NBA Deep Dive 1/26/17

High Priced ($8,500+)


Russell Westbrook is always in play and tonight, on a four-game slate, is no different.  Dallas plays at a very slow pace, but their backcourt is missing its’ best two defenders in Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews.  The game only has a total of 197, but the Thunder are nine point favorites and we know that Westbrook accounts for a huge percentage of their production.  If Dallas is able to keep this game close and force Westbrook to play four quarters, he should have a monster game.  Even if his minutes are cut short by a blowout, he has a very high floor.


Karl-Anthony Towns is priced up across the industry, but he has been playing very well lately.  He has not attempted a three-point shot in either of his last two games, as he looks to get higher percentage shots around the basket.  Indiana does not have a strong interior presence that will be able to contain him and we should see him have plenty of success offensively.  In addition, Indiana has allowed the third most rebounds per game to opponents this season, although that number has trended closer to the middle of the pack over the last month.  Towns has also been better at home this season, averaging 1.39 DraftKings points per minute compared to 1.19 on the road.


Nikola Jokic played 35 minutes against Utah in his last game, after having his minutes limited by a blowout and some foul trouble in his previous two games.  Jokic is 3rd in points per game, 12th in rebounds per game, 3rd in assists per game and 5th in steals per game amongst centers over the last month.  He contributes across the board and gets an up-tempo game with a 231 Vegas total tonight in Denver.  His price is up across the industry but he still has plenty of upside as long as the game stays close and he is able to avoid foul trouble.  It is a plus that Tyson Chandler is a low usage center who derives most of his offense from offensive rebounds, although the Suns do have guards who like to drive to the basket and could pick up fouls on Jokic.  Overall, his foul risk is not particularly high in this matchup.


Eric Bledsoe faces a Denver team that ranks 4th in pace and worst in defensive rating over the last month.  Bledsoe has played a lot of minutes lately, averaging 37 per game over his last five- including a 29-minute outlier in his last game against Minnesota.  Jameer Nelson is a better defender than Emmanuel Mudiay, so Bledsoe may not have quite as easy of a time as he otherwise would, but it is still a very nice matchup for him.  His price has quickly risen across the industry, keeping him from being an elite option, but he still has plenty of tournament upside.


Core: Russell Westbrook, Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Jokic

Secondary: Eric Bledsoe


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


Ricky Rubio has a pace-up matchup with Indiana, who ranks 12th in pace and 12th worst in defensive rating over the last month.  Excluding the game where he injured his hip and left just before halftime, Rubio is averaging about 36 minutes per game over his last five with 13.4 points, 13 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game.  His price is slowly climbing, but it is still very reasonable for his upside in a favorable matchup with a 211 Vegas total and 3 point spread.


George Hill is mired in a major shooting slump, shooting less than 40 percent from the field in five of his last six games.  He is shooting 48.3 percent from the field for the season, so we should expect to see a rebound soon and a pace-up game at home against a weak Lakers’ defense seems like a good time for it to start.  There is plenty of blowout risk in this game, but his price is way too low- especially on FanDuel at just $6,000.


Harrison Barnes is very inexpensive across the industry because his production has taken a hit with the Mavericks being at full health recently.  Teams that are comprised mostly of players in their mid-late thirties generally do not stay healthy for very long, however, and Barnes will be facing the Thunder tonight without Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews or Dirk Nowitzki.  J.J. Barea is also still sidelined, so there is going to be a ton of shots available for Barnes to pick up.  Barnes has played 92 minutes without Barea, Williams, Matthews and Nowitzki this season (including preseason) and has a 32.5 usage percentage in those minutes.  It is worth noting that his true shooting percentage is just 47.6 percent, however, which shows that he has been very inefficient- likely as a result of being the only real offensive threat.  The low true shooting percentage helps to explain why Barnes is averaging just 0.97 DraftKings points per minute despite the increase in usage.  He is a strong option tonight because the minutes and opportunity are very appealing for his price, but there is some risk because the Thunder have a strong defender in Andre Roberson and will be able to focus most of their defensive attention on Barnes.  There is certainly merit in looking elsewhere in tournaments since he is likely to draw very high ownership.


Danilo Gallinari has not had a big game lately, but that could change tonight against Phoenix in a game that will have plenty of possessions to go around.  Gallinari should benefit from having Jameer Nelson in the starting lineup because Nelson is much more willing to drive and dish than Mudiay is.  Nelson ranks second in the NBA in pass percentage on drives among guards who play at least 20 minutes per game.  Gallinari spots up on about 26.7 percent of his plays, averaging 1.21 points per possession (90th percentile) and should benefit from Nelson collapsing the defense and kicking it out to his shooters.  His price is low enough that he is unlikely to really let us down and could outperform it nicely.  (Disclaimer:  For anyone that listened to the podcast this morning, I misspoke when I said he was averaging 1.09 DraftKings points per minute with Nelson.  I had run a search on him the other day and I guess I misread something, because his points per minute actually have not gone up in his limited time with Nelson in the starting lineup- although his usage percentage has increased.)


Rudy Gobert has had a few pedestrian games since his outburst against Dallas, but that should change tonight if the Lakers can keep this game close and force Gobert to play the entire game.  The Lakers no longer play at the fast pace that they were known for early in the season, but it is still a nice boost in pace for Gobert since the Jazz play so slow.  Los Angeles is 20th in rebounding percentage over the last month, so Gobert should be in line for a nice game on the boards.  He has also been a little bit more involved offensively lately, attempting at least 8 shots in six straight games.  Gobert is third in the NBA among players that average at least 20 minutes per game with a 68.2 true shooting percentage, so even that small increase in shot attempts gives him a decent amount of added value.


Enes Kanter has an elite matchup with the Dallas second unit.  Dallas’s frontcourt is incredibly weak and Kanter should be able to dominate them.  He has been playing close to 30 minutes per game even off the bench.  His price has dropped since he is no longer starting, but he still has plenty of value since his minutes do not change much with Adams active.  Dallas ranks 4th in rebounds allowed to bench centers and 5th in points allowed to bench centers over the last month and Kanter should be able to take advantage in a big way.


Lou Williams has been playing great without D’Angelo Russell and he gets a sneaky good matchup with the Jazz.  Utah has been extremely vulnerable to ball-dominant guards lately, allowing guards of varying ability- from Elfrid Payton to Russell Westbrook- post monster games against them.  Williams is averaging 6 drives per game in 24.4 minutes, which would translate to about 7.1 drives per game in his current role.  Williams has already had success against Utah this season, posting 58.5 DraftKings points against them in early December.  He averaged over 1 DraftKings points per minute in his other two games against them as well this season.  He may be somewhat popular since he has been playing so well and it is a short slate, but he has a massive ceiling for his price despite the “scary” matchup.


Secondary: Jeff Teague, Gordon Hayward, Andrew Wiggins, Tyson Chandler, Gorgui Dieng, Julius Randle, Zach LaVine, Victor Oladipo, Devin Booker


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


Pierre Jackson is on a 10-day contract for Dallas and is in line for plenty of minutes tonight against Oklahoma City.  Jackson played 17 minutes and 13 seconds of a possible 24 minutes in the second half yesterday after Deron Williams left the game right before halftime.  With Williams and Matthews inactive for tonight’s game, the Mavericks are left with a backcourt that essentially consists of Jackson, Devin Harris, Seth Curry and Nicolas Brussino.  Devin Harris played 21.8 minutes last night, which is the most he has played this season.  It seems unlikely that he gets heavy run on the second half of a back-to-back the day after playing the most minutes he has played all season.  Curry will be needed at shooting guard, where he should see very heavy minutes.  That leaves a lot of time for Jackson at the point.  He is a talented player despite only having a 10-day contract and can certainly be productive if given the opportunity, as he showed with 10 points, 5 assists and 2 rebounds in 18 minutes against the Lakers two games ago.  We can relatively safely project Jackson for 25-27 minutes, and there is potential for him to play upwards of 30 if he is playing well.  It is also likely that he is blowout proof, since there is no reason for Rick Carlisle to not run him into the ground as opposed to Harris and/or Curry if the game gets out of hand.


Jameer Nelson has a very friendly matchup against Phoenix.  He struggled as chalk two games ago against Minnesota, but played much better last game against Utah- which has actually been a better matchup than Minnesota lately for point guards.  Nelson should see around 30 minutes in this game and is capable of producing around a fantasy point per minute in this matchup, which is more than he needs at his price point.


Kenneth Faried is very cheap across the industry, coming off some tough matchups against the Spurs, Clippers, Timberwolves and Jazz.  The minutes have still been there, however, and he has a much better matchup tonight against Phoenix.  Marquese Chriss is not an imposing big, and Faried’s high energy play should pay off in this fast-paced game.  Faried has not faced Phoenix since earlier in the season when Denver’s rotation was different and he was coming off the bench, but he averaged 1.42 DraftKings points per minute in those two games, producing 48.3 DraftKings points in 25.8 minutes in the first game and 28.3 DraftKings points in 27.8 minutes in the most recent game.


Steven Adams is very cheap across the industry and has a nice matchup with Dallas, even if Andrew Bogut plays.  Adams is averaging 35.2 minutes per game over his last five, excluding the Sacramento game where he left early with an injury.  He has averaged .91 DraftKings points per minute this season, so it is not hard to see how strong of a play he is at just $5,000 on DraftKings and $5,500 on FanDuel.


Seth Curry, like Pierre Jackson, is in line for huge minutes tonight in the depleted Dallas backcourt.  He played 19 minutes and 2 seconds of a possible 24 minutes in the second half last night and has averaged 32 minutes per game without Deron Williams this season.  Add in that Matthews is also sidelined, and it is difficult to imagine that he does not see as many minutes as he can handle.  Curry has averaged 0.90 DraftKings points and 0.83 FanDuel points in 163 minutes without Matthews, Williams or Nowitzki on the floor this season.


Darrell Arthur played more than 20 minutes in each of his last two games and was very productive.  He shot 4-9 against Minnesota, producing 28.25 DraftKings points, and 5-7 including 3-3 from 3-point range against Utah, producing 31 DraftKings points.  He is still minimum price, or close to it, across the industry and he makes for an appealing punt play in, what should be, a high-scoring game against the Suns.




Secondary: Gary Harris, Devin Harris, Jordan Clarkson, Justin Anderson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Wilson Chandler, P.J. Tucker, T.J. Warren, Derrick Favors, Al Jefferson, Alec Burks (if Hood out)