NBA Deep Dive – 3/02/17

Note:  It is a three-game slate.  Just about everyone is in play.  These are my favorites.

High Priced ($8,500+)


Russell Westbrook is very expensive tonight against the Blazers.  Portland ranks 13th in pace since January 1st, but just 22nd since February 1st, so it is a bit of a pace-down game for Westbrook even though we think of west coast games as usually being faster in pace.  Lillard is not known for his defense but Westbrook has not had success against Portland this season, averaging just 1.48 DraftKings points per minute across two contests.  He has his usual high floor, and it is even higher if Oladipo sits again, but it is somewhat difficult to justify his price tag given the other options at point guard today.  Westbrook makes more sense on FanDuel where he is less expensive than on DraftKings.


Stephen Curry has a friendly matchup with the Chicago Bulls, who rank 19th in defensive rating since the start of 2017.  Kevin Durant is sidelined for the foreseeable future and the rest of the Golden State core will benefit.  In 215 minutes alongside Thompson and Green without Durant this season, Curry has a 27.1 usage percentage and a 30.2 assist percentage, up from 23.6 and 25.1 when Durant is also on the floor, and he increases from 1.22 DraftKings points per minute to 1.38 DraftKings points per minute.  The absence of Durant, and this game being on the road, also increases the likelihood that the Bulls can hang in the game and force Curry to play a full allotment of minutes.  The only downside for Curry is that he, once again, struggled to make threes on the road against Washington, dropping his road three-point percentage for the season to 34.7 percent (compared to 46.8 percent at home).  The silver lining is that his three-point percentage was higher on the road than at home last season so it is probably just noise, although it is a little disconcerting this far into the season.


Jimmy Butler let a lot of people down against Denver but he gets another pace-up game tonight against a Kevin Durant-less Golden State team.  Curry, Thompson and Green have a defensive rating of 99.7 when they play alongside Durant, compared to 110.3 without him on the floor.  His absence should be beneficial for Butler, who comes at a bit of a reduced price after the Denver letdown.  Butler is almost always on the floor with one of Wade or Rondo, but usually not with both.  He averages 1.13 DraftKings points per minute alongside Wade without Rondo and 1.23 DraftKings points per minute alongside Rondo without Wade.  Both of those numbers should increase a little bit because of the increase in pace that Golden State offers.


Secondary: Damian Lillard


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


Kemba Walker continues to play well and gets another very friendly matchup against the Phoenix Suns.  Phoenix is playing at the 4th fastest pace in the league and has the 2nd worst defensive rating since the start of February.  Phoenix also is mostly concerned with evaluating their young talent at this point in the season so their defense is not likely to improve any time soon.  Phoenix ranks 27th in field goal percentage, 22nd in three-point percentage and 30th in points allowed per 36 minute to opposing guards since the start of February.  Walker should be able to keep up his stretch of good play in this one.


Walker’s teammate, Nicolas Batum, is also in a very good spot tonight after letting down a lot of people with an awful game against the Lakers.  The positive takeaway from the Lakers game is that Batum still attempted 13 field goals, 9 of them from beyond the arc, he just only made 2 of them total and one from three.  Batum has been more aggressive offensively of late, he just has not been shooting well.  He is capable of scoring 45+ fantasy points if his shot is falling, as we saw against the Clippers.  He has been excellent in pace-up games this season and Phoenix is relatively turnover prone, ranking 19th in turnover percentage since the start of February, which plays into Batum’s game as he is capable of contributing defensively as well as offensively.


Dwyane Wade remains too cheap despite his consistent production recently.  He does not have a friendly matchup with Klay Thompson, but the Warriors defense as a whole has struggled without Durant on the floor this season.  Wade averages 1.18 DraftKings points per minute alongside Butler without Rondo and 1.15 DraftKings points alongside Rondo without Butler.  He will be needed if Chicago is to keep this game close and he has a very nice floor/ceiling combo for his price.  He and Butler are both strong plays, but Wade is the stronger of the two when factoring in price.


Klay Thompson is another very strong option at a surprisingly deep shooting guard position.  Thompson has a 29.1 usage percentage alongside Curry and Green without Durant, up from 23.5 percent when they are all on the floor together.  It has resulted in 1.27 DraftKings points per minute for Thompson compared to 0.96 points per minute when Durant is on the floor with them.  Thompson and Green played together with the second unit, as well, after Durant’s injury.  In 193 minutes alongside Green, without Curry or Durant, Thompson has a 36.9 usage percentage.  He has actually been less productive due to a drop in true shooting percentage (possibly as a result of being the focal point of the offense) but the sample size is small enough that we should not put too much stock in the actual point per minute numbers given the massive usage percentage.


Draymond Green goes from 1.17 DraftKings points per minute alongside the starters with Durant to 1.27 DraftKings points per minute without him.  His usage increases from 14.8 percent to 17.9 percent and his assist rate jumps from 27.3 percent to 32.8 percent.  Chicago’s frontcourt was depleted with the trade of Taj Gibson so there is not much to keep Green from having a good game in multiple categories.  He will likely be popular since he has had two very good games in a row, but this is another good spot at a reasonable price.


Secondary: C.J. McCollum, Eric Bledsoe, Frank Kaminsky, T.J. Warren, Jusuf Nurkic


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


Enes Kanter has a great matchup off the bench against the Blazers.  Kanter played a few minutes alongside Steven Adams against the Jazz which, while they are not his most productive minutes, is a good sign for his playing time moving forward.  Kanter averages 0.97 DraftKings points per minute alongside Westbrook and Adams, 1.25 DraftKings points per minute alongside Westbrook without Adams, 1.27 DraftKings points per minute without Westbrook, Oladipo or Adams and 1.32 DraftKings points per minute alongside Oladipo without Westbrook or Adams.  Basically, Kanter is extremely productive as long as he is on the floor.  He is still very reasonably priced, especially on DraftKings at just $5,200.  He should be in line for a very nice game as long as he does not pick any fights with chairs on the sideline.


Alex Len is going to be a high-risk, high-reward play for the foreseeable future as the Suns try and figure out what frontcourt pieces, if any, are part of their long-term plan.  Len is averaging 0.92 DraftKings points per minute alongside Booker, Bledsoe and Warren this season so the productivity is there.  It is just a matter of minutes.  Since the All-Star break, Len has played 35, 14 and 25 minutes.  The game that he played 14 minutes was against Milwaukee and Earl Watson appeared to decide to match up Alan Williams with Greg Monroe since Williams is bulkier and stronger than Len.  Charlotte boasts two tall, lanky, centers in Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky, who check in at 7’ 240 pounds and 6’11” 230 pounds, respectively.  At worst, it seems that Len would play 24-26 minutes against this frontcourt (barring foul trouble, of course) and there is a chance that he sees even more minutes as it is just not a good matchup for the 6’7” Alan Williams.  Williams was about 18 percent owned on DraftKings in their last game, compared to 4 percent for Len.  Both players produced about the same, so it is likely that Williams is the higher owned of the two again.  It is a good spot to differentiate and roster Len in tournaments.


Robin Lopez is at one of his lowest price points of the season against a Golden State team that has been vulnerable inside this season.  Lopez’s minutes are always a concern, but it is good to see that he has been getting up more shots lately as he has taken at least 10 shots in six straight games.  Lopez faced Golden State once this season, without Jimmy Butler, and scored 17 points to go along with 10 rebounds and 4 assists in 29 minutes.  He is a very high upside tournament play tonight.


Mo Harkless has played at least 36 minutes in every game since the All-Star break and gets a pace-up game against Oklahoma City, who ranks 5th in pace since the start of February.  Harkless is not a high usage player, but he has value where he is less than $5,000 based on his minutes.  He is averaging 0.76 DraftKings points per minute for the season (about 27 points per 36 minutes).  His playing time gives him a very nice floor and the increase in pace gives him a decent ceiling for the price.


Taj Gibson played his most minutes with the Thunder to-date against Utah in his last game.  Sabonis remained the starter but did not play any minutes outside of his opening rotation in the first and third quarters, while Gibson played 26.4 minutes, including almost the entire fourth quarter in a close game.  Oladipo is sidelined again tonight so we should see similar rotations from Oklahoma City.  Gibson’s price is at the lowest point we will probably see it all season at just $3,700 on DraftKings.


Secondary: Tyler Ulis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Al-Farouq Aminu, Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis, Matt Barnes, Steven Adams, Alex Abrines, Doug McDermott