NBA Deep Dive – 3/04/17
James Harden has a difficult matchup against the Grizzlies but he is priced down across the industry. Harden has faced Memphis three times this season and is averaging 1.46 DraftKings points per minute, which is about .2 points lower than his season average but still respectable. He put up 62 fantasy points in the last meeting, so he has shown that he has some upside in the matchup. He has not had a big game, by his standards, since the addition of Lou Williams but this should not deter us too much because he still has a very high floor and a very high ceiling, he just may hit the ceiling a little less often with the addition of another scorer. Harden is a strong play at his price in any format despite the difficult matchup.
LeBron James has been playing extremely well without Kevin Love, scoring more than 60 DraftKings points in three of his last four games. Miami is a difficult matchup as they have strong wing defenders in Dion Waiters and James Johnson, among others, and a good rim protector in Hassan Whiteside. James is matchup proof, however, and contributes in every category- not just scoring. LeBron is averaging 1.42 DraftKings points per minute alongside Irving without Love and 1.48 DraftKings points per minute without either one on the floor, which is important because James plays minutes with the second unit to start the second and fourth quarters.
Nikola Jokic is playing very good basketball again and faces a Charlotte frontcourt that has been destroyed by opposing bigs lately. The frontcourt becomes a bit more formidable assuming Cody Zeller returns to the starting lineup in the place of injured Frank Kaminsky, but Jokic should still do very well in this spot. He has a very high floor and ceiling because of his ability to contribute in every category, ranking 12th in points per 36 minutes, 10th in rebounds per 36 minutes and 1st in assists per 36 minutes amongst starting centers since the start of February. Charlotte is allowing the 5th most rebounds and 8th most assists per 36 minutes to opposing starting centers over that span.
Kawhi Leonard faces Andrew Wiggins and the Minnesota Timberwolves in a game with a 205 Vegas total. While the game will not be played at a fast pace, Leonard is one of several viable options in the game. His price is too low for the minutes he plays and usage he sees, and he has a chance for increased productivity in this matchup since he will be defending the ball-dominant Wiggins. Minnesota ranks 23rd in defensive rating since the start of February and Andrew Wiggins is more of a force on the offensive end. This is a good spot for Leonard.
Kemba Walker appears to be finding his rhythm after an uncharacteristically up-and-down season so far, scoring at least 43 DraftKings points in six of his last eight games, and he has a fantastic matchup against the Nuggets today. One thing to keep an eye on is if his production falters with Kaminsky out, as he has only produced 1.09 DraftKings points per minute alongside Batum and Zeller with Kaminsky off compared to 1.20 DraftKings points per minute alongside Batum and Kaminsky with Zeller off. His true shooting percentage drops about five percentage points playing alongside Zeller, possibly because Kaminsky spaces the floor and allows Walker more room to operate. Even if we expect a decrease in productivity without Kaminsky, it is not likely to start in this game as Denver is playing at the 11th fastest pace and has the worst defensive rating in the league since the start of February and has allowed the second highest field goal percentage to opposing guards over that span.
Secondary: Karl-Anthony Towns, Damian Lillard, Blake Griffin, DeMar DeRozan
Nicolas Batum has been really disappointing lately outside of his game against the Clippers. He gets another great matchup tonight, however, and recency bias is likely to keep his ownership lower than it should be. He historically has done very well in pace-up games and he has been aggressive on the offensive end recently, taking at least 13 shots in five straight games. His struggles have been due to poor shooting, as he has shot his season average or better from the field just once in his last six games. We should see positive regression with Batum’s shooting sooner rather than later and Denver is a great place to turn things around.
C.J. McCollum has a friendly matchup against the Nets and is much more reasonably priced than his backcourt counterpart. Brooklyn is playing at the 6th fastest pace since the start of February, although they have moved to the middle of the pack in defensive rating after being atrocious earlier in the season. The boost in pace and opportunity to play point guard with the second unit should benefit McCollum tonight and he makes for a strong GPP play.
Khris Middleton is questionable for this game after playing 33 minutes last night. He will be a very strong play again if he plays, especially on FanDuel where he is just $5,300. Middleton is not a household name but he is a very talented scorer and his price will be in the $7-8,000 range very soon. He moved into the starting lineup and handled the ball often against the Clippers last night, which increases his value even more as he is able to pick up assists (9 last night).
Wilson Chandler has had a couple of disappointing games in a row but we should see a nice bounce back effort tonight against Charlotte. His price has fallen all the way to $6,200 on DraftKings and $6,300 on FanDuel and that is way too cheap with Kenneth Faried still sidelined. Chandler should see 35-36 minutes in this game and Charlotte has been dominated by athletic forwards lately. Chandler is a viable option in any format in a home game with a 221 total and close spread.
LaMarcus Aldridge is in a fantastic spot against a Minnesota team that struggles to defend bigs who can step away from the basket and shoot. He is a strong option at $6,900 on FanDuel and one of the top options on the slate on DraftKings at just $6,000. The Spurs are fully healthy for the first time in a while, but Aldridge has a 23.2 usage percentage and averaged 0.92 DraftKings points per minute alongside Parker, Gasol and Leonard this season so he is still capable of being productive and taking advantage of the great matchup.
Zach Randolph has been playing excellent basketball lately and gets another soft matchup against the Rockets. Z-Bo is averaging 1.35 DraftKings points per minute against the Rockets in three meeting this season and should see 25-27 minutes in this game, with the potential for a few more if Brandan Wright misses the game. His price is creeping up but there should be plenty of stats available for him in a huge pace-up game against a Houston bench that ranks 22nd in defensive rating since the start of February and is allowing the 7th most rebounds (6th most offensive rebounds) per 36 minutes to backup centers over that stretch.
Ricky Rubio faces a Spurs team that ranks number one in defensive rating by a sizeable margin. He has been very good since Zach LaVine’s injury, however, and he is not dependent on scoring so the tough matchup does not hurt him quite as much. He is averaging 1.10 DraftKings point per minute alongside Towns and Wiggins without LaVine this season.H Rubio is pretty fairly priced at $6,900 on FanDuel but his $6,100 price tag on DraftKings is way too cheap, especially considering he has already scored 50 fantasy points against the Spurs once this season.
Jusuf Nurkic saw a nice price hike into the mid-$6,000 range but it is still too low, especially in this matchup against Brooklyn. He has a 22.5 usage percentage, 17.9 assist percentage and 15.6 rebounding percentage since joining the Blazers. In addition, he has been very productive on the defensive end, averaging 3 steals and 3 blocks per 100 possessions. Brooklyn has allowed 6.9 steals per 36 minutes and 4.5 blocks per 36 minutes to opposing starting centers since the start of February, ranking 27th and 29th respectively. There is a chance that Nurkic goes underowned because of the price increase and because people do not trust him yet but he makes for a high-upside GPP option.
Secondary: Kyrie Irving, Goran Dragic, Mike Conley, Dwyane Wade, Brook Lopez, Greg Monroe, Marc Gasol, Danilo Gallinari, Al-Farouq Aminu
Gorgui Dieng is less than $5,000 on FanDuel and on DraftKings and may go overlooked tonight because of an ugly game log. He only played 20 minutes two games ago against Sacramento because the game went small and 23 minutes last game against Utah because it was a blowout. He should return to his normal role in this one. Dieng played 33.1 minutes in his first game against San Antonio this season and 28.1 in the most recent game. He was productive in both, scoring 16 points and grabbing 8 rebounds in the first game and scoring 17 points with 6 rebounds in the most recent.
Mo Harkless gets a pace-up matchup against a sloppy Brooklyn team that should provide him with opportunities for defensive stats as they rank dead last in the NBA in turnover percentage since the start of February. Harkless has played at least 34 minutes in four straight games and that should continue tonight as Brooklyn has plenty of wing players for Harkless to match up with. He is not a primary option in the Portland offense, but he is cheap enough that his 0.76 fantasy point per minute average gives him a nice floor given the minutes he is playing.
Robin Lopez is a risky play but he has upside against the Clippers at a very low price tag. He has attempted at least 10 field goals in 7 consecutive games, which is a good sign because his role in the offense has fluctuated throughout the season. More of Lopez’s offense comes from the pick-and-roll than from posting up, so he may be able to have some success against Jordan. He is not a viable cash option but he has a nice ceiling for tournaments and should come at low ownership.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist gets another pace-up game against a Denver team that has plenty of long wings for him to match up with. In addition, the injury to Frank Kaminsky will likely force Kidd-Gilchrist to play some minutes at the four where he will have a greater opportunity for rebounds and blocks. Kidd-Gilchrist is averaging 0.79 DraftKings points per minute alongside Batum, Walker and Zeller without Kaminsky and should see an increase in that number due to the pace and matchup tonight.
Secondary: Jameer Nelson, DeMarre Carroll, James Ennis (if Parsons out), Pau Gasol, Trevor Booker, Marvin Williams, Nikola Mirotic, Tony Allen, Nemanja Bjelica