NBA Deep Dive 2/2/17

High Priced ($9,000+)

James Harden is basically always a top option when he plays.  He has been in a bit of a shooting slump lately, shooting greater than his season-long field goal percentage just once in his last four games.  Of course, he produced 97.75 DraftKings points in that game, showing that it is never safe to write him even if he is in a slump.  He has a very nice matchup against an Atlanta team that has struggled against opposing point guards this season.  Harden utilizes the pick-and-roll on 40.5 percent of his plays and averages 1.03 points per possession, ranking in the 93rd percentile among ball-handlers.  The Hawks do not appear to have an answer for Harden’s pick-and-roll proficiency, as Kent Bazemore ranks in the 18th percentile in points per possession allowed and Schroder ranks in the 46th percentile.  There is definitely blowout risk in this game with Atlanta on the road and seemingly unable to matchup with Houston’s best player but, if the game does blowout, Harden is very likely to be the reason why so he is a strong play regardless.

John Wall is at a difficult price point these days.  He has a very high floor because Scott Brooks relies on him to play heavy minutes every night because the Wizards have one of the better starting units in the league but lack much depth.  He does not have a particularly high ceiling for his price, however, reaching 60 DraftKings points in just 5 games this season- although it is worth noting that Bradley Beal did play in all 5 of those games, albeit just 17.9 minutes in one of them.  Wall is a great cash game play in a matchup with a Lakers team that ranks 26th in defensive rating since the start of January and he is a strong GPP option as well on this short slate, as long as you are happy most likely getting closer to 50 fantasy points than 60.

Kawhi Leonard is a very strong option at a weak small forward position.  He is significantly more expensive on FanDuel than DraftKings, but he is a strong option on both sites.  He has a 41.5 usage percentage and is averaging 1.88 DraftKings points and 1.79 FanDuel points per minute without Aldridge and Gasol on the floor this season, although all but 12 of his minutes without them were also without Tony Parker.  Even with Parker active, Leonard should have no trouble being productive, especially with Philadelphia missing Joel Embiid and, most likely, Robert Covington.


Core: James Harden, John Wall, Kawhi Leonard

Secondary: Kevin Durant


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

Steph Curry has been much more assertive lately, possibly because Kevin Durant told him to do his thing and not worry about him.  Steph has taken at least 20 shots in three straight games, despite playing just three quarters in two of those games.  One of those games was against this same Clippers team, shooting 9-15 from three and picking up 43 actual points in three quarters.  Curry will likely be extremely popular tonight given the size of the slate and his recent performance but he is still a strong play in any format, especially without an obvious tournament pivot in his price range.

Dwight Howard is always more of a GPP play than a cash play, but he is a very strong tournament play tonight.  Houston plays at a fast pace and has the sixth lowest rebounding percentage since the start of January.  If Atlanta is going to keep this game close, they will likely need to exploit Howard’s matchup with the Houston interior.  He is on the second game of a back-to-back, but he only played 25 minutes last night so he should be relatively fresh.  Howard racked up 20 points and 15 rebounds in 29.2 minutes against Houston earlier this year and he has similar upside against his former team tonight.

Markieff Morris has been on a tear lately and it coincides with Marcus Thornton losing his spot in the Washington rotation (s/o to ProbablyMyLastLogin for pointing it out to me).  The last game that Thornton appeared in was on January 3rd.  Morris had 24 DraftKings points in his next game, but has not scored less than 30 points in any game since then with the exception of one.  Thornton has been replaced by the likes of Tomas Satoransky and Sheldon McClellan who do not chuck up as many shots as Thornton.  Morris has a great matchup with Los Angeles tonight and can be expected to keep up his very good run, making for a strong play even at his increased price point.

Ersan Ilyasova gets a boost without Joel Embiid and Robert Covington on the floor.  He is averaging 1.02 DraftKings and 0.94 FanDuel points per minute without Embiid on the floor this season and an extra 3 minutes per game in games that Covington misses.  The biggest concern with Ilyasova is how many minutes he will actually play, but he has played over 30 minutes in two of his last three games, which is a good sign.  It is always risky to take players against the Spurs, especially perimeter players who are the main offensive threat, but he certainly has tournament upside at his price point.

D’Angelo Russell was very good in his return from injury.  We can assume part of the success was because he was facing Denver, but he also worked very well with Ivica Zubac on the pick-and-roll.  Commentary from the game implied that Zubac sets better screens for him than other players on the Lakers do, and it results in baskets on 5 of 6 pick-and-rolls between the pair.  If this is the case, Zubac’s increased role in the rotation should lead to more assists and greater offensive efficiency for Russell.  His price is way too cheap for his upside, even in a matchup with a Washington team that has been playing great defense recently en route to a 15-game home winning streak.


Secondary: Dennis Schroder, Otto Porter, Paul Millsap, Blake Griffin, Bradley Beal, Lou Williams


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

David Lee should see plenty of minutes in the San Antonio frontcourt with LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol sidelined.  He is averaging 1.10 DraftKings and 1.05 FanDuel points per minute without Aldridge and Gasol on the floor this season and will be facing a Philadelphia frontcourt that is missing an elite defender in Embiid.  Lee is averaging 26.3 minutes per game without Gasol and 27.3 minutes per game without Aldridge this season, so he should be a safe bet for at least 25-30 very productive minutes in this matchup.

Tony Parker has played 109 minutes alongside Kawhi Leonard without LaMarcus Aldridge this season (just 12 without Aldridge and Gasol).  He has averaged just 0.75 DraftKings points per minute, but he has a 22.5 usage percentage and 25 assist percentage so we can expect the fantasy production to increase as the sample size gets bigger, especially when you factor in that Gasol will also be missing tonight’s game.  Parker is dirt cheap across the industry and has a ton of upside at his price point.

Nick Young returns to D.C. to face the team that drafted him.  While he does not seem like a very vengeful person, he is not afraid to shoot the ball and it would not be surprising at all to see him fire up a few extra shots in this one.  He draws a friendly matchup with Bradley Beal as well.  Young spots up on 21.7 percent of his plays and averages 1.22 points per possession, ranking in the 91st percentile among spot-up shooters.  Beal has allowed 1.04 points per possession to spot-up shooters this season, ranking in the 38th percentile, although that number has presumably improved along with the rest of the Washington defense.  Regardless, Young is a high-upside play at his price point.

Dario Saric is always a question mark when it comes to how many minutes he will get, but he is productive in the absence of Embiid and Covington, averaging 0.95 DraftKings points per minute without them on the floor.  He is a good bet to pay off his very cheap salary if he sees around 25 minutes tonight and he is especially valuable on sites where he is small forward eligible.

Ivica Zubac becomes a little bit riskier with Julius Randle back, but Randle is expected to be limited and Zubac saw about 28 minutes in the last game that Randle was active- although that number is skewed slightly because the starters were benched 3 minutes into the second half.  Luke Walton and the Lakers coaching staff appears to be impressed with Zubac’s recent play and it would make sense for him to remain a part of the rotation.  We cannot trust him in cash games with the Lakers’ frontcourt becoming more crowded, but he remains a GPP option- especially on sites like FantasyDraft and DraftKings that allow you to roster multiple centers.


Secondary: Patrick Beverley, Raymond Felton, Kelly Oubre, Larry Nance, Kent Bazemore, Davis Bertans, Clint Capela, Dewayne Dedmon, Jahlil Okafor, Javale McGee, Tim Hardaway, Eric Gordon, Jamal Crawford