NBA Deep Dive 1/29/17
James Harden has been absolutely amazing this season and is coming off his second 50-point triple double of the season. He should be in for another huge night against the Pacers, who are in the top half of the league in pace and bottom half in defensive rating over the last month. Opposing points guards have averaged 1.05 DraftKings points per minute against them in January, and the names on the list include the likes of Darren Collison, Derrick Rose, George Hill and Ricky Rubio- solid point guards but nobody near the class of James Harden. This game has a 228 total, second highest on the slate, and a 3 point spread. We should see another monster game from Harden and he is a top option on the slate despite his expensive price tag.
Anthony Davis has struggled a bit lately after briefly looking like he was going to get back into the groove that he was in earlier this year where he dominated everyone that he played. The offensive emergence of Jrue Holiday may be cutting into Davis’s productivity somewhat, but Davis still has a 32.8 usage percentage with Holiday on the floor this season and averages 1.47 DraftKings points per minute and 1.41 FanDuel points per minute alongside him so we should not be too concerned. Davis’s price has dropped as a result of his recent performances and he is in a get-right spot against the Wizards. He will likely draw the start at center against the much older and less athletic Marcin Gortat. Gortat has struggled to defend bigs who can step away from the basket and score, allowing opponents to shoot 5.8 percent better than average at least 15 feet from the basket. In addition, this game is in New Orleans where Davis historically performs much better. It is going to be interesting to see how this game plays out because both teams are in the top ten in pace and the top five in defensive rating over the last month. Davis’s matchup stands out as one that he should do well in, so it would not be surprising to see the offense really run through him.
John Wall is in a game that should be played at a fast pace and has a 219 total and a 1 point spread. Normally, this is a spot where targeting Wall would be a very strong play. He is still a decent option tonight because of the pace and projected points, but he will be facing Jrue Holiday who is having an absolutely elite season defensively. Holiday ranks in the 69th percentile in points per possession against the pick-and-roll and the 95th percentile in isolation defense. Wall still has a high ceiling, but there is reason to be concerned about his likelihood of reaching it because of Holiday’s defense.
Jimmy Butler is only in play in GPPs as he is very expensive and appears to be a very volatile option with all of the drama surrounding the Bulls. He managed to shoot 1 of 13 in his last game and generally appeared to not care. That being said, Butler has been very productive when he plays without Rondo this season, averaging 1.1 DraftKings points per minute alongside Wade without Rondo and 1.53 DraftKings points per minute when they are both off. There is not really any way to predict the Bulls’ rotations right now as it seemingly depends on who most recently pissed off Fred Hoiberg. Since winning GPPs is about maximizing upside in relatively low probability situations, rostering Butler in GPPs at incredibly low ownership is somewhat appealing since he has shown that he has a massive ceiling if he happens to get time without Rondo and Wade where he gets to be the primary ball handler. He is not a high probability play at his price point, but he is worth considering if you are making multiple lineups since he does have the ability to win a GPP.
Kyle Lowry finally gets a good matchup today against Elfrid Payton and the Magic. Lowry has a 28.6 usage percentage and is averaging 1.28 DraftKings points per minute and 1.19 FanDuel points per minute without DeMar DeRozan (questionable) this season. There is reason to expect those numbers to increase if DeRozan is out tonight against an Orlando team that is in the top 10 in pace and bottom 10 in defensive rating over the last month. If DeRozan plays, then Lowry becomes a secondary option since his price has increased as a result of DeRozan’s absense (but the matchup is still really good). If DeRozan is out, fire up Lowry and hope that his ownership is relatively low because of the difficult matchups he has had without DeRozan so far.
Core: James Harden, Anthony Davis, Kyle Lowry (if DeRozan out)
Secondary: Kevin Durant, John Wall, Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard
GPP: Jimmy Butler
Paul George is one of the most, if not the most, talked about players on tonight’s slate and for good reason- kind of. George has been more assertive lately on the offensive end, taking at least 18 shots in each of his last three games after not taking that many once in his previous 6. He also had 17 free throw attempts in his last game. He has an uptempo matchup against the Rockets in the game with the second highest Vegas total on the slate. His price has increased from its rock bottom price point a few games ago, but is still very reasonable. George is a very safe play and it is unlikely that he really hurts you. He is one of the first guys I would build my cash lineup around. There is merit to fading him in GPPs because, even with his increased role on the offensive end, he has not produced scores that significantly outperform his current price tag and his sky high ownership makes it so you still need to get a lot of other pieces right even if he has a big game and you roster him.
Jrue Holiday has been playing very well lately and has seen his minutes trend upwards, playing 32 and 38 minutes in his last two games. Washington has been much improved defensively of late, but the Wall-Gortat combo can still be beaten in the pick-and-roll. Holiday uses the pick-and-roll on over 50 percent of his plays, and Wall ranks in the 39th percentile in points per possession allowed to pick-and-roll ball-handlers. Anthony Davis is the roll man on 23.7 percent of his plays and Marcin Gortat ranks in the middle of the pack at defending it, but keep in mind that he will have trouble closing out on Davis on pick-and-pop plays. Pairing Holiday with Davis could be a very strong strategy in tournaments tonight.
Bradley Beal and Otto Porter could be the beneficiaries of Jrue Holiday defending John Wall. Beal spots up on 13.5 percent of his plays and averages 1.11 points per possession, which ranks in the 78th percentile. Buddy Hield has been absolutely horrible at defending spot-up shooters this season, allowing 1.23 points per possession, which ranks in the 12th percentile across the league. In addition, Hield has allowed opponents to shoot 9.3 percent better than average from beyond the arc. E’twaun Moore has struggled as well, allowing 1.08 points per possession against spot-up shooters and allowing opponents to shoot 7 percent better than average from three. Otto Porter spots up on 35.1 percent of his plays and ranks in the 98th percentile with 1.41 points per possession. Solomon Hill has allowed 1.05 points per possession on these plays, ranking in the 39th percentile amongst defenders.
Jeff Teague has a difficult matchup with Patrick Beverley, but he should benefit from an increase in pace as the Rockets have played at the fastest pace in the league over the last month. Teague has remained productive despite George’s increased role on offense, producing 53.5 DraftKings points two games ago in a difficult matchup with Minnesota and 41 in his last game against Sacramento. He is a great way to get exposure to the Pacers offense that is not named Paul George.
Elfrid Payton has let people down lately but has another very good matchup with the Raptors. He will benefit if Fournier is ruled out, as he averages 0.99 DraftKings points per minute with the starters minus Fournier compared to 0.94 DraftKings points per minute when Fournier is active as well. D.J. Augustin’s return cut into his minutes a little bit last game, but he was still on pace to play about 33 minutes if the game had remained close. Toronto has allowd the 6th most pointers per game, 7th most assists per game and 7th most rebounds per game to opposing guards over the last month, despite playing at just the 16th fastest pace.
Jonas Valanciunas is another huge beneficiary if DeMar DeRozan sits. There are a lot of bodies in the Toronto frontcourt right now, but we can still safely project Valanciunas for minutes in the upper 20s, which is fine at his price point. He is averaging 1.24 DraftKings points per minute without DeRozan this season, compared to 1.01 alongside him. Valanciunas has faced Vucevic twice in the last couple of seasons, averaging 1.26 DraftKings points per minute in those matchups.
Serge Ibaka has been pretty bad lately, but a lot of that is because Orlando has been in a ton of blowouts lately which has limited his minutes. If the game stays close, we can still expect him to play 33-35 minutes. He is averaging 1.04 DraftKings points per minute alongside Vucevic and Payton without Fournier compared to 0.90 DraftKings points per minute when Fournier is also on the floor. Toronto has struggled with power forwards who can play away from the basket for most of the season, and Ibaka gets an added bonus because Valanciunas and Vucevic will likely draw each other away from the basket which opens the door for more rebounds for Ibaka as well as Aaron Gordon.
Robert Covington has a difficult matchup with Jimmy Butler, but has seen a big increase in production when Embiid is not playing. He is averaging 0.90 DraftKings points per minute this season without Embiid on the floor, compared to 0.73 alongside him. He has also consistently played 35-39 minutes lately so he will certainly have a chance to produce. As an added bonus, he has averaged over 1 DraftKings point per minute across his last 4 meetings with Butler dating back to last season.
Secondary: Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, LaMarcus Aldridge, Draymond Green, Mason Plumlee, Markieff Morris, Nikola Vucevic, Klay Thompson, Ersan Ilyasova, Thaddeus Young, Nerlens Noel (DraftKings)
Al-Farouq Aminu is very cheap across the industry, especially on DraftKings at just 4,300. He has averaged 29.4 minutes per game over his last five and has a pace-up game against the Warriors that features the highest Vegas total on the board. He has averaged 31.5 minutes per game in his two games against Golden State this season and racked up 29.5 and 31.2 DraftKings points.
Aaron Gordon is an elite value option if Fournier sits and a secondary option if he plays. Gordon has averaged 30.4 minutes per game without Fournier this season (and that number would likely be higher if it weren’t for a lot of blowouts) compared to 26.7 minutes per game when Fournier is active. Gordon, like Ibaka, should also benefit from more rebounding opportunities as a result of Vucevic and Valanciunas pulling each other away from the basket and opening up the paint.
Nerlens Noel has been announced as the starter and played 28 and 29 minutes in his last two games without Embiid and Okafor. Okafor is questionable for tonight’s game and, if he is out, we should expect to see similar minutes for Okafor with Richaun Holmes picking up about 18-20 minutes off the bench. If Okafor is in, he will see Holmes’ minutes plus possibly a few more. Either way, Noel is a very strong play at his low price tag on FanDuel as he has shown he is capable of producing well over a fantasy point-per-minute.
Bismack Biyombo is an interesting tournament play on sites where you can roster more than one center. He has been playing 24-25 minutes per game often lately, solely as the result of blowouts. Predicting blowouts is not something that I like to do but, Orlando has been playing terrible basketball and is facing Toronto on the road. If better value does not open up throughout the day, rostering Biyombo in tournaments is an interesting idea since he is priced for his 15-16 minute role and would likely produce at a high clip against the Toronto bench.
Seth Curry is in a difficult matchup against the Spurs but he is going to be needed to play a ton of minutes if Wesley Matthews misses tonight’s game. Curry played 33.7 minutes against the Thunder and should see similar minutes tonight regardless of the score of the game if Matthews is out. Curry is averaging 0.91 DraftKings points per minute and 0.84 FanDuel points per minute without Williams, Matthews or Barea on the floor this season.
Secondary: Trevor Ariza, Aaron Gordon (if Fournier in), Taj Gibson, Normal Powell (if DeRozan out), Dario Saric, Evan Turner, Robin Lopez, Justin Anderson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Seth Curry (if Matthews in)