NBA Deep Dive – 3/14/17

 Note: Keep an eye on the weather in games in New York as there is a chance they are postponed due to snow and ice.


High Priced ($8,500+)


Russell Westbrook has a great matchup against the Brooklyn Nets.  He is $13,400 on DraftKings and FanDuel.  Brooklyn ranks 3rd in pace and 27th in defensive rating over the last month, a very good combination for Westbrook.  Brooklyn has also been doing a good job of keeping games close, despite being a terrible team that will almost certainly end up losing.  Westbrook has a 44.7 usage percentage, 51.5 assist percentage and 16.1 rebound percentage since the All-Star break.  Brooklyn ranks 30th in points allowed per 36 minutes, 25th in assists allowed per 36 minutes, 27th in field goal percentage allowed and 30th in three-point percentage allowed to opposing guards since the All-Star break.  It is clearly a phenomenal matchup for Westbrook, the only issue is if there will be enough value on the slate to fit him in without giving up too much.


LeBron James has been playing insanely well lately and is a threat to triple-double whenever he takes the floor.  James has played at least 37 minutes in every game since the All-Star break and posted a 29-13-10 triple-double against this Detroit team last week.  He has struggled against Marcus Morris in the past, but he needs to do everything for this team to win right now so matchups really do not matter.  James has a 31 percent usage percentage, 38.2 assist percentage and 17.2 rebounding percentage since the break, compared to 30 percent usage, 39.5 percent assists and 12.2 percent rebounds for the season as a whole.  The increase in rebounding while his assists and usage stay relatively the same has led to four triple-doubles in eight games since the break.  At $11,000 on DraftKings and $11,200 on FanDuel, James makes for an excellent play in any format.


Stephen Curry makes for an excellent tournament play today.  There are plenty of point guards for people to roster (assuming the New York games play as scheduled) and people are really down on the Warriors lately.  Part of the reason Curry seemingly has not benefitted from Durant’s absence can be attributed to his inability to shoot on the road all season long and Curry playing only one game at Oracle since the injury.  Instead of focusing on his recent results, we should look at his usage since the injury.  For the season, Curry has a 29.2 usage percentage, 27.2 assist percentage and 61.5 true shooting percentage.  Without Durant on the floor, Curry has a 34.7 usage percentage, 29.9 assist percentage and 58.1 true shooting percentage.  Since Durant’s injury, Curry has a 34.4 usage percentage, 28.8 assist percentage and 52.3 true shooting percentage.  Curry’s true shooting percentage on the road this season is just 57 percent, compared to 66.8 percent at home.  His three-point percentage on the road is 34.1 percent compared to 46 percent at home.  Basically, Curry should see positive regression in his shooting sooner rather than later as his numbers in the last six games are below his averages even factoring in that they were on the road and that he is slightly less efficient without Durant.  Add in that he is going to be at home, on three days’ rest, against a Philadelphia team that ranks 3rd in pace and 25th in defensive rating since Embiid’s injury and this is a spot where we could see Curry explode.


DeMarcus Cousins makes for another very strong GPP option as people are likely to shy away somewhat due to Anthony Davis’s huge game, Cousins’ benching and a general lack of upside on display since he paired up with Davis in the New Orleans frontcourt.  Cousins’ price is way too cheap for his upside, however, and we get him in a “squeaky wheel” spot against Portland.  Jusuf Nurkic has done a good job improving Portland’s overall rebounding numbers, but they still rank 26th in offensive rebounds allowed per 36 minutes to opposing centers since the trade deadline.  They also rank 24th in points allowed per 36.  The Pelicans’ struggles have made it easy for people to really downplay Cousins’ role in New Orleans and it is a mistake.  Since joining New Orleans, Cousins has a 31.7 usage rate, 20.5 assist percentage and 17.6 rebounding percentage.  In 106 minutes alongside Davis, those numbers are 29.6, 15.2 and 16.2, respectively.  Davis, by comparison, sits at 27.5, 7.7 and 12.7 alongside Cousins.  We can expect similar production out of them on a game-by-game basis but, at the moment, Davis sits $900 more on DraftKings and $2,600 more on FanDuel.  It is hard to justify paying more to roster Davis over Cousins, just because Davis is coming off a monster game where Cousins did not play the fourth quarter or overtime, when Cousins is the more productive player when they are on the court together.


Secondary:  Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis


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


Reggie Jackson could go in the “mid-range” or “value” category depending on what site you play on, but we will talk about him here.  He has a very good matchup against a Cleveland team that is not playing any defense.  Jackson was able to force his way on to the court more than Stan Van Gundy likely intended in the last game against Cleveland by playing extremely well in the fourth quarter.  Jackson still carries some risk since Van Gundy has shown a quick hook if Jackson is not playing well and Ish Smith is the better fit for the Pistons in just about every way possible.  That said, if Jackson is in Van Gundy’s good graces at the moment, he has plenty of upside against a Cleveland team that ranks last in defensive rating over the last month- especially at just $5,200 on FanDuel.


Victor Oladipo returned to his full role in the Oklahoma City rotation in his last game, playing 38.1 minutes against Utah.  Oladipo’s price across the industry is toward the low end of his salary range and he is in a very good matchup against Brooklyn.  The important thing with Oladipo is always how much time he is getting on the floor without Westbrook.  In 1,341 minutes alongside Westbrook this season, Oladipo has an 18.9 usage percentage and 9.9 assist percentage.  In 357 minutes without Westbrook on the floor, Oladipo has a 29.9 usage percentage and 19 percent assist percentage.  Oladipo played about 10-11 of his 38.1 minutes against Utah without Westbrook on the floor, which is a good sign for Oladipo’s production moving forward.  You can roster him with confidence in cash games and tournaments tonight against Brooklyn.


The New York Knicks are a mess, but Kristaps Porzingis is the one guy you can normally count on in the lineup.  Porzingis appears to finally be back to full strength and is averaging 34.4 minutes per game over his last six.  Porzingis is getting more time at center, and that should continue tonight against an Indiana team that features Myles Turner at the five.  We saw Hernangomez benched against Brooklyn after Brook Lopez hit five three-points in the first quarter and Turner is another stretch five who can play away from the basket.  Earlier in the season, this meant that it was a prime Hernangomez spot as he is a better perimeter defender than O’Quinn but, now that the Knicks are willing to use Porzingis more at center, this is a prime spot for the Thomas-Anthony-Porzingis front court.  More minutes at center equals more potential productivity for Porzingis as he is in position for more rebounds, easier scoring opportunities and more blocks.


Andre Drummond has a huge size advantage against Tristan Thompson, checking in at about 3 inches taller and 40 pounds heavier than Thompson.  Drummond has started five games against Thompson since last season, and is averaging 15 points, 13.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.8 steals and 1.4 blocks in 32.2 minutes per game.  This has translated into 1.22 DraftKings points per minute.  Drummond is $800 more expensive on DraftKings than he was in this matchup last week, but do not let that dissuade you from rostering him as last week’s price was criminally low.


Brook Lopez succeeded in a good spot against the Knicks in his last game and he gets another good one tonight against Steven Adams and the Thunder.  Adams is not as good of a defender against centers who can pull him away from the basket and negate his physicality.  Lopez is that kind of player and has had a lot of success against Adams in the past.  Lopez has faced Adams once this season, and four times dating back to November 2014.  In those four games, Lopez is averaging 1.23 DraftKings points per minute, with his “worst” performances being 31 fantasy points in 23.9 minutes and 34 fantasy points in 34.7 minutes.  In the game this year, he had 37.5 DraftKings points in 27.8 minutes, including 4 three-pointers made.


Secondary: Derrick Rose, Klay Thompson, C.J. McCollum, Marcus Morris, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, Enes Kanter, Dario Saric, Draymond Green, Jusuf Nurkic


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


Jordan Crawford is likely to be a popular option tonight at a relatively weak shooting guard position.  There are pros and cons to rostering Crawford.  As far as the pros, he is a high upside player on a point-per-minute basis as he is a very capable scorer.  New Orleans has shown that they trust him, allowing him to close all three games that he has played.  Crawford has played 73 minutes in his three games with the Pelicans and has a usage percentage of 23.3 and and assist percentage of 29.3.  On the downside, he has played just 18 minutes with Cousins and Davis both on the floor, and just 8 minutes alongside Cousins, Davis and Holiday.  His usage percentage alongside Davis and Cousins is just 16.8 percent.  This is concerning because, of the three games that he closed, Davis was injured in one and Cousins was benched for game flow reasons in the other.  These extenuating circumstances, in addition to an overtime game, have led to inflated minutes totals and usage numbers.  If Crawford is going to continue playing steady minutes for the Pelicans, he is likely going to have to play more alongside Cousins and Davis than he has been.  Crawford is a high-upside play for his price since he is a capable scorer and Portland is not an imposing defense, just know that there is risk for regression and he will likely be highly owned.


Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot is averaging 26.4 minutes per game in four games without Robert Covington since the start of February, including 27.4 minutes against the Lakers on Sunday.  Cabarrot does not fill one specific category well, registering a 17.7 usage percentage, 6.6 assist percentage and 7.1 rebound percentage in 250 minutes without Covington, Embiid, Ilyasova or Noel on the floor this season, but he is an athletic guy who is capable of decent production when he gets the minutes.  He will benefit from the fast pace of this game against Golden State as well.  For the season, he is averaging 0.63 DraftKings points per minute.  If extrapolated to 26.4 minutes, that comes out to slightly more than 16 fantasy points.  Obviously that is not great, but he is capable of doing better (as he showed with 26.75 points against the Lakers) and there is not much value on this slate yet.


Thaddeus Young has seen his minutes trending up recently, playing 34 minutes three games ago against Detroit and 38 minutes last game against Miami.  Young does not have a high-usage role in the offense, so a lot of his offense comes from opportunities to score in transition.  The Knicks have allowed the 8th most points per game in transition this season and they allowed the 8th most points in transition last season as well.  It is likely not a coincidence that Young has only scored less than 35 DraftKings points once in his last six games against the Knicks dating back to last season with the Nets (three games with Brooklyn and three with Indiana)- although his only bad game was his most recent.  In addition to the Knicks allowing points in transition, Young is likely to get plenty of time matched up with Carmelo Anthony “defense” as the Knicks are likely to use Lance Thomas to defend Paul George, moving Anthony to the four and Porzingis to the five.


Zaza Pachulia has a capped ceiling since he will never play heavy minutes, but his minutes in this matchup should be very productive.  Since Embiid’s injury on January 27th, the Sixers rank 29th in points allowed per 36, 30th in blocks allowed per 36, 22nd in steals allowed per 36, 23rd in assists allowed per 36, 25th in rebounds allowed per 36 and 30th in field goal percentage allowed to starting centers.  Pachulia faced them at the end of February, picking up 16 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, a block and a steal- good for 29.25 DraftKings points in just 15 minutes of play.  Pachulia has played at least 19 minutes in his last three games.  He is a strong value option on a slate that is lacking value.


Secondary: Ish Smith, Isaiah Whitehead, Sean Kilpatrick (FanDuel), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (especially FanDuel), Trevor Booker, Jon Leuer (if Harris sits), Al-Farouq Aminu, Tristan Thompson