NBA Deep Dive – 12/11/16

Note:  All Lakers recommendations are made under the assumption that D’Angelo Russell is inactive.  If he is cleared to play, it is a downgrade to everyone on the Lakers, especially Clarkson and Williams.




Russell Westbrook headlines tonight’s slate in a matchup at home against the Celtics.  Westbrook recorded his seventh consecutive triple-double in his last game against Houston which, naturally, led to his price decreasing.  He is matchup proof, but he has struggled against Marcus Smart in the past, shooting 25 percent in a game against him in Oklahoma City last season.  Despite shooting 25 percent, Westbrook still produced 1.49 DraftKings points per minute in that game, which shows how matchup proof he really is.  Westbrook shot 50 percent in the next game against Smart, and there is no reason to expect a poor performance tonight despite having a worse matchup than he would if Isaiah Thomas were playing.  The Celtics have the worst adjusted rebound percentage in the NBA and Westbrook should be able to grab plenty of them in search of another triple-double.  This game should remain close, as Oklahoma City is currently only 4 point favorites, so Westbrook is likely to see a full allotment of minutes and remains underpriced.


Stephen Curry, like the rest of the Warriors, struggled last night against the Grizzlies.  He is in a nice bounce-back spot tonight against Ricky Rubio and the Timberwolves, who he has had success against in the past, albeit before the addition of Kevin Durant.  Curry is more expensive on FanDuel than DraftKings, but he is very playable on either site in a game with a 223 total and 9 point spread.  Minnesota has allowed opposing shooters to shoot 1.6 percent better than average from behind the three-point line, which ranks as the 5th worst mark in the NBA.  Curry should be able to take advantage tonight.


Eric Bledsoe has done a good job lately of excelling in matchups that he should excel in (the Pacers game not withstanding).  He gets another such matchup tonight against the Pelicans.  New Orleans plays at the 10th fastest pace in the NBA, so it is not too much of a pace-down game for the Suns, who play at the fastest pace in the league.  New Orleans ranks as the 6th worst defensive team within 6 feet of the basket, allowing the opposition to shoot 2.2 percent better than average from inside 6 feet.  Bledsoe leads the Suns with 10.6 drives per game, so he should be able to find some success.  It is worth noting that Anthony Davis and Omer Asik, the starting frontcourt for New Orleans, both have defended the rim well this season, so the matchup for Bledsoe is not perfect.  The presence of Davis and Asik is not enough to keep him from being a strong tournament option, however.


Derrick Rose is expected to return to face the Lakers and makes for a good tournament option as long as he is not on a minutes limit.  He was playing well before his injury, seeing minutes into the mid-30s on most nights and attempting 14.6 field goals per game over his last five.  The Lakers play at the 5th fastest pace in the league and have the 3rd worst defensive rating, so Rose should be in line for a good game.


Reggie Jackson is finally playable again.  He saw 29 minutes in his last game and gets a nice matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers tonight.  Jackson has used pick-and-rolls on 63.6 percent of plays since returning from injury and Sergio Rodriguez ranks in the 44th percentile at defending the PnR this season, allowing opposing ball-handlers to average 0.85 points per possession.  Jackson’s price is very low, especially on DraftKings at $5,100.  He should easily be able to outperform that price tag now that he appears able to play 30 minutes per game.


Sergio Rodriguez is in play without Joel Embiid in the lineup.  He gets a 1.9 percentage point usage increase without Embiid and has been playing well of late, recording at least 34 DraftKings points in three of his last four games and playing at least 30 minutes in each of those contests as well.  The return of Reggie Jackson makes the Pistons a better defensive unit than they were with Ish Smith, but Jackson is still not someone to fear.  Rodriguez’s price is still low enough that he is an appealing option tonight.


Tim Frazier is too expensive on DraftKings at $5,700, but he is very much in play on FanDuel at $4,900 as long as Jrue Holiday is out.  Frazier should benefit from the pace of the Phoenix Suns, as well as their defensive ineptitude as they rank 7th worst in the league in defensive rating. Frazier showed earlier this season that he is very capable of producing good numbers against weak defensive units in fast-paced games and this game fits that description.  Pairing Frazier with Anthony Davis is a great idea in tournaments, as there is a very strong postitive correlation between them.


Core: Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry

Secondary: Derrick Rose, Eric Bledsoe, Reggie Jackson

Value: Sergio Rodriguez, Tim Frazier (FanDuel), Marcus Smart (FanDuel), Terry Rozier




Lou Williams continue to be unstoppable for the Lakers.  His price has skyrocketed to $7,100 on DraftKings, but that is still too low if he is able to keep up his recent play.  He has played at least 32 minutes in three of his last four games, the exception being the blowout against Houston and he has attempted an average of 22 shots per game in the three where he saw full minutes.  As long as D’Angelo Russell remains out, Williams is a strong play on DraftKings and a free square on FanDuel unless you are looking to be contrarian in GPPs.

Zach LaVine is my favorite tournament pivot off Williams.  LaVine is averaging 37 minutes per game this season and has been playing even more than that recently.  He is an amazing athlete and he benefits from fast-paced games where he can get out and run in transition.  The Warriors play at the third fastest pace in the league and allow opponents to score the fifth most fast break points per game.  This is a great matchup for LaVine, who averages 1.31 points per possession in transition.


Avery Bradley has been a consistent producer this season and should benefit from a pace-up game against the Thunder.  He sees a 3.1 percentage point increase in his usage and 5.7 percentage point increase in his assist rate when Isaiah Thomas is not on the floor.  He is another viable mid-range shooting guard option today.


Core:  Lou Williams, Zach LaVine

Secondary: Avery Bradley, Devin Booker, Klay Thompson

Value: Langston Galloway, Buddy Hield, Gerald Henderson, Anthony Morrow




Kevin Durant faces Andrew Wiggins and the Timberwolves today coming off an embarrassing loss at Memphis.  Durant is averaging 34 minutes per game this season, but has reached that mark only once in his last five games as a result of blowouts.  The Warriors are 11 point favorites in tonight’s game, but the game is on the road so there is a chance it at least stays close into the fourth quarter.  Durant is a strong option at a relatively weak SF position, especially on DraftKings where he is only $9,300.


Carmelo Anthony is in a great spot in Los Angeles facing the Lakers, who play at the 5th fastest pace and have the 3rd worst defensive rating in the league.  Derrick Rose is expect back today which will drop Anthony’s usage some from what it was over the last few games, but Anthony’s price did not increase too much while Rose was out so he remains reasonably priced.  Anthony has a 25.2 percent usage rate alongside Rose and Porzingis this season, so he should still be able to produce a very nice game against the Lakers.


Marcus Morris is a very good play tonight against the Sixers.  He has had a string of difficult matchups against teams with strong perimeter defense, which has kept his price artificially low for someone who has played at least 34 minutes and attempted at least 12 field goals in five of his last seven games.  The Sixers are not a strong defensive team and they also do not rebound well, especially without Joel Embiid.  Both of these are plusses for Morris, who should outperform his salary quite easily today.


Core:  Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Marcus Morris

Secondary: Andrew Wiggins, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart (DraftKings)

Value: Robert Covington, Luol Deng, Brandon Ingram




Anthony Davis faces the Suns today, in what is my favorite tournament spot on the slate because of recency bias (and matchup).  Davis is someone that people are always nervous to roster because of his well documented injury history.  Last night, he was a late scratch out of nowhere which surely burned a fair number of people.  Tonight, his game starts 2.5 hours after lock.  He is going to play, but there is a percentage of people that will not feel comfortable rostering him because of their own biases.  It is a phenomenal matchup against a Phoenix team that leads the league in pace, has nobody that can match up with Davis, and has Eric Bledsoe driving into the lane over 10 times per game ready to get his shot blocked by Davis.  He is way too cheap on DraftKings at $11,200 and is a very fair price on FanDuel at $12,200.  Any ownership discount as a result of last night is a bonus.


Kristaps Porzingis has not been quite as productive lately as he had been for a while and Derrick Rose returning will probably not help since Rose commands the most usage when he is on the floor alongside Anthony and Porzingis.  Porzingis is in a great matchup against the Lakers, however, so he remains a very strong play- especially in cash games because he has a high floor.  He has not shown the ability very often to reach a high ceiling for his current price point, so he is not one of the first people into my tournament lineups- although if he ends up there as one of my last pieces I will not be upset.


We can add Draymond Green to the list of Golden State players that are in prime bounce back spots tonight.  Green’s price remains too low across the industry and he is an especially strong play in cash games.  His lack of scoring lowers his ceiling somewhat, but his ability to contribute in defensive categories, grab rebounds and dish out assists gives him a very high floor.  He will likely defend Karl-Anthony Towns this evening, who we know is a high usage player and will give Green an opportunity to pick up extra defensive stats.


Gorgui Dieng is one of my favorite mid-range plays today.  He remains underpriced for someone who routinely plays into the low-mid 30s in games that are not blowouts and consistently returns fantasy point totals in the mid-high 20s (at least 24 DK points in 7 of his last 10 games).  He has shown in the past that he is capable of posting bigger lines in the right matchups, and I really like the matchup today.  Draymond Green will likely be occupied with KAT, so Dieng will be left alone in the paint with Zaza Pachulia.  He should be able to grab plenty of rebounds due to the pace of the game and the amount of rebounds available and Pachulia is not a strong defender around the rim.  He played 38 minutes in the first matchup with Minnesota this season and, although 38 minutes is unlikely, it is realistic to expect him to play in the low-mid 30s tonight.





Core:  Anthony Davis, Draymond Green, Gorgui Dieng

Secondary: Kristaps Porzingis, Julius Randle, Ersan Ilyasova, Tobias Harris

Value: Dario Saric, Jared Dudley




Andre Drummond is going to absolutely annihilate this Sixers frontcourt that is missing Joel Embiid.  Okafor is not going to be able to do anything to stop Drummond from getting every rebound that he wants, which will lead to a lot of putbacks on top of tremendous rebounding numbers.  Drummond is the best center play on the board and one of the best overall plays on the slate.


Karl- Anthony Towns is a strong tournament option.  He has been disappointing from a fantasy perspective for much of the season, the game against the Knicks notwithstanding.  He has had nice games against the Warriors in the past, recording more than 40 DraftKings points in each of his last three, although Draymond Green did not play in the most recent game.  Targeting frontcourt players who are athletic enough to run with the Warriors has been a solid strategy this season and Towns fits the description.  He is behind Andre Drummond, but is still a strong option today.


Al Horford makes for an appealing mid-range tournament play.  He faces Steven Adams, who is known as a capable defender.  Adams is not as good at defending players away from the rim, however, as he relies on being able to use his physicality under the basket.  Greater than 50 percent of Horford’s field goal attempts come from more than 15 feet from the hoop, so he will be able to draw Adams away from the basket where he is more vulnerable.  Horford’s price has increased and he is a volatile option so he is only worth considering in GPPs, but he does have a high ceiling if you do not want to pay all the way up to Drummond or Towns.


Steven Adams is a strong play as well.  The Celtics have given up huge games to opposing bigs this season as they struggle to rebound the ball.  Adams is averaging 30 minutes per game this season and that is more than enough time for him to have his way with this Boston frontcourt.  Expect a double-double from Adams tonight.


Jahlil Okafor makes for an interesting tournament play.  As discussed earlier, Andre Drummond should dominate this matchup from a rebounding perspective.  Drummond is prone to defensive lapses, however, and one thing Okafor does fairly well is put the ball in the basket.  He played 33 minutes in his last game before he got sick and, if he sees minutes in that range again he can put up a very nice score against Drummond.


Core:  Andre Drummond

Secondary: Karl-Anthony Towns, Al Horford, Steven Adams, Jahlil Okafor

Value: Kyle O’Quinn, Joakim Noah, Alex Len (DraftKings)