NBA Deep Dive – 3/05/17

High-Priced ($8,500+)

Russell Westbrook has been forced to take on an even bigger offensive load with Victor Oladipo sidelined and Oladipo is expected to miss today’s game as well.  In 186 minutes since the last game that Oladipo played, Westbrook has a 45 percent usage percentage, a 52 percent assist percentage and is averaging 1.95 DraftKings points per minute and 1.81 FanDuel points per minute.  With Oladipo on the floor this season, Westbrook has a 41.9 usage percentage; a 49.9 assist percentage, and is averaging 1.76 DraftKings points and 1.63 FanDuel points per minute.  His matchup with Dallas is not ideal because they play at a slow pace and they now have a legitimate rim protector in Nerlens Noel, but Westbrook still has a very high floor and massive ceiling just based on his role on offense.  He has at least 28 field goal attempts in four consecutive games and has gone to the line at least 12 times in each of those games as well.

DeMarcus Cousins has been a little underwhelming from a fantasy perspective since being traded to New Orleans, but that is not likely to continue and Los Angeles is a matchup where Cousins can explode.  Cousins has a 25.9 usage percentage, 32.5 assist percentage and 22.9 rebound percentage when he plays alongside Anthony Davis and those numbers become 39.7, 27.8 and 31.3 respectively when Davis is off the floor.  Overall, Cousins has a 30.6 usage percentage, 31 percent assist percentage and 25.2 rebounding percentage since joining the Pelicans.  His contributions in every category give him a high floor and indicate that it is just a matter of time before he posts a monster game.  Cousins has averaged nearly 1.8 DraftKings points per minute in three games against the Lakers this season (all with the Kings) so it is obviously a matchup he can dominate.

Anthony Davis is a better play on DraftKings, where he is just $10,100, than on FanDuel where he is $11,200.  Davis dominates the usage when he plays alongside Cousins, but he misses out on rebounding opportunities that he used to have.  In the four games that Davis has played with Cousins this season, he has taken 21, 34, 28 and 18 field goal attempts and gone to the line 16, 9, 6 and 16 times.  Clearly there is offensive upside despite the presence of Cousins.  Between the two, Cousins is preferable, and Davis is a much stronger play on DraftKings, but Davis is still a very high-upside play in this matchup.

John Wall is a little tough to roster at a five-figure price tag in tournaments because it is so tough for him to score more than 60 fantasy points.  That said, he has absolutely dominated the matchup with Orlando this season, averaging 1.62 DraftKings points per minute and scoring 75.5 DraftKings points the last time he faced them (with all of the starters healthy).  Today’s slate is small enough that Wall is more palatable than he usually would be since there are fewer options.  Wall has also been better at home this season, in large part because of his three-point shooting.  He is shooting 40.8 percent from three at home compared to a paltry 15.6 percent on the road.  This continues the trend from last season, when Wall shot 37.8 percent from beyond the arc at home compared to 32.6 percent on the road.

Isaiah Thomas continues to be a little bit too expensive but, like John Wall, we can still look to him on this slate because of a lack of better options.  The Suns have been giving up monster games to opposing point guards all season long and there is no reason to expect that to change now as Thomas travels to Phoenix to face his former team.  He gets a slight downgrade with the Boston starters all healthy, but the upside is still there as he is capable of dropping 40 real points in this matchup.

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

D’Angelo Russell is quickly getting more expensive, especially on DraftKings, but he has 50+ fantasy point upside in most matchups.  Jrue Holiday is an elite defender, but New Orleans plays at a fast pace that has allowed opposing players to post good games this season despite the difficult matchup.  Russell’s minutes are more stable with the departure of Lou Williams.  He even played 30 minutes last game despite the starters being benched a couple of minutes into the third quarter because they were down 30 points.  If the Lakers hang in this game it is likely that Russell plays 34-36 minutes and he can pay off his price tag nicely in that time, especially at just $6,400 on FanDuel.  Another positive for Russell is that Luke Walton recently came out and said that he is impressed with Russell’s work habits since the All-Star break and that he likes the way Russell is playing.  The biggest restraint on Russell this season, along with his inconsistent shooting, has been Walton’s short leash so it is very nice to see that Walton is currently happy with his young point guard.

Seth Curry is in a very nice spot against the Thunder as long as he remains in the starting lineup if Wesley Matthews returns.  Alex Abrines will most likely start at shooting guard again for the Thunder.  Abrines is allowing opposing shooters 1.15 points per possession on spot-up attempts, ranking in the 16th percentile amongst defenders.  Spot-up jumpers account for about 25 percent of Curry’s offensive game, so it is a spot where he has an opportunity to perform very well.  On top of the nice matchup with Abrines, it is a massive boost in pace for Curry and the Mavericks, as Oklahoma City ranks 7th in pace since the start of February.

Jae Crowder seems to be returning to form and should not be negatively impacted by Avery Bradley’s minutes increasing because Crowder averages slightly more fantasy points per minute when Bradley joins him, Thomas and Horford on the floor than when Bradley is sidelined.  The Suns are playing at the fastest pace in the league since the start of February and rank 23rd in turnover percentage over that span, increasing the steal upside for Crowder.  In addition, T.J. Warren is allowing 1.17 points per possession to spot-up shooters, ranking in the 14th percentile amongst defenders.  Crowder’s spot-up frequency is 39.2 percent and his 1.16 points per possession ranks in the 85th percentile.

Julius Randle will have a difficult matchup with Anthony Davis but his price is still too low for his ceiling.  This will be a fast-paced game, with both teams ranking in the top ten in pace, and Randle should benefit from more rebounding opportunities and possessions, as well as the chance to push the ball in transition.  New Orleans ranks 20th in fast break points allowed this season and 29th since the addition of DeMarcus Cousins.  There is certainly risk with Randle today as Davis is a strong defender when he wants to be and he will be dealing with two very high-usage bigs in the paint, but he has a massive ceiling for his price, as he showed against the Hornets recently.

Rudy Gobert was a huge disappointment against the Nets but he gets a nice bounce back spot against the Kings and is likely to go overlooked since his recent game logs are not great and he is playing in the game with the lowest Vegas total on the slate.  Kosta Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein do not venture far from the basket offensively, which means that Gobert will be able to hang out around the basket for the whole game, grabbing rebounds and blocking shots.  While it is obviously a small sample size, Sacramento ranks dead last in offensive rebounds allowed to starting centers since they traded Cousins, allowing 12.2 offensive rebounds, 2 rebounds more than the next closest team, per 36 minutes in those 4 games.  They also rank dead last in total rebounds allowed and 26th in blocks allowed over that span.  Gobert’s game depends on being able to get rebounds, offensive putbacks and blocks and this looks like an ideal matchup.  Gobert has faced Sacramento twice this season (Cousins was active in both) and posted lines of 17 points, 15 rebounds and 6 blocks and 17 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks.  Derrick Favors is a strong play for the same reasons, as he gets the center minutes that Gobert does not.  In addition, Favors played over 33 minutes in his last game and he is criminally underpriced if the Jazz are finally ready to turn him lose.

Secondary: Eric Bledsoe, Elfrid Payton, Nerlens Noel, Alan Williams, Nikola Vucevic, Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, T.J. Warren, Otto Porter

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

Ty Lawson is very cheap across the industry despite playing more minutes than Darren Collison in his last two games.  It would be better if this game were not going to be played at an extremely slow pace, but Lawson still has some value at $4,200 on DraftKings and $4,600 on FanDuel.  In 148 minutes without Cousins, Gay, Barnes, Temple or Casspi on the floor this season, Lawson has a 19.5 usage percentage and 33.7 assist percentage.  That is more than enough offensive involvement to pay off the low price tag despite the slow pace and tough matchup.

Yogi Ferrell’s value depends on what the Mavericks starting five looks like but, if he gets the start at point guard, he is in a nice spot to out produce his salary.  He has shot 50 percent from the field in each of his last two games after struggling mightily in the previous four.  Oklahoma City offers a huge boost in pace and Ferrell will likely be defended by Russell Westbrook since the Thunder will not want to put him on the higher-usage Seth Curry and they will not be able to hide him on Harrison Barnes and/or Wesley Matthews.

Terrence Ross is a secondary play on DraftKings at $5,500 but he is incredibly underpriced on FanDuel at just $4,500.  Washington has struggled to defend wings of late as their defense has dropped off a little bit from where they were at heading into the All-Star break.  Ross is averaging 35.1 minutes per game since joining the Magic.  His usage percentage in those games is just 17.5 percent but, at $4,500, the minutes alone in a relatively fast-paced game are enough.

Avery Bradley is gradually seeing more minutes and is in a nice spot against the Suns in a pace-up game against a poor defensive team.  Bradley played just under 24 minutes in his last game against the Lakers and Brad Stevens said before that game that the Celtics would not alter their closing rotation to limit Bradley’s minutes moving forward.  It would not be surprising to see Bradley play a couple more minutes tonight.  He will have plenty of opportunities for defensive stats as he defends the high-usage Devin Booker and/or Eric Bledsoe.

Taj Gibson only played about 14 minutes against Phoenix as the game went small and Doug McDermott got more playing time.  That is unlikely to be the case against Dallas, as they used Salah Mejri at the five and Dirk at the four with the second unit in their last game (Noel’s first start).  Gibson should be able to succeed against Dirk on the glass and go back to seeing minutes in the high-twenties or low-thirties like he was before the Phoenix game.  Sabonis did not play more than one rotation per half against Phoenix, so it still appears that the backup power forwards will see plenty of minutes.

Tyler Ulis is much more expensive now and it makes his value a lot thinner.  It is hard to imagine him playing more than about 25 minutes unless they start playing him alongside Bledsoe, which they have not yet except for about a minute in their last game.  Isaiah Thomas being very small could work in Ulis’s favor, but he is still a very marginal play at his new price- especially since people are probably going to finally notice him.

Secondary: Aaron Gordon, Marquese Chriss, Jared Dudley, Jordan Clarkson