NBA Deep Dive – 1/7/17



Russell Westbrook has a great matchup against Denver tonight.  Denver ranks 10th in pace and last in defensive rating over the last month and Westbrook should post a monster game.  His price is way too cheap on FanDuel at just $12,200 and he will likely be a staple in my lineups tonight.  At $12,900 on DraftKings, it is much tougher to get him in lineups but, if value opens up throughout the day, he should be the first person you look to to pay up for because this is a dream matchup for him.


Jeff Teague is coming off a monster game and gets a very nice matchup against the Knicks, who have given up huge games to almost every point guard they have faced recently.  Teague is not dependent on scoring, so the presence of Kristaps Porzingis in the paint is not as threatening as it would be to other guards.  Teague’s 43.3 assist percentage over the last month sets up very nicely for this matchup as the Knicks are allowing the fifth most assists per game to opponents since December 1st.   In addition, New York has struggled to defend the pick-and-roll this season and Teague and Myles Turner are a formidable pick-and-roll/pick-and-pop tandem.  His price is toward the top of his price range but he is a very strong play in this matchup.


Kemba Walker has a difficult matchup against the Spurs, but will be playing without Nicolas Batum.  In limited time without Batum on the floor this season, Walker has not seen a boost in production.  In a larger sample size last season, however, he increased from a 25.7 usage percentage alongside Batum to 29.2 without him and from a 24.8 assist percentage alongside him to 26.6 without him.  It is likely that we see increased production from Kemba while Batum is sidelined, but this is still a difficult matchup against the Spurs, who are a team that is very capable of gameplanning defensively to eliminate one or two opposing players.  For that reason, Kemba is still only a tournament option tonight but he is someone we will have interest in every day until Batum returns.


Reggie Jackson faces the Blazers tonight who, as expected, went back to being a terrible defensive team once Damian Lillard returned against the Lakers.  Jackson’s price continues to rise across the industry, but he has a massive role in the Detroit offense and should continue to produce consistently now that it appears he is healthy and comfortable in the offense.  Jackson utilizes the pick-and-roll on 59.9 percent of his plays and Damian Lillard allows 0.95 points per possession against pick-and-roll ball handlers, which ranks worse than 78.2 percent of defenders in the league.


Tony Parker has played great lately and has a friendly matchup with the Hornets tonight.  Charlotte represents a nice boost in pace for San Antonio, ranking 14th in pace over the last month.  For the season, Parker has a 22.5 usage percentage and 28.2 assist percentage, which are fine in their own right.  Since his new-found consistency began on Christmas, however, Parker has a 29.4 usage percentage and 38.2 assist percentage in those 6 games.  It remains to be seen how long he keeps this up for, but we should ride the hot hand while it lasts.  Parker will also get a boost if Roy Hibbert starts at center again, as he is someone that driving guards do not mind seeing around the basket.


Core: Russell Westbrook, Jeff Teague, Reggie Jackson

Secondary: Kemba Walker, Isaiah Thomas, Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, Dennis Schroder (DraftKings), Jrue Holiday, Deron Williams

Value: Tony Parker, Shelvin Mack




DeMar DeRozan is the most expensive shooting guard on the slate, which likely means he will be highly owned.  He is a viable option in cash games because the position is relatively weak tonight and his price is down, but he is not a strong tournament option because he has limited upside and will probably be over-owned.  He has not had success against Chicago in the past, averaging just 0.91 DraftKings points per minute against them over the last two seasons (7 games) with a high score of 42.5 DraftKings points.  In three games with Jimmy Butler active, DeRozan has DraftKings totals of 42.5, 34 and 37.8.  DeRozan is a guy with a limited ceiling every night, so seeing him face off with a team he has historically struggled against makes him even less appealing than usual.


Dwyane Wade is likely to go overlooked tonight and is one of my favorite tournament plays on the board.  Wade has had a couple days off since the game against Cleveland to continue resting his knee and, once he is healthy, I expect him to see a nice boost in production alongside Carter-Williams.  It is still a very small sample size but, in 45 minutes alongside Carter-Williams and Jimmy Butler, Wade’s usage percentage is 30.4 and his assist percentage is 29.2.  Normally, I would not put stock into such a limited sample size, but it makes sense for him to pick up more assists without Rondo on the floor and this is a spot where we can look to jump on board early before everyone else figures it out after a big game or two.  It also helps that Wade is underpriced for even his normal production, so we are not taking a big risk by rostering him and hoping for the improved performance.


Avery Bradley is a very strong option against New Orleans.  We have seen him regain his offensive role in the offense despite Isaiah Thomas being so aggressive recently as well.  Excluding the game against Utah, who can derail anyone’s game, Bradley is averaging 18 field goal attempts per game- with more than 20 against Philadelphia last night and Cleveland the game before Utah.  Bradley is likely to be a very popular option tonight, but that is fine because he is significantly underpriced.  The only real argument for fading is that, because of their proximity in price, Dwyane Wade is probably available at about 1/4 the ownership of Bradley and will outscore him more than 20 percent of the time.


Kentavious Caldwell-Pope draws a very nice matchup against Portland tonight.  He has done well in pace-up games and Portland has played at the 11th fastest pace in the league over the last  month- and plays faster with Lillard on the floor.  In addition, Portland does not offer much in the way of backcourt defense and Caldwell-Pope will be defending a high-usage player which will increase his opportunities for defensive stats.


Victor Oladipo is likely to be a popular option again tonight, especially on FanDuel at $5,900.  He is a viable option in cash games on FanDuel because he will play a lot of minutes in a fast-paced game, but do not fall for the trap in tournaments.  Oladipo does not have a ceiling, unless he is getting time as the point guard with the second unit, because he has just an 18 percent usage rate and 11 percent assist rate alongside Westbrook this season.  In his last three games, he has played 3, 8 and 10 minutes without Westbrook.  All of those minutes were alongside Semaj Christon, where Oladipo has a usage percentage of 30 and assist percentage of 13.  Cameron Payne is due back for the Nuggets tonight, however, which makes it even less likely that Oladipo handles the ball much in his limited minutes with the second unit.  He will likely do enough to pay off his price tag in cash games on FanDuel (KCP and Bradley are better mid-range cash options on DraftKings), but it is going to be very difficult for him to exceed his price tag enough to be worth it in tournaments, especially at high ownership.


Jeremy Lamb is drawing the start for injured Nicolas Batum tonight and is one of the best, and most obvious, value options on the slate.  He has a 24.9 usage percentage, 11.8 assist percentage and 18.9 rebounding percentage alongside Kemba Walker without Batum this season.  His ability to contribute in categories other than scoring makes it hard for him to hurt you at his price and he has upside because he is very willing to shoot the ball.  The concern, of course, is that he is facing the Spurs’ starters and they could make it very hard for him to score.  The Spurs defense is enough of a concern that there is merit to fading Lamb in tournaments at high ownership, but rostering him in tournaments certainly is not bad because his price is so low and he played 36 minutes when Batum was sidelined against the Knicks in November.


Marco Belinelli is an incredibly interesting pivot option in tournaments if you want to take a risk.  He could see an uptick in minutes with Batum sidelined and his usage with the second unit increases from 18.3 percent to 23.9 percent when Lamb is not on the floor, and he will see less time on the floor with Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard.  He allows for the same roster construction as lineups with Lamb, and then you beat a huge percentage of the field if he happens to outscore Lamb.


Core:  Avery Bradley, Dwyane Wade, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Secondary: DeMar DeRozan, Victor Oladipo

Value: Gary Harris, Marcus Smart, Rodney Hood, Buddy Hield, Jeremy Lamb, Marco Belinelli




Jimmy Butler is overpriced as a result of his performances without Dwyane Wade.  He is the entire Chicago offense when Wade is sidelined, but gets a significant decrease in production with Wade on the floor.  It is not an ideal matchup against the slow-paced Raptors, so we can leave Butler alone in this one and let other people waste money on him.


Kawhi Leonard always seems slightly underpriced.  He does not hit his ceiling very often, but he very consistently produces scores in the mid-40s- which is perfectly fine at his price since he does have 50+ point upside.  It is a pace-up game for Leonard and he will likely spend time defending Kemba Walker or Jeremy Lamb, who are high-usage players that Charlotte will need to be involved offensively if they are going to compete in this game.  Leonard should be able to pick up defensive stats and have a very nice game.


Gordon Hayward has struggled his last couple of games, which makes this a good opportunity to roster him in tournaments.  George Hill is out of this game again, and Hayward has a 17.8 assist percentage without Hill on the floor this season, compared to 10.2 percent alongside him.  There is reason to be concerned, however, because in his 78 minutes alongside the current starting unit, his assist percentage is just 9.8 as Derrick Favors has taken on a more prominent role distributing the basketball.  Hayward’s matchup against the ball-dominant Andrew Wiggins provides him the opportunity for defensive stats.  He is a high-upside option if he begins to pick up assists again, but there is risk since Favors is back in the lineup.


Carmelo Anthony‘s price has gone back up and he faces Paul George and the Pacers.  George does not always put forth the most effort on the defensive end, but the Pacers have the 7th best defensive rating in the league over the last month.  Anthony will probably be a very popular option because of his recent production, but it is important to keep in mind that Porzingis missed one of those games and that Anthony played 39 minutes last night.  Anthony is a viable option, but there are strong reasons to look elsewhere.


Core:  Kawhi Leonard

Secondary: Gordon Hayward, Carmelo Anthony, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Harrison Barnes

Value: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist




Anthony Davis has a very nice matchup against a Boston team that is on a back-to-back and has allowed the 7th most points per game and 6th most rebounds per game to opposing centers over the last month.  We have not seen Davis hit his ceiling since his move to center, but that does not mean it will not happen.  Davis has been more aggressive offensively over his last couple games, taking 20 shots in his most recent and 27 in the game before that.  He shot just 37 percent in the game against Cleveland and 35 percent in his last game against Atlanta, so he could be in line for a spike in production once he gets back to his season average of 48.7 percent.  He also is in line for plenty of block opportunities tonight as he matches up with a high usage center in Al Horford and a 5’6 point guard who averages about 14 drives to the basket per game.  Davis is not a great play at his price, but he is worth tournament consideration as people are likely to be off him because of his recent decrease in productivity.


Paul Millsap continues to play very well as the Hawks shop him for a trade.  Millsap has attempted at least 19 field goals in four of his last five games and is facing a Dallas frontcourt that is not particularly intimidating.  Dallas has allowed the third most rebounds per game and fourth most points per game to opposing forwards over the last month and ranks fourth to last overall in defensive rating in that time frame.  Millsap is still too cheap across the industry, specifically on DraftKings at just $7,500.


LaMarcus Aldridge has been criminally under-owned on three consecutive slates despite having excellent matchups in all of them.  He has been very aggressive on the offensive end recently, attempting at least 16 field goals in each of his last five games that Kawhi Leonard played.  Tonight he faces a Charlotte team that is in the top half of the league in pace, but has allowed the fewest points per game and fewest rebounds per game to opposing forwards over the last month.  He is still a very strong tournament option on DraftKings at $7,100, but there is reason to be cautious- especially on FanDuel where he has reached $7,900.


Kristaps Porzingis has a very nice matchup with the Pacers tonight, but it remains to be seen how many minutes he will be allowed to play.  He played 30 last night on the front half of a back-to-back, so hopefully he is allowed to play into the mid-30s tonight but that is not a given.  He is expensive at $7,900 on FanDuel but is just $7,000 on DraftKings.  He is worth tournament consideration at a power forward position that is weaker than you  would expect at first glance, but be cautious with him.


Tobias Harris has been extremely productive off the bench for Portland and his price has not increased much.  He has played at least 30 minutes and taken at least 13 shots in five straight games.  He will likely be able to avoid playing too many minutes against Al-Farouq Aminu as well, since he is coming off the bench.  The top power forward options almost all have significant weaknesses today, which makes going to Harris in the mid-range a very strong option.


Be extremely careful with Derrick Favors tonight.  He remains free on FanDuel at just $4,500 but the Jazz have rested him in-game on the front half of back-to-backs frequently this season, including the last time the situation arose against Brooklyn when he played just 18 minutes.


Core:  Paul Millsap, Tobias Harris

Secondary: Kristaps Porzingis, LaMarcus Aldridge, Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic (Questionable), Enes Kanter

Value: Amir Johnson




Myles Turner should benefit from Kristaps Porzingis’s presence in the New York frontcourt tonight, as Porzingis has struggled to defend roll-men on the pick-and-roll this season.  Turner has played very well of late and is in line for another very nice game this evening against a Knicks team that has allowed the 6th most blocks per game to opposing centers, which is a huge part of Turner’s game and necessary for him to reach his ceiling.


Andre Drummond has a pace-up matchup against the Blazers.  He will be the beneficiary of increased rebounding opportunities and he should be able to get plenty of those rebounds against Plumlee.  In two games against Plumlee last season, Drummond recorded 73.8 DraftKings points on 29 points and 27 rebounds and 43 DraftKings points on 14 points and 18 rebounds.  Look for another monster game from Drummond tonight.


This is a great bounce-back spot for Joakim Noah.  He only played 20 minutes last night because he was in foul trouble for most of the game.  He has been on pace for at least 28 minutes in each of his last 9 games, with the exception of one game against Anthony Davis on the front end of a back-to-back.  Since he only played 20 minutes last night, we should not expect him to have his minutes limited.  Indiana has allowed the 5th most rebounds per game to opposing centers over the last month, which gives Noah a very nice foundation to work with tonight.


Core:  Andre Drummond, Myles Turner

Secondary: Dwight Howard, Rudy Gobert, Steven Adams, Mason Plumlee, Joakim Noah

Value: Jonas Valanciunas, Jusuf Nurkic