NBA Deep Dive 2/5/17
We only have a three game slate today, so there is not a ton to talk about. I’ll dive in to some of the more expensive plays on the slate and you can check out the Bargain Bin article for the best value plays.
Russell Westbrook faces the Portland Trailblazers. It goes without saying that Westbrook is in play on any slate, especially when there are only three games. Portland has played at a slower pace and been better defensively over the last month, ranking 16th in pace and 11th in defensive rating and have allowed the 6th lowest field goal percentage to opposing guards over that span. Still, we are talking about Russell Westbrook and he obviously has massive upside and a high floor in any matchup. This is also a team that was torched for 32 points by Yogi Ferrell in their last game, so we should probably not be too concerned about the supposed improvements in the Portland defense.
Damian Lillard has really struggled for most of this season, but he does still have upside at his price- especially on DraftKings where he is just $7,500. Oklahoma City defended CJ McCollum with Andre Roberson last game, leaving Westbrook to defend Lillard. Lillard did not capitalize on the matchup, scoring just 34 DraftKings points in 30 minutes, but it is still an appealing matchup and it would not be surprising to see a better performance out of Lillard this time around. Oklahoma City could look to Oladipo to defend Lillard instead of Westbrook, but that would still be a far better matchup than McCollum has with Roberson, who ranks in the 88th percentile in pick-and-roll defense in the league. The game is being played in Oklahoma City, but Lillard’s notorious home/road splits have not been there this season so we probably should not be too worried about that.
Norman Powell will likely start again if DeMar DeRozan sits. DeRozan and Lowry are both questionable for this game. If either of them play, they are elite options. My guess at this time, is that they both sit because this is a road game against the Nets and there is no reason to force either one to play. If DeRozan sits, Powell should be in line for another start. He has been productive without DeRozan, averaging 35.5 minutes and 28 DraftKings points per game. His price tag is up and we have seen his productivity decrease somewhat, but the Nets are usually a good solution for a decrease in productivity. If Lowry is out along with DeRozan, Powell becomes an even stronger play. Including the preseason, Powell has averaged 0.95 DraftKings points and 0.87 FanDuel points per minute with a 25.7 usage percentage when Lowry and DeRozan are both off of the floor.
Victor Oladipo is inexpensive and is averaging over 33 minutes per game over his last six, including a game where he played just 25 minutes because of foul trouble. He did not play any minutes without Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City’s last game, which is concerning because he is much more productive in his time with the second unit than he is alongside Westbrook. Still, he got up 14 shots in that game, although he made just three of them. Oladipo is cheap enough that he has a high floor just based on minutes, and he has some upside if he happens to get run with the second unit.
Jae Crowder is one of the only small forward options on this slate. He has played at least 33 minutes in four straight games and scored at least 27 DraftKings points in 10 games in a row after struggling a bit earlier in the season. The Celtics game has a 222 total and 5.5 point spread. Crowder is not an overly exciting player, but he is the best small forward option by far and has a little bit of a ceiling to go along with his very high floor for his price.
Blake Griffin has played very well since returning from injury and has a matchup that he should dominate with the Boston frontcourt. He played at least 30 minutes in both games of a back-to-back and appears to be fully healthy. He is averaging 1.31 DraftKings points and 1.25 FanDuel points alongside DeAndre Jordan this season without Chris Paul and he is a matchup nightmare for Boston. He is getting expensive, but he is still the best power forward play on the very short slate.
Al-Farouq Aminu probably qualifies more as a bargain bin play, but there are literally no other mid-high priced power forwards on the slate so he makes the cut. Aminu has played at least 30 minutes in 6 of his last 10 games and produced at least 25 DraftKings points in four straight. He remains priced to his floor, which makes him an appealing option in any format. He has flashed some upside at times this season, with six games of at least 31 DraftKings points. He is certainly in play on this slate.
Jonas Valanciunas faces Brook Lopez and the Nets. Valanciunas has had mixed results against Lopez in the past, but he will see a boost in productivity if Toronto is missing members of their backcourt as he will be relied upon to score the ball more. Valanciunas is averaging 1.17 DraftKings points per minute in 211 minutes without DeRozan on the floor, dating back to the preseason. He has played just 22 minutes without either of DeRozan or Lowry, so we cannot get any information from that, but it would make sense for his production to go up since there would be even more shots to go around. Valanciunas’s minutes are always a concern in the crowded Toronto frontcourt, but he should be very productive in the minutes that he does see.
Brook Lopez has dominated his matchup with Jonas Valanciunas over the last two seasons, averaging 1.39 DraftKings points per minute in his last five meetings. Lopez will most likely be counted on to keep Brooklyn in this game. There is reason to be a little concerned, however, as Toronto has had some success using Lucas Noguiera to defend Lopez this season. Lopez has struggled with Nogueira’s defense at times and was bailed out by a Noguiera injury in the first quarter of their last meeting. With Patrick Patterson questionable, Nogueira may see even more time on the floor and could limit Lopez’s productivity somewhat.