NBA Deep Dive 2/7/17

High Priced ($8,500+)


James Harden is clearly the highest upside player on the slate, but he is also incredibly expensive- especially on DraftKings where he is $13,300.  Harden is always a viable option because he has legitimate 100 fantasy point upside but, as of right now, it seems like it will be pretty difficult to roster him without giving up a lot because there is not much value available yet on this slate.  There is also reason to be concerned because Aaron Gordon has done a good job defending him in the past.  Again, Harden is capable of having a huge game against anyone since he contributes in so many different ways, but Gordon did a very good job of forcing Harden to take difficult shots in their meeting last month.  Harden had a poor shooting day overall, missing open shots as well, but a lot of his inefficiency can be credited for Gordon.


Kemba Walker gets a very friendly home matchup against the Nets.  He will most likely be one of the most popular plays on the slate and he makes for a very strong play.  His price has increased across the industry for the matchup but he still has plenty of upside in a fast-paced game against a Brooklyn team that ranks 24th in defensive rating over the last month and has allowed the most points, blocks, steals, and rebounds and third most assists to opposing guards over that time.  Walker has struggled in recent meetings with Brooklyn, scoring more than 40 DraftKings points just once in his last seven meetings dating back to the start of last season.  There is still not a good reason to expect those struggles to continue going forward, but they do at least suggest that we can look to pivot off him in GPPs since we expect him to be massively owned.


Damian Lillard gets a rematch against Yogi Ferrell and the Mavericks after shooting 4-20 in a matchup against them last week.  Lillard has had a tough year by his standards, but he does still have a high ceiling if he is able to get hot from the field because he is such a large part of the Portland offense.  Ferrell did a very good job defending Lillard in their previous matchup, but Lillard also missed several open looks that would have made his stat line more respectable.  Kemba Walker is easily the better cash game play at the same price point, but there is certainly an argument for rostering Lillard in GPPs since Walker should dominate ownership at that price point and Lillard’s ceiling is just as high as Walker’s, even though he will reach it less often in their respective matchups.





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


Nicolas Batum has had more success than Walker in this season’s games against Brooklyn as he has been able to take advantage of the multitude of ways that the Nets allow opposing players to rack up fantasy points, averaging 19.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.3 steals per game in the three previous meetings.  Batum could get some extra ball-handling responsibilities today as well, with Ramon Session sidelined for the Hornets and Batum usually getting a few minutes per half with the second unit.  He is a viable option in any format.


Brook Lopez will be relied upon to keep this game close for Brooklyn.  He makes for a strong tournament option at a reasonable price point and he gets a boost if Cody Zeller (questionable) is inactive.  Zeller is a very capable defender and Lopez would benefit if his time on the floor is against the likes of Kaminsky and Plumlee instead of Zeller.  Lopez is almost always good for 30-33 minutes as long as the game stays close and, if the game does stay close, there is a very good chance it is because Lopez is having a nice game.


Nikola Vucevic has a very friendly matchup in a pace-up game against the Rockets.  Houston has allowed the 6th most points, 3rd most assists, 10th most rebounds and 3rd highest field goal percentage per 36 minutes to opposing centers over the last month.  Vucevic is athletic enough to stay on the floor in this matchup and should benefit from the increased pace allowing him more rebounds and more possessions.  His price tag has not increased quickly despite seeing more minutes of late and the only real concern with Vucevic is Orlando’s propensity for getting blown out early in games recently.


Yogi Ferrell will likely be another very popular option at his price point coming off a game last week when he scored 32 real points against this Portland team.  He is a safe cash game play tonight because he is locked into big minutes due to Dallas’s injuries and he is a viable tournament option as well if you are differentiating elsewhere.  Ferrell has averaged 33.3 DraftKings points per game in about 37 minutes per game since joining Dallas (0.89 DraftKings points per minute).  If you are looking for a reason to fade Ferrell in tournaments to be contrarian, there are a couple of things you can look to.  First, Portland has actually been playing at a slower pace and with better defensive efficiency recently, ranking 14th in pace and 9th in defensive rating over the last month and 18th in pace and 13th in defensive rating over the last two weeks (compared to 10th in pace and 25th in defensive rating for the season).  Second, the amount of minutes that Ferrell has been playing are obviously good for his production but they can be concerning when we consider that he is on the second half of a back-to-back, and his third game in four nights, and he is not used to playing this many minutes.  Ferrell’s playing time in Brooklyn earlier this season was sporadic and he did not play an NBA minute between December 1 and January 29, so it is not unrealistic to expect the huge minutes that he has been playing to begin to take a toll on his production.


Secondary: Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier, C.J. McCollum, Serge Ibaka, Mason Plumlee


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


Clint Capela has been playing more minutes over his last couple of games and it appears he is completely back from his leg injury.  Capela is averaging 1.13 DraftKings points per minute this season and draws a friendly matchup with Nikola Vucevic, who is not known for his defensive prowess.  Capela is very effective on the pick-and-roll with James Harden and Orlando has allowed the 8th most points and 6th most rebounds per 36 minutes to opposing centers over the last month- although it is worth noting that Orlando has been much better on the defensive glass than the offensive glass, allowing the 4th most defensive rebounds and the 7th fewest offensive rebounds over that span.  The lack of offensive rebounds keeps the matchup from being perfect for Capela, but he still has a nice ceiling due to his increased minutes and Orlando’s overall inability to defend the rim or rebound the basketball.


Aaron Gordon is a strong value option that may go overlooked on this slate.  Gordon is used to defend James Harden, which gives Frank Vogel extra incentive to have him on the floor.  In addition, Jeff Green has been ruled out of this game so there are extra wing minutes available for Gordon.  In his previous game against Houston this season, James Harden spent a lot of time defending him when he was on the floor alongside Evan Fournier, as Ariza defended the more offensively potent Fournier.  All of these things work in Gordon’s favor and he is available at a decreased price point due to his inconsistency of late.


Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is an inexpensive small forward option if you cannot stomach Aaron Gordon.  He is likely to be more popular than Gordon because he picked up a double-double in his last meeting with Brooklyn.  Like Nicolas Batum, Kidd-Gilchrist benefits from all of the ways that the Nets allow opposing players to score fantasy points since he is a capable defender who can pick up steals and blocks and is a capable rebounder.  He is a strong cash game option and has some tournament upside as well.


Frank Kaminsky should be in line for plenty of minutes tonight if Cody Zeller is inactive again.  Kaminsky is finally getting playing time at center due to the trade of Hibbert and Hawes and the injury to Zeller.  Minutes at the five are more productive as a rule than minutes at the four and his matchup with Brook Lopez is much more friendly than the matchup with Rudy Gobert that he had in his last start.  Kaminsky has played 40 and 32 minutes in his last two games and is the top point-per-dollar value play on the slate in this matchup as long as Zeller sits.


Secondary:  Patrick Beverley, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson, Trevor Booker, Dirk Nowitzki, Miles Plumlee (if Zeller out)