NBA Deep Dive 1/19/17


High Priced ($8,500+)


LeBron James is the most expensive player on the slate in an up-tempo matchup against the Phoenix Suns.  It seems like a great spot for James, but keep in mind that James has historically struggled in matchups with P.J. Tucker, including earlier this month when he produced just 43.5 DraftKings points in 40 minutes against Phoenix.  James has faced Tucker five times in the last three seasons, and is averaging just 1.14 DraftKings points per minute in those games, with a high of 50.3 DraftKings points in January 2015.


Kawhi Leonard has been shooting the ball extremely well lately, shooting at least 60 percent from the field in each of his last four games.  Denver plays at a fast pace, does not offer much in the way of defense, and has a turnover prone point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay.  Leonard’s price is up as a result of his recent performances, but there is no reason not to expect another good game tonight against Denver.


Nikola Jokic is expected to play today despite dealing with a sprained ankle.  He has been phenomenal lately and has played at least 30 minutes in three consecutive games.  He faced San Antonio earlier this month and scored 19 points with 11 rebounds and 5 assists in 27 minutes.  People may be scared off of him because of his price and a difficult matchup, which makes him a strong tournament option because he still has plenty of upside at his price.


Kyrie Irving has a very nice matchup against a Phoenix team that has struggled to defend opposing guards all season.  He should benefit from LeBron James having a difficult matchup, as he may get a few more looks as a result.  Kevin Love is also questionable and, if Love sits, it is obviously an even better spot for Irving.  He had 20 field goal attempts in his last meeting with Phoenix and we can expect a similar performance tonight.


Core: Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard

Secondary: Nikola Jokic, John Wall, Karl-Anthony Towns


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


Hassan Whiteside faces a Dallas team that is dead last in rebounding percentage over the last month.  Whiteside has not had many big games lately, but the minutes are still there and there is no reason not to expect more big performances moving forward.  Andrew Bogut has been ruled out for tonight’s game and it remains to be seen whether the Mavericks will continue using Dirk Nowitzki at the five or if they will slide Nowitzki to power forward and use Salah Mejri in the matchup with Whiteside.  Either way, expect Whiteside to grab plenty of rebounds and post a nice stat line.


Carmelo Anthony is a high-risk, high-reward play against Washington.  Anthony sees a big boost in productivity if Porzingis sits again, but there is the question of whether or not he feels like playing basketball on any given night as his drama with Phil Jackson drags on.  His price is high enough that he certainly is not a must play, but there is upside if he decided to show up.


Eric Bledsoe continues to have more good games than bad, scoring 31 points with 9 rebounds and 9 assists against Utah in his last game.  He gets an easier matchup against Cleveland tonight, who he torched for 31 points earlier this month.  The presence of Devin Booker will likely draw Iman Shumpert’s attention, leaving Bledsoe to benefit from the defensive efforts of Kyrie Irving.


Bradley Beal struggled against Memphis last night, but gets a much easier matchup with the Knicks tonight.  New York has moved Ron Baker into the starting lineup in place of Courtney Lee, who was their only strong perimeter defender.  Beal should find plenty of open looks tonight against New York and is a strong play, especially if you are not rostering the more expensive John Wall but want exposure to the Washington offense.


LaMarcus Aldridge is inexplicably $6,700 on DraftKings.  Aldridge was back to his aggressive ways against Minnesota, taking 20 shots in that game.  He has a friendly matchup with Denver tonight and has already had success in this matchup once this month.  The Denver frontcourt is also depleted without Wilson Chandler, Darrell Arthur and, possibly, Danilo Gallinari, so Aldridge should be able to take advantage.


Ricky Rubio faces the Chris Paul-less Clippers and will need to play a big role in the offense with Andrew Wiggins having a difficult matchup again.  Rubio managed to score 21 points against San Antonio on the back of 14 free throw attempts and we have seen him by a little more aggressive offensively of late, attempting at least 9 field goals in each of his last three games and taking 14, 6, 2, 8 and 7 free throw attempts over his last five.  Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will make life difficult for Wiggins, so Rubio will again be needed to score in addition to distribute the basketball.


Core: Hassan Whiteside, Eric Bledsoe, Bradley Beal, LaMarcus Aldridge (DraftKings), Ricky Rubio

Secondary: LaMarcus Aldridge (FanDuel), Carmelo Anthony, Goran Dragic, Derrick Rose, Devin Booker, Markieff Morris, Will Barton, Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki, James Johnson, Deron Williams


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


Austin Rivers is likely to be the primary beneficiary of Chris Paul’s absence, as he was very productive the last time that Paul missed games as long as he was not getting ejected.  Rivers has been playing more minutes lately as a result of starting at small forward, but he will get more ball-handling responsibility now that Paul is out.  Rivers’ usage percentage is 24.3 and his assist percentage is 32.7 in 84 minutes alongside DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick without Griffin, Paul or Crawford this season.


Raymond Felton is a strong option if he starts.  Felton takes a big hit in productivity whenever he plays alongside Jamal Crawford so, as long as he joins the starting lineup, he will be more productive.  Felton has an 18.2 usage percentage and 34.9 assist percentage in 64 minutes alongside Rivers, Jordan and Redick without Paul, Griffin or Crawford this season.


Jordan Crawford has been atrocious this season, but he should be more productive with Paul out.  Crawford averages 30.7 minutes per game without Paul this season, compared to 25.5 when Paul is active.  In addition, he has a 25.5 usage percentage and 22.5 assist percentage without Paul or Griffin on the floor this season and averages 0.82 DraftKings points per minute without them.


Mindaugas Kuzminskas has been forced into a heavy role for New York without Kristaps Porzingis.  He played 38 minutes two games ago against the Hawks and 28 minutes last night against Boston.  He averages 0.84 DraftKings points per minute for the season and has remained productive when in the starting lineup.


Guillermo Hernangomez played 20 minutes last night without Joakim Noah and should see similar minutes if Noah misses tonight’s game against Washington.  The Wizards’ bench is horrific, so Hernangomez should be able to outperform his salary if he sees about 20 minutes.  Kyle O’Quinn is a strong option as well, although we do not know exactly why he barely played last night and his price is up so he is risky with a high ceiling.  If he did not play because he could not defend Horford away from the basket, he should not have that issue with Gortat tonight.


Jameer Nelson, Jamal Murray and Juancho Hernangomez should see extra playing time with Wilson Chandler and Gary Harris out tonight, especially if Gallinari sits as well.  Will Barton will need to spend more time at the three along with Hernangomez, which should open the door for Nelson and Murray to see more minutes as well.  All three are capable of being productive if given the chance, although it is a difficult matchup which, combined with the uncertainty of exactly how their minutes will be distributed, prevents them from being core options.


Kenneth Faried’s minutes should be very stable with Chandler and Arthur out and Gallinari questionable.  It is a difficult matchup against San Antonio and his price is up across the industry, so he is not a lock like he was against Los Angeles, but there is still upside.


Core: Austin Rivers, Raymond Felton (if starting), Guillermo Hernangomez (if Noah out), Mindaugas Kuzminskas

Secondary:  Tony Parker, Jameer Nelson, Jamal Crawford, Jamal Murray, Wesley Matthews, Kyle Korver, P.J. Tucker, Tyson Chandler, Tristan Thompson, Kyle O’Quinn, Kenneth Faried