NBA Deep Dive – 3/11/17

High Priced ($8,500+)


LeBron James has been playing incredibly well lately despite the Cavs’ struggles as a team.  He is averaging 31.3 points, 14 rebounds and 8.5 assists per game over his last four and he faces an Orlando team that ranks 21st in defensive rating over the last month.  His price is rising across the industry but he still has a very high floor and nice ceiling at his current price.


Nikola Jokic returned from illness and played about 26 minutes last night against the Celtics.  He gets a fantastic matchup tonight against the Kings, who rank 26th in rebounds allowed, 25th in assists allowed and 22nd in points allowed per 36 minutes to opposing centers since the DeMarcus Cousins trade.  Jokic showed no ill effects against Boston, recording 21 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists in just 26.5 minutes.  Expect another big game out of Jokic tonight at a relatively friendly price point in the low-$10,000 range across the industry.


Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins both have a nice matchup against the Hornets tonight.  We have seen Charlotte get destroyed by opposing bigs lately, including Julius Randle and Nikola Jokic.  Davis and Cousins have not shown their ceiling yet since the trade, but it is coming.  When they are on the floor together, Davis has a 31.4 usage percentage and Cousins has a 29.0 usage percentage.  Cousins is more active in other categories, with a 22.6 assist percentage and 20.1 rebound percentage compared to 6.3 and 11.8 for Davis.  The Pelicans’ also stagger their minutes so they play time without the other on the floor.  They both dominate usage and rebounding stats in those minutes, of course.  They are both at price points too low for their ceilings and are strong tournament plays tonight.


Damian Lillard had a disappointing game against the Sixers on the back of a 6-for-21 shooting performance but he has a change to rebound nicely tonight against the Wizards.  Washington is one of the best teams in the NBA, but they have been struggling defensively of late, ranking 22nd in defensive rating since the All-Star break.  They are also playing at the 4th fastest pace in the league since the break, which means there are plenty of fantasy points to go around.  Lillard has been much more productive this season without Evan Turner and Mason Plumlee on the floor and we should see him reach his ceiling more often in the second half, especially while Turner is still sidelined with an injury.  He has 60+ fantasy point upside in this matchup and is available at prices in the mid-$8,000 range across the industry.


Secondary:  Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Karl-Anthony Towns, John Wall


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


Ricky Rubio has been playing very well since the injury to Zach LaVine.  Coach Tom Thibodeau is also encouraging him to shoot more, as evidenced by double-digit field goal attempts in three straight games.  Normally we do not like to target point guards against the Bucks because their defensive scheme forces the ball to go to shooters on the wings, but Rubio is not reliant on scoring.  Milwaukee is allowing the most assists and rebounds per game against opposing guards over the last month and that plays right into Rubio’s game.  He remains too cheap across the industry and has a chance to triple-double in this matchup.


Mike Conley gets a very friendly matchup against Dennis Schroder and the Atlanta Hawks.  Point guards have dominated the Hawks all season long and you need to look no further than last night to see that it is still happening, as Cory Joseph- who is about as unexciting a point guard option as you can get- had a monster game against Atlanta.  The Hawks are playing at the 8th fastest pace since the All-Star break, which is another boost for Conley.  He is not typically someone we think of as having a massive ceiling, but he has shown he can top 50 fantasy points on occasion this season and the potential for that is there tonight.


Eric Bledsoe is someone that I have been shying away from of late because of the emergence of Tyler Ulis.  For the most part, the Suns have not played Ulis and Bledsoe alongside each other and the desire to see what Ulis can do has cut into Bledsoe’s minutes.  Against a small Celtics team, however, we saw that they would play them together and go very small.  Dallas has a very small backcourt, as well, and the Suns can match up size-wise by going Ulis-Bledsoe-Booker-Warren against Ferrell-Curry-Matthews-Barnes.  This gives Bledsoe the opportunity to get back to playing 35+ minutes.  Dallas plays at a slow pace, which hurts Bledsoe, but their starting unit has nothing in the way of rim protection assuming Dirk gets the start at center.  If Noel starts, it would hurt Bledsoe a bit but he would still have a nice ceiling at his price.


Nicolas Batum has a pace-up game against the Pelicans and he is at home, where he has played better this season.  We have seen him perform well recently after a cold stretch that coincided with a long road trip and we should expect the performance to continue this evening against the Pelicans.  Batum has also been more aggressive offensively lately, taking at least 14 shots in six of his last eight games- including last night in just 28 minutes.


Bradley Beal has been on an absolute tear lately and he draws a very nice matchup against the Blazers.  John Wall is the main offensive threat for the Wizards and stopping him will have to be the primary concern for the Blazers defense.  This means that Mo Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu, the defensive stoppers that the Blazers tend to use on ball-dominant guards, will probably be used to defend Wall and Beal will draw a friendly matchup with Damian Lillard and/or C.J. McCollum.  Beal has attempted at least 20 field goals in four of his last five games and has a very nice combination of floor and ceiling based on his minutes and usage.


Khris Middleton seems a little expensive since his price has gone up, but he is in a great spot tonight- especially if Malcolm Brogdon misses the game.  Middleton had been handling the ball frequently, even alongside Brogdon, and he got plenty of time at point guard last night- including closing the game.  In addition to getting time with the ball in his hands, Minnesota has struggled with spot-up shooters this season.  Minnesota is tied for last in the NBA with 1.09 points per possession allowed to spot-up shooters and is second to last with a 42.2 field goal percentage allowed.  Middleton spots up on 24.4 percent of his plays and averages 1.1 points per possession, ranking in the 77th percentile amongst shooters.  Finally, Middleton will likely spend some time defending Wiggins, which translates into the opportunity for defensive stats.


Harrison Barnes gets a pace-up game against the Phoenix Suns, who rank 1st in pace and 25th in defensive rating since the break.  Barnes will see a lot of time against Marquese Chriss and T.J. Warren in this one, and he should be able to have his way with both.  He has not been a particularly high upside play this season, but he has flashed it in both games against Phoenix, averaging just shy of 1 DraftKings point per minute, up from the 0.86 points per minute he is averaging for the season.


Marvin Williams had a monster game last night in just three quarters against the Magic and he should be in line for another big game tonight.  He is tough to trust because he is so capable of disappearing, but he is playing huge minutes with Frank Kaminsky sidelined.  Williams averages 35 minutes per game without Kaminsky, compared to 29 when he plays.  New Orleans has allowed huge games to stretch fours since picking up DeMarcus Cousins.  They have allowed 23 DraftKings points to Ryan Anderson (in just 24.1 minutes), 39.8 points to Jon Leuer, 46.2 points to LaMarcus Aldridge, and 32.2 points to Serge Ibaka the last four times they have faced a power forward who could shoot.  Williams will play plenty of minutes and will have the chance to extend that streak tonight.


Hassan Whiteside is at home in a friendly matchup against Jonas Valanciunas.  Whiteside has been much better at home than on the road this season, averaging 2.2 more rebounds and 2.5 more points per game at home than on the road.  Whiteside has averaged 1.43 DraftKings points per minute in three matchups against Valanciunas in three games going back to the start of last season.  Toronto has done a good job on the glass since the All-Star break, but they have allowed opposing centers the 6th most blocks per 36 minutes so Whiteside has a very nice ceiling if he is able to beat Valanciunas on the boards.


Jusuf Nurkic had a monster game against the Sixers and is in another nice spot tonight in a pace-up game against the Wizards.  Somehow his price decreased on DraftKings, so he should be a very popular option.  Washington is not as great a matchup as Philadelphia, but they do rank 27th in rebounds allowed, 26th in blocks allowed and 25th in points allowed per 36 minutes to opposing centers since the All-Star break.  Nurkic has a 25.5 usage percentage, 22.4 assist percentage and 17.5 rebound percentage since joining Portland and is consistently seeing minutes into the mid-30s.  Do not let biases from his Denver days, or his lack of name recognition, dissuade you from rostering him at a very favorable price.


Secondary: Kemba Walker, Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier, Seth Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Danilo Gallinari, Serge Ibaka, Greg Monroe, Alan Williams


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


There is a ton of value in the Golden State game as almost all of the starters on both teams are sitting.  There are a ton of viable options as a result, but my favorites are Patty Mills (especially in cash games), David Lee, David West, Ian Clark, and Manu Ginobili (especially in tournaments).  All of these players (except Mills) average greater than 1 fantasy point per minute and have a clear path to extra minutes.  Mills averages 0.97 DraftKings points per minute without Parker, Aldridge or Leonard on the floor and maintains a respectable 0.88 points per minute when Gasol is on the floor.  Lee averages 1.18 DraftKings points per minute without Gasol on the floor and 0.72 with him, but he should see plenty of time without him as long as Dedmon remains in the starting lineup.  David West has averaged 1.1 DraftKings points per minute overall this season and should see at least a few more minutes as a result of all the Golden State rest.  At the absolute minimum, he is a viable option even if Golden State chooses to keep him under 20 minutes.  Ian Clark will handle the ball a lot for Golden State today and is a more productive player then McCaw on a per-minute basis.  People may gravitate to McCaw because he has been a viable option at times lately, but Clark is averaging 1.08 DraftKings points per minute in 166 minutes without the core 4 on the floor for Golden State.  Ginobili should see plenty of ball-handling responsibilities without Parker or Leonard on the floor.  On 349 minutes without Parker, Aldridge or Leonard, he has averaged 1.12 DraftKings points per minute and his production has actually increased to 1.3 points per minute alongside Gasol (likely a result of sample size, but it shows he doesn’t disappear).


Pau Gasol deserves a separate mention, as he is more expensive and should dominate usage when he is on the floor.  He has played 129 minutes without Parker, Aldridge or Leonard this season and has a 30.2 usage percentage and 21.8 assist percentage and is averaging 1.22 DraftKings points per minute.  The only concern with Gasol is that he does not play many minutes, since nobody cares about winning this game.  For tournaments, however, he has massive upside- and may go somewhat lower owned since he burned people in this spot already once this week.


Secondary: Tyler Ulis (FanDuel), Yogi Ferrell, Jeremy Lamb, Davis Bertans, Patrick McCaw