NBA Thoughts 11/11/16 (Premium)

I’m not playing NBA DFS today, as my flight to Chicago for FanVice University (!) leaves 30 minutes before lock (smart planning on my part, I know). So I won’t pretend to have researched this particular slate and give you plays that I won’t be using, as I’m not playing. Instead, I’ll use this space to give you some general thoughts on DFS in general and from last night in particular. Please excuse my long windedness!

Sometimes You’re Wrong

I had a rough week of NBA DFS results. As a player who focuses nearly entirely on GPP play with just a few teams in play on each site, weeks like these happen all the time. Only 10-20% of the field cashes in most GPPs, and so it is relatively easy, even if you are “generally right”, to finish just outside the cash line many nights in a row, and sometimes even your teams that do cash don’t make it inside the Top 10 where most of the money is distributed. I’ve been playing DFS for a long time, and have been a consistently profitable player over that time span, so I don’t generally beat myself up over a poor run of results. It happens. And it would be easy to pat myself on the back and say, “well I said I liked both Giannis Antetekounmpo and Anthony Davis yesterday”, but in the end I only played one in my high-stakes entries, and I got it wrong. Again, it happens.

So, for the most part with DFS, I get things right. Part of my poor results this last week have stemmed from being “too right” about how well CP3 and Blake have been playing. They’ve been playing so well that they’ve destroyed their opponents to the point where they don’t get their full allotment of minutes, despite facing solid offensive teams that should be able to keep pace. That’s a “mistake” I’m more than happy to live with and not one I will second guess myself on. Occasionally, however, I let a bad run of results cloud my judgement and make poor decisions, and I think that happened last night with the Warriors/Nuggets game.

Last night, the Warriors and Nuggets was the most popular game of the night from a DFS perspective, and it is easy to see why. The game featured the highest total of the night at 220 points with the Warriors installed as just 6 point favorites via Vegas. There was even some sharp money coming in on the Nuggets, and most “experts” around the industry thought this game would be close despite the enormous gap in the talent level of the teams. Why? Because historical trends favored the Nuggets here. Playing at altitude, the Nuggets have one of, if not the biggest, home court advantages in the NBA. They also got to face the Warriors on the back end of a back-to-back for the Warriors who had faced the Mavericks the night before. Historically, the Nuggets have performed very well in similar situations, and in a pace up game, where the Nuggets were already shorthanded and it seemed we could project big minutes for most of their players, it made sense to load up on this game.

Or did it? I loaded up on this game myself and recommended players from this game in FanVice Premium Chat, so it is easy to look back and say hindsight is 20/20. But I was nervous about this game from the start and let historical trends override my own intuition, something I am generally pretty good about avoiding, but threw out the window yesterday in part, I think, due to my poor recent results. Was there really good reason to think the Warriors would struggle to the point the Nuggets could keep pace here? Yes, the Warriors were coming off a back-to-back, but it was a game that they cruised to victory over the Mavericks and, while all of the studs played a decent amount of minutes, it certainly was not a game where the Warriors over exerted themselves. And look at the core of the Warriors. Should we really have thought Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green were going to be physically drained from an easy home victory over a short-handed Mavericks team? The Warriors aren’t old, they don’t have plodding big men who might be gassed from the night before or from playing in the thin air in Denver. Look at the individual matchup for this game. The Nuggets two best players, arguably, are two giant big men in Nikola Jokic and Jusef Nurkic, just the type of players who generally struggle to keep pace with the Warriors high-flying position-less offensive assault. Indeed, it was not the Warriors who looked tired 5 minutes into this game, it was the Nuggets. And it made total sense, and we could have seen it coming. In the end, the Nuggets couldn’t keep up in a what was clearly a brutal matchup for them, and we didn’t get the minutes we anticipated from either side in a blowout win for the Warriors. Historical data trends are great, and we should be aware of them and use them when evaluating and projecting players, but every situation is unique, and we could have sniffed out the trap here.

Thanks for reading and tolerating my mini-rant. I’m off to Chicago for FanVice University but will see everyone who can’t make it to the event on Monday for the Deeper Dive. Good luck this weekend and remember to use every tool at your disposal: stats and trends, yes, but also your own intuition. Trust yourself, you are smarter than you think you are.