NBA Deep Dive 2/11/17

High Priced ($8,500+)


James Harden is at home against the Suns in a game with a 235 Vegas total.  As always, Harden is capable of posting a massive stat line in this game and he has been playing well lately, attempting at least 20 shots in four consecutive games and averaging just over 68 DraftKings points per game in that span.  The only concern with Harden is his price, as there is a lot to pay up for on this slate and a lot of high-upside mid-tier options.  If you have the money for Harden, he could be a very strong tournament pivot off Westbrook as everyone is focused on the Westbrook-Durant game and they may overlook Harden at the same price or higher.


Russell Westbrook, like Harden, is a viable option any time he takes the court.  He has averaged 1.89 DraftKings points per minute in his two games against Golden State this season, including  a massive triple-double in his last meeting when he posted 73.2 DraftKings points.  The issue with Westbrook, like Harden, is that there is a lot of upside available for much less money on this slate.  There is nothing wrong with rostering him if you can make it work but, I personally, will almost definitely be fading Westbrook in tournaments today because of his price point and likely ownership since everyone has been talking about this game for a week.


Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to have to carry the Bucks’ offense for the foreseeable future with Jabari Parker sidelined.  Khris Middleton has also been ruled out of tonight’s game, so Antetokounmpo will need to take on an even bigger role.  Giannis is averaging 1.33 DraftKings points per minute without Parker on the floor this season, compared to 1.40 DraftKings points per minute alongside Parker.  The slight decrease in production can be attributed to a drop in his assist percentage when Parker is not on the floor.  Indiana has been playing at a slower pace of late, ranking 24th in pace over the last month, and ranks 11th in defensive rating over that time.  Giannis still has upside at his price, as he showed last night, but there are reasons to be a little concerned given that he played the entire second half, 41 minutes total, last night and is now on the second half of a back-to-back.


Nikola Jokic looked phenomenal again last night, scoring 40 points to go with 9 rebounds and 5 assists.  He will need to play a big role for Denver tonight if they are going to stay in the game against Cleveland.  He is a matchup nightmare for anyone and contributes in every category, making him a strong option at less than $10,000 across the industry.


Hassan Whiteside sucked last night against Brook Lopez, as usual, but gets a very nice rebound game tonight against Jahlil Okafor and the 76ers.  Okafor does nothing defensively or on the glass and Whiteside should be able to clean up.  Whiteside has not been as good on the road as at home this season, averaging 2.7 less rebounds, 0.3 less blocks and 2.7 less points on the road, but a matchup with Okafor should make up for most of that.  Whiteside faced Philadelphia in Philadelphia earlier this season, with Okafor playing 24.7 minutes, and Whiteside managed 32 points and 13 rebounds.  Joel Embiid played 23 minutes in that game, so Whiteside has an even better matchup this evening.  Center is a loaded position today, but Whiteside is in an elite spot.


Kevin Durant returns to Oklahoma City for the first time since leaving in the offseason to join the Warriors.  Everyone has been looking forward to this game all week and it will likely make Durant one of the most popular plays on the slate.  He has faced Oklahoma City twice this season and has averaged 1.9 DraftKings points per minute in those matchups.  Recently, the offensive reigns have been returned to Steph Curry but it would not be surprising to see Durant take over this game.  He is a very strong play in any format regardless of his popularity- especially on DraftKings where he is just $9,700.


LeBron James faces a Denver team that is playing at the 8th fastest pace with the 3rd worst defensive rating over the last month.  He will have the most difficult matchup on the Cavaliers, however, most likely being defended by Wilson Chandler for much of the game.  The pace and lack of team defense should make up for some of the inefficiencies that Chandler can cause, but it makes James a less appealing play since Kevin Durant is available for less money.  James is much more appealing on DraftKings for $10,200 than on FanDuel where he is $11,100.


Core: Nikola Jokic, Hassan Whiteside, Kevin Durant

Secondary:  Russell Westbrook, James Harden, LeBron James, Isaiah Thomas, Stephen Curry


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


Kyrie Irving has a phenomenal matchup against the Denver Nuggets.  He has not hit his ceiling in a while, which should keep his ownership down, but he certainly can in this matchup.  Denver is giving up the 4th most points, 3rd most steals and most assists per 36 minutes to opposing starting guards over the last month, along with the 4th highest three-point percentage and highest field goal percentage.  Irving has a ton of upside for his price in this matchup, especially with LeBron having the most difficult matchup by far and being a willing facilitator in those situations.


Will Barton and Wilson Chandler will continue to benefit from Gallinari and Faried being sidelined until the All-Star break.  Their respective prices have increased but there is still upside since they are playing massive minutes- Barton has played at least 34 minutes in three straight and Chandler has played at least 36 minutes in each of those games.  Chandler is averaging 1.13 DraftKings points per minute without Mudiay, Gallinari or Faried on the floor this season, and Barton is averaging 1.04 DraftKings points per minute without them.  It is likely that Barton comes off the bench again tonight, but he should still be in line for plenty of minutes.  Do not be fooled by Darrell Arthur if he gets the start over Barton.


Victor Oladipo continues to be effective without Enes Kanter on the floor as he gets significant run with the second unit.  He is averaging 1.08 DraftKings points per minute without Westbrook or Kanter on the floor and 0.83 DraftKings points per minute alongside Westbrook without Kanter.  He is a good bet for 5-8 minutes without either of them and at least 35 minutes total.  His price is still very reasonable for that amount of playing time and production, especially in a pace-up game against Golden State.


Devin Booker does not get a boost in production without Eric Bledsoe on the floor, averaging 0.90 DraftKings points per minute with and without him this season- his usage increases from 28.1 percent to 30 percent but his true shooting percentage decreases from 54.2 percent to 45.9 percent.  That said, he is still in a great spot against a Houston team that is playing at the fastest pace in the league over the last month.  Booker has seen a considerable amount of James Harden defense in their previous meetings this season, although that could change now that Bledsoe has been ruled out.  Booker will see minutes into the high 30s if this game stays close and, if this game stays close he will be a big reason why.  He makes for an excellent GPP option because of his ceiling.


Kevin Love, like the other Cavaliers already mentioned, is in a great spot against Denver.  He has been incredibly productive this season and tends to go overlooked on bigger slates when all of the Big Three is active. He is averaging 1.17 DraftKings points per minute alongside Kyrie and LeBron this season and 1.37 DraftKings points per minute alongside Kyrie without LeBron- which is important because the Cavaliers like to take LeBron off early in the first and third quarters so that he can come back and run point for the second unit. His price tag is too low for the production he offers in this matchup.


Nikola Vucevic has been playing well lately and has seen at least 30 minutes in six of his last seven games.  His matchup with Dirk Nowitzki is not intimidating and it should lead to a nice double-double for Vucevic.  Dirk is one of the worst offensive rebounding bigs in the NBA, so Vucevic should not have trouble getting rebounds off of Dallas misses.  The decrease in pace is not ideal, but Vucevic’s efficiency on the glass and against Dirk defense should help make up for it.


Secondary: Evan Fournier, Harrison Barnes, Gordon Hayward, James Johnson, Draymond Green, Ersan Ilyasova, Steven Adams, Rudy Gobert, Al Horford, Clint Capela


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


Yogi Ferrell is a very strong play against the Magic if Deron Williams (game-time decision) remains sidelined.  Orlando has been atrocious against opposing point guards lately, whether Elfrid Payton or C.J. Watson is playing.  Orlando ranks 28th in three-point percentage and 22nd in field goal percentage against opposing guards over the last month to go along with ranking 27th in assists per 36 minutes and 25th in points per 36 minutes.  The only concern with Ferrell, if Williams sits, is that Devin Harris played over him in overtime.  Dallas has shown over the last couple of games that they are willing to play Harris more minutes in extenuating circumstances (Seth Curry injury/foul trouble and then overtime) and it is possible that those increased minutes become more of the norm.


Brandon Knight is an elite value play tonight.  He played 24 minutes against New Orleans three games ago and 26 minutes against Memphis two games ago when Eric Bledsoe’s minutes were limited by foul trouble and blowout, and he is the primary beneficiary from Bledsoe’s absence tonight.  Knight averaged 1.02 DraftKings points per minute alongside Booker without Bledsoe this season and he should be in line for at least 30 minutes without Bledsoe available.  Do not get cute, roster Knight in any format.


C.J. Miles will be the likely beneficiary of the funnel spot created by the Milwaukee defense when the blitz the opposing ball-handler on the pick-and-roll and force the ball out of his hands.  Miles is a very frustrating player to roster, but we have seen Rodney McGruder and Nick Young thrive in this spot over recent days as they have gotten plenty of wide-open looks.  Miles is a capable shooter when he is getting wide-open looks so he has a chance to be a difference maker in tournaments tonight since he should be low-owned.  He is a risky play because the Indiana backcourt has gotten healthier, but Indiana showed that they would still give Miles plenty of minutes if he gets hot early against Cleveland.


T.J. Warren has a 23.2 usage percentage alongside Devin Booker without Eric Bledsoe and averages 0.81 DraftKings points per minute.  Phoenix will need all the offense they can find against Houston tonight and Warren is capable of providing plenty of it.  It is possible that he will see some James Harden defense as well, if Houston elects to put Ariza on Booker and Beverley on Brandon Knight.


Marquese Chriss, Alan Williams and Alex Len are all in play at very low price points with Tyson Chandler out.  In two previous games against Houston, Len and Chandler played almost all of the minutes at the center position with the exception of a few minutes in each game going to Williams.  Dragan Bender picked up a couple minutes in one game, but he is also out, and P.J. Tucker got a couple minutes at the five in the other game.  It is a good bet that almost all, if not all, of the center minutes tonight are split between Williams, Len and Chriss.  Williams was extremely productive last night and has shown he can rack up fantasy points with hustle stats whenever he has gotten the chance to play this season.  Len’s minutes without Chandler have been all over the place this season, but he is generally good for at least 20-22 minutes with 30+ minute upside if he is playing well and stays out of foul trouble.  20-22 minutes from Len is plenty in this matchup and at his current price point.  Chriss is an inconsistent player, but has been productive lately.  Earl Watson has shown that he is willing to give him minutes into the upper-twenties, or thirties at times, as long as he stays out of foul trouble.  He has a ton of upside in this matchup, though he remains a risky play.





Secondary: Jameer Nelson, C.J. Watson, Michael Beasley, Dario Saric, Dirk Nowitzki, Derrick Favors