NBA Deep Dive 2/25/17


High-Priced ($8,500+)


James Harden is priced toward the bottom of his salary range in a very friendly matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves.  It is a pace down game for the Rockets but the Timberwolves rank 24th in defensive rating over the last month and have had trouble stopping Harden in each of their two previous meetings this season.  Harden has posted lines of 28-13-9 and 33-12-6 in two games against Minnesota this season, picking up 64 DraftKings points in each game.  Harden only took 9 shots in his last game, but that should be viewed as more of an anomaly than anything.  As always, he is an elite option if you can fit him in your lineup.


Kevin Durant may go somewhat overlooked tonight because of the massive spread in the game against Brooklyn, but there are a couple of things working in his favor.  Obviously we do not like to predict blowouts, but this is a pretty extreme case and it is worth considering what will happen if the Nets cannot hang with the Warriors in Golden State.  First, Brooklyn is playing at the 4th fastest pace in the NBA over the last month so, even if the game does get out of hand early, there should be plenty of possessions available for Durant to rack up stats in the first three quarters.  Second, Durant gets garbage time run- especially at home.  We saw him return to the game against the Clippers up by 23 points with about 6 minutes remaining in Golden State’s most recent game.  There should be a ton of points to go around for Golden State tonight and the likelihood of fourth quarter minutes regardless of the score makes Durant one of the more appealing ways to get exposure to the Warriors.


Anthony Davis was overshadowed by DeMarcus Cousins in terms of production in their first game together, but the numbers from that game suggest that Davis is the better play of the two, especially on sites where he is less expensive.  One of Davis or Cousins was on the floor for the entire game for New Orleans.  Obviously Davis will dominate usage when he is on the floor without Cousins, but we need to figure out who is going to be more involved offensively when they share the floor.  Davis played alongside Cousins for 21 of his 33 minutes against Houston and was incredibly involved offensively.  He attempted 21 field goals and 16 free throws over the course of the game and finished with a 32.2 usage percentage in the time that he was on the floor with Cousins.  The reason his fantasy production was not better is that he shot just 38 percent from the field.  It is also worth noting that Cousins dominated the glass when they were on the floor together, as expected since Cousins is at the five, so Davis will likely need to rely on the time he is on the floor without Cousins to accumulate rebounds.  Cousins figures to be the more popular option tonight since he put up 71.5 DraftKings points in their first game together, but it is important to remember that 18 of those points were from blocks or steals and that Cousins had an incredibly productive fourth quarter when Davis was on the bench for longer than usual due to the score in the game.

Secondary: Stephen Curry, LeBron James, DeMarcus Cousins, Carmelo Anthony


Mid-Range ($5,600-$8,400)


Dennis Schroder returns from his one game suspension and is underpriced in a very friendly matchup against the Orlando Magic, especially if Elfrid Payton draws another start.  Orlando ranks 26th in defensive rating over the last month and Schroder, despite being inconsistent for much of the season, has had success against Orlando in all three matchups this season, averaging 1.38 DraftKings points per game and not scoring fewer than 36 fantasy points in any of the matchups- including a 42.5 DraftKings point outburst in 26 minutes in their last meeting (the minutes were limited because it was a blowout).  Schroder is a top option on this slate.


Ricky Rubio has been very productive since the injury to Zach LaVine, picking up at least 40 DraftKings points in five of the eight games since the injury.  Today he gets a massive boost in pace against a Houston team that is second in pace over the last month and, it was just announced, may be without defensive stud Patrick Beverley.  Beverley’s presence does not make or break Rubio since Rubio is not a scorer anyway, but his absence still weakens the Houston defense as a whole.  Zach LaVine was sidelined for Minnesota’s last meeting with Houston and Rubio picked up 17 assists to go along with 10 points and 3 boards.  Beverley was active in that game so, if he is out, we could see even more production out of Rubio.


Dario Saric has been phenomenal of late and is being counted on to lead the Sixers offense.  Saric has played 418 minutes this season without Embiid, Noel, Ilyasova, Grant or Thompson on the floor and he has a 25.8 usage percentage and is averaging 1 DraftKings point per minute.  He has also taken on some ball-handling responsibility for Philadelphia, making him a contributor in every category.  He is $1,200 more expensive on DraftKings than FanDuel, but he is still a strong option.  He is a virtual lock on FanDuel at $5,700.


Robert Covington had a monster game last night against the Wizards on the back of a 9-14 performance from the field to go along with 4 steals.  While we should not expect that type of production again, he is still too cheap for his new role.  He will likely be tasked with defending Carmelo Anthony which could lead to increased defensive numbers.  He remains a very strong option until we see his price increase significantly.


Andrew Wiggins is getting expensive quickly but he has been worth the price since LaVine’s injury.  Wiggins has at least 36 DraftKings points in every game since LaVine’s injury and has not fallen below 40 in his last six games, breaking 50 three times in that span.  Wiggins accumulated 37.5 DraftKings points in 38 minutes in the game against Houston that LaVine sat earlier this season.  We should expect at least that out of him today with a strong likelihood that he goes for more.  In the eight games since LaVine’s injury, Wiggins has a 31.4 usage percentage, a 13.7 assist percentage, and is averaging 1.12 DraftKings points per minute when he is on the floor alongside Rubio and Towns.  He should benefit from the boost in pace against the Rockets and should be in line for a very nice game.

Klay Thompson is a very appealing option tonight, particularly in tournaments.  We have seen that people will shy away from double-digit spreads and the Warriors are 22.5 point favorites tonight against the Nets.  The total is 236.5, however, so we should see plenty of points to go around.  The Golden State rotation puts Klay on the floor to start the second and fourth quarters, making him relatively blowout proof.  He is also the least expensive of the Golden State core, meaning he obviously needs to do less to outscore his salary.  He can be inconsistent but this is a game where there should be plenty of scoring amongst all of the Warriors starters and Klay has a very high ceiling.


Hassan Whiteside is at home for a very friendly matchup against the Indiana Pacers that he already dominated once this season when he scored 26 points and grabbed 22 rebounds in Indiana.  Whiteside has been better at home than on the road this season and we could see him absolutely dominate this Indiana frontcourt.  Indiana has been playing at a slow pace over the last month, ranking 26th in the NBA, which makes Whiteside slightly less appealing but they still rank in the bottom 10 in rebounds allowed to opposing starting centers per 36 minutes in that span.


Dwight Howard burned me last night but he should rebound nicely tonight against Nikola Vucevic and the Magic in Orlando.  Howard played less than 25 minutes last night so the back-to-back should not be an issue.  Howard has averaged 1.35 DraftKings points per minute against Orlando in three meetings this season, including a double-double in 24 minutes in their last game.  Howard has not played more than 30 minutes in any of the three matchups, but that is only because Atlanta has won all three games by wide enough margins that Howard lost fourth quarter playing time.  That is obviously a concern tonight, but his price makes up for it and the game is in Orlando and Atlanta is on a back-to-back so it is a little bit less likely that the game blows out.  He makes for a very strong tournament option.


Secondary: Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, T.J. McConnell, Dion Waiters, Dwyane Wade, Paul Millsap, Brook Lopez, Tristan Thompson, Willy Hernangomez, Myles Turner



Value ($3,000-$5,500)


Elfrid Payton makes for a strong tournament option after he burned everyone against Portland in his last game.  He gets another very friendly matchup tonight and he has had success in it already this season.  He struggled in their last meeting, with just 14.8 DraftKings points in 26.3 minutes.  That was a game that Orlando came out incredibly flat, however, almost like they had enjoyed the Atlanta nightlife a bit too much the night before.  In the two previous meetings, Payton posted DraftKings totals of 36 points in 34.7 minutes (in a start) and 56.8 points in 35.3 minutes (off the bench).  He is never a safe option because he is so inconsistent, but he certainly has a very high ceiling in this matchup.  We have seen that he gets extra playing time if he is playing well, so we should not be overly concerned with D.J. Augustin getting more minutes than him against Portland- at least not from a GPP perspective.

Ryan Anderson has a phenomenal matchup that he has done very well in this season.  Ryan Anderson is at home.  Something has to give.  I am leaning toward ignoring the home-road splits in this matchup because it is such a good spot.  Minnesota has been awful against stretch fours all season long as a result of their personnel and defensive scheme and Anderson has torched them twice in Minnesota this season, scoring 46 DraftKings points in 35.6 minutes in their first matchup and 37.2 DraftKings points in 38.4 minutes in their second matchup.  Anderson has also shown signs of breaking out of his season-long slump at home recently, shooting 3 of 6 and 5 of 10 from three in his last two home games.  His price is still cheap enough that we can take a risk on the splits and roster him in an excellent matchup.


Richaun Holmes had a phenomenal game last night against the Wizards and clearly has a very high ceiling for his price.  There are a couple points of concern, however.  First, he picked up 14 DraftKings points from blocks and steals last night, which is not sustainable.  Second, Jahlil Okafor was in foul trouble which led to 4-6 extra minutes for Holmes.  Holmes saw no minutes at the four last night, which is concerning because it really limits his minutes.  It is possible that he sees minutes at the four in the future, but we did not see it last night.  He is still a viable tournament option, just know that there is some risk because he could very easily only play 20-22 minutes tonight.  He is a strong option on FanDuel where he is the absolute minimum than on DraftKings where he is $4,400.


Zaza Pachulia returned from injury and played 18 minutes against the Clippers.  He is a good way to get cheap exposure to the Warriors tonight, especially on sites that allow you to roster more than one center like DraftKings and FantasyDraft.  The pace of the game should lead to plenty of rebounds and potential putbacks for Pachulia, especially since Brook Lopez is not a force on the glass.  It is difficult to imagine Pachulia seeing more than 18-20 minutes, but they should be very productive minutes and, at his price, that can provide value.  He is averaging just over 1 DraftKings point per minute this season and we should see that creep up a little bit due to the pace and the fact that Brooklyn ranks in the bottom ten in rebounds allowed and points allowed per 36 minutes to starting opposing centers over the last month.


Lance Thomas is the type of player that I normally hate rostering, but he is in play today- especially on DraftKings where he is $3,000 and the other value options are priced up a bit more.  Thomas averages just 0.57 DraftKings points per minute alongside Rose and Anthony without Porzingis, but he is averaging 29.8 minutes per game without Porzingis this season (excluding the game that he was injured two minutes into the first quarter).  Thomas will also likely be needed for defensive purposes because Dario Saric will be a nightmare for everyone else in the Knicks’ frontcourt.  Look for Thomas to play upwards of 30 minutes tonight and hopefully luck into some defensive stats to help boost his fantasy production.


Secondary: Nikola Mirotic, Lou Williams, Tyler Johnson, Patrick Beverley (if active), Gerald Henderson, Cameron Payne