NBA Deep Dive- May 6, 2017

Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers

Toronto Raptors

Kyle Lowry missed game three and is considered doubtful for game 4.  Cory Joseph played 33.2 minutes in his place, providing 20.75 DraftKings points despite shooting just 2 of 12 from the field.  Joseph is obviously a very strong value option as long as Lowry sits.

Like Lowry, DeMar DeRozan played heavy minutes in round 1 and had his share of struggles.  Also like Lowry, he has a better matchup this round and has had plenty of success in it this season.  In the three games against Cleveland that Kyrie Irving played, DeRozan averaged 1.27 DraftKings points per minute.  He played 36.8 minutes per game in round 1.  He underwhelmed in game 1, shooting just 16 times and scoring just 30.75 DraftKings points.  He was even worse in game 2, shooting 2 of 11 from the field and finishing with just 13.25 DraftKings points.  DeRozan finally exploded in game three with Lowry sidelined, scoring 37 real points on 12 of 23 shooting.  DeRozan will be forced to score a ton if the Raptors are going to force a game 5, so he makes for a high-risk/high-reward GPP option- the risks being that he is still scoring dependent and this game can easily blowout.

Serge Ibaka played extremely well against the Bucks in a matchup that suited his game perfectly.  He will have a tougher time dealing with Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson in this series, but is still in play as a GPP option.  Ibaka averaged just 29.7 minutes per game in round 1, but did have a 22.4 percent usage rate.  Ibaka struggled in game 1, which is something that will probably continue moving forward, but he played 32.3 minutes and got up 14 field goal attempts so he still has GPP upside despite the difficult matchup.  He attempted 14 field goals in game two and three as well, but is not providing much other than potential offense.  He has merit on short slates since he is capable of going off, but it is not a likely outcome.

Jonas Valanciunas saw more minutes in game three than expected and he scored 19 points to go along with 8 rebounds.  With Lowry sidelined, we should see Valanciunas try and help carry the offensive burden along with DeRozan.  He has an extremely high ceiling for a very low price tag.

Core:  DeMar DeRozan

Secondary:  Serge Ibaka

Value:  P.J. Tucker, Jonas Valanciunas, Cory Joseph, Norman Powell


Cleveland Cavaliers

As usual, we can expect the Cavaliers to be a three man show.  Kyrie Irving has a nice matchup that we targeted in DFS all season long as a point guard against the Raptors.  Irving had a 36.4 percent usage rate in round 1 against Indiana and we should see him continue to dominate offensively in this series.  In three games against Kyle Lowry this season, Irving was not great- averaging just 1.04 DraftKings points per minute.  Irving picked it up in game 1, scoring 24 points and dishing out 10 assists in 34.4 minutes.  He posted a similar line in game 2 as well, finishing with 22 points and 11 assists.  Irving fell back to Earth in game three, as his assists dropped off and he shot just 7-21 from the field. Irving remains a strong option, although his ceiling is always a bit limited because of LeBron James’ presence.

LeBron James played 43.8 minutes per game in round 1 with a usage rate of 32.2 percent and an assist rate of 36 percent.  He will likely have to continue to completely carry the Cavaliers on his back, as they do not play defense and are facing a Toronto team that can definitely give them trouble.  James will likely see a healthy amount of P.J. Tucker in this series but, with as much as he will have the ball in his hands, he remains a top option on any site regardless of format.  James played 41 minutes in game 1, shooting 13-23 from the field and grabbing 10 rebounds to go with his 35 points.  He only picked up 4 assists, as Irving uncharacteristically had 10, but we should see an increase in his assist numbers as well moving forward.  James’ game 2 and 3 lines were similar to game 1.  He is one of the top options on the slate, as he is a good bet to play the most minutes and produce the most points per minute.

Kevin Love was a bit disappointing in round 1 as he had only one big game, but we should see him do better in this matchup.  He averaged 33 minutes per game with a 20.5 percent usage rate in the first round.  Ibaka was vulnerable against stretch fours throughout the regular season and Love should be able to take advantage.  Love flirted with a double-double in game 1, finishing a rebound shy, but he did not get minutes at center as Tristan Thompson played 38.2 minutes.  His upside will increase if he starts getting time at the five but, for now, he is a marginal option as he has upside but will not hit it very often because of LeBron and Irving dominating usage.

Tristan Thompson played 38.2 minutes in game 1, which is more than I was expecting.  He remains cheap, which makes him a strong option because he should do very well against the Toronto frontcourt as long as he gets the minutes.  Do not be discouraged by his 29.1 minutes in game 2, because he lost the fourth quarter to a blowout.  As expected, Thompson rebounded to play over 37 minutes in game 3.

Core:  LeBron James

Secondary:  Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love

Value: Tristan Thompson


Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs

Houston Rockets

James Harden averaged 37.4 minutes per game in the first round with a 37.6 percent usage rate and 35 percent assist rate.  He obviously has a tough matchup with the Spurs, but he had some success against them this season scoring no less than 56.5 DraftKings points in any of his four games against them and topping 60 fantasy points in three games.  He never showed his 70-80 point upside, but it is good that we at least saw him consistently score in the low-60s.  He played well in game 1, a very surprising Houston blowout, scoring 20 points with 14 assists in 31.2 minutes (he did not see the floor in the fourth quarter because of the score).  Game 2 was a blowout in the other direction, as Harden shot just 3 of 17 from the field.  He still managed 41.25 DraftKings points which, while obviously not good, is not terrible when you factor in his shooting performance.  Harden played 40 minutes in a game three loss, but he was productive as he scored 43 real points.  His assists and rebounds were both below his season averages, however.  Look for Harden to remain productive moving forward, but keep your expectations in check.  He is more valuable on dynamic pricing sites that have adjusted his price downward to account for the matchup.

Trevor Ariza, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and Patrick Beverley will all need to step up as role players in this series to help out Harden.  Ariza was steady against San Antonio in all four games this season, scoring at least 25 DraftKings points in each game with a high of 36.  He was strong in games 1 and 3, posting 36.5 and 34.25 DraftKings points, with an 11.75-point game 2 dud sandwiched in between.  He offers pretty solid production for a very fair price.  Gordon saw at least 35 minutes in each of the last three games of the Oklahoma City series and he showed some upside against San Antonio in the regular season, scoring 42.8 DraftKings points behind 32 real points in a game in November.  Other than that, he was mediocre as he scored between 21 and 25.5 in the other three games.  He has done more of the same so far in this series.  Anderson has been awful at home this season and a basic strategy of rostering him on the road and fading him at home should work fine in this series.


Nene and Clint Capela are both in nice spots in this series, although it is likely that they will more-or-less split minutes and that will limit their respective upsides.  Capela saw 24.7 minutes to Nene’s 15.9 in game 1, but Nene did not get his fourth quarter minutes because of the blowout.  It appears that a time share is still likely, but it is worth noting that Capela was extremely effective, with 20 points and 13 rebounds.  The playing time was split similarly in game 2 but, again, there was a blowout so Nene likely would have seen more minutes than he did had the game remained close.  Capela took the clear lead in playing time in game 3, the first close game of the series, as he played the entire fourth quarter and finished with 31.9 minutes to Nene’s 16.1.  He is clearly the preferred option at this time.

Core:  James Harden, Clint Capela

Secondary:  Trevor Ariza, Eric Gordon, Patrick Beverley


San Antonio Spurs

Kawhi Leonard played out of his mind in round one against the Grizzlies and now gets a pace-up matchup against the Rockets.  Leonard averaged 1.13 DraftKings points per minute against the Rockets in the regular season, but showed upside with a 51.2 fantasy point game in November and a 61.5 fantasy point game in March.  Leonard averaged 37.7 minutes per game against Memphis with a usage rate of 31.2 percent.  Look for continued excellence from him in this round.  Expect a boost for Leonard with Tony Parker sidelined, as he will now have to handle the ball more as well.

LaMarcus Aldridge was disappointing in the Memphis series, but he did play very heavy minutes throughout the series which bodes well for him moving forward as it is unlikely that he continues to disappoint throughout the entire playoffs.  He should benefit from the fast pace that the Rockets play at.  Aldridge averaged 0.95 DraftKings points per minute against the Rockets in the regular season, which will pay off his current price tag nicely if he continues to see the 37.3 minutes per game that he saw in the first round.  He was atrocious in game 1 with a -36 net rating in 25.4 minutes, but that was just a weird game.  He did not look good in game 2 either, but posted a much better line than in game 1.  He finally turned things around in game 3, the first game without Parker, shooting 12 of 20 from the field. He remains a viable GPP option.

Patty Mills should see plenty of minutes in this one with Tony Parker injured.  Mills averaged 27.1 minutes per game without Parker in the regular season, compared to 20.3 minutes per game with Parker playing.  In 19 games without Parker, Mills averaged 24.9 DraftKings points per game compared to 17.1 DraftKings points per game with Parker.  Mills plays 30.1 minutes in game 3, shooting just 4 of 14 from the field, but still producing 27.75 DraftKings points.

Core:  Kawhi Leonard, Patty Mills

Secondary: LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol

Value:  Danny Green, David Lee, Jonathon Simmons


Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics

Washington Wizards

John Wall is where we have to start with the Wizards. Wall had a 31.6 percent usage rate in the first round against the Hawks, averaging 29.5 points, 10.3 assists and 4.2 rebounds in 38.7 minutes per game.  Wall was good, but not great, against the Celtics in the regular season but that should change in the postseason as he is able to consistently get whatever he wants when Isaiah Thomas tries to defend him and the ball will be in his hands constantly as he looks to carry Washington past the Celtics.  Wall was very good in game 1, with 20 points and 16 assists in 39.1 minutes.  He followed that up with a massive game 2, scoring 40 points to go along with 13 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 steals for a total of 76.25 DraftKings points.  Wall had his worst game of the series in game 3, but he remains an elite option in any format.


Bradley Beal will have a difficult matchup with Avery Bradley and the Celtics, but he plays such a large role in the Washington offense it may not matter.  Beal was second on the team to John Wall in first round usage rate at 29.1 percent.  Beal only faced Avery Bradley in two of the four games that he played against the Celtics this season.  In the first game, Beal played only 11.5 minutes and, in the second game, he was limited to 24 DraftKings points in 32.8 minutes.  He did not seem fazed by the Celtics’ defense in game 1 of this series, however, as he shot 4-7 from three and contributed 27 real points.  He struggled from the field in the second game and third games, howver, shooting just 8 for 27 combined.  The good news is that the minutes and shots were there, he just was not making them. He is a high-risk/high-reward option.

I said coming into the series that Otto Porter was a strong GPP play in a great bounce-back spot and he has not disappointed so far, scoring 33.75, 37.25 and 37.5 DraftKings points in the first three games with more field goal attempts in each than he attempted in any game during the Atlanta series except game 4 when he tied his total from game 1 of this series.  His minutes are even more stable heading to game four due to the suspension of Kelly Oubre. Continue to roster Porter in tournaments as the Celtics would much rather force him to beat them than let John Wall do it.


Markieff Morris is the key to this series for the Wizards and he should dominate as long as he is healthy and on the floor.  The Celtics do not have anyone to match up with him and it showed in game two as he had 16 points and 6 rebounds in 27 minutes of play.  He fouled out of yet another game, which is always a concern with Morris.  Do not be too concerned by his reduced minutes in game three, as he missed his fourth quarter rotation. He remains way too cheap for his upside in this matchup.


Marcin Gortat has looked much better in this series matching up with the Boston frontcourt than with Dwight Howard.  He continues to see huge minutes and he is more active on the offensive end than he was in the first round.  His price has increased quickly to match his production, but he remains a solid option.  It is also a good sign that Gortat saw 31 minutes in the blowout, and would have seen more if the game remained close, despite the presesnce of Ian Mahinmi.


Core:  John Wall

Secondary:  Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Marcin Gortat, Markieff Morris

Value:  Bojan Bogdanovic


Boston Celtics


Isaiah Thomas went nuts in game 2, with 53 points in the overtime win, but followed that up with a dud in game three.  He will need to play extremely well for the Celtics to succeed in moving past the Wizards and into the Eastern Conference Finals.  He is a strong play in a vacuum but, where he is priced relatively close to John Wall, it makes more sense to roster Wall because Wall has a higher ceiling.


Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and Jae Crowder all averaged over 30 minutes per game against the Bulls and that has continued against the Wizards as all three players will be needed on the defensive end.  Crowder and Bradley are the strongest plays of the trio, but Smart is viable as well where he is shooting guard eligible.  All three players saw more than 30 minutes in games 1 and 2, and likely would have in game 3 had the score been close.  Crowder is the safest of the trio, followed by Bradley, but all three have upside.


Al Horford played very well against the Wizards in the regular season, averaging 1.11 DraftKings points per minute, and continued his stellar play in game 1 with 21 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds in 35 minutes.  He had another big game in the game 2 overtime win, scoring 15 points to go with 12 rebounds.  He dropped off a little in game 3, but that is likely to be his worst game of the series.  Look for Horford to bounce back in game 4.


Core:  Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford

Secondary: Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart

Value:  Kelly Olynyk


Utah Jazz at Golden State Warriors

Utah Jazz

Gordon Hayward was phenomenal against the Clippers in the first round and he will need to maintain his solid play if the Jazz want any chance of advancing.  Hayward averaged 36.4 minutes per game in round 1, but that was pulled down by an abbreviated game four where he played just 9 minutes.  He had a 28.7 percent usage rate in round 1, up from his season average of 27.5 percent.  Hayward struggled from the field in game 1, but bounced back nicely in game 2 without George Hill.  He is a great option in any format if Hill misses game 3, and is a GPP play if Hill is active.


Utah dealt with a lot of injuries this season and those injuries coincided with games against the Warriors, so it is tough to see how guys did against Golden State.  Rudy Gobert, however, played in three games against the Warriors and is generally not influenced by who is or is not on the floor with him.  He averaged 1.28 DraftKings points per minute against Golden State in the regular season and recorded a double-double with at least 17 rebounds in each game.  He was a little disappointing in game 1, failing to record a double-double in 31 minutes, but he bounced back with 16 points and 16 rebounds in game 2.  Expect more of the same going forward.

Joe Ingles and Joe Johnson both played big roles in round 1 and they should continue to have sizeable roles this round as there is no reason to expect the Jazz not to play small.  Johnson is the preferred option of the two as he had a 23.9 percent usage rate in round 1 compared to 10.8 percent for Ingles.  Keep in mind that neither player matches up as well with the Warriors as they did with the Blazers, however.  Rodney Hood played 35 minutes in game 2.  He is a high-upside option in game 3, and is a much stronger play if Hill sits.

Core:  Rudy Gobert, Gordon Hayward (if Hill out)

Secondary: Hayward (Hill in)

Value:  Joe Ingles, Joe Johnson, Rodney Hood, Shelvin Mack (Hill out)


Golden State Warriors


Utah has been vulnerable against good point guards for much of the season and Steph Curry clearly fits that description.  Curry averaged 1.31 DraftKings points per minute in three games against Utah this season and had a 34.5 percent usage rate in the first round against Portland, although that could tick down a little bit with Kevin Durant healthy.  Curry scored 22 real points in 30 minutes in game one and backed that up with 23 points in game two.  He is not as high an upside option as Thomas or Wall, however, due to the pace of the game.


Kevin Durant played just 1 and a half games in the first round, but he should be good to go after having a week to rest.  His matchup against Gordon Hayward and the slow-paced, defensive-minded Jazz will be difficult, but he is one of the best players in the game and is a strong option regardless of matchup.  He was mediocre from a fantasy perspective in game 1, with 17 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in 31 minutes of play, but followed that up with a very nice game 2 as he was 3 assists shy of a triple-double.


Draymond Green was very effective against Utah this season, averaging 1.26 DraftKings points per minute and topping 45 DraftKings points in two of three games.  He continued that trend in game 1, scoring 17 points with 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks and a steal to finish with 45 DraftKings points in 34 minutes.  He was productive, once again, in game 2 as he produced 49.25 fantasy points. Klay Thompson struggled against Utah much more than Green did during the regular season, averaging just .77 DraftKings points per minute.  He continued to struggle in game 1, scoring 22 DraftKings points in 31 minutes.  He was better in game 2, but there is reason to be concerned if Hill returns as the Utah backcourt defense will be tougher.  He is a risky option in this series because we know that Curry and Durant will dominate usage and there are going to be less possessions available than usual because of the pace that the Jazz play at.  Factor in that Utah is also strong defensively and it is a tough spot to expect big things from Thompson.

Core:  Draymond Green

Secondary: Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant

Value:  Andre Iguodala