NBA Deep Dive – 12/10/16



Giannis Antetokounmpo gets a nice bounce back spot today against the Wizards.  He played limited minutes last night because he was in foul trouble all game, so he should be relatively rested and ready to go for this one.  It is a great matchup against a Washington team that ranks in the bottom half of the league in defensive rating and in the bottom ten in rebound percentage.  Antetokounmpo has a very good chance at a triple-double if this game stays close, which is always a legitimate question when discussing the Wizards these days.  The game is in Washington, however, so it is likely that the Wizards are able to resemble a professional basketball team and keep it competitive.

John Wall is in a very good matchup on the other side of the court from Giannis.  He had a bad game and let a lot of us down in his last outing against the Nuggets but he is primed to rebound tonight against the Bucks.  Aggressive point guards have been successful against Milwaukee this season despite the presence of Matthew Dellavedova and strong rim protectors in the frontcourt.  Wall contributes in all categories, evidenced by his 27.6 percent usage rate and 43 percent assist rate when on the floor alongside all of the other starters, so it is unusual for him to have a really bad game and, since he is crucial to the Wizards’ chances of winning, he is going to play heavy minutes and is capable of scoring a lot of points any given night.

Damian Lillard remains significantly underpriced on DraftKings.  This game is on the road, once again, so we do not benefit from Lillard’s propensity to perform well at home.  He does have a nice matchup though against the Pacers, who have the 10th worst defensive rating in the league, and Jeff Teague, who is not a strong defender.  Lillard had a very nice performance against Indiana several games ago, scoring 28 points with 10 assists and 5 rebounds.  That game was in Portland, but we should expect another big stat line out of him tonight.  His price on FanDuel is expensive enough to make him a GPP only option, but on DraftKings he is viable in any format.

Chris Paul is in a great spot tonight against the Pelicans.  He is $8,800 on DraftKings and $9,000 on FanDuel, so his price factors in the possibility for a blowout, at least somewhat.  He would be significantly underpriced if he were to play a full allotment of minutes, so his price is reasonable even in what may be a blowout.  It is a pace-up game for Paul and he should have success against a Tim Frazier led New Orleans backcourt.  In addition, Blake Griffin is questionable for this game and Paul’s usage rate increases from 23.3 percent alongside Griffin to 27.2 percent when Blake is off the floor.

This is a good tournament bounce-back spot for Kemba Walker.  His price is down to $8,000 on FanDuel and climbed slightly to $7,500 on DraftKings.  He significantly underperformed last night, but part of that was because the game was out of hand in the third quarter so he only played 25 minutes.  The good side of last night’s performance is that his legs should be relatively fresh tonight.  The game is on the road, but it is only an 8 point spread and, if Charlotte is going to keep it close against Cleveland, Kemba will need to have a big game.  There are better options in cash games but he is a very strong tournament play at what will likely be reduced ownership. 

Kyrie Irving is too cheap across the industry tonight in a matchup at home against Kemba Walker and the Hornets.  Kemba is not a particularly scary defender and there is a chance someone sits for Cleveland since Love was a game-time decision last night and the spread seems a little bit low for a Cleveland home game against Charlotte.  If the big three on Cleveland all play, then Kyrie is a strong cash game option but his ceiling is a little too limited for tournaments because of all the mouths to feed.  If one of them sits, however, Kyrie becomes a very strong tournament option, although his ownership will skyrocket if one of them is out.

Steph Curry remains too cheap on DraftKings at only $8,400.  Mike Conley is still out for Memphis so they are not quite as worrisome for opposing point guards.  Memphis still has the 6th best defensive rating in the league since Conley’s injury, however, so they are still not a good matchup.  In addition, they are playing at the 8th slowest pace in the league over that time.  If this were a smaller slate with less good point guard options, Curry would be in play in tournaments.  On this slate, however, he is a fringe option and we can do better.

Goran Dragic is in a tough spot tonight.  He continues to have a high usage role in the Miami offense with half of the team sidelined, but tonight is the fourth game in five nights for Miami and we know that Dragic is a bit banged up himself.  He has a nice matchup with Rajon Rondo, but it is best to look elsewhere and avoid this spot because of the risk surrounding it.  Tyler Johnson is a great place to turn instead of Dragic.  Johnson is averaging 35.8 minutes over his last four games, along with 14.5 field goal attempts per game in that span.  He continues to go somewhat overlooked because he comes off the bench and that makes people uncomfortable.  His price has not risen enough for his current role, and he gets an added boost because he is blowout-proof since the Heat need to have five guys on the floor and they are not going to use Dragic in those circumstances.  Johnson played all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter last night in a game that Miami lost by 30.  He is one of the best point guard options on the slate considering price.

Core: John Wall, Damian Lillard (DraftKings), Giannis Antetokounmpo (DraftKings), Tyler Johnson

Secondary: Kemba Walker, Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Kyrie Irving

Value: Elfrid Payton, Jameer Nelson, Matthew Dellavedova, Malcolm Brogdon, Isaiah Whitehead, Toney Douglas


James Harden is the most expensive option at shooting guard tonight in a matchup with the Mavericks.  He is coming off a back-to-back that went down to the wire against Oklahoma City.  This could be a bit of a letdown game against the lowly Mavericks.  In addition, it is a significant pace-down game for Harden as the Mavs play at the second slowest pace in the NBA- likely because holding the ball is their best chance at keeping other teams from beating them by 30 each night.  On top of the back-to-back and the slow pace, Harden will be defended by Wesley Matthews, who has done a pretty good job against him in the past.  In five games against Matthews since he joined the Mavs, Harden has averaged just 51.5 DraftKings points per game, with less than 50 in three of those games (including both games this season).  Harden still has a high floor because he is such a huge part of the Houston offense, but this is not a spot that I plan on targeting him in tournaments.


Eric Gordon and Wesley Matthews are the preferred tournament options from the Houston game.  Gordon has been playing very well lately, getting time alongside the starters as well as with the second unit where he is the primary scorer.  He has attempted at least 10 field goals in 9 consecutive games and he provides a nice ceiling for his price in tournaments at low ownership.  He does, obviously, suffer from the same decreased pace as Harden but, at his price, it is easier to stomach.  Matthews has been shooting very well lately after a horrible start to the season.  He will see heavy minutes tonight since he is needed to defend Harden and will see more possessions than usual since the Rockets represent a significant pace-up for the Mavs.  The return of Seth Curry should not affect Matthews’ minutes since he is needed on the defensive end and for his scoring, so he is a strong play in this matchup.


Bradley Beal is expensive now because he has been playing so well lately, but he has continued to justify his price tag on most nights.  He is playing in a game with a 210.5 Vegas total and 4 point spread this evening, so there should be plenty of points to go around.  The concern with Beal is that he averages almost 7 three-pointers per game this season and the Bucks have been the best team in the NBA at defending the three-point line, limiting opposing shooters to 3.2 percent below average for the season (Golden State is second best at 2.1 percent below average).  Beal is still in play in tournaments because he takes so many shots and is capable of getting hot against anyone, but he is not at the top of my list.


Dwyane Wade faces his former team tonight and is still too cheap on DraftKings at only $6,500.  He is consistently playing minutes into the mid-30s and is averaging 18.1 field goal attempts per game over his last ten.  In addition, Chicago is relying on him to space the floor this season so he shoots more from the perimeter than we were accustomed to seeing when he was on Miami.  Miami is very good at protecting the rim, thanks to the presence of Hassan Whiteside, but they are in the middle of the pack at defending the three-point line.  Wade should be in line for a very nice night and is a strong play in any format.


Will Barton has gotten expensive on DraftKings at $6,700, but he is still underpriced on FanDuel at just $5,600.  Orlando plays at the 7th slowest pace in the league and has the 2nd best defensive rating over the last month, so I am not excited to roster Barton at $6,700 on DraftKings- especially because recency bias is likely to drive his ownership up since people are used to just locking him in to their lineups at this point.  On FanDuel, there is still plenty of excess value at his price regardless of matchup.  He is a very strong cash game play on FanDuel and is perfectly fine in tournaments as well as long as you differentiate elsewhere.


Evan Fournier will probably bite me in the ass again tonight but that is not going to stop me.  Fournier is an important part of the Orlando offense because they lack three-point shooters and badly need him to be able to space the floor.  This helps to solidify his minutes and guarantee him shot attempts.  He should benefit from the extra possessions he sees in a pace-up game against Denver and makes for a great tournament option because he always goes overlooked but has a 35-40 point ceiling at a $5,300 price tag if his shot is falling.


Core:  Will Barton (FanDuel), Evan Fournier, Wesley Matthews, Dwyane Wade (DraftKings), Giannis Antetokounmpo (FanDuel)

Secondary: James Harden, Nicolas Batum, Bradley Beal, Eric Gordon, C.J. McCollum

Value: Rodney McGruder, Tony Allen, Langston Galloway (if Holiday and Moore out)




Kevin Durant gets an extreme pace-down matchup against the Grizzlies.  He may benefit from a few extra minutes tonight with Andre Iguodala out, but it seems more likely that those minutes are distributed amongst other reserves.  His price on DraftKings is one of the lowest we have seen this season at $9,300.  This puts him in play in all formats, despite his recent string of lackluster performances.  The Warriors will make a concerted effort sooner rather than later to get him involved in the offense early so that he can get back into a rhythm.  This matchup is not one that I am excited about, however, because of the pace and the strength of the Memphis wing defense.  He is a secondary play, even at his reduced price, and it is unlikely I roster him on FanDuel because there are very good options offered at a significant discount.


Jimmy Butler’s price is falling and this is a good time to jump on.  The Heat are without Justise Winslow and James Johnson, two of their better wing defenders, and Butler will be the beneficiary.  He plays heavy minutes every time out, averaging 39.2 over his last five.  His price point tonight is way too low and it gives him a very high floor and ceiling.


LeBron James also has a difficult matchup tonight as he will be defended by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.  James is matchup proof, of course, but he is a willing facilitator so it is tough to justify his price in games where he does not have a good matchup since he is so willing to take a backseat on offense.  He is a fine option in cash games, as always, because his floor is so high but there are other options that are better suited for tournaments.


Kawhi Leonard remains priced in the low $8,000 range across the industry and this makes him a great option in any format.  The risk in this matchup is that the Spurs are very likely to blowout Brooklyn, but Leonard is priced low enough that he should at least be able to return an acceptable fantasy score even if he only plays 30 minutes.  Brooklyn has the fourth worst turnover percentage in the NBA, so Leonard will have an opportunity to pad his stats as a result of Brooklyn’s sloppy play and inexperienced ball handlers.


Gordon Hayward is in a really tricky spot tonight.  Normally, he is an auto-play when Hill, Favors and Hood are all sidelined.  Tonight is a little bit different, however.  First, there are a ton of other good small forward options that have high floors and ceilings similar to Hayward’s.  Second, he missed the last game because the finger injury that he has dealt with all season was aggravated.  The last time that he aggravated the finger injury, he went through a massive shooting slump over the next handful of games.  Third, his price- especially on DraftKings- has been adjusted to reflect his current playing circumstances with the other three stars sidelined.  At $8,100 on FanDuel, Hayward is a viable option in cash games and tournaments- although I prefer fading him in favor of Leonard or Butler in the same price range (especially in tournaments).  On DraftKings, it is a full fade for me.  His price is high enough that it is priced correctly if he is healthy and he is overpriced if his finger is still bothering him.


Harrison Barnes is a very stong play once again tonight.  Barnes has taken at least 16 shots in each of his last five games and has not been negatively affected by the return of Deron Williams.  He should benefit from the increased possessions against a Houston team that has finally cracked the top ten in terms of pace.  He will likely be defended by a combination of Trevor Ariza and Ryan Anderson, and neither of them concern me.  Barnes is very underpriced for his role in this offense and his matchup against a Houston defense that tends to get very sloppy.  The only real concern for Barnes is that this game could blowout early and he would lose time on the floor.


Wilson Chandler remains a strong play today despite his poor performance against Washington.  He is averaging 32.6 minutes per game off the bench over his last five, and has attempted 15.8 field goals per game over that time.  He got 16 shots up against Washington, but only made 2 of them.  That is not likely to become a trend, as Chandler is 45.5 percent from the field and 36.7 percent from three this season.  Orlando plays at a slow pace and has played well defensively lately, but Chandler remains a strong play today.


Core:  Wilson Chandler, Harrison Barnes, Jimmy Butler

Secondary: Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Gordon Hayward (FanDuel), Trevor Ariza

Value: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Sam Dekker, Evan Turner, Michael Beasley




Anthony Davis faces a Clippers team that he has not had a ton of success against in the past, although Blake Griffin may be sidelined today.  Davis has been relatively consistent this season, although he is coming off a poor performance against Philadelphia in a game where he should have dominated.  He is a borderline elite play today, despite the matchup against the Clippers, because power forward is not particularly strong and there is merit to locking in his floor, particularly in cash games.


Blake Griffin is a borderline elite play, similar to Davis, if he is healthy enough to play.  His price is too low, but there is a definite chance this game blows out and his matchup with Anthony Davis hurts him as well.  DeAndre Jordan and Omer Asik are also very capable rebounders that will be occupying the paint in this game, so it is hard to see Griffin getting a ton of rebounds to pad his scoring stats.  He is viable because of the lack of other consistent options but he is not someone I will be particularly excited about if he ends up in my lineups.


Jabari Parker is in a great matchup with the Wizards tonight.  Washington is in the top half of the league in pace and bottom half in rebounding percentage and defensive rating.  Parker should benefit from the extra rebounds that Washington gives up and he should not stuggle with the defense of Markieff Morris.  His price is still too low for his ceiling and this is a spot where he should come close to reaching it.


Serge Ibaka is a fringe play tonight against Denver unless one, or both, of the centers are ruled out.  If Biyombo and/or Vucevic misses this game, it would mean more time at the five for Ibaka which increases his rebounding projection and we have seen centers who can play away from the rim have success against the Denver frontcourt.  He will likely go overlooked if one of them misses time since he is already a starter, but he will be in a great spot to win someone a tournament if that happens.


Markieff Morris is in another very good spot which means the unfortunate experience of putting him in our lineups.  Parker will likely struggle to defend his strong mid-range game and he should be able to pull down some boards against a Milwaukee team that has given up big games to members of opposing frontcourts- including Paul Millsap last night.


Dwight Powell’s price is increasing but this is a very good spot for him.  The Rockets play at a fast pace and Dallas will need him on the floor instead of slow-footed Salah Mejri.  The only reason that Powell did not see more minutes last night was foul trouble and he should see north of 30 minutes in this matchup if he can keep his hands to himself.  He is a very strong tournament option and is worth of cash game consideration at only $4,500 on FanDuel.


Draymond Green is too cheap across the industry because his floor is so high.  He contributes in every statistical category, so even if the game is a blowout he tends to end up with a solid line for his price.  He does not have a really high ceiling in this matchup because of the strong Memphis frontcourt and the pace of the game, but he is a fine cash game option.


Nikola Jokic continues to see steady minutes for Denver and has been very productive in them.  He is in a great spot off the bench tonight because he will either matchup with Nikola Vucevic, who struggles defensively, or he will matchup with the depleted Orlando frontcourt if Vucevic and/or Biyombo are out.  Either way, he should have another very nice performance for a low price.


Core:  Jabari Parker, Nikola Jokic (FanDuel), Draymond Green

Secondary: Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis, Kevin Love, JaMychal Green, Serge Ibaka, LaMarcus Aldridge

Value: Dwight Powell, Markieff Morris




DeMarcus Cousins is in a great tournament spot tonight, especially on DraftKings where his price has been adjusted for his difficult matchup.  He is in his third game in four nights, but he only played 32 and 36 minutes in the first two so he should not be too worn down.  He has had success against Rudy Gobert in the past, recording greater than 60 DraftKings points in each of his last two outings.  There are better spots for cash games than paying up for someone in a slow-paced game on a back-to-back and three in four, but he is an elite tournament option that should go underowned.


Hassan Whiteside is available at a reduced price after being benched for part of last night’s game.  He is dealing with a knee injury and has not shown the highest pain tolerance in the past, but he should come out with a lot of energy tonight to redeem himself for last night.  He is always capable of being the highest scoring center on a slate and he should make your tournament short lists tonight.

Brook Lopez is an elite tournament option.  The only concern is whether the game will stay close but, if it does, it will be because Lopez has a monster game.  He is already a very involved part of the Brooklyn offense that is deplete of capable scorers, but tonight he should be featured even more.  Kawhi Leonard will be on the perimeter to take away Kilpatrick and/or Bogdanovic, which leaves Lopez against uninterested defender Pau Gasol as the best way for the Nets to score.  It is a risky play but the ceiling is incredibly high.


Marc Gasol is in a high upside spot against the Warriors.  The concern is that the Grizzlies may go small with Green at the five in order to run with Golden State, but Gasol managed to play 39.8 minutes in his last meeting with Golden State.  If he is able to stay on the floor, he should perform very well against the Golden State frontcourt and benefit from increased rebounding opportunities.  I prefer Brook Lopez in tournaments at the price, but Gasol is firmly in play as well.


Mason Plumlee is a very strong option, especially on DraftKings at only $5,300.  He has played at least 30 minutes in five of his last seven games, and produced a line of 16 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists in this matchup on November 30.  He is a fine play in cash games and tournaments alike.


Core:  Mason Plumlee, DeMarcus Cousins, Brook Lopez, Nikola Jokic (DraftKings)

Secondary: Marcin Gortat, Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol

Value: Greg Monroe, John Henson, Tristan Thompson, Robin Lopez