NBA Deep Dive – 1/6/18

Point Guard

Chris Paul has not been great in his first two starts without James Harden, but we should keep rostering him anyway.  Paul recorded a 33.5 usage rate in 36 minutes against the Warriors and has a 30.2 usage percentage and 57.2 assist percentage in 263 minutes without Harden this season.  Even after the two disappointing starts without Harden, Paul is averaging 1.59 DraftKings points per minute this season.  He remains an elite option tonight against the Pistons.

Kris Dunn had another monster game last night in a nice matchup against the Dallas Mavericks.  Tonight, he will get to face an Indiana team that has posted the 6th-worst defensive rating in the NBA since the start of December.  Dunn was a late scratch when these two teams played last week, but he did face them once in November and once in early December, averaging 1.02 DraftKings points per minute.  Dunn has been more productive over the last month-plus than he was early in the season.  Over his last 10 games, he has a usage rate below 25.0 percent just two times.  Dunn should be in line for another big game tonight against the Pacers at an affordable price tag.

Jamal Murray continues to play big minutes for the Nuggets as he is a good bet for 32-36 minutes any time the game stays close now that Emmanuel Mudiay is out of the rotation.  Mike Malone has talked about wanting to limit his starters’ minutes a bit, but Murray should be able to do well in this matchup even if he is at the low end of his minute projection.  Sacramento has been the worst defensive team in the NBA this season and they are tied with the Bucks for the worst differential allowed on three-pointers.  Murray is an excellent tournament play either as a lower-owned pivot to Kris Dunn or in addition to Dunn.

De’Aaron Fox has been tough to trust this season, but he should at least get the opportunity to play well tonight as Frank Mason is out and George Hill is questionable after missing practice yesterday to be with his pregnant wife.  Fox played 32 minutes in his first game back from injury and is likely to be looking at similar playing time this evening.  For the season, Fox has a 22.7 usage percentage and 22.7 assist percentage while averaging 0.75 DraftKings points per minute.  In 378 minutes without Mason or Hill on the floor, his usage percentage increases to 25.8 and his assist percentage increases to 29.5, though his per minute production only increases to 0.79 DraftKings points per minute.  The opportunity will be there for Fox, what he does with it is anyone’s guess.

Honorable Mention: John Wall, Elfrid Payton, Eric Bledsoe, Ish Smith


Shooting Guard

Victor Oladipo sounds like he is going to play, though he is still listed as questionable.  If he does suit up, he immediately becomes a great tournament option as the injury should lower his ownership, but he has a massive ceiling in his matchup with the Bulls.  Chicago has allowed the 10th-most points in transition this season and the most transition points per possession.  Oladipo ranks 4th in transition possessions per game, behind only Russell Westbrook, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Devin Booker and he trails only Westbrook and Booker in transition field goal attempts per game.  Oladipo missed the most recent meeting with the Bulls, but averaged 1.30 DraftKings points per minute in his first two meetings, finishing with lines of 25 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists in 30.6 minutes and 27 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists in 38.8 minutes.

Bradley Beal is the biggest beneficiary amongst Wizards starters in terms of per minute production if Otto Porter (questionable) sits tonight against Milwaukee.  Beal has a 25.9 usage percentage and averaged 1 DraftKings point per minute alongside John Wall and Otto Porter this season compared to a 28.8 usage percentage and 1.13 DraftKings points per minute alongside Wall without Porter.  The matchup against Milwaukee is not ideal for Beal, as he plays more with the ball in his hands than as a spot-up shooter which is how we normally prefer to attack the Bucks.  Milwaukee has been struggling defensively of late, however, as they trail only the Kings and the Lakers in defensive efficiency since the start of December.

Evan Fournier remains too cheap for his ceiling and he has been going overlooked every slate lately because of his game logs.  Fournier has failed to produce 20 fantasy points in back-to-back games, but it has been the result of poor shooting.  Since returning from injury, Fournier has played 29 (blowout), 32, 36, 32 and 29 (blowout) minutes.  In those games, he has usage rates of 23.5, 23.6, 26.6, 22.9 and 21.3 percent.  Over his last two, he has shot 4 for 15 and 2 for 11 from the field.  He faces a Cleveland defense that has struggled all season with the exception of a brief stretch in November or early December.  Cleveland has been especially bad against spot-up shooters this season.  Fournier is second on Orlando with 2.9 spot-up field goal attempts per game and his 1.32 points per possession ranks in the 95th percentile for efficiency.

Honorable Mention: Eric Gordon (more affordable on DraftKings and FantasyDraft than FanDuel), Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, Gary Harris, Will Barton

Deep Value: J.R. Smith, Jamal Crawford


Small Forward

LeBron James had a disappointing game against the Celtics, but he gets a much better matchup tonight against the Magic.  Isaiah Thomas will be making his first start for the Cavs, so there is a little bit of risk since James and Thomas have obviously not spent much time on the court together this season, but it is not enough to scare me away from LeBron in this matchup.  James has posted a 33.1 usage percentage and 48.8 assist percentage in 14 games over the last month while averaging 1.44 DraftKings points per minute.  In three games against the Magic, with Aaron Gordon active, since the start of last season, James has averaged 1.46 DraftKings points per minute.

Giannis Antetokounmpo faces a Washington team that has been surprisingly good defensively lately.  Since the start of December, the Wizards trail only the Spurs, Celtics, 76ers and Warriors in defensive rating.  Washington is also allowing the fewest points per possession in transition this season, where Giannis does a lot of his work.  While they have been good at limiting opponent success in transition, the Wizards have allowed the 10th-most transition possessions per game this season so that is at least good news for Giannis.  Washington has also struggled defending within 6 feet of the basket, which is where Giannis lives offensively.  The Wizards have the 3rd-worst differential within 6 feet of the rim this season.  Overall, this is a nice matchup for Antetokounmpo and, while it is a back-to-back and a three in four, he has played just 29 and 33 minutes in his last two games as the Bucks blew out the Pacers and then were blown out by Toronto.

Mario Hezonja could be in line for big minutes if Jonathan Simmons misses this game.  Simmons is a game-time decision, but he missed the second half of Orlando’s game on Wednesday and then did not practice Thursday or Friday.  Hezonja finished Wednesday’s game with 28 minutes and a 22.6 usage percentage.  He is a top value option if Simmons misses.

Honorable Mention: Jimmy Butler, Gerald Green, Trevor Ariza

Other Value: Kelly Oubre (Porter questionable- will play big minutes if Porter misses but is usually not very productive with the starting unit), E’Twaun Moore


Power Forward

Anthony Davis is in a nice spot against the Minnesota Timberwolves.  Minnesota has struggled to defend the paint this season and opposing bigs have posted some monster games against them.  Davis has averaged 1.26 DraftKings points per minute in three games against the Timberwolves alongside DeMarcus Cousins, but he certainly has the upside for more.  The main issue with Davis tonight is roster construction, especially on FanDuel where roster construction is more important than other sites since there is much less flexibility.  There are two very good expensive options at a weak small forward position, so it will be tough to justify paying up at a deep power forward position.  It is a high-upside way to be contrarian in tournaments, however.

Aaron Gordon was awful against the Rockets and has been struggling overall in his last five games.  There is no question that the upside is there, however, in a great matchup against the Cavaliers.  Gordon has attempted at least 20 shots in three straight games, though he has not been making many.  That will not be the case forever though and we want to be on Gordon when those shots start to fall.  Cleveland has been the 4th-worst team defending within 6 feet of the rim this season and they are allowing the 5th-most points per game in transition, along with the 8th-most spot-up points per game.  Gordon is second to Elfrid Payton in transition frequency on Orlando and he leads the team in transition field goal attempts.  He also leads the team with 3.3 spot-up field goal attempts per game.  He is not an efficient scorer, but the volume is there and the Cavaliers give it up to all aspects of Gordon’s game.  It is also worth noting that Gordon has seen a few minutes at center recently, and the Cavaliers will play Kevin Love at center for much of the game, so Gordon could once again be the five in a small Orlando lineup at times.

Trey Lyles had another big game for the Nuggets last night and gets a prime matchup against the Sacramento Kings.  Lyles has played at least 27 minutes in seven straight games, with a usage rate of at least 20.9 percent in all of them.  Much of Lyles’ production comes from beyond the three-point line and the Kings are tied with Milwaukee for the worst differential on three-point attempts this season.  Continue to roster Lyles with confidence.

Lauri Markkanen has been playing incredibly well for the Bulls and gets another great matchup tonight against Indiana.  Markkanen has played at least 28 minutes in six straight and has eclipsed the 30-minute mark in three in a row.  His usage has fluctuated, but he has shown a nice ceiling as he has usage rates above 26 percent in three of those six.  He posted his highest usage rate of the season (32.5 percent) in his last game against Indiana, though Kris Dunn was out for that game.  In his previous two games against the Pacers, his usage rates were 27.2 percent and 22.0 percent.  He has averaged 1.17 DraftKings points per minute in this matchup this season.

Zach Randolph continues to be a monster when he is on the floor.  His minutes have been all over the place, usually as a result of the Kings not being able to keep games close for four quarters.  This is a home game for Sacramento and the Nuggets are on a back-to-back so maybe, just maybe, we can get a full game out of Randolph.  He has been especially productive when on the floor with De’Aaron Fox without Hill or Mason as may be the case for much of tonight.  In 133 minutes in that situation this season, Randolph has a 26.9 usage percentage, 16.7 assist percentage and 15.7 rebound percentage and has averaged 1.24 DraftKings points per minute.

Honorable Mention: Tobias Harris, Domantas Sabonis, Thaddeus Young

Value: Ryan Anderson, Jae Crowder, John Henson, Markieff Morris (boost if Porter out), Mike Scott (boost if Porter out)



DeMarcus Cousins gets a great matchup against Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves, who are on a back-to-back.  As mentioned earlier, the ‘Wolves have struggled in the paint this season and have allowed huge games to talented centers.  Cousins also matches up nicely because he can pull Towns or Gibson away from the basket and force them to defend the perimeter where they (especially Towns) tend to be slow to close out.  Cousins has averaged 1.40 DraftKings points per minute in his three games against Towns since joining the Pelicans.

Nikola Jokic is coming off a couple of disappointing games against the Suns and the Jazz, but the minutes remain steady as he has played at least 35 minutes in six of his last eight games (32 last night).  The Kings are atrocious in all aspects of defense and defending bigs is no exception.  Sacramento has allowed the 2nd-most points and 4th-most assists per 100 possessions to starting centers this season.  Look for Jokic to take advantage of the porous defense and flirt with a triple-double tonight.

Kevin Love makes for a great play in this matchup against the Magic.  Orlando has been the 3rd-worst team in three-point differential this season and Love should have plenty of success as he forces Bismack Biyombo to close out on him on the perimeter.  Love played just 20 minutes against the Celtics as he left the game with an injury, but he is expected to play tonight.  That will hopefully be enough to keep his ownership down despite the excellent matchup.

Honorable Mention: Andre Drummond (GPP only- back to back and dealing with an injury), Karl-Anthony Towns (tons of upside but has consistently underperformed on back to backs), Clint Capela, Bismack Biyombo

Value: Marcin Gortat

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