NBA Deep Dive 1/22/17


Phoenix Suns


Eric Bledsoe draws a very nice matchup against a Toronto backcourt that people in DFS probably do not exploit enough.  Toronto has allowed high-usage point guards to perform significantly above expectation against them very consistently this season, and Bledsoe has not struggled on the second half of back-to-backs this season.  With all of the cheap point guard value, we may see Bledsoe be a little bit lower owned than he should be in this matchup.


Devin Booker is what he is for now.  He is extremely scoring dependent but is able to be relatively consistent based on shot volume.  As long as he remains mid-priced, he is essentially a poor man’s DeMar DeRozan for fantasy purposes.  Booker will also benefit from the struggles that Toronto has had defensively in the backcourt and makes for a fine play at shooting guard.


Brandon Knight would not be in play on a normal slate, but there are only two games today and he could be worth a flier in GPPs.  He played 19, 14 and 26 minutes in his last three games before injuring his wrist.  He played just 4 minutes in his return, but that was in large part because he picked up 4 fouls in those 4 minutes.  He saw 20 minutes against the Knicks yesterday and, if he sees around 20 minutes again tonight, he certainly has upside for his price.  He is a high-risk, relatively high-reward option.  He is made more appealing by his eligibility at shooting guard.


T.J. Warren seems to finally be playing relatively consistent minutes, although his production remains inconsistent.  He will be defended by DeMarre Carroll today, which is a tough matchup, but his price is too low for his ceiling given his current minutes (he is averaging 30 minutes per game over his last 6, and 28.2 if the 40 minute outlier is removed).  He only has a 16.3 usage percentage over that span, but it is likely that we see his usage climb closer to his 21.3 usage percentage that he has had over the course of the season and, when that happens, we will no longer be able to roster him for less than $5,000.


P.J. Tucker has been performing well of late, but a lot of his fantasy production comes from defensive stats, particularly steals.  Toronto does not have a ball-dominant wing for Tucker to defend, so it is likely that he plays more empty minutes today than he has in recent games when he has faced Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, Gordon Hayward and Carmelo Anthony.  That being said, he is still cheap and should be on the floor for 28-30 minutes, so he does have a little value on a two game slate if you really need the savings from Warren to Tucker.


Marquese Chriss has played 22 minutes in each of his last 3 games, which equates to an average of 17.9 DraftKings points using his year-to-date DraftKings points per minute.  Toronto has been susceptible to power forwards who are capable of shooting from outside, so Chriss could have some success today.  Unfortunately, Patrick Patterson appears likely to play and he is the most capable member of the Toronto frontcourt at defending stretch fours.


Tyson Chandler has played at least 30 minutes in five consecutive games and six of his last seven.  He has only played both games of a back-to-back four times this season, so there is reason to be concerned with whether or not he actually plays in this game.  If he does play, he has a nice matchup against Jonas Valanciunas and a Toronto team that ranks in the bottom third of the league in rebounding percentage this season.  Chandler grabbed 13 rebounds in 26.9 minutes against Toronto earlier this year and should be able to have success rebounding again today.


Core: Eric Bledsoe, Tyson Chandler

Secondary: Devin Booker, T.J. Warren

“WTF, it’s a 2 game slate”: Brandon Knight, P.J. Tucker, Marquese Chriss


Toronto Raptors


Kyle Lowry has a fantastic matchup against Phoenix, who has the seventh worst defensive rating in the league over the last month- although it is worth noting that they have been playing substantially slower, ranking 18th in pace over that time.  Lowry utilizes the pick-and-roll on 39.3 percent of his plays and averages 1.03 points per possession, which ranks in the 92nd percentile among pick-and-roll ball-handlers.  Eric Bledsoe is allowing 0.96 points per possession when he defends the pick-and-roll, which is in the bottom 20th percentile among defenders.  This is a dream matchup for Lowry.


DeMar DeRozan is valuable on short slates because he has a high floor due to his shot volume.  It can be tough for him to really outperform his salary since he relies on scoring so much, but he generally will not underperform too badly.  He has a nice matchup today against the weak Phoenix defense and is a viable option, though not as strong as Lowry.


DeMarre Carroll appears to be fully healthy and has been allowed to play heavy minutes lately.  His recent game logs show a decrease in minutes, but most of that is because Toronto has been in several blowouts lately.  Carroll is currently in a shooting slump, but there are few teams that are able to fix shooting slumps like Phoenix can.  The downside for Carroll is that it appears that Toronto finally has a fully healthy team, so he will likely lose minutes at the four (and those minutes are more valuable than his minutes at small forward).


Jared Sullinger played 14 minutes in his first game of the season and 17 in his next game, so it would be logical to assume he sees more minutes today in a friendly matchup against Phoenix.  The problem is that Patrick Patterson practiced in full yesterday and it is also possible that Noguiera clears concussion protocol in time for tonight’s game.  Their presence will allow Sullinger to be eased into the rotation and makes him a very risky play.


Terrence Ross will also be hurt by Patterson’s return.  Ross is averaging 20.8 minutes per game with Patterson this season, compared to 26.8 minutes per game without him.  In addition, the minutes per game with Patterson is likely skewed upwards by Carroll dealing with his injury and either missing games or being limited in game.  Ross will need to be very productive in less minutes than he has been playing lately in order to be worth rostering.


Jonas Valanciunas has seen more minutes since Dwayne Casey publicly commented that he needed to play tougher if he wanted to play more.  He will face a Phoenix team that plays big at center so his size will be needed.  Valanciunas flirted with a double-double in just 19 minutes in his last matchup with Tyson Chandler, grabbing 10 rebounds to go along with 8 points.


Core: Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas

Secondary: DeMar DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll

“WTF, it’s a 2 game slate”: Jared Sullinger, Terrence Ross


Denver Nuggets


Jameer Nelson is likely to draw the start for Emmanuel Mudiay today and is the most reliable value option on the board.  Nelson is averaging .78 DraftKings points per minute this season and he played 36 minutes in the last game that Mudiay missed.  Kris Dunn has a reputation as a capable defender, but matchups are nowhere near as important as minutes for players as inexpensive as Nelson.  If Gary Harris (questionable) sits, it is almost impossible to see Nelson not seeing minutes into the mid-thirties.  Even if Harris finds a way to play, Nelson’s minutes are still very secure.


Jamal Murray has averaged 19.3 minutes per game since Harris’s injury (13, 26 and 19 respectively).  Mudiay is averaging just over 28 minutes per game this season so, if Harris is out, there are plenty of minutes available for Jamal Murray in the depleted Denver backcourt.  He is a talented young player who has a nice ceiling if he gets the minutes.  If Harris is able to play, it is likely to affect Murray the most as he would lose a lot of his shooting guard minutes and just get time as the back-up point guard (he played just 17 minutes the last time that Mudiay was out).


Will Barton should see all the minutes that he can handle if Harris misses this game since Jameer Nelson and Jamal Murray will be forced to play more point guard minutes.  Barton has played 35, 36 and 29 minutes in the three games without Gary Harris- with the 29 coming in a blowout where he did not play in the fourth quarter.  He is a viable option regardless of Harris, but he gets a boost if Harris sits.


Danilo Gallinari played 32 minutes in three quarters last night and is probable for today’s game, so it does not appear that his injury is serious.  He will be tasked with defending Andrew Wiggins, which gives him the opportunity to pick up defensive stats since the ball will be in Wiggins’ hands so much.  He is a perfectly fine option on this slate at a reasonable price.


Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried are likely to split power forward minutes, which makes them both somewhat risky options since their prices are not dirt cheap anymore.  Chandler played 37.1 minutes compared to Faried’s 15.8 in the last meeting with Minnesota, but that was before Faried had really worked his way back into the rotation and taken over the starting role.  It is more likely that we see them each play between 25 and 30 minutes tonight.


Nikola Jokic was “disappointing” last night since he only had 32 FanDuel points- in 21 minutes.  He should be rested and ready to go against a Minnesota frontcourt that boasts Karl-Anthony Towns and Gorgui Dieng, meaning Jokic’s size will be needed.  He has gotten very expensive, especially on FanDuel at $10,200, but we can expect between 1.4 and 1.5 DraftKings points and about 1.4 FanDuel points per minute from him tonight.


Core: Jameer Nelson, Jamal Murray (if Harris out), Nikola Jokic, Will Barton (if Harris out)

Secondary: Danilo Gallinari, Will Barton (if Harris in), Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried


Minnesota Timberwolves


Kris Dunn is likely to be a very popular option today with Ricky Rubio sidelined.  It is worth noting that, after 29.1, 29.9 and 28.4 in the first three games without Rubio this season, Dunn played just 15.7 and 17.5 in the next two.  He played 25.4 minutes against the Clippers in the game where Rubio was injured, but he had played 7 of those minutes as the backup point guard before the injury and he picked up 6 minutes to close the game alongside Tyus Jones as a result of the Clippers having three guards on the floor to close the game.  He is not a big part of the offense so, even when he does get minutes, he relies on defensive stats for his fantasy value.


Tyus Jones seems to be going overlooked today and is a strong option based on how Thibodeau has used him in the past.  In the last two games that Rubio missed, Jones came off the bench but played 32.3 and 30.5 minutes in those games.  He would come in with a couple of minutes left in the first quarter in relief of Dunn and then play the entire second quarter.  He would then do the same thing in the third and fourth quarters.  He played the entire fourth quarter against the Clippers after Rubio’s injury, so it does not appear that Thibodeau has gone away from that idea.  Jones is averaging 0.92 DraftKings points per minute when he is alongside LaVine, Towns and Wiggins without Rubio, compared to Dunn’s 0.73 DraftKings points per minute in that scenario.


Zach LaVine has averaged 0.91 DraftKings points per minute alongside Wiggins and Towns and without Rubio this season, compared to 0.83 for the season.  He was inconsistent in the five games without Rubio earlier in the year, but did show plenty of upside with a 40 DraftKings point game against Memphis and 52 DraftKings points against Orlando.


Andrew Wiggins has a 26.9 usage percentage and 10.8 assist percentage alongside LaVine and Towns without Rubio this season and is averaging 0.84 DraftKings points per minute, which is about on par with his season average.  Even if he does not get a boost with Rubio out, he still has a very friendly matchup with a Denver team that has the worst defensive rating in the league and is playing at the 4th fastest pace over the last month.


Gorgui Dieng is in play in a good matchup against Denver.  He played 39 minutes in their last game despite Denver’s undersized power forwards.  His minutes have been less consistent lately but, at his reduced price, he is still a good value option.  His true shooting percentage is actually higher without Rubio on the floor, which is surprising, but at least indicates he can have success with other point guards despite not being particularly good at creating his own shot.


Karl-Anthony Towns has been showing off his upside more often lately and will get the opportunity to do so against fellow young phenom Nikola Jokic.  Towns will benefit from the pace and lack of defense that Denver plays and should be one of the top scoring options on the slate.


Core: Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine

Secondary: Tyus Jones (one of my personal favorite GPP plays on the slate), Kris Dunn, Gorgui Dieng