NBA Deep Dive 2/3/17

HIGH-PRICED   [$8300+]

Russell Westbrook needs to be considered whenever these dynamic pricing sites like DraftKings bottom out his salary for a poor on-paper matchup. Memphis has done a solid job of limiting point guards this season, but at $11,500 I’m hardly concerned about Westbrook’s ability to produce. He churned out a 24-point, 13-rebound, 12-assist triple-double the last time these teams met, and with Oklahoma City being mere 1.5-point home favorites over the Grizzlies, Westbrook should be afforded every opportunity to pay off his depressed price point.

Westbrook has been somewhat of a disappointment over the past one-plus weeks, finishing with 63 or fewer DraftKings Points in each of his last five starts and 57 or fewer DKPTs in each of his last three. He’s been involved in several blowouts, though, which combined with some difficult matchups helps explain his less than stellar production. Nevertheless, Westbrook should bounce back nicely in what’s almost certain to be a closely contested affair at Chesapeake Energy Arena, where he’s averaging 31 points, 11.3 assists, 10.7 rebounds and 66.7 FPPG on the season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s recent performance is almost guaranteed to lower his ownership on Friday, which places him in a fantastic spot for GPPs. Sure, he’s been underwhelming for a player with a price point north of $10K, but Antetokounmpo has also drawn some difficult matchups and slipped into foul trouble several times over the past couple weeks. He’s still logging upwards of 40 minutes per game, and the Bucks lack ball-dominant players capable of siphoning away his usage. It’s only a matter of time before Giannis bounces back, as a player with his immense physical gifts will stumble into an elite fantasy performance sooner than later.

Friday’s matchup with Denver should serve Antetokounmpo well. The Nuggets are allowing the third highest field goal percentage at the rim (56.2%), with Nikola Jokic, Jusuf Nurkic and Darrell Arthur all serving as human pylons in the paint. They also play at the league’s fifth fastest pace while falling to 29th in defensive efficiency on the season.

An uptempo matchup at the Pepsi center should be exactly what Antetokounmpo needs to get back on track (221 O/U), as he should dominate in transition and also on drives to the rim. Consider him an elite tournament option with low ownership on this nine-game slate, as it’s only a matter of time before his erupts for 60-plus fantasy points across his normal 38 minutes of work.

James Harden will be playing yet another back-to-back on Friday, marking the 13th time this season he’s played with zero days rest. I suppose it doesn’t matter much, though, as Harden has proven countless times that he isn’t affected by the same physical stressors that would limit his humanoid counterparts. Harden’s shooting has remained consistent on back-to-backs along with his scoring and peripheral statistics, so I wouldn’t be overly concerned about this home tilt with Chicago.

One of the reasons Harden has been so dominant this season has been his ability to make a massive impact without having to score. His unparalleled vision creates easy buckets for his teammates, who can roll to the rim for an easy alley oop or bounce pass under the basket, or spot up behind the arc for an uncontested three-pointer when Harden collapses the defense on drives. He ranks second among all players in assists on drives, and leads the league in touches, time of possession, passes made and assist points created this season. Harden’s floor in this home matchup with Chicago is around 55 fantasy points, but assuming this game stays close (HOU – 6.5; 223.5 O/U) he should have no trouble churning out yet another elite performance. I prefer him more on FanDuel where he and Westbrook share near identical salaries, but Harden should be considered a strong option anywhere he’s available.

DeMarcus Cousins predictably came back down to earth on Tuesday when the Kings were torched by the Rockets on the final game of a grueling eight-game road trip. Eight road games in 12 days is no easy assignment, and the fatigue was evident early on. Cousins and the Kings have received a brief respite from the action, though, having two days to rest before returning to home to face the Suns.

Friday’s matchup with Phoenix is quite enticing, as the Suns have been thrashed by opposing frontcourts, allowing top-five marks in points, assists, blocks and offensive efficiency this season. Phoenix also plays at the league’s fourth fastest pace and owns a bottom-five defense, so Cousins should bounce back nicely now that he’s rested. On a night where the Kings are favored by 4.5 points at home — I’m expecting this line to move against Sacramento throughout the day — in what should be a rather high-scoring affair (216.5 O/U), Cousins will earn every opportunity to torch the aging Tyson Chandler and whoever else Earl Watson decides to throw his way this evening.

Kyle Lowry will continue to post elite fantasy totals with DeMar DeRozan sidelined, as he already leads the league in minutes (37.6 MPG) and is averaging north of 48 fantasy points per game in five starts without DeRozan. Lowry gains a five percent usage bump when DeRozan is off the court, and amazingly owns a higher true shooting percentage (67.2%) with his backcourt mate sidelined.

If DeRozan is unable to play on Friday we’ll need to consider Lowry a top point guard play against the Magic. The Raptors are only favored by 4.5 points on the road, and considering DeRozan aggravated his ankle injury in his brief return to action last week, it’s hard to believe he’ll be allowed to return until fully healthy. 38-plus minutes and upwards of 20 field goal attempts is all we’ll need to feel good about rostering Lowry this evening.


CORE – Russell Westbrook [DraftKings]

SECONDARY – James Harden; DeMarcus Cousins; Kyle Lowry [If DeMar DeRozan is OUT]

GPP – Russell Westbrook [FanDuel]; Giannis Antetokounmpo


MID-RANGE   [$5900-$8300]

Andre Drummond was a colossal disappointment in Wednesday’s blowout win over the Pelicans, playing only 25 minutes of uninspiring basketball after dropping 69 fantasy points the previous night. He’ll have another opportunity to redeem himself on Friday, though, as the Pistons draw a home matchup with the Timberwolves in what should be a very competitive affair. Drummond’s size will be essential against a Minnesota frontcourt that routinely uses two bigs for the majority of games.

There is this misconception that because Karl-Anthony Towns is an incredible young player that he must be a strong defender, too. That couldn’t be further from the truth, as the Timberwolves have actually been significantly worse on defense when Towns is on the court. No team is allowing a higher field goal percentage to opposing centers than Minnesota, while both Gorgui Dieng and Towns have struggled to contain opponents around the rim.

Drummond trounced the T-Wolves in their only other meeting this season, posting a 22-point, 22-rebound, 53-fantasy point double-double in only 28 minutes of work. He’s an outstanding center option across the board and a prime bounce back candidate at an affordable price point. You’ll want exposure to Drummond on a night where he offers legitimate 7x upside at his current salary.

Jeff Teague has tallied 40-plus fantasy points in 11 of his last 20 starts, an encouraging sign for someone who struggled to produce over the first couple months of the season. Friday’s road tilt with Brooklyn places him in another spot to excel, as the Nets lead the league in pace and rank 28th in defensive rating this season. Furthermore, Brooklyn is allowing top-six marks to opposing point guards in points (25th), rebounds (27th), assists (25th) and steals (30th). No team has turned the ball over more than the Nets, which bodes well for Teague and his 1.5 steals per game.

The Pacers are currently 7-point favorites in what’s projected to be a high-scoring affair at the Barclays Center, and with Teague logging 33-plus minutes in nine straight games it’s hard not to love him at a mid-$7K price point across the industry. As we saw with Brandon Jennings on Wednesday, who shot 1-11 for a dismal six points across 43 minutes of work, guards don’t need to be efficient in order to produce against the Nets. Elevated pace and substantial playing time is all that’s necessary to produce against the Brooklyn squad, as ball-dominant point guards will fall into peripheral stats even if they’re shooting like Jennings.

Paul George offers some value at a pathetically weak small forward position, and this matchup with Brooklyn comes at a time when he’s finally finding his stride. George stumbled through the first few months of the season, but his recent play suggests that he may be turning a corner, as the undeserving All-Star has tallied 31-plus points and 45-plus fantasy points in four of his last five starts.

George remains affordable across the industry, especially in a matchup with the Nets, who are ceding the most points, second most rebounds, second most blocks, third most steals and highest field goal percentage to opposing small forwards this season. Also worth noting is George’s usage rate, which has jumped significantly to 32.6 percent over his last five games. He’ll make for an excellent mid-range option across the board even if ownership is rather high.

Myles Turner, the the rest of the Pacers starting lineup, owns a very enticing price point across the industry, especially on FanDuel where he’s significantly less expensive than Al Horford (strong GPP option against the Lakers, but worrisome in cash games with big blowout concerns), Nikola Vucevic, Brook Lopez and Mason Plumlee. At $6,700 on FanDuel and $6,900 on DraftKings there’s simply no reason to overlook Turner against a Nets team that’s been blocked more than any other team. Turner’s 2.3 blocks per game ranks fourth in basketball, and he has already racked up 12 blocks against Brooklyn through three meetings this season. Improving as both a scorer and defender as his sophomore campaign wears on, Turner is yet another Pacer starter worth targeting on Friday.

Dwyane Wade has enjoyed some variance of late with a whopping 20 steals racked up over his last six starts, but he’s also contributed nicely as both a scorer and facilitator over that span. This recent stretch where Wade is averaging north of 43 FPPG likely isn’t sustainable, but it’s not like he’s been priced through the roof, either. At $7,000 on DraftKings and $7,800 on FanDuel, Wade maintains plenty of appeal in a road tilt with the Rockets, who play at the league’s third fastest pace.

Wade’s 30 percent usage rate is more than satisfying when you consider he’s playing alongside Jimmy Butler. Moreover, he’s churning out a Goliath 1.46 fantasy points per minute over the aforementioned six-game stretch, while still managing to stay fresh with limited minutes in three straight blowouts. Shooting guard lacks talent on Friday, but Wade should at least partially bolster the position at a very affordable price point.

Devin Booker has been extraordinarily consistent of late, posting 33-plus fantasy points in eight straight starts and 11 of his last 12 games. Booker has managed to stay relevant despite playing alongside the surging Eric Bledsoe, and he’ll have another opportunity to produce healthy fantasy totals against the Kings. On the season, Sacramento has surrendered the fourth most points, third most rebounds, highest field goal percentage and third highest three-point percentage to opposing shooting guards. Booker’s sub-$7K price point keeps him in play on a night where the shooting guard position has little to offer in the middle tier.

D’Angelo Russell remains too cheap across the board, sitting at $5,900 on DraftKings and $6,100 on FanDuel for an exploitable matchup with the Celtics. I’d have some concerns about Boston if Avery Bradley was active, but it’s hard to believe Isaiah Thomas and some combination of Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart will be able to suppress Russell’s production. One thing I am worried about, however, is a blowout, as the Lakers are playing their second of a back-to-back and are 11-point road dogs at TD Garden.

We can expect Russell to be high-owned on Friday after he posted two straight monster performances, which is why I’d advocate fading him in some GPPs. Sure, he won’t require huge numbers to pay off a depressed price point, but if this game gets out of hand early Russell could see very limited playing time. He’s a better cash game play than tournament play, but needs to remain on the radar for as long as he’s underpriced.


CORE – Andre Drummond; Jeff Teague; Paul George; Myles Turner

SECONDARY – Dwyane Wade; Devin Booker; D’Angelo Russell

GPP – Al Horford; Andrew Wiggins


VALUE   [$3000-$5800]

Steven Adams may go overlooked on Friday but he absolutely shouldn’t. Think about it: Memphis runs their offense through Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. Gasol leads the league in post points and operates frequently in the paint. The Thunder literally have no centers capable of defending Gasol outside of Adams, who should see north of 35 minutes in this matchup. With Enes Kanter sidelined, Oklahoma City has relied upon Joffrey Lauvergne, Domantas Sabonis and even Jerami Grant to soak up minutes as the backup five when Adams is off the court, but they won’t be able to run them for extended minutes on Friday, as Gasol will torment them for every second he’s on the hardwood.

Adams is inexplicably priced at $4,900 on DraftKings, but even at $5,900 on FanDuel he remains in play. That being said, I love pairing him with Westbrook on DraftKings where both are underpriced. A whopping 78 percent of Adams assisted field goals have been facilitated by Westbrook this season (127/163), so there is a strong correlation here. I’ll be using this pairing in a ton of lineups on Friday. Victor Oladipo also has GPP value where he’s priced incredibly cheap across the board.

Clint Capela warrants consideration as a GPP at the center position, as he saw his minutes increase to 31 last night against the Hawks. Capela’s minutes may have been inflated due to his excellent play early in the game, but he’s averaging 1.26 FPPM in 10 games since returning from injury, so there’s merit to targeting him in tournaments where volatility should be embraced. Any center playing with James Harden will see easy scoring opportunities each night, and I don’t see Robin Lopez being able to defend the pick-and-roll or the cutting alley oops from this Harden-Capela tandem.

Jonas Valanciunas is yet another viable low-end center worth targeting, as he remains very affordably priced across the industry. JoVal’s production is almost entirely contingent upon how he looks early in games, as Dwane Casey won’t hesitate to yank him if he gets off to a slow start. If he comes out of the gates on fire, though, Valanciunas will leave his owners very pleased. The Lithuanian big man is averaging north of one FPPM on the season, and has already posted two quality lines against the Magic. He’ll always be low-owned in tournaments, but offers legitimate 40-plus-fantasy point upside in the proper matchups.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson started and played 30 minutes at power forward in Wednesday’s loss to New York. He was impressive on the night, shooting 6-11 from the field for 16 points while collecting eight rebounds, three assists and a block for 30.5 fantasy points. Hollis-Jefferson is a defensive specialist who has never been a prolific scorer, but if he starts over Trevor Booker for the second straight game we won’t need double-digit field goal attempts for him to hit value at a low-$4K price point. Kenny Atkinson wants to develop his young players, and Hollis-Jefferson should be a priority as the season progresses. He’s a strong punt on a night where the two forward positions are uncharacteristically thin.

Wilson Chandler will start for the ailing Danilo Gallinari on Friday, which is noteworthy when you consider his usage rate jumps five percent (25.3%) and his per minute production shoots through the roof from .87 FPs to 1.08 FPs in the process. Chandler’s salary has come down to $5,700 on DraftKings, and while he’s still slightly expensive at $6,300 on FanDuel, his small forward eligibility makes him a more palatable play.

Chandler’s usage hardly drops when he moves into the starting lineup, but he’s averaging 33.3 MPG as a starter compared to 28.9 MPG as a reserve. Milwaukee can pose a rather tough matchup for opposing wings, but Chandler’s extended minutes and discounted price point should place him firmly in play on a night where the small forward position has little to offer.

Dirk Nowitzki is eventually going to have a big game at a very modest price point, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it come on Friday against Portland. Mason Plumlee and whoever else Terry Stotts rotates at the five simply cannot play quality defense, and Dirk has a wide-ranging skill set that should allow him to produce both down low and from the perimeter. I’ll have some shares in tournaments this evening, but Nowitzki’s lack of playing time keeps him from being a viable option in cash.

John Henson will start for the Bucks on Friday with Miles Plumlee on his way to Charlotte. Henson has has received DNP-CD’s in four of Milwaukee’s last five games, though, and it’s unclear how much run he’ll see against the Nuggets. That being said, the lanky big man is minimum salary across the board, and if Jason Kidd decides the Bucks are playing well with him at the five, he could definitely see upwards of 26-28 minutes in an exploitable matchup.

Conversely, Henson could play poorly and open the door for Greg Monroe to earn extended run off the bench. With the Nuggets having awful rim-protecting bigs, Monroe could post elite fantasy totals if provided sufficient run. This is obviously a sketchy situation and is only worth GPP consideration, but I wouldn’t be even slightly surprised to see one of these Milwaukee big men finish with big fantasy totals on the night.


CORE – Steven Adams [DraftKings]; Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

SECONDARY – Steven Adams [FanDuel]; Wilson Chandler; Matt Barnes

GPP – Clint Capela; Jonas Valanciunas; Victor Oladipo; Zach Randolph [DraftKings]; Dirk Nowitzki; John Henson; Greg Monroe