NBA Deep Dive 1/24/17

High Priced ($8,500+)


John Wall is priced very differently depending on what site you are playing on.  He has a nice matchup in, what should be, a very competitive, high-energy game against Boston.  His last matchup with Boston ended with Jae Crowder shoving a finger in his face and security/coaches/police getting involved to separate the teams after the game.  Avery Bradley is sidelined for this game so we will not need to worry about him switching onto Wall.  Wall scored just 9 points in his last meeting against the Celtics on 4 of 21 shooting (also with Bradley sidelined), but he missed A LOT of wide-open looks in that game and it was revealed after the game that he was dealing with a finger injury on his shooting hand.  His shooting has since returned to normal and Wall has shot better at home than on the road this season, making 48.1 percent of his shots at home compared to 43.7 percent on the road, and 41.7 percent of threes at home compared to 16.9 percent on the road.  If he sees the same kind of defense that he saw in his last matchup with Boston, he should have a monster game.


Isaiah Thomas faces the Wizards in a game with a Vegas total of 217 and a 1 point spread and the Celtics will be without Avery Bradley.  Thomas’s usage percentage with Al Horford on the floor without Avery Bradley increases from 30.4 with Bradley to 36.5 and he goes from averaging 1.21 DraftKings points per minute with Bradley to 1.26 without him.  Add in that it is a pace-up game for Boston with Washington playing at the 13th fastest pace in the league over the last month (compared to Boston’s 20th ranked pace) and Thomas has a very high ceiling.  It is worth noting that Washington has been much improved defensively of late, ranking 8th in the league in defensive rating over the last month and holding opposing guards to the 6th lowest field goal percentage and 10th lowest three-point percentage over that span.


Kyle Lowry faces a depleted San Antonio team and will be without DeMar DeRozan in his own backcourt.  There are pros and cons to DeRozan being sidelined for this matchup.  Lowry is averaging 1.54 DraftKings points and 1.46 FanDuel points per minute without DeRozan this season (78 minutes) and 1.24 DraftKings points and 1.17 FanDuel points without DeRozan going back to the start of last season (241 minutes).  There is only one game in that time span that DeRozan did not play, and Lowry picked up 25 points, 11 assists, and 4 rebounds in 28.2 minutes against Milwaukee last March.  Jonas Valanciunas was also absent from that game.  The downside is that DeRozan’s absence kind of makes Toronto a one man show.  Kawhi Leonard is expected back for this game and he will likely be able to key in on Lowry since Normal Powell, Demarre Carroll, etc. do not pose great offensive threats.  Lowry is one of the best pick-and-roll ball-handlers in the league, averaging 1.04 points per possession (93rd percentile) and utilizing the pick-and-roll on 38.5 percent of his plays.  Kawhi Leonard is a great on-ball defender, but has only been above average (as opposed to elite) in his pick-and-roll defense this season, ranking in the 63rd percentile among defenders with 0.80 points per possession.  Vegas has this game staying close, as the Spurs are three-point road favorites, so it is likely that Lowry has a very good game but there are reasons for concern.


Eric Bledsoe has shown tremendous upside lately and has a matchup against a Minnesota team that he has already had success against twice this season.  He has averaged 1.35 DraftKings points per minute in his two previous games against Minnesota.  The Timberwolves are playing at the third slowest pace in the league over the last month and have the ninth best defensive rating, but they are allowing the 6th highest field goal percentage to opposing guards over that span.  Minnesota ranks in the middle of the pack in terms of rim protection, so it is a relatively neutral matchup in that regard for Bledsoe, who is one of the league leaders in drives per game.


Jimmy Butler faces off against an Orlando team that has played at the 8th fastest pace in the NBA and has the 7th worst defensive rating over the last month.  It appears that Chicago may be in the process of phasing Rajon Rondo back out of the rotation, as he played just 6 minutes in the last game against Sacramento and Jerian Grant has been announced as the starter for tonight’s game, with Michael Carter-Williams presumably assuming backup duties.  Butler is averaging 1.12 DraftKings points per minute alongside Dwyane Wade without Rondo this season, and 1.52 DraftKings points when they are both on the bench.  The latter is important because Chicago staggers Wade and Butler’s minutes so that Wade gets time with the second unit.  Butler is in a great spot tonight.


Kawhi Leonard is expected to play tonight after sitting out last night’s game with a “hand” injury.  Leonard boasts a 35.9 usage percentage and 18.6 assist percentage without Tony Parker and Pau Gasol on the floor this season and is facing a Toronto team that has been burned by opposing point guards this season.  Leonard obviously is not a true point guard, but he will handle the ball a lot and should be able to take advantage of Toronto’s defensive issues.


Karl-Anthony Towns is expensive across the industry but has a nice matchup with the Suns.  He posted impressive double-doubles in both of his previous matchups this season.  Towns has a distinct advantage against either of the players in the starting Phoenix frontcourt.  He is about 2 inches taller and 15 pounds heavier than Marquese Chriss, who will not be able to defend him in the post.  If Phoenix switches Tyson Chandler onto him, Towns is very capable of playing away from the basket where Chandler will struggle defensively.  He should be in line for a huge game.


Nikola Jokic has a scary looking matchup against Utah and is a better play on sites that prominently factor matchup into their prices.  Utah has not been as bad of a matchup as usual, however, as they are allowing opposing centers to score the third most points, pick up the 6th most assists, and grab the most total rebounds and offensive rebounds per game over the last month.  Jokic is capable of pulling Rudy Gobert away from the basket where he is less imposing, so he should have some success despite Gobert’s defensive prowess.


Core: John Wall (DraftKings), Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Jokic (DraftKings), Kyle Lowry (FanDuel)

Secondary: John Wall (FanDuel), Isaiah Thomas, Eric Bledsoe, Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Jokic (FanDuel), Kyle Lowry (DraftKings)


Mid-Range ($5,500-$8,400)


Elfrid Payton will be in line for huge minutes tonight depending on Orlando injury news, as D.J. Augustin and Evan Fournier are questionable and Jodie Meeks has already been ruled out.  Jerian Grant is expected to start at point guard for Chicago and, while he is the best defender out of Chicago’s point guards, he is dealing with an illness and is likely not playing at 100 percent.  Payton has played 37 and 39 minutes in his last two games and has massive upside for his price assuming the Magic are still playing shorthanded.  He is still a viable option if the questionable players play, but he does lose a lot of appeal since his minutes will decline and the matchup with Chicago is not ideal.


George Hill is mired in a shooting slump, but that is nothing that a trip to Denver cannot cure.  Denver is playing at the 4th fastest pace in the NBA over the last month and has the worst defensive rating over that time.  They are also allowing the 7th most points and 5th most assists per game to opposing guards over that span.  Hill is a key part of the Utah offense, and will start posting fantasy scores that are way too high for his price once his shot starts falling again- especially on FanDuel where he is just $6,300.


Dwyane Wade is averaging 1.16 DraftKings points per minute without Rondo alongside Butler this season, and 1.27 DraftKings points per minute when both are off the floor.  He gets a pace-up game against a poor defense and has been very aggressive lately, attempting at least 20 field goals in four straight games, excluding the aberration that was the Atlanta game where the Bulls were down 30 points in the first half and Wade only played 20 minutes.  Look for Wade to have a big game in this one and he is a strong play despite his increase in price on some sites.


Gordon Hayward has struggled a bit lately, but the opportunity is there with Rodney Hood sidelined and his price down.  Hayward has had tough defensive matchups with the likes of P.J. Tucker, Harrison Barnes and Andre Roberson that helps explain his poor shooting of late.  The matchup with Denver is much more friendly, and Hayward has averaged 1.13 DraftKings points per minute against Denver this season.  Look for a strong performance from him tonight.


Serge Ibaka is very cheap across the industry and has some really ugly game logs that may scare people off him.  The reason for the game logs is a string of blowouts and some foul trouble, however, so do not be deterred by them.  Tonight’s game is at home and has a 2.5 point spread. As long as the game stays close, Ibaka should be expected to play over 30 minutes and will be defended by Taj Gibson, who has struggled to defend players away from the rim this season and will allow Ibaka to shoot over him.


Ersan Ilyasova is more productive without Joel Embiid on the floor, but does not see much of a boost in minutes.  The possible absence of Okafor along with Embiid, however, means that Ilyasova may be forced into more minutes which would give him a very nice ceiling for his price since he produces about 1.11 DraftKings points per minute without Embiid on the floor.  If Okafor is in, Ilyasova is a strong play, but he quickly climbs the board if Okafor sits as well.


LaMarcus Aldridge has a very friendly matchup against a Toronto frontcourt that has struggled mightily with bigs who can shoot this season.  Lucas Noguiera is allowing opposing players to shoot 3.6 percent better than average more than 15 feet from the rim and Pascal Siakam is even worse at 9.9 percent.  Patrick Patterson is the only option that has been good this season, and he is probable to play, but it remains to be seen how many minutes he actually gets since he missed so many games and the Toronto frontcourt is more crowded now that Jared Sullinger is back.


Blake Griffin has an elite matchup against a Joel Embiid-less Philadelphia frontcourt with Chris Paul sidelined.  Griffin has averaged 1.21 DraftKings points per minute without Paul going back to last season and we can expect him to perform at an even higher clip against this Philadelphia frontcourt.  The only question is how many minutes he will play.  If he is going to be severely limited, it is tough to see him paying off a price tag in the mid $7,000s.  If he is going to be allowed to play at least in the 28-30 minute range, which does not seem unlikely since there is no reason to rush him back if he is not 100 percent healthy, then he is a very strong play.


Jonas Valanciunas is in a phenomenal spot tonight with DeRozan out and Lowry likely to be defended by Leonard.  Valanciunas has averaged 1.33 DraftKings points per minute alongside Lowry and without DeRozan in a limited sample size this season.  He has played more minutes since Dwayne Casey challenged him to be more aggressive and his offense will be needed tonight.  It seems likely that Dewayne Dedmon draws another start for San Antonio, which is not the best scenario for Valanciunas, but it is certainly not enough to scare us off.


Nikola Vucevic has struggled lately, mostly as a result of blowouts.  He has a friendly matchup against Robin Lopez tonight, who is strong around the rim but has struggled away from the basket.  Lopez is allowing opponents to shoot 10.8 percent better than average at least 15 feet from the rim, where Vucevic takes about one-third of his shots.  He is likely to go underowned because of ugly game logs, so it is a good spot to target in tournaments.


Al Horford should do very well in his matchup with Washington.   It is a pace-up game for Horford and Marcin Gortat will struggle to defend him.  About half of Horford’s field goal attempts this season have come at least 15 feet from the basket and Marcin Gortat has allowed opponents to shoot 6.5 percent better than average from that range.  Switching Markieff Morris onto Horford is unlikely to be effective either, since Morris has allowed opponents to shoot 3.7 percent better than average from that range.  Horford has averaged 1.1 DraftKings points per minute in his last four games against Gortat (including 3 as a member of Atlanta), and recorded 1.22 DraftKings points per minute in his matchup earlier this month.


Secondary: Ricky Rubio, Bradley Beal, Markieff Morris, Otto Porter, Jae Crowder, Rudy Gobert, Tyson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan


Value ($3,000-$5,400)


The Philadelphia frontcourt situation is still up in the air with Okafor questionable, but we do know that Joel Embiid is out.  If Jahlil Okafor plays, he is a very strong option at his price point.  He continues to go overlooked when Embiid is out, despite averaging 26.6 minutes per game in his absence this season and playing at least 29 in the two most recent.  Okafor is a flawed basketball player, but he is still productive for fantasy purposes and has averaged 0.93 DraftKings points and 0.88 FanDuel points per minute without Embiid on the floor this season.  If Okafor sits, it opens the door for Nerlens Noel to play a lot of minutes with Richaun Holmes as the backup.  Noel’s minutes without Embiid have been down lately, but that is mostly the result of foul trouble and blowouts.  18-20 minutes is not out of the question if Okafor is active, and we should see even more if he is out.  Holmes is not in play if Okafor plays but, if Okafor sits, Holmes could see 18-20 minutes off the bench.  Dario Saric will also get a boost if Okafor is out.  He sees a boost without Embiid, but his minutes are still inconsistent which makes him a risky play.  If Okafor is out, there are more frontcourt minutes to go around so Saric should see a few more and can outperform is salary in that case.


Norman Powell is a risky play, but he does have upside.  He did next to nothing in his last start, but there is a difference between starting for Carroll and starting for DeRozan, since DeRozan is a much higher usage player.  In addition, some offensive responsibilities will likely be funneled to Powell if Leonard focuses on Lowry.  He definitely has upside at his price, but is not a sure thing.


Dewayne Dedmon is likely to start again tonight since Toronto has a true center in Jonas Valanciunas and Dedmon offers a better defensive matchup because of his size and ability to defend the pick-and-roll.  Dedmon has averaged 27.3 minutes per game in his three starts this season, with at least 26.1 minutes in each.  He is averaging exactly one DraftKings point per minute for the season, and the matchup with the Toronto frontcourt is not an imposing one.



Secondary:  Terry Rozier, Dejounte Murray, Patty Mills, Cory Joseph, Jerian Grant, Jamal Crawford, Gary Harris, Brandon Knight, Terrence Ross, T.J. Warren, P.J. Tucker, Demarre Carroll, Robert Covington, Joe Johnson (DraftKings), Joe Ingles (FanDuel), Gorgui Dieng, Robin Lopez, Kelly Olynyk