NBA Deep Dive – 12/27/16



Russell Westbrook is playing on a four game slate.  It is safe to say he is a top option regardless of who he is playing.  Miami does a good job protecting the rim and does not play at a fast pace, but raw points will be at a premium tonight and Westbrook offers the highest raw point ceiling on the slate.  He is very expensive, but he is likely to be worth paying up for.


Isaiah Thomas has a difficult matchup against the Grizzlies in a game with the lowest total on the slate.  Thomas’s price decreased slightly for the matchup, but not enough to make him overly appealing at first glance.  He is an interesting tournament play, however, because it is so easy to overlook him and he did have a monster game against Conley a week ago, scoring 65 DraftKings points in an overtime game.  It is unlikely that he repeats that performance, but he is a strong tournament option because of his raw point upside- especially if Goran Dragic sits and thins the position even more.


Goran Dragic is questionable with back spasms.  If he plays, he is a top option at the position at a somewhat reduced price in a pace-up game.  Dragic consistently sees minutes in the mid-high 30s and, if he is declared good to go, we can expect to see the same tonight because he has shown in the past that he manages to play his full minutes even when he is dealing with an injury.


Mike Conley is one of several Memphis players that is in a nice spot tonight despite the low Vegas total.  It is a pace-up game for Memphis, like most games, and Isaiah Thomas is not particularly threatening on the defensive end.  Conley played just 26.3 minutes against Orlando last night, so he should be ready for closer to 30 tonight.


Patrick Beverley is questionable for tonight’s game after leaving last night’s game early.  He has been very consistent this season and his price is at a point where he is always worth considering but is rarely the best option, especially for tournaments.  Dallas plays at an incredibly slow pace that will hurt Beverley’s value a bit if he does play.  He is still a viable option if you need someone to complete a lineup that is unlikely to ruin your night but, if you are looking for a lot of upside, it is best to look elsewhere.


Deron Williams will benefit from an increase in pace against the Rockets and also from a little bit of a funnel spot, especially if Beverley is out.  Harrison Barnes has really struggled against Ryan Anderson in previous matchups, which has filtered a large part of the scoring load to Wesley Matthews.  If Beverley is out, some of those shots will likely also go to Williams in his improved matchup.

D’Angelo Russell is a very strong tournament option simply based on price.  The Jazz obviously offer a poor defensive matchup, but Russell does not rely on attacking the rim as he averages just 3.1 drives per game.  Therefore, the presence of Rudy Gobert will not have as much of an impact on him.  Shelvin Mack has allowed opposing shooters to shoot 1.5 percent better than average from three and 2.9 percent better than average from inside 10 feet, where we could use Russell use his height advantage against Mack in the post.   It is still not an ideal matchup for Russell, but it is better than it looks at first glance and is price is very appealing.


Core: Russell Westbrook, Goran Dragic, Mike Conley

Secondary: D’Angelo Russell, Isaiah Thomas, Deron Williams, Pat Beverley

Value: Tyler Johnson, Shelvin Mack, Jordan Clarkson




James Harden is the other superstar on the slate alongside Westbrook.  He comes at a significant price discount, which is appealing and will likely make him more popular than Westbrook (along with shooting guard eligibility).  Harden is facing a Dallas team that he has not been particularly successful against so far this season, with only one game over 50 DraftKings points.  Wesley Matthews has done a pretty good job of defending him in the first three matchups.  Factor in the incredibly slow pace at which Dallas plays and it is far from an ideal matchup.  That being said, he is still a top option at the position simply because raw points are at a premium on this slate.


Wesley Matthews is an elite option tonight.  Dirk Nowitzki sounds unlikely to play on the second half of a back-to-back and Matthews’ usage rate alongside Deron Williams increases from 13.3 percent to 22.1 percent when Nowitzki is not on the floor.  In addition, Ryan Anderson has defended Harrison Barnes very well this season, and it has led to a ton of shot attempts for Matthews.  After attempting just 14 field goal attempts in the first meeting, when Barnes had a big game by producing at times that Anderson was not on the floor, Matthews has attempted 25 and 22 in the last two meetings.  Look for another huge game out of Matthews tonight.


Seth Curry is an interesting punt if Nowitzki sits.  He has played at least 23 minutes in 7 consecutive games and has seen about a 4 minute boost in playing time without Dirk this season.  He is not as appealing on FanDuel at $4,500 but, at $3,600 on DraftKings, he is a sneaky value option for tournaments.




Core:  James Harden, Wesley Matthews

Secondary: Avery Bradley, Eric Gordon

Value: Seth Curry, Lou Williams, Nick Young, Josh Richardson (if Dragic out)




Gordon Hayward has a very nice matchup against the Lakers, who rank 4th in the NBA in pace.  He is not as strong an option as he has been in the past, now that the team is getting healthier, but he is a nice option on this slate if you can afford him.  There are a lot of less expensive small forward options, so he might actually go a little bit underowned for the matchup.


Harrison Barnes is in a tricky spot tonight.  The matchup looks really good at first glance, in a pace-up game against the Rockets without Dirk.  Barnes’ usage alongside Williams and Matthews increases from 18.2 percent with Dirk to 27.3 percent without him.  His price is very nice because it has come down a little bit as a result of Dirk being back.  The issue, however, is that he has struggled against Ryan Anderson this season and it has led to him deferring more on offense to players in better individual matchups (Wes Matthews).  After taking 23 field goal attempts in the first meeting, Barnes has attempted just 24 combined in the most recent two (compared to Matthews’ 25 and 22 in each game).  It is definitely possible that Barnes has a good game but, considering that he will likely be popular, he is a very good tournament fade.


Justise Winslow has been playing very heavy minutes for Miami, averaging 42 minutes over his last three.  Oklahoma City plays at a top 10 pace, which will allow for more possessions and opportunities for defensive stats for Winslow.  He has also attempted at least 16 field goals in each of those three games.  He is a very strong option at a very reasonable price.



Core:  Gordon Hayward, Justise Winslow

Secondary: Luol Deng, Jae Crowder, Trevor Ariza, James Johnson (FanDuel)

Value: Dorian Finney-Smith




Zach Randolph does not play many minutes these days, but he is productive when he plays- averaging 1.19 DraftKings points per minute this season.  Boston has allowed a ton of huge games to opposing bigs this season, and Randolph should be able to capitalize on this matchup tonight.  He only had 20.25 DraftKings points in the previous matchup against Boston, but he shot 4 of 14 from the field in that game so we should expect improvement tonight.


JaMychal Green is one of my favorite options on the slate from a price and position scarcity standpoint.  His price has plummeted with the return of Mike Conley, rightfully so, but it has gone too far considering he still plays north of 27 minutes on most nights.  He has a very favorable matchup with Boston tonight and is a safe option with decent upside.  He grabbed 12 rebounds to go along with 7 points in their meeting a week ago.


If Dirk sits, this is a good spot for Dwight Powell.  He should see extended minutes as long as he can stay out of foul trouble because the pace of the game does not suit Mejri and the Rockets do not have traditional centers that Mejri would need to defend.  Powell has been incredibly frustrating this season, but this is a good spot to take a chance on him if Dirk is out.


Core:  Zach Randolph, JaMychal Green

Secondary: Julius Randle, Ryan Anderson

Value: James Johnson (DraftKings), Dwight Powell, Amir Johnson, Derrick Favors (DraftKings)




Marc Gasol is in a great spot against Boston, like the other bigs that I discussed.  His price is finally decreasing across the industry as a result of Conley’s return.  It is worth noting, however, that his usage rate remains above 27 percent alongside Conley so he is still a huge part of the offense.  He picked up 44.25 DraftKings points in his last matchup against Boston.  Although he was assisted by overtime, he was just 8 of 22 shooting so we should see another big line from Gasol tonight.


Rudy Gobert is in a nice spot against the Lakers in a pace-up game that should lead to plenty of rebounding opportunities as a result of the Lakers’ pace and inefficient shooting.  Gobert has 39.8 and 49.8 DraftKings points in his two games against the Lakers this season and we should see another big game out of him tonight against a Los Angeles team that is in the bottom half of the league in rebounding percentage.


Hassan Whiteside always has a ton of upside, but it is tough to recommend rostering him on a slate where Gasol and Gobert are in elite matchups, for much less salary, and Whiteside has a matchup with Steven Adams that he has struggled in in the past.  In his last 3 games against Adams, his best DraftKings total is 37.8 and his other two are 24 and 23.  The only merit to Whiteside tonight is that he should come at an ownership discount, but it is unlikely to be worth passing up Gasol and Gobert to roster him.


Core:  Marc Gasol, Rudy Gobert

Secondary: Al Horford

Value: Montrezl Harrell