NBA Deep Dive – 1/15/17

High Priced ($8,500+)


Russell Westbrook is the most expensive option on the slate in a matchup against the Sacramento Kings.  The Kings have the fifth worst defensive rating in the NBA over the last month and a half, but there is some reason to be concerned about Westbrook at his price tag.  First, he is just simply very expensive and it is going to take a lot for him to outscore DeMarcus Cousins or James Harden (where he is in the player pool) by enough to be worth the price.  The other issue is that Garrett Temple has finally made his way into Sacramento’s starting lineup.  Temple is a very good defender with a giant wingspan and we have seen Westbrook struggle (relative to his standards) against similar defenders like Luc Richard Mbah-a-Moute and Tony Snell this season.  Westbrook is still a viable option on a short slate since there is value in raw points regardless of price, but there are better plays in the top tier.


James Harden is not eligible on DraftKings, but is a great play on FanDuel and FantasyDraft.  The Nets are a terrible basketball team and play at the fastest pace in the league.  They also, somehow, tend to find ways to stick around late into games so their opponent’s stars see close to their normal run.  Harden has been phenomenal all season long and has even found a way to be more productive lately, with a 35.4 usage percentage, 52.8 assist percentage and 13 rebound percentage over the last month.  He is an elite play in any format.


DeMarcus Cousins has been kind of frustrating this season because he has been productive most nights but has not had that many huge games.  His price is at the low end of his salary range tonight, however, in a pace up game against an Oklahoma City team that was just destroyed by Karl-Anthony Towns.  Cousins has been inconsistent against Oklahoma City in the past, producing at least 57 DraftKings points in three of his last five games against Steven Adams and less than 35 in the other two.  Cousins is a viable option in any format tonight if you have the money, but center is a relatively deep position today so he is not a must play by any means.


Jimmy Butler is in a very interesting spot.  He looked excellent yesterday despite losing 10 pounds and missing his two previous games to an illness.  Still, he lost 10 pounds and is now on the second leg of a back-to-back in a tough matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies.  On the positive side, Dwyane Wade is resting today so the offense will run through Butler.  Butler has a 37.9 usage percentage, 33.1 assist percentage and 13.3 rebounding percentage without Wade and Rondo on the floor this season.  Those numbers drop to 29.1, 17.2 and 10.2 respectively when Rondo is on the floor without Wade.  Butler was also sidelined in the last game that Wade sat, but Rondo saw 27 minutes in that game as the Bulls primarily rotated Michael Carter-Williams, Jerian Grant and Rajon Rondo at the guard positions.  Butler also benefits from an overall weak small forward position today making him more valuable.


Core: James Harden

Secondary: Russell Westbrook, Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins


Mid-Range ($5,800-$8,400)


Andre Drummond has a very nice matchup with a Lakers team that is allowing the 5th most rebounds per game to opponents since the start of December.  The Lakers are playing at a slower pace lately, but there are still plenty of rebounds to go around thanks to their inefficient shooting, particularly in the backcourt.  The Lakers also do not have a center who will pull Drummond away from the basket, so he should be in the paint to grab plenty of rebounds.


Julius Randle continues to play heavy minutes barring blowouts or foul trouble.  He even got some blowout run in the fourth quarter against San Antonio, which is a great sign that the Lakers want to play him heavily.  He only played 28 minutes last night against the Clippers as a result of picking up his fourth foul midway through the third quarter, so he should be relatively fresh for tonight’s game despite it being the second half of a back-to-back and a three-in-four.  Power forward is not particularly strong today and Randle is a top option at the position.


Reggie Jackson draws a very friendly matchup against the Lakers coming off three disappointing games in a row against Sacramento, Golden State and Utah.  The concern is that Jackson is not as productive without Caldwell-Pope on the floor, and is slightly less productive playing alongside Tobias Harris.  Both of those are likely the case today as Caldwell-Pope is listed as doubtful and Jon Leuer is out.  Without Caldwell-Pope this season, Jackson has a 30.3 usage percentage and 25.3 assist percentage to go along with a 49.1 true shooting percentage.  He averages 0.85 DraftKings points per minute.  Alongside Caldwell-Pope, Jackson’s usage is slightly lower at 28.2 percent, but his assist percentage increases to 31.9 and his true shooting percentage increases to 54.6.  He averages 1.03 DraftKings points per minute with Caldwell- Pope on the floor.  With Andre Drummond on the floor and Caldwell-Pope off, it gets even worse as Jackson averages just 0.75 DraftKings points per minute.  The poor defense of the Lakers should help to alleviate some of the problem, but it is not as good of a spot as it would be if Caldwell-Pope were healthy.


D’Angelo Russell is in a very nice bounceback spot today against the Pistons after struggling against San Antonio and the Clippers.  Detroit has struggled defensively since Reggie Jackson returned to the starting lineup and will be playing without defensive stalwart Kentavious Caldwell-Pope tonight.  Russell remains an inconsistent shooter, but he is not afraid to fire up shots and he contributes in enough categories that he can produce a nice score on a poor shooting night, with the potential for a monster game if his shot is falling.  Detroit has allowed the fifth highest field goal percentage to opposing guards since the start of December and the third highest three-point percentage over that time.  Russell does not attack the rim very frequently, with 61 percent of his field goal attempts from at least 15 feet away from the basket and 45 percent of his shots being three-point attempts this season.  Reggie Jackson is allowing opposing shooters to shoot 11.5 percent above average from greater than 15 feet this season and 12.4 percent above average from beyond the arc.


Core: Andre Drummond, Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell

Secondary: Brook Lopez, Mike Conley, Enes Kanter, Rudy Gay, Reggie Jackson


Value ($3,000-$5,700)

UPDATE: With Brook Lopez ruled out Sunday for rest, Trevor Booker should see a boost in production against the Houston Rockets.

Eric Gordon was not productive in his return to the floor against Memphis, but he did play 31 minutes which is a very good sign moving forward.  Memphis is a very strong defensive team that plays at a slow pace, so do not put much weight into Gordon’s numbers from that game.  He is a very strong option in his matchup today against the Nets.  He comes off the bench for Houston, but has played at least 29 minutes in the last six games that he has seen the floor.  He should be able to produce at a high rate in this pace-up game with Brooklyn and his minutes are secure since he plays with the second unit and should see fourth quarter run regardless of score.


Ryan Anderson had a bad game against Memphis, but should be able to get back on track against Brooklyn.  Outside of the obvious fast pace and bad defense that Brooklyn offers, Anderson has massive home/road splits on three-point attempts this season.  He is shooting just 29.9 percent from beyond the arc at home, but 46.6 percent on the road.  Normally I do not put much weight in home/road splits, especially when the player is worse at home, but they make sense when we are talking about a spot-up shooter like Anderson since a shooting background that he is not comfortable with would make a huge difference.  Anderson is cheap across the industry and is a strong value option tonight.


Patrick Beverley, the defensive wizard, gets to face a Brooklyn team that is allowing opposing guards to average 6(!) steals per game since the start of December.  His price is falling because of a string of poor performances, but the minutes are still there and he should be able to produce in this matchup against Isaiah Whitehead, Spencer Dinwiddie and company.



Core: Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, Patrick Beverley

Secondary:  Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker, Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris, Montrezl Harrell, Taj Gibson, Darren Collison, Anthony Tolliver, Rajon Rondo, Jerian Grant