NBA DEEP DIVE 11/17/16
Damian Lillard is the premier point guard option on the slate in what should be a very high-scoring game against the Rockets. Patrick Beverley is expected to return for Houston, but it is his first game back so it is not clear how many minutes he will play or how sharp he will be. In addition, Houston has been the fourth-worst team in the NBA in terms of rim protection and Lillard averages 11.3 drives per game, which is the 5th most in the league. Lillard has never had an exceptional game against Beverley, but it being Beverley’s first game back from knee surgery, combined with the ineptness of the Rockets’ rim protection, is enough to make Lillard a very appealing play. John Wall had his minutes limited last night so that he could play tonight on the second game of a back-to-back. Wall has a 33.7 percent usage rate this season, and that climbs to 39.3 percent when Bradley Beal is not on the floor (Beal is currently questionable to play and will likely be limited if he does play). Wall showed last night what he is capable of without Beal, scoring 42.5 DraftKings points in 24 minutes. He should see a boost in minutes tonight in a home game coming off a loss to the Sixers. Giannis Antetokounmpo rounds out the high-priced point guards (at least on DraftKings). He had a very nice game last night against a Hawks team that was missing Thabo Sefolosho and Dwight Howard. The Heat will be missing Justise Winslow tonight, which is a plus for Antetokounmpo, but Hassan Whiteside will be manning the paint and is a large part of the reason that Miami has far and away been the best team at protecting the rim this season. Antetokounmpo is not much of an outside shooter, so he will be reliant on his outside shooters knocking down shots tonight after he drives and dishes it out to them since it will be tough for him to get to the rim against Whiteside. His DraftKings price ($8,900) is low enough that it is worth having some tournament exposure despite the bad matchup, but at $9,600 at shooting guard on FanDuel it is tough to roster him.
Ricky Rubio faces off against fellow Spanish Olympic team member Sergio Rodriguez. Rubio has played 34 and 35 minutes in his last two games and has contributed across the board, recording a double-double in the first game and flirting with a triple-double in the second. His price is fair across the industry right now, but he does have some upside in this matchup because it is a pace-up game for Minnesota and there is a good chance he can pick up some steals against Rodriguez. Derrick Rose’s price is too low for his upside. He is averaging 31.3 minutes per game this season with a 25.3 percent usage rate. He has not had a huge game yet, except for against the Bulls, but he has been reasonably productive for his price and should have a few more big games as the season goes along. He has performed well in the past against the combination of John Wall and Marcin Gortat, and that should continue today as he is averaging 9.7 drives per game and the Wizards are the 10th worst team in the league at protecting the rim. There is some risk since it is the second game of a back-to-back and Rose played heavy minutes last night, but his price is so low that it is worth the risk of a few less minutes.
Point guard value today depends on injury news in the late game which is never fun. Fortunately, with all of the other point guard options on the slate, paying down at the position probably is not the best strategy anyway. Matthew Dellavedova is my favorite “value” point guard. The Bucks will need players to space the floor today since Whiteside will be defending the rim against Antetokounmpo and Dellavedova is one of Milwaukee’s best three-point threats. His price has crept up enough that he is certainly not a lock to produce a good score for his price, but the upside is there in this matchup. If Rajon Rondo is ruled out, Jerian Grant should start once again for Chicago- albeit in a tougher matchup with Utah and at higher ownership than his last start. His price is still cheap enough that he has some upside if he starts, but it is hard to expect a performance close to what he did against Portland. If George Hill is out for Utah, Shelvin Mack is a reasonable tournament option that will go overlooked. He can be inconsistent, but he does have a 21.7 percent usage rate with Hill and Favors out of the game so he can provide a nice return if his shot is falling. Overall, however, it is not the best idea to go too cheap at point guard today.
Core: Damian Lillard, John Wall, Derrick Rose
Secondary: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Ricky Rubio
Value: Matthew Dellavedova, Jerian Grant, Shelvin Mack
James Harden is in the best spot on the slate. He is facing a Portland team that he has dominated in the past, and they are constructed similarly to previous teams. In his last eight games against Portland, Harden has averaged 65.8 DraftKings points in 40.1 minutes per game. This should be a fast-paced, high-scoring game and Portland does not have anyone that is going to be able to stop Harden. Do what you can to get him in your lineups tonight even though he will be highly owned. C.J. McCollum’s price has crept high enough that it is difficult to roster him in cash games, but he is still a strong tournament option, especially as a leverage play off Damian Lillard if you choose not to roster him. McCollum averages 7.1 drives per game so he will benefit from the weak Houston frontcourt just like Lillard will. McCollum will also benefit from James Harden “defense” while Beverley defends Lillard.
Rodney Hood is in a sneaky good spot tonight in a low-scoring game against the Bulls. He should go overlooked because of the total and because the game starts so long after the rest of the games, but his usage rate without George Hill (questionable) and Derrick Favors (out) is 30.9 percent. In addition, the Bulls have the 6th-worst 3-point defense differential in the NBA this season and Hood is averaging 5.7 three-point attempts per game this season. He is only $5,300 on FanDuel and $5,500 on DraftKings and will likely be a staple of my teams tonight, especially in tournaments. Zach LaVine is the epitome of a tournament play and gets a nice matchup with the Sixers tonight. His usage rate with Rubio on the floor this season is only 19.4 percent, but he does a lot of his damage in transition and the Sixers are playing at the 11th fastest pace in the league and are prone to turnovers. He is too expensive to count on in cash games because he can be rather inconsistent, but he has plenty of upside in tournaments.
Dion Waiters continues to see a large role in the offense without Goran Dragic (questionable). He has a 25.1 percent usage rate when Dragic and Winslow are not playing and his price remains too low across the industry. He is a streaky shooter so he is still capable of having bad games, but he has a very nice ceiling for tournaments at his price. Josh Richardson’s price has surpassed the $5,000 mark on DraftKings but he remains at $4,300 on FanDuel. If Dragic is out, Richardson will likely run the point again and is basically a free square in FanDuel cash games. He has been playing heavy minutes and has a 23.6 percent usage rate without Dragic and Winslow so we should continue to roster him on FanDuel. Rodney McGruder is almost the minimum across the industry. He does not have a ton of upside, as he only had a 12.6 percent usage rate, but minutes matter and he played 36.5 of them against Atlanta. Richardson is a better option than McGruder where their prices are similar but, where there is a big difference, McGruder is a decent punt option.
Allen Crabbe is likely to go overlooked tonight but should not. Last season, Mo Harkless won a couple of people a lot of money when he came out of nowhere and had a huge game in this matchup. Harkless starts now, so his ownership will be higher. Crabbe, on the other hand, comes off the bench and always goes overlooked. He should see even more minutes than usual tonight because the Blazers will most likely go small. Crabbe and Harkless are two of their better defenders against spot-up shooters, so it would make sense to have Crabbe defend Ariza and slide Harkless to the four to defend Anderson- moving Leonard to the bench. The pace of the game gives anybody who sees heavy minutes the chance to outproduce their salary and Crabbe is a good bet to do so at low ownership. Marcus Thornton remains the inexpensive Washington option to play if Beal misses this game. He has not had a big game yet, but he is capable of knocking down a lot of shots in a short period of time and has a 24.4 percent usage rate when Beal and Wall are off the court, so coming off the bench is actually good for him even though it makes him significantly less owned. He is only a tournament option, but he is a good one on this short slate.
Core: James Harden, Rodney Hood, Josh Richardson (FanDuel)
Secondary: C.J. McCollum, Zach LaVine, Eric Gordon
Value: Dion Waiters, Marcus Thornton, Allen Crabbe, Rodney McGruder
Carmelo Anthony’s price continues to remain static and it is way too low for this matchup with Otto Porter and the Wizards. Anthony is well-known for being a dominant player in isolation and Otto Porter is one of the worst isolation defenders in the league. Melo is on the second leg of a back-to-back, which is not ideal, but he should thrive in this matchup. Andrew Wiggins has a 30 percent usage rate for the Timberwolves and faces a weak Philadelphia team. Minnesota truly does run their offense through Wiggins and his price tag is too cheap because he is not the same inconsistent Wiggins that we are used to. He has played at least 39 minutes and taken at least 18 shots in each of his last 5 games and he should be able to dominate a faster-paced Philadelphia team that does not have anyone to defend him. Jimmy Butler has been playing very well lately and gets a nice boost if Rondo is inactive. He has a 31.7 percent usage rate when he is on the court with Wade and without Rondo, so he will have opportunities to produce in this game. The downside is that Utah plays at a very slow pace and he will likely be defended by Hayward. If Anthony and Wiggins were not on the slate, Butler would be a strong play regardless of the negatives, but their presence relegates him to GPP consideration since he is more expensive and in a worse spot. Gordon Hayward is in a similar spot to Butler in that it is a slow-paced game against a strong defender, but Utah will likely be without two starters and Hayward has a 31.8 percent usage rate without Hill and Favors. The recommendation for Hayward is the same as for Butler. He is a strong play but just not quite as strong as Anthony and Wiggins.
Otto Porter continues to cost me money by magically producing big stat lines. Tonight is not the night to chase those points. Even with Beal out, Porter only has a 15 percent usage rate this season. He played extremely heavy minutes last night and will have to use a lot of energy defending Anthony tonight. People will probably chase his recent game logs but it is the perfect let-down spot for him. Trevor Ariza is a decent way to get cheap exposure to the Rockets-Blazers game. He has been playing pretty well lately and his price has stayed reasonably low. The addition of Patrick Beverley to the rotation and the Blazers’ success at defending spot-up perimeter shooters makes him a little difficult to trust, but it is certainly possible he gets hot from deep and is the secondary scorer to Harden tonight. Mo Harkless is in a great spot tonight in a game that should be up-tempo and will allow him to play in transition. He is averaging 30.3 minutes per game this season and usually sees more minutes when the Blazers go small- which they almost definitely will for a lot of tonight’s game. His price has crept up a little higher than we would like, especially on DraftKings, but he is still a strong play.
James Johnson should see extended minutes again tonight for Miami as he is the best bet to match up with Antetokounmpo defensively. It is very possible that he gets into foul trouble, so he is only an option in tournaments, but on a night where value is at a premium he makes for a nice option that could go somewhat overlooked simply because he is very inexpensive and is capable of producing defensive stats to go along with what he does offensively.
Core: Andrew Wiggins, Carmelo Anthony, Mo Harkless (FanDuel)
Secondary: Gordon Hayward, Jimmy Butler, Trevor Ariza, Mo Harkless (DraftKings)
Value: James Johnson
Kristaps Porzingis has been more involved in the offense lately, seeing his usage rate go from about 21 percent earlier in the season to 25.3 percent now. The Wizards do not have anyone to match up with him defensively, and he should be able to produce a very nice game tonight as he will be able to grab rebounds, post up smaller defenders, and hit shots from the perimeter against the Washington defense.
Taj Gibson is in an underrated spot against the Jazz tonight. Utah is much more vulnerable in the frontcourt when Favors misses time, as he is tonight. Gibson has the 2nd best contested rebound percentage in the NBA and Utah is a worse rebounding team without Favors. He should see a nice uptick in rebounds and his price is still very reasonable across the industry. Jabari Parker is only a tournament play tonight against a Miami team that is good at protecting the rim. Jason Kidd has talked about Parker becoming a better three-point shooter but that has yet to come to fruition. He has upside simply because he is a good offensive player with a lot of athleticism, but I am fine with letting other people chase his points from last night in a slow-paced game that is not an ideal matchup. Markieff Morris is a strong option once again tonight. He showed last night just how underpriced he is, when he recorded two offensive fouls in the first 45 seconds of the game and still managed to post a respectable line for his price. Kristaps Porzingis is the worst player in the NBA at defending the pick-and-roll and Morris should be able to take advantage tonight and may even see some of Marcin Gortat’s opportunities funneled his way because Joakim Noah has defended it the best so far this season.
Whichever of Dario Saric and Ersan Ilyasova comes off the bench for Philly tonight makes for a strong tournament option. Embiid is starting, so whoever starts alongside him will suffer. Saric has a 21.4 percent usage rate alongside Okafor instead of Embiid to go along with a 6 percentage point increase in rebound rate. Ilyasova’s usage rate increases from 15.6 percent to 22.2 percent when he plays alongside Okafor instead of Embiid. Whichever one comes off the bench will go virtually unowned but is a nice tournament play at his price. Trey Lyles should see a nice boost without Derrick Favors tonight, whether he gets the start or not. He has a 21.3 percent usage rate without Hill and Favors on the floor so he will have a chance to outproduce his price. The downside is that Chicago has a very good frontcourt that rebounds very well and Lyles is coming off a big game so it is likely that his ownership is higher than it should be.
Core: Kristaps Porzingis, Markieff Morris, Taj Gibson
Secondary: Jabari Parker, Dario Saric/Ersan Ilyasova
Value: Trey Lyles
Hassan Whiteside should go absolutely nuts tonight against the Bucks. They are a team that has struggled with bigs all season long and he has additional upside because Milwaukee does not have many three-point threats so he will be able to block shots in the paint. He is a very good bet to post a monster double-double tonight. Karl-Anthony Towns is priced too high for what he has been producing lately but is underpriced for his ceiling. He should see a lot of his time against a combination of Saric, Ilyasova, and Okafor which gives him tremendous upside. The downside is if he gets matched up more with Embiid it will be a lot more difficult. Also, with Wiggins dominating the ball so much, he does not score as many points as he would if Rubio were the one always distributing the ball. He has massive tournament upside but is not as safe an option as Whiteside.
Joel Embiid is still too cheap, especially on FanDuel. He is still limited to 24 minutes per game, but he has a usage rate of 40.4 percent when he plays so it is easy for him to pay off his current price tag despite the minutes. He should have success in his matchup with Gorgui Dieng tonight and makes for a very strong play in any format. Marcin Gortat is priced a little too highly for this matchup. He has been allowed to play extended minutes this season which has made him a valuable commodity on most nights. His price is finally catching up to his production, however, and there are better options on this slate than Gortat in a tough matchup with Joakim Noah. Clint Capela has been very productive lately, mainly as a result of increases in blocks. He has recorded at least 30 DraftKings points in four of his last five games, and recorded at least 3 blocks in 3 of those games. He has a great opportunity for blocks tonight because Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combine for almost 20 drives per game. A lot of Capela’s offense comes as the roll man on the pick-and-roll, which Plumlee has actually defended relatively well this season, but that is not enough to scare me off Capela because Plumlee is not a good rim protector in general and there should be plenty of points to go around in this game. He is an elite tournament play.
Joakim Noah could be in line for another nice night tonight. He only played 25 minutes last night and generally plays more minutes when he faces a traditional center. Gortat will play heavy minutes for Washington tonight which should lead to Noah being on the floor more often. He is still very inexpensive and has shown the ability to produce when given the minutes. He is a strong option if you decide to pay all the way down at center.
Core: Hassan Whiteside, Joel Embiid
Secondary: Karl-Anthony Towns, Clint Capela
Value: Joakim Noah