NBA Deep Dive – 12/31/16



Russell Westbrook finally had a bad game last time out- because he was ejected in the third quarter.  Westbrook is matchup proof and always has a high ceiling, but it is worth noting that he will likely be defended by Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, one of the best on-ball defenders in the NBA.  That is not a reason to shy away from Westbrook on its own, but it is something to keep in mind if you are looking for a reason to not roster him.  In two previous games against the Clippers this season, Westbrook has averaged 1.68 DraftKings points per minute, down from his season average of 1.86.  He is a strong option, but not a must play given the other high upside options on the slate.


Giannis Antetokounmpo faces a Chicago team that he has had success against this season, with DraftKings totals of 61.5 and 57.8 against them in his two previous meetings.  He has struggled a little bit on back-to-backs this season, averaging just 1.32 DraftKings points per minute (his season average is 1.5 DraftKings points per minute).  He only played 32 minutes in last night’s game, however, and had a very nice game against Chicago on the second half of a back-to-back earlier this season so that is not something to be overly concerned with.  He is a very strong tournament option tonight because he has a very high ceiling and could go underowned because of recency bias and the presence of Harden, Westbrook and James.


Kemba Walker faces off against the Cavaliers at home in Charlotte.  Walker has a nice ceiling in this matchup, as he tends to perform better at home and he has a 29.2 percent usage rate and 29.3 percent assist rate this season, which is very appealing at a sub-$8,000 price tag.  It is worth noting that DeAndre Liggins, who has the best defensive rating on the Cavaliers this season, will likely be defending him which could cut down on his efficiency a bit and makes him a little riskier than he would be if it were Irving and J.R. Smith in the backcourt.


George Hill played 29 minutes for Utah in his return from a toe injury.  Going into that game, the Utah starters had played a total of 12 minutes together all season.  In his 29 minutes, Hill recorded a 24.6 percent usage percentage and 37.5 percent assist percentage so it appears that we can trust his productivity from earlier in the season to continue alongside the full starting unit.  Phoenix plays at the second fastest pace in the league and struggles to defend opposing guards so Hill should be in line for a very nice night at a reasonable price.


Eric Bledsoe had a very nice game against Toronto, but we should not expect that to carry over tonight against Utah.  George Hill is a strong defender but, more importantly, Rudy Gobert is an elite rim protector and Bledsoe relies on getting to the basket to score.  The slow pace of the Jazz also will not do Bledsoe any favors.  It is best to stay away from him tonight.


Derrick Rose played 38 minutes against the Pelicans last night, making it 3 games in a row and 4 of his last 5 that he has played at least 36 minutes.  He has played the second game of a back-to-back four times this season and is averaging slightly over 35 minutes in those games so we should not be concerned about him tonight.  He will have to deal with Pat Beverley’s defense, which is likely to hurt his efficiency, but he is still a high upside tournament option because of the pace of the game and his huge role in the offense.


Malcolm Brogdon is a strong value play against tonight with Matthew Dellavedova out of the lineup.  Jason Kidd really likes the way that Brogdon plays and is not afraid to give him heavy minutes.  He played 32 minutes last night and we should expect to see similar minutes again tonight.  There is always a concern that a backup will lose his productivity when he is inserted into the starting lineup, but that is not as big of a concern with Brogdon because he contributes in multiple categories and is not reliant on scoring.  He had a 16.6 percent usage percentage last night, but also had a 17.4 percent assist percentage.  For his price, he is a very safe option with some upside.


Core: Russell Westbrook, George Hill, Giannis Antetokounmpo (DraftKings)

Secondary: Kemba Walker, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul (if starting), Patrick Beverley

Value: Malcolm Brogdon, Austin Rivers (if Paul is out)




James Harden had a monster night last night against the Clippers in a match up he has struggled with historically.  He should have another huge game tonight against a Knicks team that has struggled to defend the pick-and-roll this season and does not have a defensive stopper that can slow down Harden.  He will probably be extremely popular, but he is a strong play in any format.


Nicolas Batum has been playing out of his mind lately and his price has not increased enough to keep up.  It does not feel good paying around $8,000 for Batum, but his usage, assist percentage and rebounding percentage have all increased at least two percentage points over the month of December.  On top of that, Kemba Walker will be defended by Liggins which could funnel some more offensive duties to Batum.  He has a high floor because of his ability to contribute across the board and a high ceiling because he is always a triple double threat.


Dwyane Wade faces a Milwaukee team that is surprisingly good defensively, but his price is still too low for his productivity.  He has a very high floor night in and night out and is still a capable scorer who can put up a big line any given night.  It remains to be seen if Rajon Rondo will start tonight after being benched in the second half of his last game.  Wade has not seen his production increase when Rondo is not on the floor this season (and Jimmy Butler is) so, if Rondo is not starting, fading Wade in tournaments is an interesting idea since his ownership will probably be artificially high for no real reason (similar to LaMarcus Aldridge last night).  Regardless of who starts at point guard, however, it is a fine spot for Wade.


Rodney Hood finally made some shots in his last outing, after shooting 2-18 from the floor in his previous three.  Phoenix presents a great matchup for Hood, as they are the worst team in the NBA at defending the three-point line and Hood is averaging 5.7 three-point attempts per game this season.  His price is very low across the industry and he is a very strong option tonight.


Core:  James Harden, Nicolas Batum, Giannis Antetokounmpo (FanDuel)

Secondary: Eric Gordon, Dwyane Wade, Victor Oladipo

Value: Rodney Hood, Jeremy Lamb




LeBron James is in an elite spot tonight against the Hornets, possibly playing without Kyrie Irving.  In 102 minutes alongside Kevin Love and without Irving this season, LeBron has a 37.6 percent usage percentage (7.7 points higher than his season average) and a 49 percent assist rate (10 points higher than his season average) as he becomes the de facto point guard.  Even if Irving plays, LeBron remains a very strong option in the game with the second highest total of the night and a 2.5 point spread.


Jimmy Butler faces a Milwaukee team that he has struggled against so far this season.  There are several very good small forward options on the slate, so it is difficult to roster Butler in a tough matchup.  It is worth noting, however, that Butler’s assist percentage goes up 5 percentage points when he is on the floor alongside Wade without Rondo.  If Rondo is not starting, we can expect to see Butler be slightly more productive than usual.


Gordon Hayward has a great matchup against Phoenix, but his price is still high as a result of playing most of the season without Hill, Hood and/or Favors.  They are all back in the starting lineup now, and Hayward sees an 8.1 percentage point drop in his assist percentage when playing alongside Hill.  Hayward should produce at a better than normal rate in his matchup with Phoenix, but that may not be enough to make up for the high ownership and price in tournaments.


Carmelo Anthony is a great option tonight against Houston at a price that is too low.  Houston is a double-digit favorite at home, but the game has the highest total on the slate by a lot and Anthony should be able to outperform his price tag, especially if the game stays close into the fourth quarter.


Core:  LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony

Secondary: Jimmy Butler, Gordon Hayward, Trevor Ariza

Value: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Michael Beasley, Sam Dekker




Kevin Love has been having a huge season that goes overlooked because of Irving and James.  He is in a nice matchup tonight against Charlotte in, what should be, a high-scoring, competitive game.  Love is a very strong option regardless of Irving’s status but he gets a nice boost if Irving is out.


Kristaps Porzingis will need to play a big role for New York tonight if they are going to keep this game close and he remains too cheap across the industry.  He should benefit from the pace of this game as the Rockets play at the 4th fastest pace in the league.  He has legitimate 50+ point upside at a $7,700 price tag on FanDuel and a $7,200 price tag on DraftKings.


Jabari Parker has been very aggressive offensively lately and it has translated into some very big games.  The Bulls are a good team defensively, but Parker is very difficult to match up with.  He had 28 points and 5 rebounds in his first matchup with Chicago and should be in line for a similar night tonight.  It is worth noting, however, that Parker has played more than 33 minutes on the second half of a back to back just once this season and has only produced more than 30 DraftKings points once in those games.


Derrick Favors continues to start for Utah and see his minutes increase, playing 25 in his last game.  The Jazz stagger his minutes with Rudy Gobert so he sees a lot of playing time at center.  His price tag is still very cheap and he is a great value option tonight against Phoenix.


Core:  Kevin Love, Kristaps Porzingis

Secondary: Jabari Parker, Ryan Anderson, Enes Kanter (FanDuel)

Value: Derrick Favors, Nikola Mirotic




Rudy Gobert is the top center option on this slate in an uptempo game against Phoenix.  Tyson Chandler is not an ideal matchup, but Gobert has had success against him in the past.  Gobert will benefit from the increased rebounding opportunities and inefficient Phoenix shooting, combined with high block upside against Eric Bledsoe.  He is the best option in any format.

Montrezl Harrell is a strong value option, especially on FanDuel where he is just 4,200.  He has produced almost a fantasy point per minute so far this season, and he saw 30 minutes last night against the Clippers.  The Knicks have struggled to defend the pick-and-roll this season and Harrell should benefit as the roll man for James Harden in this matchup.


Tristan Thompson has a good chance at a double-double tonight against the Hornets.  He consistently plays 26 to 30 minutes and is not dependent on scoring so the matchup with Cody Zeller is not as bad for him as it is for some other centers.  The position is weak tonight and there is merit in rostering Thompson for his floor and paying up at other positions.


Core:  Rudy Gobert

Secondary: DeAndre Jordan (if Paul starts)

Value: Montrezl Harrell, Tristan Thompson, Tyson Chandler