NBA Deep Dive – 1/8/18
Chris Paul [PG/SG – HOU] hasn’t been particularly impressive in three games since James Harden went down (50 FP, 49 FP, 39 FP), but he’s still priced reasonably across the board. With outstanding peripheral stats and a significantly inflated usage rate sans Harden, Paul should still be considered a top option on Monday’s eight-game slate.
Chicago is not only ceding the fourth highest efficiency to point guards this season, but they’ve also been playing at the eighth fastest pace since the start of December. This game boasts the second highest total (221 O/U) on the night, and Houston is favored by only five points on the road. Everything aligns for Paul to post big fantasy totals on Monday, but I’d be willing to pivot away from him if…
Stephen Curry [PG/SG – GSW] becomes a stellar option if Kevin Durant (calf) is unable to play. Curry has tallied 50-plus fantasy points in all four starts since returning from a near month-long hiatus, while averaging a ridiculous 1.75 FPPM over that stretch. This is legitimately some of the most dominant play we’ve seen from Curry since Golden State became a perennial juggernaut.
I’m willing to consider Curry if Durant is active, but will likely be locking him in across the board if the former MVP is sidelined. Curry owns a Goliath 38 percent usage rate in 288 minutes without Durant this season, with 1.76 FPPM and a 69 percent true shooting percentage. These are astronomical numbers, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him tear through the Nuggets in a game that owns the highest total (226 O/U) on Monday’s slate. Curry is especially enticing at $9,800 on FanDuel.
LeBron James [SF/PF – CLE] is a virtual guarantee to produce on Monday, drawing a road matchup with a Timberwolves team that surrenders a league-high 68.2 percent shooting at the rim. 45 percent of James’ field goal attempts are coming within five feet of the basket this season, where he’s shooting an inexplicable 76 percent! With Minnesota somehow being favored by a point, James should log upwards of 40 minutes in a competitive affair.
Isaiah Thomas being inserted into the starting lineup does create some small concern that James could become more reserved, as we saw when Kyrie Irving was in Cleveland, but he’s still a near lock for 55-plus fantasy points. Thomas’ minutes should still be limited, though, and James is still enjoying the best fantasy season of his career. I probably won’t be deploying LeBron tonight, but you really can’t go wrong by using him on Monday.
Giannis Antetokounmpo [SF/PF – MIL] is yet another top option tonight, facing a Pacers squad that struggles in transition defense, allows the fifth most points in the paint, and doesn’t have the personnel to contain the Freak. He won’t be the easiest fit considering Paul, Curry, LeBron and others are in elite spots, but from a tournament perspective we’d be doing ourselves a disservice by leaving him off the radar.
Anthony Davis [PF/C – NOP] is a site-specific play on DraftKings where he’s priced at $9,700 in a great matchup with Detroit. Andre Drummond is clearly still dealing with pain in his ribs, and won’t be entirely effective even if he’s active, but Davis should see a fair amount of Anthony Tolliver defense, and that is far from concerning. Davis has dropped 60-plus fantasy points in two of his last five games and is now priced far enough below Boogie to warrant consideration. Pairing him with one of the aforementioned players would make for a solid stars-scrubs lineup, while still leaving enough salary to fill out the rest of your team. Keep in mind, however, that Davis would become an even better play if Drummond is out, as he has always struggled to rebound against Detroit’s hulking center.
Jimmy Butler [SG/SF – MIN] is one of my favorite plays tonight, as he makes for an elite cash game option and a fine tournament play against the Cavs. Butler has been a virtual lock to post 40-plus fantasy points on a nightly basis, is playing upwards of 40 minutes in competitive games, and still remains affordably priced across the industry but especially on DraftKings.
We don’t need much analysis here outside of the basics; Butler has become Minnesota’s primary scoring option, is among the league lead in minutes per game, and produces more than enough defensive and peripheral stats to mitigate a poor shooting performance. Specifically on DraftKings, Butler feels like a near must play in cash at only $8,400.
Andrew Wiggins [SG/SF – MIN] is also an intriguing play tonight, but should be reserved strictly for GPPs. We can’t accurate project fantasy projection for Wiggins each night, but this game owns a massive 222.5 O/U and Cleveland has struggled against opposing wings all season long. LeBron James’ regular season defense is a far cry from his postseason form, so I wouldn’t be concerned about him locking down Wiggins on Monday. Moreover, Wiggins seems to have played with added aggression in past meetings with the team that drafted and quickly traded him in the blockbuster Kevin Love deal.
Kris Dunn [PG/SG – CHI] has quite easily been one of the most erroneously priced players for weeks now, and he is still underpriced on both DraftKings and FanDuel. He’s proven capable of dropping 50-plus fantasy points on any given night, continues to serve as Chicago’s primary ball handler and facilitator, and is logging 32-plus minutes in competitive games.
I’m not ultra-high on his positional matchup against Chris Paul, but with this game owning a 221 O/U and a 5-point spread, Dunn should remain a top mid-range option across the board. The high-$6K/low-$7K range at point guard is loaded with options tonight, headlined by Dunn in a pace-up spot against the Rockets.
Lou Williams [PG/SG – LAC] draws another game without Blake Griffin, which immediately vaults him to the top of the list at an upper mid-range price point. Williams has already been humming even after Griffin’s return, but he should see 30-plus percent usage in a plus matchup with Atlanta, and also benefits from the absence of Austin Rivers. With both Griffin and Rivers off the court this season, Williams is boasting a massive 35 percent usage rate, 32 percent assist rate and 1.22 FPPM across 383 minutes. Need I say more?
LaMarcus Aldridge [PF/C – SAS] is positioned to smash again tonight, facing a weak Kings frontcourt in a game where Kawhi Leonard and possibly Pau Gasol will be out. Aldridge dominates in the post, averaging the second most points in the league with a 41 percent frequency, while Sacramento is allowing the fourth most PPP and third highest EF% in the post this season. He’s going to operate with high usage, and should see his regular minutes after getting a day off on Friday.
Despite the back-to-back, Aldridge makes for an excellent mid-range option with a high floor and 50-plus fantasy point upside tonight. If Zach Randolph (questionable) is out, Aldridge would become an even better play, as I’d much rather have him back down Skal Labissiere than the rotund Randolph.
Nikola Jokic [C – DEN] is going to become a top play of mine tonight if and only if Mike Malone decides to start him at center against Golden State. I don’t see how Malone can justifiably start Plumlee and Jokic together against the small-ball Warriors, so keep an eye out for some lineup changes. Jokic is $8,100 on DraftKings and $8,800 on FanDuel, which leaves us with ample room for upside if he starts at center. Keep in mind, starting at the five allows far more peripheral upside in rebounds and blocks, but also provides Jokic with more putback opportunity and easier buckets around the rim. Let’s hope Malone makes the right call.
HONORABLE MENTION: Eric Gordon [SG – HOU] @ CHI; Draymond Green [PF/C – GSW] vs. DEN; Kyle Lowry [PG – TOR] @ BKN; Dennis Schroder [PG – ATL] @ LAC; DeAndre Jordan [C – LAC] vs. ATL
[!] Denotes a player whose fantasy value is contingent upon a teammate being sidelined.
Bobby Portis [PF/C – CHI] should be at the top of your list tonight if Nikola Mirotic [D] is unable to play. Portis is already producing well over a fantasy point per minute this year, and now he should see around 26-28 minutes against the Rockets. I don’t care about the matchup; 25-plus minutes from Portis at $4,400 on DraftKings and $4,500 on FanDuel is a steal. If Mirotic is out, plug Portis into lineups and don’t look back.
Lauri Markkanen [PF – CHI] would also make for a strong sub-$6K option with Mirotic out, as he’ll be locked into 30-plus minutes and will need to jack up his fair share of three-pointers against the high-flying Rockets. I much prefer Portis from a FP/$ standpoint, but wouldn’t have a problem pairing the two in GPPs.
Hell, even Justin Holiday [SG/SF – CHI] warrants consideration now that his salary has fallen to $5K on DraftKings and $5,800 on FanDuel. This is a great game to stack with Harden out for Houston and Mirotic expected to sit for Chicago. The Rockets are only 5-point favorites, too, so this game would become a fantasy goldmine in the event that is does in fact stay competitive. Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, Clint Capela, Bobby Portis, Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn and Justin Holiday are all playable in some form or fashion.
Domantas Sabonis [PF/C – IND] is a sneaky good play tonight against the Bucks. Myles Turner continues to struggle and has been losing minutes as a result, but Sabonis has been producing strong totals off the bench and is now averaging almost 30 MPG over his last four outings. Milwaukee struggles to contain opposing fives, especially those who aren’t afraid to get physical around the basket. We’ve seen the undersized John Henson get bodied on countless occasions, and while Sabonis is far from a hulking big man, he still has almost 30 pounds on Henson. I love him in tournaments where he should go entirely overlooked.
Kyle Anderson [PG/SF – SAS] has been logging huge minutes with Kawhi Leonard sidelined, so naturally he’ll be in play tonight against the Kings. Slo-Mo is far from a high-upside value, but he’s capable of giving up 30-35 fantasy points at a low-$5K price point. The Kings rank dead last in DEFRTG by a large margin, and have coughed up some massive games to opposing wings. Ignore the relatively low total here — Anderson is playing 35 MPG and is posting enough peripherals to mitigate his low shot volume.
Caris LeVert [SG/SF – BKN] has been smashing off the bench lately, and his minutes should be bolstered more on Monday with DeMarre Carroll out. Toronto isn’t the best matchup possible for opposing wings, but he’s going to play a decent amount of his minutes against their reserves, and should get run throughout a blowout in the event that the Raptors go ahead early. Value is relatively scarce tonight, so we’ll likely have to look into the low-$5K range with options like LeVert, Anderson, Sabonis and more.
HONORABLE MENTION: Joe Harris [SG/SF – BKN] vs. TOR; Jawun Evans [PG – LAC] vs. ATL; Taurean Prince [SG/SF – ATL] @ LAC [GPP]; Reggie Bullock [SG/SF – DET] @ NOP [GPP]