NBA Deep Dive 2/23/17


Note:  Today is the NBA Trade Deadline so news throughout the day could change the value of some of the players mentioned.  Be sure to check out the Trade Deadline show on FanVice Live with DraftCheat, Loughy and Manny Lora at 2:00 P.M. EST as well as the Adam Bomb sponsored by Draft with Loughy and myself at 5:00 P.M. EST for our takes on how today’s trades impact tonight’s slate.


High Priced ($8,500+)


James Harden is expensive and facing a Pelicans team that I expect to play very good defense in the second half, but he is still James Harden and there should be plenty of possessions in this game with a 227 total between the 3rd and 8th fastest teams in the league since the start of 2017.  Harden has been phenomenal this season and there is plenty of value available on this slate that should allow you to pay up for him.  Harden has faced New Orleans once so far this season and posted a big triple-double with 29 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists.  He is an elite option tonight in any format.


DeMarcus Cousins will be playing his first game for his new team and he gets an excellent matchup against the Houston Rockets.  Cousins will be playing the five for New Orleans, which should keep him closer to the basket and improve his rebounding numbers.  It remains to be seen if there is an adjustment period playing next to Anthony Davis, but we have seen Davis defer when he is on the floor with other high-usage players so my guess is that Cousins is the focal point of the offense.  There is certainly some risk since it is his first game with a new team but there is a ton of upside in this matchup.


LeBron James is significantly more expensive on FanDuel than DraftKings.  It is hard to see him putting up the score we want for his price in GPPs on FanDuel but he is cheap enough on DraftKings.  He has a very nice floor and is in play for cash games on either site.  LeBron has averaged 1.53 DraftKings points per minute in his previous three meetings with the Knicks, an improvement over the 1.4 DraftKings points he has averaged for the season.  Kevin Love and Kyrie were both active in all three of the previous games.  LeBron increases from 1.32 DraftKings points alongside all three to 1.42 DraftKings points without Love, so it is reasonable to expect his points per minute against the Knicks to increase into the 1.6 to 1.65 DraftKings points per minute range in tonight’s game.


Nikola Jokic is priced up and will suffer somewhat from the Nuggets returning to almost full strength.  He still has a very nice matchup with the Kings, however, who are obviously a shell of what they were heading into the break.  Jokic contributes in every category across the board and should be in line for a big game as long as Malone does not do anything stupid with his minutes now that he has more options.  He is not the safest option at his price but he does have upside for GPPs.


Secondary:  Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry


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


Damian Lillard has not been particularly good this season, by his standards, but he gets a boost with Evan Turner sidelined and has a very friendly matchup with the Orlando Magic.  Lillard is averaging 1.30 DraftKings points per minute alongside C.J. McCollum without Turner or Plumlee this season (152 minutes) and 1.31 DraftKings points per minute without McCollum, Turner or Plumlee (107 minutes).  C.J. Watson, Orlando’s best defender at the point guard position, is sidelined which opens the door for Lillard to play more minutes against Elfrid Payton.  Payton is an inferior defender and is more turnover prone, averaging 2.5 turnovers per 36 minutes compared to Watson’s 1.6 turnovers per 36 minutes.  This is actually a pace-up game for Lillard as well, with Orlando playing at the 10th fastest pace since January 1st and the 19th fastest pace over the last month, compared to 14th and 23rd for Portland.  This game has a healthy 217 Vegas total despite both teams playing at relatively slow paces lately and Lillard is in a very nice spot for a big game.


Kemba Walker has a phenomenal matchup against Reggie Jackson.  Walker ranks in the 82nd percentile amongst ball-handlers with 0.94 points per possession on the pick-and-roll and utilizes it often with his 56.1 percent frequency ranking second to Jackson among guards who are regular parts of their team’s rotation.  Jackson ranks in the bottom half of the league defending the pick-and-roll and he will be forced to defend Walker because Nicolas Batum will keep Caldwell-Pope busy.  Walker dropped 32 real-life points in their last meeting and it could have been more as Walker missed a lot of very good looks with Jackson unable to stay in front of him.

DeAndre Jordan has a ton of upside tonight and is very cheap on DraftKings (he is in play on FanDuel as well).  He played less than 30 minutes in each of his last two games against the Warriors because they were blowouts and he saw no minutes in the fourth quarter.  He played an average of 35.9 minutes per game in his 5 most recent meetings with Golden State before those games, however, so we should not be worried about him getting run off the floor.  Jordan should be able to dominate the Golden State frontcourt and has averaged 1.18 DraftKings points per minute alongside Blake Griffin without Chris Paul this season.  This is an excellent spot to take advantage of the fact that players who are in late games with relatively big spreads tend to go massively underowned.



C.J. McCollum, like Lillard, will also benefit from his matchup with an Orlando team that ranks 25th in defensive rating over the last month.  McCollum is averaging 1 DraftKings points per minute alongside Lillard without Plumlee and Turner this season, and that number climbs to 1.21 DraftKings points per minute when Lillard is also off the floor.  Portland staggers the minutes of their two stars so McCollum always sees a healthy chunk of time running the point for the 2nd unit while Lillard rests.  He is very fairly priced and has a nice ceiling in this matchup.


Nikola Vucevic looks to be one of the primary beneficiaries of the Serge Ibaka trade and he has a very nice matchup tonight against the Portland frontcourt.  Vucevic has played 131 minutes alongside Elfrid Payton and Evan Fournier without Ibaka this season and is averaging 1.31 DraftKings points per minute with a 27.1 usage percentage over that span.  He is a very strong mid-range option at center in this matchup.


Andre Drummond is a strong tournament option tonight, as his price is a little bit high- especially on FanDuel- but he has a 50+ point ceiling in a matchup against a depleted Charlotte frontcourt.  It is best to roster Drummond in games where he is facing an opposing center who he can bully and Frank Kaminsky fits that category.  Drummond should have his way on the offensive glass, which will result in more baskets for the big man.  The main concern with Drummond is that he has looked like a fish out of water whenever he has had to defend mobile bigs this season so there is potential for him to lose some playing time if he is unable to keep Kaminsky from scoring.


Speaking of Frank Kaminsky, he is in another very nice matchup with Cody Zeller and Miles Plumlee still sidelined.  Kaminsky is not a prototypical center and can cause matchup problems for immobile bigs such as Drummond.  It is unlikely that Kaminsky will have much success on the glass in this one, but he should be able to make up for that by scoring at will when he draws Drummond out of the paint.  His price has increased due to his recent play, but he has been playing very heavy minutes and still has a nice ceiling for the price.


Secondary: Jrue Holiday, Derrick Rose, Klay Thompson, Kristaps Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez


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


Elfrid Payton will presumably get the start with C.J. Watson sidelined and he has a nice matchup against Damian Lillard and the Blazers.  Payton has not been overly productive in his time on the floor with Vucevic and Fournier minus Ibaka this season, averaging just 0.79 DraftKings points per minute, but his 22 percent usage percentage and his 42 percent field goal percentage suggests there is room for positive regression.  The absence of Watson should help secure Payton’s minutes and, if we can get 30+ minutes from Payton, he has a massive ceiling at a low price tag.


Tyreke Evans is said to be limited to 27 minutes, which means he can do a lot of damage for his price tag in a huge pace-up game against the Nuggets, who rank 9th in pace and dead last in defensive rating over the last month.  The Kings will be desperate for scoring and it is likely that Evans takes on a big role in the offense.  Evans had a 27.3 usage percentage with the Pelicans this season and produced more than 1 fantasy point per minute, with a lot of his minutes coming alongside Jrue Holiday and/or Anthony Davis.  Nobody on Sacramento will command anywhere near the usage that those two do, so we should see Evans even more involved on offense.  The Kings as a whole offer a ton of value tonight, but Evans is my favorite of the bunch.

Buddy Hield, aka Steph Curry, Jr., was the key piece of the DeMarcus Cousins trade and there is no reason to expect him to not be a featured part of the Kings rotation for the rest of the season, despite a logjam of backcourt players.  It would make no sense for the Kings not to get him as much experience as possible while they are in full-on tank mode- although it is the Kings we are talking about so who knows what they will actually do.  Hield is still very inexpensive across the industry and will most likely take on a much bigger scoring role than he did in New Orleans.  He has a lot of upside for his price and people may be somewhat biased against him since he has been inconsistent all year long in a completely different situation.


Anthony Tolliver and Willie Cauley-Stein should see plenty of run with the Kings frontcourt depleted after the trade of Cousins and the release of Matt Barnes.  In two games without Cousins this season, Tolliver played 34.7 and 37.1 minutes.  He has averaged 0.67 DraftKings points per minute with Gay, Cousins and Barnes all off the floor this season.  He will likely be forced into huge minutes tonight due to the lack of bigs available.  Cauley-Stein played 22.8 and 23.8 minutes in the two games without Cousins, although the first game was primarily blowout run.  Cauley-Stein played 3:47 alongside Kosta Koufos in the most recent game that Cousins missed, so we know that they are willing to do that.  He is still a risky play because his minutes are not certain since the Kings have been reluctant to play him at times this season, but he does have plenty of upside as he has averaged 0.91 DraftKings points per minute this season.


Jusuf Nurkic played 21.2 minutes in his Portland debut and was productive, scoring 13 points and grabbing 7 rebounds.  We saw in Denver that he can be very productive for fantasy purposes when he gets playing time and it appears that he will get it now in Portland.  It has also been reported that he could move into the starting lineup tonight, which would be a boost since it would make his minutes more secure and he would spend more time matched up with Vucevic than Biyombo.  He makes for a very strong value option in any format tonight.



Secondary: Ty Lawson, Gary Harris, Terrence Ross, Jeff Green, Mo Harkless, Ed Davis, Aaron Gordon, Kosta Koufos