Core: DeAndre Jordan, Nikola Vucevic

Secondary: Andre Drummond (DraftKings especially), Rudy Gobert, Brook Lopez (DraftKings), Clint Capela

Value: Tristan Thompson