NBA Deep Dive 1/5/18


Joel Embiid [C – PHI] is priced a bit high for my taste, but on a night where top-shelf options are at a premium, I’m more willing to pay the cost of admission. Embiid is producing 52.4 DKPT/36 and 1.45 FPPM on the season, and tonight’s matchup with Detroit isn’t exactly imposing. The Sixers are actually 6.5-point favorites at home, indicating that Andre Drummond could probably sit another game out and allow for JoJo to carve up the slothish Boban Marjanovic.

Embiid isn’t a must play just because there aren’t a lot of high-priced options, but he’s a very viable one across the industry. I actually prefer him over Giannis Antetokounmpo [SF/PF – MIL], who draws a tougher matchup against a Raptors team that held him to 48 DKPT across 42 minutes just four days back.

Embiid and Antetokounmpo have the same price disparity on DraftKings and FanDuel, so you would be taking somewhat of a gamble by passing up on Giannis here. That said, Embiid has actually been the better FPPM producer of the two, and is now averaging 35 MPG over his last 10 starts. With the extended playing time here to stay, Embiid offers as much, if not more slate-breaking upside than anyone on Friday’s slate.

Andre Drummond [C – DET] appeals to me in tournaments tonight if his ribs don’t keep him sidelined. Foul trouble is a definite concern against Embiid, who fouled him out the last time these teams met and came close the time before (5 PF), but if Drummond manages to stay on the court he should be able to produce.

Drummond and Embiid have enjoyed some friendly trash talking over the course of the season and my guess is Drummond will look to assert his dominance on Friday. He’s performed well in two meetings with Philadelphia this year and has proven very capable of paying off his elevated price point with relative ease. If you’re looking to get creative, I’m not against the idea of pairing Drummond with Embiid and watching these two dominant bigs do battle at the Wells Fargo Center.

Damian Lillard [PG – POR] is not, and will never be Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook or James Harden from a fantasy perspective. Despite ranking eighth in basketball with 25 PPG, the sixth-year point guard sits outside of the top-15 in assists and outside of the top-50 in steals. That’s not saying Dame doesn’t possess fantasy value, though; we just need him to be reasonably priced in order to pull the trigger.

Lillard is $8,500 on DraftKings and $8,700 on FanDuel, which places him firmly in play on a night where the Blazers draw a stellar home matchup with the putrid Hawks. Atlanta has been trashed by ball handlers in the pick-and-roll, allowing the second highest EFG% (51.2) and fifth most PPP (0.89) on the year. Fortunately for us, Lillard leads the entire league in PnR points with the fifth highest frequency (48.1%) among starting point guards. Moreover, Atlanta is allowing the second highest FG% and seventh highest efficiency to points guards on the season.

The Blazers are only 6.5-point favorites at home, creating less concerns regarding a potential blowout. Lillard is probable to play and hopefully won’t be limited by a calf strain that popped up on Thursday’s injury report. At a mid-$8K price point he should be considered one of the better FP/$ options on Friday’s nine-game slate. I prefer Lillard over John Wall [PG – WAS] and Ben Simmons [PG/SF – PHI], although I am encouraged to see that Simmons is attempting 14 FG/G over his last four starts. If Simmons consistently chucks up around 15 shots a night, he’s going to be well worth any sub-$9K price tag that’s put on him.

DeMar DeRozan [SG/SF – TOR] is a point-chaser’s dream play tonight, coming off two monster outings with one of them being against the same Bucks team he’ll face on Friday. I love knowing that DeRozan is finally beginning to trust his shot from beyond the arc, as it has has ballooned his ceiling, but we can’t ignore the career-high average in assists (5 AST/G) and steals (1.2 STL/G), either.

I likely won’t be deploying DeRozan tonight now that he’s gained attention around the industry and his price has spiked along with it, but there’s no denying the upside here, as he’s sporting a 30 percent usage rate, 24 percent assist rate and a career-best 58.8 percent true shooting mark on the year. I’ll be hoping he comes back down to earth, but won’t be surprised if the DeRozan fade ends my night early.

HONORABLE MENTION: Ben Simmons [PF/SF/PF – PHI] vs. DET; Nikola Jokic [C – DEN] vs. UTA 


Kristaps Porzingis [PF/C – NYK] is simply too cheap on DraftKings, and that’s basically the extent of the analysis here. A less than stellar matchup doesn’t mean a thing to me when Porzingis is $7,800 and positioned to play 35-plus minutes. Look at it this way: Porzingis isn’t immune to bad games, but we also shouldn’t expect him to shoot 26 percent from the field again like he did on Tuesday.

35 fantasy points isn’t going to kill you, but with a much higher ceiling we could easily see Porzingis produce 7x his salary against the Heat. For what it’s worth, Miami has been hammered by roll men in the pick-and-roll, an area I’d expect the 7’3” power forward to exploit on Friday. This isn’t a poor defense he’ll be facing, but his ridiculous height advantage and ability to shoot from outside should mitigate any concerns. I’ll be loading up on the Unicorn tonight.

Kawhi Leonard [SF/PF – SAS] logged 30-plus minutes on Tuesday for the first time since returning from injury, and finished with a Kawhi-like line of 25 points, eight rebounds, four assists, four steals and 49 DKPT against the Knicks. He only shot 40 percent from the field, too, so we can only expect his performance to improve going forward.

Tonight’s home tilt with Phoenix places Leonard in an excellent spot to smash, with a potential blowout being the only cause for concern. I do think LaMarcus Aldridge could get the night off, though, as he played a combined 73 minutes in back-to-back games on Tuesday and Wednesday, and San Antonio doesn’t exactly run the risk of losing tonight. It’s obviously just speculation, but if Aldridge sits, Leonard would become a far more enticing play at a mid-$7K salary.

Since returning, Leonard is sporting a 31 percent usage rate with 1.28 FPPM. I’ll happily take those numbers if he continues seeing 30-plus MPG. Again, the only worry here is a blowout, as the Spurs are 12-point home favorites against the punchless Suns.

Dwight Howard [C – CHA] faces his former team on Friday, and he should have no trouble exploiting a Lakers squad that’s ceding the most blocks and fourth most rebounds to opponents this season. Howard’s production has been very erratic with the Hornets, but he’s displayed on countless occasions the ability to churn out monster double-doubles in quality matchups.

This is a quality matchup by almost every metric, seeing that the Lakers rank dead last in paint points and second chance points allowed this season. Oh, and in case you were wondering, they’re also ceding the most points per possession on putback points with the second highest EFG% and third most points allowed. Howard has scored the third most putback points in basketball.

Kris Dunn [PG/SG – CHI] draws a matchup against a Mavericks team that ranks dead last in almost every relevant category against point guards this season. Through nearly three months, Dallas is coughing up the most points, highest efficiency, fourth most rebounds and third highest FG% to opposing point guards. They’ve also been decimated in the pick-and-roll, allowing top-five marks in points, PPP and EFG% this year.

Since the start of December, Dunn is boasting a 26 percent usage rate, 39 percent assist rate and 1.17 FPPM. We like those numbers. We especially like those numbers when Dunn is priced so affordably across the board. I wouldn’t blame anyone for deploying Dennis Schroder [PG – ATL] or Donovan Mitchell [PG/SG – UTA] at comparable price points, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Dunn drop 45-plus fantasy points against the Mavs.

Hassan Whiteside [C – MIA] was a colossal disappointment in Wednesday’s win over Detroit, posting only 10 points and four rebounds against 17 minutes of work. He’s too risky to play in cash games, but at a severely depressed price point, Whiteside offer immense upside in the event that he gets back to playing 30 minutes on Friday. Enes Kanter is a skilled rebounder, but he’s also a terrible defender.

HONORABLE MENTION: Tyreke Evans [PG/SG – MEM] vs. WAS; Jusuf Nurkic [C – POR] vs. ATL; Goran Dragic [PG – MIA] vs. NYK; Harrison Barnes [SF/PF – DAL] vs. CHI [Cash] 


[!] Denotes a player whose fantasy value is contingent upon a teammate being sidelined.

NOTE: Friday’s nine-game slate doesn’t offer a ton of talent at the high end, with the Cavaliers, Thunder, Warriors, Rockets and Pelicans all getting the night off. Consequently, we won’t be forced to find cheap value in order to jam in $11K+ players. This is both positive and negative; it’s positive because Friday’s slate doesn’t offer much, if any low-end value to choose from in the first place. It’s negative because Friday’s slate doesn’t offer any low-end value for us to choose from in the first place. Even if we wanted to attempt a stars-and-scrubs approach, there aren’t any viable punts to choose from at the time of my writing.

[Andre Drummond (Q)] Boban Marjanovic [C – DET] is the reason daily fantasy basketball is fun. The 7’3”, 290-pound ogre rarely disappoints when thrust into the rotation, even if it’s only twice a season. Marjanovic has averaged at least 1.27 FPPM In each of his three NBA campaigns, and doesn’t require more than 20 MPG to pay off his price tag. Sure, he’s seen a price hike after posting 33 DKPT at minimum salary on Monday, but I wouldn’t be against playing him at $4,600 on DraftKings if he draws another start. We’ll wait for more news regarding Andre Drummond’s status as we draw closer to lock.

J.J. Barea [PG/SG – DAL] continues to be a reliable source of fantasy points almost every night, as he’s consistently produced north of one FPPM across 25-28 MPG. This is one of those slates where value is scarce, so Barea comes into play as a safe-ish low $5K option with a comfortable floor and 40-fantasy point ceiling.

The Bulls are playing at the sixth fastest pace in basketball since the start of December, where they’ve allowed a top-10 efficiency to opposing point guards. This is a fine spot for Barea to produce in both cash games and GPPs.

Rodney Hood [SG/SF – UTA] intrigues me tonight due to how the Nuggets have defended Donovan Mitchell in past games this season. Denver made it nearly impossible for Mitchell to get to the rim, but they aren’t a good team at defending outside shooters. Hood is one of the most volatile players in the game, but he’s more than capable of getting hot from beyond the arc. Denver is allowing 40 percent shooting to two-guards from three-point range, and provide a pace boost for the crawling Jazz.

With such limited value tonight, Hood makes for a great way to get low ownership in tournaments. If Denver is going to keep Mitchell from getting to the rack, subsequently limiting him to three-pointers and mid-range jumpers, I’d rather have the cheaper option in Hood, who will likely be doing much of the same.

Michael Beasley [SF/PF – NYK] has been an absolute stud of late, and he’s blowing the roof off of buildings with only 25 MPG! Get this: over his last 10 games, Beasley is sporting a 32 percent usage rate, 16.1 percent rebounding rate and 1.34 FPPM. He’s one of the reasons Porzingis has displayed some downside in recent outings, because when he’s struggling Beasley can take over without a hitch.

You’re always going to be rolling the dice with Beasley, especially since Jeff Hornacek is his coach, but you really can’t find a better tournament play right now. What other player is offering 50-fantasy point upside with 25 minutes a night? That’s right: Beasley. Maybe he’ll have some added motivation against his former team, too — but then again, Beasley has played for everyone.

[Andrew Harrison (D)] Mario Chalmers [PG – MEM] could be in play for those of you who don’t mind taking risks. With Andrew Harrison doubtful to play, Chalmers could realistically move back into a 26-29 minute role in the starting lineup. He isn’t exactly the most prolific fantasy option, but sub-$4K value is virtually non-existent tonight. He’s there if you need him.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jonas Valanciunas [C – TOR] @ MIL [GPP ONLY]; Ish Smith [PG – DET] @ PHI; Trey Lyles [SF/PF – DEN] @ UTA [DraftKings]; Tyus Jones [PG/SG – MIN] @ BOS [GPP]

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