NBA Deep Dive – 3/16/17

High Priced ($8,500+)


Russell Westbrook is on the slate and there really is not a lot to say about him.  He has high upside in any matchup on any slate and today is no different.  He has not been shooting as much since Oladipo’s return, but he has been grabbing more rebounds and picking up more assists so his fantasy totals have still been very healthy.  Toronto, tonight’s opponent, is playing at the second slowest pace since the All-Star break and has been better defensively since adding Serge Ibaka, ranking 8th in defensive rating since the break.  As is the case most nights, you can feel good about rostering Westbrook if you are able to make a lineup that you like around him and there is plenty of value on this slate that should make that possible.  There are also high-upside point guards for cheaper, however, if you cannot quite get to Westbrook.


Steph Curry is in a fantastic spot tonight against the Magic, a team that he torched a couple of times last season.  Orlando has allowed the 6th highest three-point percentage to opposing guards this season, and the 4th highest since the All-Star break.  In three games against the Magic since the start of last season, Curry has made 10, 7 and 7 three-pointers.  He will be facing them at home tonight, where he is shooting 45.7 percent from three this season compared to 34.1 percent on the road.  We have not seen Steph have a monster game since Durant’s injury but he is due for positive regression and we should see it sooner rather than later.  Curry has a 34.3 usage percentage without Durant on the floor this season and is averaging 1.43 DraftKings points per minute despite a 58.3 true shooting percentage that is three percentage points lower than his 61.3 season average.  While Durant’s absence could be leading to less open looks, his true shooting percentage last season was 66.9 percent so it seems likely that he will start making more shots soon.  Curry may go somewhat overlooked on this slate because of Westbrook and Chris Paul, making him an elite tournament option with a massive ceiling.


Chris Paul is in a great situation with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan sidelined and has a great matchup against the Denver Nuggets.  Denver has been a little bit better since the break, ranking 15th in defensive rating and 12th in pace, but they have been near the bottom in defensive rating all season long and typically play at a very fast pace so their recent trends do not have me overly concerned.  Paul has a 24.7 usage percentage and 45.8 assist percentage without Griffin or Jordan on the floor dating back to last season and it is likely that his usage percentage will actually be higher than that because there is a relatively small sample with them both off the floor.  When Griffin is off the floor over that period, his usage percentage is 27.6 percent.  Paul is averaging 1.43 DraftKings points per minute without Griffin since the start of last season.  Doc Rivers has told Paul that he needs to shoot more and there is no better spot to start than with Griffin sidelined.  He is likely to be a very popular option but there is no reason not to like him in this spot.


LeBron James has a relatively difficult matchup in a pace-down game against the Jazz, but his price has decreased across the industry to adjust.  James has been a triple-double machine of late, picking up five triple-doubles in nine games since the All-Star break as he has had to put the Cavaliers on his back to try and avoid losing the number one seed in the East.  James is averaging 1.39 DraftKings points per minute since the break with a 31.0 usage percentage, 39.2 assist percentage and 17.6 total rebounding percentage.  James has only played less than 37 minutes once since the break, and it was last game in a blowout (where he triple-doubled in 28 minutes).


Nikola Jokic disappointed fantasy owners in his last game because he only played 24 minutes in a blowout.  He still produced about 1.5 DraftKings points per minute in the game, however.  In 215 minutes without Chandler or Gallinari on the floor this season, Jokic has a usage percentage of 26.7 percent, an assist percentage of 27.7 percent and a total rebounding percentage of 22.3 percent.  This has led to Jokic producing 1.59 DraftKings and 1.52 FanDuel points per minute.  The Clippers are without Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan in their frontcourt tonight and Jokic should be able to dominate the Clippers bench.


Secondary:  DeMar DeRozan (much better on DraftKings)


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


George Hill is too cheap for a matchup against Cleveland, who rank 28th in defensive rating since the All-Star break and really have not been playing any defense for over a month.  Hill benefits from Derrick Favors and, possibly, Rodney Hood being sidelined.  He has a 23.8 usage percentage and 19.3 assist percentage alongside Hayward and Gobert without either of them on the floor this season.  Hill almost always goes overlooked, but he has 35-40+ fantasy point upside in this matchup at a low-$6,000 price tag.


Carmelo Anthony is likely to be a popular option today against the Nets in the highest total on the board and with Kristaps Porzingis doubtful to play.  Porzingis’s absence should move Anthony to the four, where we have seen players have a lot of success against the Nets as Brook Lopez draws the center out to the perimeter and the forwards are able to grab more rebounds.  In addition, Anthony averages 1.14 DraftKings points per minute alongside Derrick Rose without Porzingis compared to 0.97 points per minute when all three are on the floor.  The uptick in fantasy production coincides with a bump in usage percentage from 25.3 to 31.7 percent.  Anthony’s price is up a little bit to account for Porzingis’s absence and the good matchup, but he is still a strong option.


Gordon Hayward is a great tournament option, particularly on DraftKings where he is just $6,900 and costs $1,200 less than Anthony.  As mentioned before, the Cavaliers have not been playing any defense for a while and that includes LeBron James who tends to coast on defense in order to save his energy for everything that he has to do on the offensive end.  In 264 minutes alongside Hill and Gobert without Hood or Favors, Hayward’s usage percentage is 28.1 percent and he is averaging 1.12 DraftKings points per minute.  He should be able to pay off his $6,900 price tag very nicely in this matchup with a depleted starting unit, and will likely come at an ownership discount compared to Anthony.


Brook Lopez gets a matchup against the New York Knicks that he dominated less than a week ago.  Lopez made 5-of-5 three-pointers in the first quarter against Willy Hernangomez, which led to Hernangomez being benched and Kristaps Porzingis moving to the five.  Porzingis is doubtful for this game, and O’Quinn is a worse perimeter defender than Hernangomez, so Lopez should have the Hernangomez matchup for most of the game.  Lopez’s price is up slightly across the industry but he still has plenty of upside in this matchup.


Willy Hernangomez has a matchup against the Nets that he has done very well in this season on a point-per-minute basis.  In three games against Brooklyn, he has averaged 1.67 DraftKings points per minute.  The issue, as always with Hernangomez, is how many minutes is he going to play.  He has played at least 27 in three of his last four games, the one he did not being last weekend against the Nets when he was benched because Brook Lopez was making every three-pointer that he took.  With Porzingis sidelined for tonight’s game, however, his minutes should be more secure since Kyle O’Quinn is not likely to do any better at defending Lopez than Hernangomez does.  He is still risky because we have seen Hornacek do just about everything imaginable to screw DFS players this season, but he has massive upside in this spot and is a little safer than usual.


Secondary: Derrick Rose, Dennis Schroder, Mike Conley, Elfrid Payton, Klay Thompson, Serge Ibaka, Paul Millsap, Draymond Green, Marc Gasol, Dwight Howard, Nikola Vucevic


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


J.J. Redick, like most of the Clippers’ team, should see a boost with Griffin and Jordan resting tonight.  Redick has played just over 200 minutes alongside Paul without Griffin and Jordan since the start of last season and his stats do not change much.  He has played well over 1,000 minutes alongside Paul without just Griffin, however, and he sees a nice boost in production.  These stats are more reliable than the smaller sample size without both since Jordan does not demand much usage anyway.  Redick has a 22.3 percent usage percentage and averaged 0.83 DraftKings points per minute alongside Paul without Griffin since the start of last season and is averaging 0.90 DraftKings points per minute in that situation so far this season.  In addition, he has played well against Denver, averaging 1 DraftKings point per minute in five games since the start of last season and never scoring less than 20 DraftKings points in a game. At his price, he is a strong option that may go overlooked.


Austin Rivers should see a boost in minutes with Griffin and Jordan sidelined and Denver being a team that will play small.  It is likely that Rivers starts at small forward and Mbah-a-Moute moves to the four.  Rivers is not a high point-per-minute contributor, but he is in a spot where we should see 32+ minutes out of him and his price is approaching minimum salary across the industry.


Mo Speights is a high point-per-minute producer who people love to play when Blake Griffin sits even though he does not play much at the four.  Today, however, he should get more minutes since Griffin and Jordan are out and the Clippers do not have much else in the way of backup centers.  Cole Aldrich was the backup last season and averaged 29.7 minutes per game in the five games that Jordan missed (he has not missed a game this season).  Speights is averaging 1.15 DraftKings points per minute this season, and can be expected to see at least 24 minutes with the chance that he approaches 30.  He is a very high upside play at a price near minimum salary.


Kenneth Faried carries some risk since he has been sidelined with injury but, if we do not hear that he is on a minutes limit, he has a very high ceiling at a low price point in a game where he will likely be needed to play heavy minutes with Chandler and Gallinari sidelined against a Clippers team that is very small without Griffin and Jordan.  It would not make much sense for Denver to deploy Plumlee next to Jokic unless they have to, so there should be plenty of minutes available for Faried as long as he is not restricted.  He has shown this season that he is capable of 40+ fantasy points in 25 minutes of play, but he has burned people often enough that he is almost never a popular play except for in the most obvious spots.


Secondary: Jameer Nelson, Joe Ingles, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Will Barton, Joe Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Caris Levert, Matt Barnes, Juan Hernangomez (keep an eye on Faried minutes), Brandon Bass