NBA Deep Dive 1/28/17

High Priced ($8,500+)


DeMarcus Cousins has a 40.8 usage percentage, 25.8 assist percentage and 16 rebound percentage without Rudy Gay on the floor this season.  Charlotte presents a pace-up matchup for the Kings, as they are playing at the 13th fastest pace over the last month.  Cody Zeller is questionable to play, which would weaken Charlotte’s frontcourt defense- not that anyone can really match up with Boogie anyway.  Cousins has a ton of upside in this matchup, but there is reason to be concerned that he is on the second half of a road back-to-back and his third game in four nights.  The first two of those games each went to overtime, so it is possible that we see a let down from Cousins tonight.  According to Fantasy Labs, Cousins has performed 2.79 DraftKings points worse than expectation over the last two years, exceeding expectations just 40.9 percent of the time.  That is not to say he does not still have a massive ceiling, however, as he has exceeded expectations by at least 10 DraftKings points in 5 of the 9 games that he has exceed expectations on the second half of a back-to-back over the last two seasons.


Karl-Anthony Towns gets a dream matchup against the Brooklyn Nets tonight.  The game is in Minnesota, where Towns has averaged 9.1 more DraftKings points per game this season.  Brooklyn has played at the third fastest pace in the league and has the sixth worst defensive rating over the last month.  They have allowed the most points per game, second most blocks per game, fourth most steals per game and second most rebounds per game over that span.


Giannis Antetokounmpo is on the second leg of a back-to-back and third game in four nights, but he only played 33 minutes against Toronto last night so his risk is mitigated somewhat.  It is a very friendly matchup against a Boston team that struggles to rebound at times and does not have a rim protector in the paint.  Boston has played at the 14th fastest pace over the last month and is in the bottom 10 in defensive rating, which is not helped by the absence of Avery Bradley.


Kevin Durant will benefit if Steph Curry misses tonight’s game.  Durant has only played 39 minutes this season alongside Thompson and Green without Curry, but his usage percentage increases to 29.9 during that time and his assist percentage increases to 30 percent.  We should expect the increased production to continue despite the very small sample size since Curry’s absence opens up more ball-handling responsibilities along with there being more shots to go around.  Luc Richard Mbah a Moute could make things difficult for Durant whenever he is on the floor, so we could see Durant struggle somewhat with his efficiency regardless of Curry’s status.


Isaiah Thomas continues to play out of his mind, picking up 38.6 FanDuel points in three quarters last night in a blowout win over the Magic.  His price tag has increased as a result, but he has been very steady with a high ceiling lately so he is certainly still in play.  He faces a Milwaukee team that has good defenders that could make life difficult for Thomas.  Milwaukee has been struggling defensively lately, however, ranking 9th worst in field goal differential within 6 feet of the rim and 4th worst in overall defensive rating over the last month.  They are also allowing the 4th most points per game to opposing guards over that time period despite playing at the 6th slowest pace.  Thomas will also continue to benefit from Avery Bradley’s absence forcing him to be even more involved on offense.  Thomas is averaging 1.22 FanDuel points per minute when he is on the floor with Al Horford but without Bradley, compared to 1.13 FanDuel points per minute when he is on the floor with both of them.  There are better point-per-dollar cash game options on this slate, but Thomas makes for a strong GPP play.


Eric Bledsoe continues to be very expensive but has a nice matchup against Denver in a rematch from Thursday.  Bledsoe got in early foul trouble in that game, but managed to salvage his night with 41.5 DraftKings points in just 27.6 minutes.  If Bledsoe can stay out of foul trouble and return to the 37+ minutes per game that he had been playing outside of his last two games, we could see a monster performance tonight.  Bledsoe is someone to try and gauge industry wide interest on throughout the day because, if he is going to be low-owned, he is someone to load up on in GPPs but, if he is going to be highly-owned, it likely means someone like Isaiah Thomas goes under-owned.


Core: Karl-Anthony Towns, Giannis Antetokounmpo

Secondary: DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant, Isaiah Thomas, Eric Bledsoe


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


Ricky Rubio continues to play very well and to be under-owned.  I do not know if he will remain low-owned in this matchup with the Nets, but he should continue to play well.  Brooklyn is a massive boost in pace for Minnesota and offers plenty of upside since they turn the ball over frequently and will allow Rubio plenty of possessions to rack up peripheral stats.  If he can make a couple shots and/or find a way to get to the line he should be in for a massive game.  Rubio has played at least 32 minutes in 8 of his last 9 games, excluding the game against the Clippers when he was injured in the first half, and is averaging about 1.09 DraftKings points per minute over those 9 games.


Goran Dragic faces a Detroit team that has struggled defensively since Reggie Jackson’s return to the starting lineup, ranking 23rd in defensive rating over the last month.  The Heat will be without Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow, and possibly without Tyler Johnson and Hassan Whiteside as well.  Dragic has averaged 1.01 FanDuel points per minute without Winslow and Richardson this season, with a 28.4 usage percentage and 31.2 assist percentage.  Without Richardson, Winslow, Johnson or Whiteside, Dragic is averaging 1.40 FanDuel points per minute (121 minute sample size) with a 29.5 usage percentage and 40.8 assist percentage.  He is a strong option if Johnson and/or Whiteside play, but becomes elite if they both miss this game.


Mike Conley gets the under-the-radar very friendly matchup with Utah tonight.  According to Fantasy Labs, Utah has faced 9 starting point guards with a usage percentage of at least 22 this month and those point guards have exceeded expectation 77.8 percent of the time by an average of 13.77 DraftKings points.  The point guards on the list are Deron Williams, Eric Bledsoe, Elfrid Payton, Reggie Jackson, Kyrie Irving, Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry, Isaiah Thomas and Russell Westbrook.  If we remove Westbrook since he is obviously in another class, the average becomes 12.57 DraftKings points over expectation with 75 percent consistency.  In Conley’s matchup earlier this month, he produced 36.5 DraftKings points in 34.7 minutes.  There are better cash game options, but Conley is a great GPP play- especially on sites where his price is lowered for the matchup.


Devin Booker continues to produce consistent results based on shot volume and minutes.  He has to get really hot from the field to outperform his salary for GPPs (which is certainly possible against Denver) but he has a high floor for his price since he is usually a lock for at least 37 minutes per game and 17+ field goal attempts.  Booker has averaged 1.39 points per possession in transition this season and Denver is in the bottom 10 in opponent fast break points allowed.


Klay Thompson is a secondary option if Curry plays but, if he sits, Thompson gets a nice boost since so many shots will become available.  Thompson has been difficult to trust this season since there are so many mouths to feed in the Golden State offense, but that will be less of an issue if Curry sits this one out.  In the very limited sample size alongside the starters without Curry, Thompson’s usage percentage increases from 24.1 percent with Curry to 26.1 percent without him.  There is no reason to expect that not to be the case as the sample size grows.


Dion Waiters has been very good lately and should continue to play a large role in the offense for as long as Tyler Johnson is sidelined since he is forced to take on more ball-handling duties and he has never been afraid to shoot the ball.  He is averaging 1 FanDuel point per minute without Johnson, Winslow or Richardson on the floor this season.  He is more of a cash play than a GPP play on this slate, in my opinion, because Detroit does have strong perimeter defenders and Waiters is very capable of poor shooting performances.


Andrew Wiggins should have no trouble scoring points against the terrible Brooklyn defense in a huge pace-up game.  Wiggins’ price has fallen slightly, but is still toward the top of his range.  While Wiggins is normally not someone to roster when he is at the top of his range, we can make an exception against Brooklyn since they give up fantasy points at such a high rate in so many different ways.  Wiggins has played at least 37 minutes in six straight games and taken at least 17 shots in each of his last four.


Wilson Chandler should see a couple more minutes with Jokic sidelined and, more importantly, he should see more minutes at the four as Faried likely spends more time at the five.  Minutes at the four are generally more valuable, since you are spending time closer to the basket and can pick up more rebounds and usually shoot a higher percentage.  Chandler has been close to a fantasy point-per-minute producer this season, the issue has just been the minutes.  The slight increase in minutes (he is averaging almost 2 extra minutes per game with Jokic inactive) and the friendly matchup with a Phoenix team that basically never goes big should mean a very nice game for Chandler.


Jabari Parker will benefit from his matchup with Boston for the same reasons as Antetokounmpo.  He should be able to grab a couple extra rebounds since there will not be much traffic around the rim boxing him out and he should be able to score at the rim.  Boston has also struggled to defend stretch fours all season and Parker is capable of scoring away from the basket.  Parker has also not struggled on back-to-backs as much of late as he had earlier in the season.  He is especially valuable on DraftKings where he is small forward eligible and just $7,100.


Kenneth Faried is more expensive for this matchup than he was on Thursday, but he is still a strong play. He will likely be needed more at center today with Jokic out.  He has averaged 1.34 DraftKings points per minute against Phoenix this season (1.06 if you exclude his massive first game) and should do well in a matchup where his hustle and energy will translate to rebounds and potential easy putbacks.


Andre Drummond will either face a banged-up Hassan Whiteside or a diminutive Willie Reed.  He has averaged 1.36 DraftKings points per minute against Whiteside over the last two seasons, compared to 1.26 points per minute on average this season and 1.3 points per minute on average last season.  Willie Reed is 6’9 and 220 pounds, while Drummond is 7’0 and 280 pounds.  If Whiteside does not start, it is really difficult to see how Drummond does not post a massive double-double.


Brook Lopez faces a big Minnesota frontcourt that has struggled mightily to defend bigs that can shoot.  Lopez shows against Miami the he is capable of shooting wide open three-pointers when the opposing big cannot close out on him and we should see more of the same today with Towns and Dieng not being particularly good in that regard.  Lopez sat out last night’s game so he should be good to go for 30-33 minutes tonight in a great matchup.


Secondary: Kemba Walker, Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Zach LaVine, Nicolas Batum, Danilo Gallinari, Gordon Hayward, Gorgui Dieng, Blake Griffin (DraftKings), Tobias Harris, Draymond Green, Tyson Chandler, Greg Monroe, DeAndre Jordan


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


Jameer Nelson is becoming more expensive but still has value at his price in a very good matchup against Phoenix.  He played 42 minutes against them on Thursday, producing 37 DraftKings points on 6 of 11 shooting.  Even if Nelson loses a few more minutes to Jamal Murray in this game than he did on Thursday, he should be able to easily pay off his price tag across the industry.


Zach Randolph has seen his price decrease slightly and he gets a matchup with Utah that he has done very well in this season, averaging 1.34 DraftKings points over three games (with none of them being outliers that skew his production).  As always with Randolph, his minutes are a concern, but power forward is relatively weak tonight and Randolph does offer upside if he plays 27-30 minutes.


Jusuf Nurkic is averaging 20.9 minutes per game without Jokic this season and he will likely be needed to matchup with Tyson Chandler.  In two games against Phoenix earlier this season, Nurkic produced 14 DraftKings points in 15 minutes and 17.5 DraftKings points in 16.4 minutes.  There is certainly risk in rostering him, especially since he is not the absolute minimum salary, but projecting him for 20 minutes is not unrealistic and he has plenty of upside.


Secondary: Darren Collison, Shaun Livingston (if Curry out), Will Barton, Wayne Ellington (if Johnson out), Jon Leuer, Darrell Arthur, P.J. Tucker, T.J. Warren