NBA Deep Dive – 1/10/17



John Wall is a huge home favorite against the Bulls tonight.  He has a high floor because he is a huge part of the Washington offense and plays heavy minutes since the bench is so bad.  He is too expensive for tournaments at his current price with Bradley Beal healthy, however.  When Wall is on the floor without Beal, he averages 1.44 DraftKings and 1.34 FanDuel points per minute.  His current price is influenced by this production since it has not come all the way back down to where it was before Beal’s most recent injury.  Wall’s fantasy point per minute averages drop to 1.28 per minute on DraftKings and 1.20 per minute on FanDuel when he plays alongside Beal.  This makes it really difficult to project him to score enough points to be worthwhile in tournaments on a nine-game slate, even if he does get to face a depleted Chicago team that is missing Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade.


Isaiah Thomas has been very good lately but his price is getting a little high.  Thomas does get a boost with Avery Bradley off the floor, as he averages 1.32 DraftKings points per minute alongside Horford without Bradley compared to 1.20 with Bradley also on the floor.  He is still a viable option tonight in an underrated matchup against the Toronto frontcourt, just know that you are paying a premium for someone who will also likely be highly owned.


Kyle Lowry faces the Celtics and will likely draw a very nice matchup against Isaiah Thomas.  Avery Bradley is out for Boston and his replacement, Marcus Smart, will likely spend his time defending DeMar DeRozan.  Lowry is averaging 37.2 minutes per game this season and has played at least 40 in three straight.  He struggled against the Rockets in his last game, but that was to be expected as he has always struggled against Patrick Beverley.  He should rebound nicely in this game and is an elite option in all formats.


Kemba Walker has a difficult matchup against the Rockets, who rank in the top 10 in defensive rating over the last month.  He will have to deal with Patrick Beverley’s defense, which is likely to cause problems.  Walker makes some sense in tournaments if paired with James Harden since, if the game stays close for all four quarters, Walker is likely to be a big reason why.  We can do better as a stand-alone play, however.



George Hill is finally healthy for Utah and continues to be productive.  The Jazz starting five has not been together much this season, but Hill’s usage percentage is 23 and his assist percentage is 39.3 in the 50 minutes he has played alongside Hood, Hayward, Favors and Gobert.  Hill’s price is too cheap for the role that he plays in the Utah offense and he has a favorable matchup against Kyrie Irving tonight.  Vegas is not projecting this game to be high-scoring, with a total of just 200.5, but they are projecting it to be close.  Hill will be a big reason Utah keeps the game close and is a top option at his price.


Goran Dragic has not had a monster game since his return from injury, but it is coming.  He played 42 minutes against the Clippers with Josh Richardson sidelined on Sunday and Richardson is not expected to play again tonight.  Golden State is a strong defensive unit, but the pace that they play at will allow Dragic enough extra possessions to make up for any efficiency issues.  At just $7,100 on DraftKings and $6,900 on FanDuel, he is extremely underpriced even though there is some blowout risk in this game.


Reggie Jackson’s price is up after a string of good games, but he is still not too expensive- he was just criminally underpriced when he first returned from injury.  He appears to have finally found his groove offensively, recording at least 37 DraftKings points in five consecutive games.  Jackson has a 28.6 usage percentage and 34.7 assist percentage in his 17 games this season.  He is still underpriced and is a strong tournament play that may go somewhat overlooked because of his increased price tag and the relatively low 205 Vegas total.


D’Angelo Russell has a phenomenal matchup with the Blazers tonight in a game with a 222.5 total and 2 point spread, facing a Portland team that ranks 13th in pace and 4th in defensive rating over the last month and should play faster with less defense now that Lillard is back in the lineup.  Russell “struggled” in his last matchup with Portland, producing only 32.5 DraftKings points.  He shot just 6-18 from the field and 0-8 from three in that game, however, so it is likely to be an outlier- especially because nothing that Portland does defensively is likely to have caused the inefficient performance.


Michael Carter-Williams has not been a big factor recently as Wade and Butler have been the primary playmakers for the Chicago offense.  With Wade and Butler sidelined tonight, however, Carter-Williams will need to be more involved.  He should see more minutes as the Bulls will not have the luxury of closing the game without him if it is relatively close since Wade and Butler will not be on the floor to handle the ball.  He also should see a huge boost in his usage and assists.  Do not let his recent game logs scare you off away from him tonight.


Ty Lawson disappointed a lot of people against Golden State, but he was productive in his 22 minutes.  The problem is just that he only played 22 minutes.  I expect him to return to the starting lineup tonight, however, as the Pistons do not have a Klay Thompson equivalent for Garrett Temple to match up with (assuming KCP is not worth changing their entire lineup for).  Most of Lawson’s production comes from his time on the floor with the second unit, hence why he was still reasonably productive for his price in his limited minutes against Golden State.  The points he picks up in his extended minutes with the starters are still important for him to really be able to outproduce his price, however.  I will be less interested in him if we get news throughout the day that he is coming off the bench but, if we do not hear anything, I will assume he is rejoining the starting lineup and look to get him at lower ownership than he deserves.


Core: Kyle Lowry, George Hill, Goran Dragic, Reggie Jackson, D’Angelo Russell

Secondary: Dennis Schroder, Isaiah Thomas, Damian Lillard, John Wall (cash), Kyrie Irving, Patrick Beverley, Tyler Johnson

Value: Michael Carter-Williams, Isaiah Whitehead, Malcolm Brogdon, Tony Parker, Jordan Clarkson, Ty Lawson




James Harden is an elite play tonight against a Charlotte team that is likely to be without Nicolas Batum and Cody Zeller, and ranks 23rd in defensive ranking over the last month. Roy Hibbert, despite his reputation as a strong defender, does not intimidate players who are looking to drive to the basket.  Houston is a 9.5-point favorite in a game with a 225.5 total, so there should be plenty of points to go around for Harden.  The only knock against Harden is his price, but there is enough value on this slate that it should not be very difficult to afford him.


Giannis Antetokounmpo is questionable for this game.  His price has come down for the matchup against the Spurs, but it is still too high.  There are much better options, even on FanDuel where he is shooting guard eligible, than paying up for Giannis coming off an illness against Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs.


DeMar DeRozan is getting expensive again, especially on FanDuel.  He has a more difficult matchup than Lowry tonight, as he should draw a lot of Marcus Smart defense.  That said, he will still take a ton of shots and has a high floor just based on volume.  Shooting guard is not a particularly strong position, so there is merit to rostering DeRozan for the raw points and looking to find higher upside guys elsewhere.


Bradley Beal is a very strong mid-range option who should benefit from Wade and Butler being sidelined.  He is averaging 35 minutes per game and 18.75 field goal attempts per game in his four games since his injury against Indiana.  His price is much more palatable than Wall’s if you are looking for tournament exposure to the Wizards, and he is more valuable since his position is weaker than Wall’s.


Marcus Smart will likely start again tonight for Avery Bradley.  He had a huge game filling in for him last time, with 5 three-pointers propelling him to 44.25 DraftKings points.  Smart is averaging 29.5 minutes per game this season, so the 32 he saw without Bradley is not a huge increase.  What is huge, however, is that Smart averages 0.68 DraftKings points per minute alongside Isaiah Thomas (with Bradley off the floor) this season.  He averages 0.94 points per minute when Thomas and Bradley are both off the floor.  Of the 32.1 minutes that he played against the Pelicans, about 4.5 were without Thomas.  So, basically, Smart sees a small increase in minutes and a huge decrease in productivity as a result of Bradley being out.  He is a huge trap tonight, especially at his increased price tag.  Hopefully this time he does not bail half the field out by shooting about twice as well as his season average from the field.

Jeremy Lamb is a very strong play against Houston.  Kemba Walker has the difficult matchup with Beverley, which should funnel more opportunities to Lamb.  Lamb is averaging 1.21 DraftKings points per minute (1.16 FanDuel) this season alongside Walker without Batum.  He played 28.4 minutes in his most recent game without Batum, and saw about 36 minutes in a game against the Knicks without Batum earlier this season.  He is an infinitely better option than Smart- and is free at $4,000 on FanDuel.


Tim Hardaway, Jr. gets another game without Mike Dunleavy tonight against the Nets.  He is scoring dependent, which will cause him to be inconsistent, but the minutes should be there for him to do some damage against the Nets.  He has played at least 26 minutes and taken at least 12 shots in three of his last four games and his minutes should be secure in this one since he plays with the second unit and will get fourth quarter run even if the game is not close anymore.  He is a strong tournament value option.


Core:  James Harden, Jeremy Lamb, Bradley Beal

Secondary: C.J. McCollum (DraftKings), DeMar DeRozan, Klay Thompson, Kentavius Caldwell-Pope

Value: Denzel Valentine, Sean Kilpatrick, Tim Hardaway Jr., Marco Belinelli, Rodney Hood, Allen Crabbe, Nick Young




Kevin Durant faces a Miami team that is missing one of their best perimeter defenders in Justise Winslow.  It is always difficult to predict performance from Golden State players since things change if Curry or Thompson get hot early.  Durant has been relatively stable this season, however.  He is somewhat blowout proof since he plays minutes with the second unit and he contributes in every category so he usually will not kill you even if it is a Steph or Klay- dominated game.  He is not a must play tonight but, at a pretty weak small forward position, he is a strong option.


LeBron James is a better cash option than tournament option tonight.  He has a very difficult matchup with Gordon Hayward and the Utah Jazz.  It is unlikely that he blows up in this matchup, but he should play enough minutes that he offers a nice floor since he is not reliant on scoring to produce.  He has faced Hayward three times since rejoining the Cavaliers and has not scored under 46 DraftKings points but has not scored more than 54.  It makes sense to take a chance on a more volatile, less expensive player for tournaments but, like with Durant, there is merit to locking in LeBron’s raw points in cash games.


Kawhi Leonard has a tough matchup with Giannis Antetokounmpo.  He will be required to expend energy on the defensive end, but he will also have the opportunity to pile up defensive stats since Giannis is such a high usage player.  He also benefits from the absence of LaMarcus Aldridge.  In 157 minutes without Aldridge and alongside Pau Gasol, Leonard has averaged 1.32 DraftKings points per minute- compared to 1.10 when Aldridge is also on the floor.  Leonard was looking like a cash-game only option before Aldridge was ruled out, but he is a very strong tournament option now too at a reduced price tag with an opportunity for a more productive night than usual.


Otto Porter is a strong play at a reasonable price tag against a Chicago team that is missing it’s starting wings.  Porter plays heavy minutes for Washington, averaging 34.5 over his last five.  He has a high floor based on his minutes and can reach a nice ceiling if things break his way.


Maurice Harkless is way too cheap for this fast-paced matchup with the Lakers.  He has not had any huge games lately, but he has been steady for the most part.  His price has dropped all the way to $4,300 on DraftKings and $4,500 on FanDuel.  He plays between 25 and 30 minutes in just about every game, so he gives you a nice floor for the price with the chance to outperform it if he can pick up a couple steals or a couple extra baskets.


Core:  Kawhi Leonard, Otto Porter

Secondary: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Trevor Ariza, Rudy Gay, Gordon Hayward

Value: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Doug McDermott, Maurice Harkless, Matt Barnes, Bojan Bogdanovic




Paul Millsap should dominate this Brooklyn frontcourt.  He has been very productive lately, with at least 36 DraftKings points in 9 of his last 10 and at least 42 in 5 of those 10.  His price is rising, but not very quickly.  Brooklyn has actually been better defensively over the last month, ranking 16th in the NBA in defensive rating, but they still play at the fastest pace and Millsap should benefit from the extra possessions and extra rebounding opportunities.


Kevin Love could be a sneaky tournament play at a reduced price tonight.  Utah ranks in the bottom five in points allowed and rebounds allowed to opposing centers over the last month, as they appear to be struggling somewhat with Derrick Favors’ return to the frontcourt.  We have also seen power forwards have big games against them lately.  Love’s price is down as a result of his matchup, but he still has a high ceiling if he can get hot from deep early.  He is not the best play on the slate by any means, but he is worth having tournament exposure to.


Julius Randle is an elite option tonight as he has played at least 34 minutes in four of his last five games, and the only one that he played less was a blowout.  He has thrived with the increased minutes, as he continues to grab rebounds and rack up assists in addition to his scoring.  He gets more ball-handling opportunities in pace-up games, so he should be in line for a huge line tonight.  He had 36.75 DraftKings points on just 4-of-13 shooting against the Blazers last game and we should expect another big performance tonight.


James Johnson is still too cheap considering he has produced over 1 fantasy point per minute this season and will see extra minutes as a result of Justise Winslow being injured and Miami’s need to have a strong defender on the floor to deal with the long Golden State offensive players.  His price is slowly rising, but it has not reached the point yet that we should go underweight on him.  He is one of the best power forward options on the slate, especially on FanDuel at just $5,600.


Derrick Favors is significantly underpriced across the industry.  He played 34 minutes in the first game of a back-to-back against Minnesota and 25 minutes on the second half against Memphis.  The Jazz do not play tomorrow, so there is no reason not to expect at least 30 minutes against Cleveland since it appears 25 is his new floor.  Fire up Favors with confidence and hope that others are scared off because his minutes are “unpredictable” or because he had a bad game against Memphis.


Core:  Paul Millsap, Julius Randle, James Johnson

Secondary: Kevin Love, Draymond Green, Jabari Parker, Tobias Harris, Markieff Morris

Value: Derrick Favors, Al-Farouq Aminu, Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic, David Lee




DeMarcus Cousins should be able to dominate Andre Drummond, who is prone to defensive lapses and really struggles to defend players away from the basket.  Cousins is a capable shooter who can draw Drummond out of the paint, where Drummond has no chance at defending him.  In addition, Drummond does not leave the paint on offense so Cousins should always be around the offense to grab rebounds.  Cousins’ price has finally begun to decrease, especially on DraftKings, and it is just in time for an elite matchup.


Andre Drummond is in a tough spot tonight.  He has to deal with Cousins, he played over 50 minutes two nights ago, and his price has increased substantially.  He is always capable of a big double-double, but there are better options on this slate than paying a premium for Drummond under these circumstances.


Dwight Howard has played at least 30 minutes in six straight games and should be able to dominate Brook Lopez.  Lopez generally does not have much interest in rebounding and Howard is likely to grab a ton of rebounds and some of those rebounds will turn into put-backs.  He is one of the best center plays on the slate at very reasonable prices.


Brook Lopez is a strong option as well.  He probably will not grab a ton of rebounds, but his minutes have remained stable despite Kenny Atkinson running a very deep rotation lately and he will be able to pull Howard away from the basket where he can have success against him offensively.  His price tag is down to $7,000 on FanDuel and $6,600 on DraftKings and he makes for a nice tournament option.


Greg Monroe continues to see more minutes for the Bucks, as Jason Kidd has said that he likes the way Monroe and Brogdon play together.  Monroe has played at least 27 minutes in 6 of his last 7 and has a nice matchup tonight against Pau Gasol and a San Antonio frontcourt that will be without LaMarcus Aldridge.  His price is up, but there is still excess upside which makes him a strong tournament option, as he is averaging 1.24 DraftKings points per minute this season and is averaging over 30 minutes per game over his last five.


Robin Lopez is a high-risk tournament option that is available for very cheap tonight against Washington.  He has been awful lately, but is facing a traditional center who plays a ton of minutes in Marcin Gortat and should benefit from the absence of Butler and Wade.  Lopez has only played 8 minutes without Wade and Butler this season, so there is not much data to go on but it would make sense that he will be forced to be more aggressive in a game where it is also likely that he sees close to 30 minutes in order to match up with Gortat.



Core:  DeMarcus Cousins, Dwight Howard

Secondary: Brook Lopez, Greg Monroe, Mason Plumlee, Hassan Whiteside, Al Horford, Rudy Gobert, Pau Gasol, Marcin Gortat

Value: Jonas Valanciunas, Tristan Thompson, Robin Lopez