NBA Deep Dive 2/14/17
High Priced ($8,500+)
DeMarcus Cousins is in a fantastic spot against a Lakers frontcourt that does not have anyone to defend him. He is averaging 1.42 DraftKings points per minute without Rudy Gay, Garrett Temple or Ty Lawson on the floor this season, and that number increases to 1.65 DraftKings points per minute when we include minutes that Lawson has played (with or without Collison) and 1.90 DraftKings points per minute when Lawson is on the floor alongside Collison. Lawson is currently listed as questionable, just know that Boogie is in an even better spot if Lawson plays. Cousins has faced off against the Lakers in games where Julius Randle was active six times over the last two seasons and is averaging 1.65 DraftKings points per minute. He is extremely expensive, but he is an elite play if you can afford him.
LeBron James will be playing without Kevin Love today and for the foreseeable future (sorry Cedric and Eddie). James has gotten a boost without Love this season, but probably not as much as people assume. James has averaged 1.32 DraftKings points per minute alongside Irving and Love this season compared to 1.41 alongside Irving without Love. It is a very good matchup for James, as Andrew Wiggins is much more of an offensive presence than a defensive presence. James is a very strong cash game play, and is a viable tournament option as well.
Jimmy Butler is probable for tonight’s game and Dwyane Wade has already been ruled out. Butler is averaging 1.32 DraftKings points per minute this season without Wade or Mirotic on the floor and his production increases to 1.52 DraftKings points per minute when Rondo is not on the floor either. The Bulls have been starting Jerian Grant and Michael Carter-Williams in the backcourt and bringing Rondo off the bench in Wade’s absence, so Butler should see plenty of time on the floor sans Rondo. The only concern with Butler is his health, but his price is low enough that he can significantly outperform it assuming he is close to full strength. Butler has played four games without Wade this season, with two serviceable ones and two very good ones. It is somewhat concerning that the two games that he was mediocre were against slow-paced teams in Memphis and Dallas, but Memphis is much better defensively than Toronto is and both teams play even slower than Toronto does. In addition, Toronto has had serious troubles against opposing ball-handlers this season and Butler should have the ball in his hands plenty.
Secondary: Karl-Anthony Towns
Kyrie Irving gets a sizeable boost with Kevin Love sidelined, going from 1.01 DraftKings points per minute alongside Love and LeBron to 1.19 DraftKings points per minute alongside only LeBron. Tonight’s game is projected to be close and high-scoring, with the Cavaliers currently sitting as 4.5-point road favorites in a 218.5 Vegas total. Point guard is a relatively deep position today, but Irving is in a very good spot.
Ricky Rubio has been fantastic since Zach LaVine’s injury and we should see that continue tonight against the Cavaliers. Rubio is not scoring dependent, so we should not be overly concerned if Iman Shumpert or DeAndre Liggins defend him instead of Kyrie Irving. Rubio has a 19.7 percent usage percentage and a 43 percent assist percentage in the five games since LaVine’s injury, compared to 15.3 and 35.8 respectively for the season. Looking at a bigger sample size, Rubio has averaged 0.85 DraftKings points per minute in 997 minutes alongside Towns, LaVine and Wiggins this season compared to 1.11 DraftKings points per minute in 403 minutes alongside Towns and Wiggins without LaVine. His price has not increased enough to make up for his increased productivity, making him a strong play in any format.
Andrew Wiggins has also seen an increase in production with LaVine out. He has a usage percentage of 30.9 percent and an assist percentage of 16.2 percent in the 5 games since LaVine was injured, compared to 28 percent and 11.2 percent for the season. He has averaged 0.77 DraftKings points per minute in 997 minutes alongside Towns, Rubio and LaVine this season compared to 0.98 DraftKings points per minute in his 403 minutes alongside that group minus LaVine. The Cavaliers have also been susceptible against scoring small forwards this season as LeBron has shown a propensity for coasting on defense and saving his energy for the offensive end of the floor.
Darren Collison is still way too cheap on FanDuel, especially if Ty Lawson misses this game again. He is a very strong cash game play based on minutes, and is a viable tournament option as well in a very good matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers. It is worth pointing out, however, that he does not average more than 0.80 DraftKings points per minute (less on FanDuel) regardless of who is on the floor with him, so there is merit to fading him at what is likely to be extremely high ownership in tournaments.
Tristan Thompson is another beneficiary of Kevin Love’s absence. Thompson is averaging 1.0 DraftKings point per minute alongside Kyrie and LeBron without Love this season, compared to 0.85 DraftKings points per minute when all of the Big Three are on the floor. Thompson has also had success in matchups against this Minnesota frontcourt, with 19 points and 12 rebounds and 18 points and 14 rebounds in his last two games against Gorgui Dieng.
Secondary: Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas, Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell
Channing Frye is the most obvious value play on the slate but he is in a great spot tonight against the Timberwolves. He is averaging 1.05 DraftKings points per minute alongside LeBron and Kyrie (without Love) and has averaged 24.2 minutes per game when Love sits this season. Minnesota has struggled mightily to defend stretch fours, which gives Frye even more value. There is merit to fading in tournaments based on ownership, but there is not much to suggest that Frye struggles in this game as long as LeBron plays. If LeBron happens to sit, Frye is an excellent fade because he is extremely dependent on LeBron creating shots for him and feeding him the ball.
Michael Carter-Williams is finally shooting guard eligible on FanDuel, but DraftKings has not caught on to the fact that the Bulls do not run out 3-4 point guards and no shooting guards yet. At least they made sure we have lock 4 hours before tip tonight. Anyway, Carter-Williams is a strong play tonight even with Jimmy Butler active. He is averaging 1.02 DraftKings points per minute alongside Butler and without Wade and he should be in line for plenty of minutes tonight with Wade still out. He is much more valuable on FanDuel than DraftKings since shooting guard is weaker than point guard and he is $600 less. It is possible that he loses a few minutes of playing time with Butler back, but he should still see at least 25 minutes as part of the backcourt rotation with Grant and Rondo.
Matt Barnes continues to be forced into heavy minutes for the Kings and gets a very nice matchup with the Lakers tonight. He would be the biggest lock of the slate if Derek Fisher was still coaching, but we will have to settle for just being a very good play. Barnes should see minutes in the low-mid thirties barring foul trouble and his price has not increased with his playing time. Barnes, like Cousins, will also benefit if Lawson is able to return to the floor. Barnes averages 0.65 DraftKings points per minute alongside Cousins without Lawson or Gay this season, but he averages 0.78 DraftKings points when Lawson is on the floor (with or without Collison) and 1.02 DraftKings points per minute in limited time alongside Collison, Lawson and Cousins without Gay.
Secondary: Lou Williams (elite DraftKings play/secondary FanDuel), Kyle Korver, Nick Young, DeMarre Carroll, Bobby Portis, Anthony Tolliver