NBA Deep Dive – 12/18/16



Kyle Lowry is the most expensive point guard on the slate and is firmly in play.  Orlando plays at a slow pace and has shown they can be a competent defense at times this season, but we have also seen them struggle with aggressive point guards.  Lowry plays heavy minutes night in and night out and is a very consistent producer with upside.  He is a great option in a road game that should stay close and has a surprisingly high 213.5 point total.


Goran Dragic is an elite play today as his price remains low despite averaging 34.4 minutes and 16.7 field goal attempts per game over his last 6.  Isaiah Thomas is the weakest perimeter defender on the Celtics and Boston ranks in the bottom half of the league at defending within 6 feet of the basket, which bodes well for Dragic.


Isaiah Thomas remains too cheap on DraftKings and is in play on FanDuel, as well, since the slate is so short.  Thomas showed no lingering affects from his injury in his return against Charlotte, playing 35 minutes and attempting 20 shots.  He has a 33.4 percent usage rate and 31.4 percent assist rate this season and is a strong option in any format tonight.


Jrue Holiday is in play in tournaments, especially on sites where he saw a decrease to account for his matchup.  The Pelicans’ backcourt is going to become a mess soon as Frazier and Evans get healthy, but Holiday should not be affected as he is one of their primary scorers.  This is not a matchup that I would be excited about on a full slate, but this slate only has four games plus whatever the hell you want to call the thing in Memphis.  Therefore, Holiday is worthy of tournament consideration.


Core: Goran Dragic, Kyle Lowry, Isaiah Thomas (DraftKings)

Secondary: Isaiah Thomas (FanDuel), Jrue Holiday

Value: Elfrid Payton, Sergio Rodriguez




DeMar DeRozan is a very strong option on a slate that is devoid of good shooting guards.  As I mentioned when discussing Lowry, the total in this game is higher than I expected.  I do not usually care much at all about Vegas lines, but when something like that jumps out to me I tend to give it more weight, especially on a pretty ugly slate.  We know that DeRozan is one of the focal points of the Raptors offense and he offers a very high floor tonight.  He is viable in tournaments as well since there are not many places to look for high raw point totals tonight.

Sean Kilpatrick is not going to be playable much longer with the return of Jeremy Lin, but he is still in play today in a game with the highest total on the slate and Lin seemingly still playing limited minutes.  Kilpatrick will get fewer shot attempts with Lin back, so his ceiling is certainly lower that it was before, but his price is low enough that there is still some excess value in a good matchup with Philadelphia.


Avery Bradley is still firmly in play even with Isaiah Thomas back in the lineup.  His usage rate and assist rate take a hit with Thomas’s return, but his price is still very reasonable for someone who contributes across the board.  Once you factor in the lack of options at the position, he becomes one of the top plays- especially on DraftKings where he is only $6,000.


Evan Fournier is too expensive because his current price is based on his production without Nikola Vucevic.  Fournier still managed to take 15 shots in his last game, but recorded only 1 assist after recording at least 6 in every game that Vucevic missed.  He will garner attention from people looking at game logs but he is an easy fade until his price drops again.


Core:  DeMar DeRozan, Avery Bradley

Secondary: Sean Kilpatrick, Rodney Hood

Value: Gerald Henderson, Josh Richardson (if Tyler Johnson out)




Kawhi Leonard is the top small forward option on the slate in a pace-up game against the Pelicans.  There is not a ton to say about Leonard- he is very consistent as a result of his large role in the offense and his defensive abilities.  Small forward is very weak tonight and Leonard stands out as the best option.


Gordon Hayward is in play in tournaments simply because he is capable of scoring the ball against anyone.  It is not a good spot at all, however, and the Jazz starting unit is getting healthier which means less usage for Hayward.  I doubt that I will have any exposure to him, but there is merit to considering him since he is one of the best pure scorers at the position.


Robert Covington has played very well lately, which has led to his price increasing.  In this matchup, on this slate, he is still a strong play.  Brooklyn plays at the fastest pace in the league, has the third worst defensive rating, and has the third worst turnover ratio.  This means extra possessions and extra opportunities for defensive stats for Covington, which makes him a valuable option.


Core:  Kawhi Leonard

Secondary: Jae Crowder, Robert Covington, Gordon Hayward

Value: Bojan Bogdanovic, James Johnson (FanDuel)




Anthony Davis is expected to play tonight and makes for a surprisingly strong play because of the slate.  Everyone knows that his matchup with San Antonio is not good, and he is returning from injury.  Both of these factors should lead to him being underowned on a 5 game slate.  Regardless of matchup, Davis has a massive ceiling because he is capable of producing against anyone.  Like many spots, it would not be my favorite on a full slate but I really like the play on this weird slate.


Serge Ibaka gets a downgrade with Vucevic back since he will no longer be the backup center, but this is still a good spot for him.  Toronto has struggled to defend power forwards all season and this should be no different tonight.  Ibaka is capable of scoring away from the basket and the Raptors will have trouble defending that.  His price is a little higher than we would like but it is not so prohibitive that we should avoid him.


Trevor Booker is in a good matchup against a Philadelphia team that turns the ball over more than anyone in the league and struggles to rebound.  Booker’s value depends a lot on the Philadelphia lineup, however.  If Embiid is starting alongside Okafor again, it hurts Booker because Embiid is capable of defending him and is a good rebounder.  If Ilyasova starts alongside Embiid, we can give a boost to Booker.  Either way, Booker is firmly in play.


James Johnson has been playing very well for the Heat and is in a good matchup tonight with the Celtics.  Boston struggles to rebound and has given up big games to opposing frontcourt members.  In addition, Johnson has taken on a role as a ball handler for Miami at times, which gives him additional value.



Core:  Anthony Davis, Trevor Booker

Secondary: Serge Ibaka, LaMarcus Aldridge

Value: James Johnson, Terrence Jones




Hassan Whiteside has a matchup with Boston that he should absolutely dominate.  He posted a line of 25 points and 17 rebounds in this matchup earlier this season and should have a huge day once again.  He is the best play on the board tonight.


Al Horford should have some success against Whiteside and the Heat as well.  It will not be a great day to rebound for Horford, but he is capable of scoring away from the basket and will be able to have success by pulling Whiteside away from the rim.  He is a strong tournament option, especially on two center sites.


Joel Embiid has a great matchup with the Nets frontcourt.  The issue is whether or not he plays alongside Jahlil Okafor.  In 47 minutes alongside Okafor this season, Embiid’s usage rate decreases 8.6 percent and his rebound rate decreases 2.6 percent.  He publicly said that he is not a fan of playing alongside Okafor because it affects his ability to operate and be productive.  If Ilyasova starts alongside Embiid, he is an elite play.  If Okafor starts then we need to be more cautious.


Core:  Hassan Whiteside

Secondary: Al Horford, Nikola Vucevic, Joel Embiid, Brook Lopez

Value: Bismack Biyombo, Jonas Valanciunas, Pau Gasol