NBA Deep Dive 2/13/17

Stephen Curry posted rather underwhelming fantasy totals in December, followed by much better numbers in January, and now stellar all-around numbers through six February starts. Through 19 games since the start of the new year, Curry is averaging a respectable 27.5 points, 7.3 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 49 fantasy points per game. Once you dig a little deeper, though, it becomes clear just how good he’s been: Curry knocked down 37 threes over a 5-game stretch just 10 days back, and has racked up 55-plus fantasy points in five of his last seven starts. He’s also finished with 40-plus fantasy points in 17 of his last 20 outings. Curry looks much more like the player we’d become accustomed to seeing before Kevin Durant came to town, and that’s an encouraging sign as he heads into this road matchup with the Nuggets.

Denver ranks dead last in defensive rating while playing at the league’s fifth fastest pace this season. Golden State owns the second best defense in basketball, but they also operate at a lightning-fast pace (2nd). This game owns an eye-popping 239 total at the Pepsi Center, and although the Warriors are 11.5-point favorites on the road, I’m expecting Curry to brutalize this punchless Nuggets backcourt with ease. Whether it’s Jameer Nelson or Emmanuel Mudiay guarding Curry, neither of them stand a chance.

Curry is sporting a 30 percent usage rate since January 1st, up three percent from his season average and nearly three percent higher than Durant’s over that span. He appears to have reassumed his role as the Warriors’ number one, and I’d be shocked to see him finish with anything less than 50 fantasy points against the Nuggets. Denver is ceding the most points, second most assists and fourth highest FG% to opposing point guards this season. Things will not end well for them on Monday. I’ll be loading up on Curry this evening, especially on FanDuel where he’s severely underpriced.

UPDATE: Klay Thompson and Shaun Livingston have been ruled out on Monday, making Curry a virtual lock in all formats across the board. Kevin Durant also becomes a core play as a result.

 

Russell Westbrook is always an option, but we’ll have a tough time gauging his viability on Monday until more injury news is released. This could take several different directions on such a large slate, as value could open up throughout the day and make Westbrook an easy play, or we could simply target more mid-range options being that we have so much to choose from. Washington snapped their 17-game home winning streak last week against Cleveland, but they are still 5-point favorites in a 216.5-total game, creating ample fantasy value on both sides of this contest.

Westbrook’s league-leading 42 percent usage rate, 56.4 percent assist rate and 16.8 percent total rebounding rate are all we need to consider him a top option in what should be a high-scoring affair, but is he worth the price of admission? At the current time, I’d say no; we have a stable of fantastic options on this 11-game slate, while Westbrook weighs in just south of $13K on both FanDuel and DraftKings. He always makes for an elite GPP play, especially on DraftKings where double-double, triple-double and three-point bonuses are awarded and turnovers are only worth a half-point deduction, but I’ll be avoiding in cash until more injury statuses are revealed.

 

Nikola Jokic needs to be prioritized on DraftKings until they price him to reflect his recent production. In 14 games over the past month, Jokic has tallied 50-plus fantasy points nine times, while averaging just shy of 50 FPPG in the process. He’s averaging 55 FPPG in five games with totals of 230 or more this season, and aside from the few foul-ridden performances that curbed his production, Jokic is logging upwards of 36 minutes per game. In short, Jokic has been one of the most impressive young fantasy options in basketball since the start of the new year.

Denver acquired Mason Plumlee from Portland yesterday in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic, a 2017 first-round draft pick, a 2018 second-round draft pick and cash considerations. Plumlee won’t be making his debut against the Warriors, though, and Kenneth Faried has also already been ruled out. Moreover, Darrell Arthur remains questionable to play, which in the event that he is sidelined would leave the Nuggets with Jokic, Juancho Hernangomez and Johnny O’Bryant III to man the two frontcourt positions. Wilson Chandler will also log minutes at the four, but Jokic is currently the only true center on the roster.

Golden State’s stout frontcourt defense will likely lower Jokic’s efficiency, but he should see ample opportunity to produce in a ridiculously high-scoring affair (239 O/U). The Warriors are 11.5-point road favorites, but they’ve prone to letting teams hang around through three quarters when playing away from the Oracle. At $9,200 on DraftKings, Jokic makes for one of the most enticing high-end options with 60-plus-fantasy point upside. Barring any foul trouble, Jokic will have a tough time failing in this matchup, as Golden State’s run-and-gun style of play leaves them vulnerable in the paint, while a smaller frontcourt limits their ability to haul down offensive boards.

 

Anthony Davis is a fine play against Phoenix, but he’s far from a sure thing on Monday. Coming off 40 minutes of court time in a road loss to the Kings last night, Davis will definitely have some fatigue working against him in this second of a back-to-back. Working in his favor, however, is a matchup with the Suns, who rank 28th in defensive efficiency and play at the league’s fourth fastest pace. Davis finally posted solid fantasy totals in this matchup last week (60.25 DKPT) after playing very passive basketball in four prior meetings with Phoenix, and a 220 O/U with a 2-point spread should afford him every opportunity to recreate that production.

Alvin Gentry hasn’t limited Davis on back-to-backs, and Davis has been surprisingly consistent on zero days rest, so there’s reason to believe he’ll be fine on Monday. That being said, it’s still Anthony Davis, who is averaging eight fewer FPPG away from home this season and has unsurprisingly dealt with a plethora of minor injuries through three and a half months. With 11 games on this slate and a stable of alternative options to choose from, Davis is best suited as a tournament play with his recently inflated price point.

 

Kawhi Leonard routinely goes overlooked no matter how big or small the slate, but Monday’s road tilt with Indiana is one where we should not ignore him. Leonard tallied 60 fantasy points in Sunday afternoon’s embarrassing loss to the Knicks, and Gregg Popovich will need his All-Star small forward to replicate that production tonight if the Spurs are to get back on track. Tony Parker has been dismal this season, and will likely be limited on the second of a back-to-back, while Pau Gasol remains sidelined with a broken finger.

Leonard isn’t cheap, but he’ll almost certainly be sub-10 percent owned across the board and offers immense upside in a contest currently sporting a mere 3-point spread in favor of San Antonio. Leonard is also sporting a career-high 31 percent usage rate, which places him in a favorable position against Indiana and Paul George, who’s stumbling through his worst defensive season as a Pacer. Leonard is one of only a few Spurs who isn’t limited on back-to-backs, and I’m expecting Popovich to utilize him heavily on Monday after San Antonio dropped what should’ve been an easy win in New York.

 

CORE – Stephen Curry; Kevin Durant; Nikola Jokic [DraftKings]

SECONDARY – Kawhi Leonard; Damian Lillard

GPP – Russell Westbrook; Nikola Jokic [FanDuel]; Anthony Davis

 

MID-RANGE   [$5900-$8500]

 

Wilson Chandler predictably struggled against Cleveland on Saturday, as he was dealing with an illness and playing his second of a back-to-back on the road. Save for an underwhelming effort against the Cavs and an unsurprising dud against Kawhi Leonard’s Spurs, Chandler has been brilliant as Danilo Gallinari’s starting lineup replacement, averaging 20 points, 7.5 rebounds, three assists, 1.8 blocks, 1.8 steals, 40.8 fantasy points and 38.5 MPG. Mike Malone will rely on his veteran forward to guard Kevin Durant on Monday, as Denver doesn’t have one player on their active roster outside of Chandler who’s capable of even slightly containing the former league MVP.

Chandler should log north of 40 minutes against the Warriors if Denver can keep things even remotely competitive, but even in a blowout he should see around 35 minutes of work. Furthermore, Chandler will likely be used at both the three and the four as a way to combat Golden State’s death lineup. He’s an excellent play no matter how you cut it, but Chandler becomes even more viable if Darrell Arthur is out. I’m expecting Malone to start Will Barton (excellent mid-range option if he starts) at small forward and Chandler at power forward against a small Warriors lineup, which places him in an optimal spot to both rack up rebounds and tally easy points in the paint. We simply can’t ignore the 239-point total attached to this game, even if the Nuggets are double-digit dogs.

UPDATE: Darrell Arthur has been ruled out of Monday’s game, while Wilson Chandler unexpectedly missed shootaround with an illness and is now questionable to play. This throws a wrench into the works, fellas. We’ll need to play close attention to any developments here as we draw closer to lock. Will Barton already becomes an elite play with Arthur sidelined, but Chandler’s potential absence would make him a lock. We’ll talk about Juancho Hernangomez in the next segment.

 

Eric Bledsoe will probably be avoided on Monday, but I won’t be excluding him based on this matchup with New Orleans. I’m willing to admit Jrue Holiday is a better defender than I’ve given him credit for in the past, but I’m not willing to admit Bledsoe should be ignored solely because he’s facing him. Holiday played 40 minutes in a road loss to the Kings last night, and now he’ll draw another matchup away from home on the second of a back-to-back. Moreover, the Pelicans own bottom-five marks in points (27th), rebounds (27th), assists (25th), steals (25th), field goal attempts (29th) and efficiency (28th) allowed to opposing point guards, so needless to say, I’m not all that scared.

Bledsoe has been a hit-or-miss fantasy option season long, but he tends to produce in the right spots. Phoenix is a 2-point home favorite in a game owning a 220-point total, while New Orleans is playing their second of a back-to-back on the road. At $7,700 on DraftKings, Bledsoe makes for a stellar mid-range option, but I’m viewing him as more of a secondary play at $8,400 on FanDuel. Jrue Holiday, despite the B2B, is a stronger play at $8,300 on FanDuel, as he draws an optimal matchup with the Suns and has been playing out of his mind offensively over the past few weeks.

 

Mike Conley also makes for a fine tournament option against the Nets in an uptempo matchup for Memphis. With 11 games on this slate, though, he’s far less of a priority. I’m actually more intrigued by Jeff Teague, who is priced down for a matchup with the Spurs. San Antonio is playing their second of a back-to-back, Tony Parker is no longer a viable NBA defender, and the Spurs can struggle to defend ball handlers in the pick-and-roll. I’m expecting Teague to go virtually unowned on Monday, but there is legitimate GPP-winning upside here with this game expected to remain competitive.

 

Hassan Whiteside appears to have regained his form after stumbling through a horrible month of January, as he’s now averaging 44 fantasy points on 18.3 points, 15.8 rebounds, two blocks and .5 steals per game through six February starts. Monday’s matchup with Orlando places him in another position to excel, as the Magic have allowed the third most made field goals to roll men and won’t be able to contain Whiteside around the rim. Whiteside leads the league in putback points this season, while Orlando ranks bottom-10 in PITP and 2nd chance points allowed. The Heat are 8.5-point favorites at home, but I expect this game to remain competitive, with Whiteside logging around 35 minutes on the night.

 

Marc Gasol faces a Nets team that has been tortured by versatile big men all season long, and he is the epitome of a versatile big man. On the season, Brooklyn is allowing top marks to opposing centers in nearly every fantasy-relevant category. Gasol is capable of stuffing the stat sheet with rebounds, assists, blocks and steals all while averaging north of 20 PPG on the year. A blowout would be the only concern here, as Gasol will undoubtedly produce solid fantasy totals if he sees his normal allotment of minutes.

The Nets lead the league in pace and own a bottom-five defensive rating as a team and against the center position. In an uptempo matchup with a Swiss cheese Brooklyn frontcourt, Gasol should easily eclipse the 40-fantasy point mark with upside for much more if this game remains competitive.

I’m also looking towards Rudy Gobert as a low-owned tournament play, as the Clippers have fallen to dead last in DRtg since Chris Paul hit the shelf. They’ve also been allowing more rebounds and are 28th against opposing centers in DRtg over the last month. Gobert is significantly cheaper than almost every center who possesses similar upside.

 

CORE – Wilson Chandler; Will Barton [If he starts]; Eric Bledsoe [DraftKings]; Jrue Holiday [FanDuel]; Draymond Green

SECONDARY – Eric Bledsoe [FanDuel]; Jrue Holiday [DraftKings]; Hassan Whiteside; Marc Gasol; James Johnson

GPP – Jeff Teague; Mike Conley; Rudy Gobert; Klay Thompson

 

VALUE   [$3000-$5800]

 

Juancho Hernangomez will be thrust into a much larger role on Monday with Danilo Gallinari, Darrell Arthur and Kenneth Faried injured, Jusuf Nurkic heading to Portland, and Wilson Chandler questionable to play. Forget about the matchup for a moment and consider the minutes; Hernangomez could realistically log upwards of 35 minutes between several different positions, as the Nuggets are ultra-thin in the frontcourt. Couple his playing time with these stellar fantasy conditions against the Warriors (239 O/U) and we have ourselves a recipe for success.

At or near minimum salary across the board, Hernangomez won’t need to do much in order to eclipse value, as two top-five paced teams will create unlimited opportunity to collect peripheral stats and rack up some easy buckets along the way. By default, Hernangomez is going to get more than enough run to get the job done on Monday. He should also play through a blowout, which makes him arguably the safest value option on this 11-game slate.

 

Gary Harris is not a player I’m fond of using, but that will all change on Monday when he faces the Warriors at home. Denver is already severely shorthanded at several positions, and Will Barton will be forced to log most of his minutes at small forward, leaving Harris with the lion’s share of minutes at the two. Klay Thompson, who is one of the more underrated 2-guard defenders in basketball, will also be sidelined, leaving Harris with easier matchups against Golden State’s bench. Whenever we’re afforded an opportunity to roster someone at a low-$5K price point who’s set to log north of 35 minutes in a 239-O/U game, the trigger must be pulled. Opportunity is more important than talent in Harris’ case, and it’s something we’ll need to exploit this evening.

Jamal Murray will also be vaulted towards the top of our GPP value list if Wilson Chandler is unable to play, as he’ll see plenty of run as the backup shooting guard while Gary Harris fills space at the three. Murray won’t need more than 25 minutes against the Warriors to jack up double-digit field goals and a handful of three-point attempts in the most fantasy-friendly game of the night.

Andre Iguodala won’t see a usage bump with Klay Thompson and Shaun Livingston out, but he should see big minutes off the bench and plenty of ball-handling duties as the Warriors’ backup point-forward. Iguodala isn’t an elite FPPM producer by any stretch, but having ample exposure to this game on both sides of the ball is imperative.

 

Nerlens Noel is in line to start another game at center for the Sixers, as Jahlil Okafor didn’t travel with the team to Charlotte and is almost guaranteed to be traded. With Joel Embiid and Okafor sidelined, Philadelphia will rely on Noel and Richaun Holmes to man the center position, while Ersan Ilyasova and Dario Saric [Strong GPP play] will soak up the minutes at power forward. Noel is averaging a very respectable 1.07 FPPM on the season, which should serve him well on Monday where he’s in line to play north of 30 minutes against Charlotte. Noel’s low-$5K price point and power forward eligibility makes him a very strong play across the industry, as he should have no trouble scoring, rebounding and blocking shots against the Frank Kaminsky-led Hornets. Kaminsky also makes for a strong value play, especially on FanDuel at $4,800. Noel is a strong interior defender, but Kaminsky should see no shortage of peripheral opportunities now that he’s starting at the five.

 

CORE – Juancho Hernangomez; Gary Harris; Nerlens Noel; Frank Kaminsky [FanDuel]

SECONDARY – Andre Iguodala; Frank Kaminsky [DraftKings]; Jameer Nelson

GPP – Jamal Murray [If Wilson Chandler is OUT]; Dario Saric; Ed Davis