NBA Deep Dive – 3/21/17
High Priced ($8,500+)
Karl-Anthony Towns faces a San Antonio team that ranks in the bottom ten in the NBA in points per possession allowed to opposing roll-men. Towns ranks in the 81st percentile with 1.19 points per possession on the pick-and-roll this season. Towns has recorded double-doubles in all three of his games against San Antonio this season, including lines of 27 points and 16 rebounds and 24 points and 14 rebounds in his last two meetings. On top of struggling to defend the pick-and-roll, San Antonio is vulnerable defensively against bigs who can shoot from the perimeter. This plays into Towns’ game and he should succeed in this matchup once again.
Kawhi Leonard has seen a drop-off in his production over his last handful of games but he gets a matchup against Andrew Wiggins that he has done very well in in the past. Leonard is averaging 1.4 DraftKings points per minute in his three games against the Timberwolves this season, capped off by a 34 point, 10 rebound, 5 assist and 6 steal effort earlier this month. While we cannot expect the six steals to be duplicated, Leonard does have an increased ceiling because of the defensive stats he can rack up guarding a ball-dominant player such as Wiggins. Leonard’s price is still a little high across the industry, but small forward is a very shallow position today which makes Leonard an elite option.
Jimmy Butler is averaging 1.15 DraftKings points per minute alongside Rajon Rondo without Wade and he approaches 1.50 DraftKings points per minute when Rondo is off the floor as well. Rondo played just 21 minutes in their last game against the Jazz, but that is likely to be an anomaly and not the norm. Even so, Butler should get 8-10 minutes of playing time without Rondo on the floor where he can be extra productive. His price has fallen somewhat across the industry, which was needed because he had been overpriced for a while. He has done very well against Toronto in the past, averaging 1.21 DraftKings points per minute in five games over the last two seasons. This will be his first time facing the Raptors since they acquired P.J. Tucker, which could dig into his production a bit, but he still has upside at a weak position.
Hassan Whiteside started off great against the Trailblazers before fading late in his last game. He gets another good matchup today against a Phoenix team that ranks number one in pace in the month of March and is allowing the 7th most blocks per 36 minutes to opposing centers since the All-Star break. Alex Len and Alan Williams will not be able to do much to stop Whiteside and the game is in Miami where Whiteside tends to play better. The only concern with Whiteside is that center is a stacked position and there are high-upside options available for less. Whiteside certainly has 50+ fantasy point upside in this matchup, however.
Secondary: Steph Curry, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard
Ricky Rubio will be the beneficiary on the ball-handler side of the pick-and-roll matchup that I described when discussing Towns. He has had two monster games against the Spurs already this season and has been playing out of his mind since the Zach LaVine injury and Coach Thibodeau’s statement that Rubio needed to start shooting the ball if he wanted his full allotment of minutes. Rubio is averaging about 1.25 DraftKings points per minute since March 4th, which was the first of eight consecutive games that he has attempted at least 10 field goals. Coincidentally, that game was against the Spurs and he scored 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting to go along with 13 rebounds and 10 assists. In his previous meeting with San Antonio, he had 21 points and 15 assists. This is a much better matchup than it would appear if you simply look at pace and defensive rating, and Rubio even gets a discounted price on dynamic pricing sites.
Klay Thompson has at least 20 field goal attempts in every game since the Kevin Durant injury, with the exception of two. Thompson’s 31.2 percent usage rate since Durant’s injury ranks second on the team behind Steph Curry (34.6 percent). His price remains very reasonable, however, and he has a nice matchup against Dallas. Seth Curry has struggled to defend spot-up shooters this season, ranking in the 41st percentile with 1.03 points per possession allowed. Wesley Matthews has been much better, ranking in the 67th percentile with 0.94 points per possession allowed. In his last four games against Wesley Matthews, however, Thompson has scored 45, 39, 40 and 29 ACTUAL points- with DraftKings totals of 59.8, 59, 55.8 and 42.5. If you were wondering, yes, Steph Curry did play in all four of those games and he actually did well in two of them also.
Devin Booker is averaging just 0.74 DraftKings points per minute alongside Ulis and Warren without Bledsoe this season, but it is a small sample size. We should be more concerned with his usage rate of 29.9 percent and the fact that he should see 40+ minutes of playing time with Knight out and Barbosa and Price questionable. Miami is missing a quality defender in Dion Waiters and, if Phoenix is going to hang around in this game, it will most likely come on the back of Booker.
LaMarcus Aldridge is the exact type of player that the Minnesota defense is most vulnerable against, as he is a big who is a knock-down mid-range shooter. Not only is it a schematic hole in the Minnesota defense, but Karl-Anthony Towns has a tendency to be late closing out on shooters this season. Aldridge has taken advantage twice already, scoring 42 and 40 DraftKings points in his last two meetings. His price rose to $6,700 on DraftKings and he still sits at $7,000 on FanDuel. His value is a little bit more narrow at this price than if he was still in the low-$6,000 range but he still makes for a strong play.
Blake Griffin has a friendly matchup with a Lakers team that ranks second in pace and last in defensive rating since the start of March. His price remains too low on DraftKings, at just $8,000, and he is viable at $9,300 on FanDuel as well. I have two concerns with Blake that, I think, cap his upside somewhat, however. First, he appears to be leaking out on opposing shot attempts so that he can get down the floor and set up on offense. It is not a big deal for the Clippers, since DeAndre Jordan is more than capable of grabbing most of the defensive rebounds, but it hurt’s Griffin’s fantasy production since it makes him more scoring dependent. Second, for whatever reason, Doc Rivers is no longer staggering Griffin and Chris Paul’s minutes. Both players take a hit in production when they are on the floor together, lowering their ceiling somewhat. That being said, there is nobody on the Lakers that can match up with Griffin and the Lakers have done a pretty good job of keeping games close at home this season- although this is obviously a home game for both teams. He will probably be a popular option tonight but he is still a strong play.
Brook Lopez faces Andre Drummond, who has struggled mightily to defend opposing centers who can play away from the basket. Lopez, of course, has added a three-point shot to his game this season after relying on long twos earlier in his career. Detroit has allowed the fifth most rebounds per 36 minutes to opposing centers since the All-Star break and Lopez’s season-high in rebounds came against this Detroit team, although Lopez does not need rebounds to be successful. In his only meeting with Drummond this season, Lopez scored 34 points with 11 rebounds, including four three pointers. In three meetings last season, Lopez had 52.2, 33.8 and 42.2 DraftKings points against Drummond. He is very reasonable priced across the industry and has massive upside in this matchup.
Marc Gasol is more expensive than Lopez, but he also has a favorable matchup tonight against DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans. Since acquiring Cousins, New Orleans ranks 29th in rebounds allowed per 36 minutes, 29th in offensive rebounds allowed per 36 minutes and 26th in three-point attempts per 36 minutes to opposing centers. Gasol is a veteran defender who should be able to stay out of foul trouble against the Boogie-Brow frontcourt, and he should have a lot of success offensively.
Jusuf Nurkic remains too cheap for his upside and he has a favorable matchup against the Bucks. The only team in the NBA allowing centers to grab more rebounds per 36 minutes than the Pelicans is the Bucks. The combination of Thon Maker, John Henson and Greg Monroe is not going to be able to contain Nurkic, who has shown to be capable of producing points, rebounds and assists since he was traded to the Blazers. Center is an incredibly deep position, which means that ownership should be spread out and there is a chance that Nurkic is somewhat underowned despite the very good matchup.
Secondary: Goran Dragic, Tyler Ulis (better on FanDuel), Rajon Rondo, D’Angelo Russell, C.J. McCollum, DeMar DeRozan, Tobias Harris, James Johnson, Julius Randle, DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond
Cory Joseph is not a particularly exciting player but he is relatively cheap, will play around 35 minutes, and is facing a Chicago backcourt that has been terrible defensively. Joseph is averaging 0.84 DraftKings points per minute and he should see close to 35 minutes, assuming the game stays close. Factor in that Chicago has been giving up big games to opposing point guards left and right, and a 30+ fantasy point outing from Joseph is very reasonable.
Reggie Jackson is in a prime spot against the Nets. Jeremy Lin is doubtful and a backcourt featuring Spencer Dinwiddie, Randy Foye, Isaiah Whitehead and Archie Goodwin is not likely to force Jackson off the floor for defensive reasons. Brooklyn has not been quite as bad of late as they were earlier in the season, but they still rank 5th in pace and 24th in defensive rating since the start of March. Jackson is a capable scorer and his biggest issue this season is that he has a quality backup, so his inconsistency on both ends of the floor can lead to him losing playing time on any given night. There is no reason to think that he struggles in this game, however, and he has a massive ceiling for a price tag that sits at $5,700 on DraftKings and $5,000 on FanDuel.
J.J. Barea played 26.5 minutes in Dallas’s last game against Brooklyn and he closed the game over Yogi Ferrell. He is still a risky play because Dallas has enough bodies in their backcourt that his minutes could fluctuate from game-to-game, but he certainly has upside- especially at $4,100 on DraftKings. Barea is averaging almost exactly one fantasy point per minute this season and Dallas will need all the offense they can get in their matchup with Golden State. Barea is a better offensive player than Yogi Ferrell, so it would make sense for him to see plenty of run tonight in an attempt to keep up with Golden State. Barea has not faced Golden State this season, but he averaged 1.12 DraftKings points per minute in four meetings last season. He is a somewhat risky, high-upside option.
Jon Leuer makes for a very interesting tournament play. He has been relegated to the bench in favor of Tobias Harris, but his price sits at just $4,200 on DraftKings and FanDuel. He still has a decent role in the rotation, averaging 25.1 minutes per game over his last five and he will get to face a very weak Brooklyn bench. In addition, he closed at center in the only game that Detroit has played against Brook Lopez this season as Andre Drummond did not play any fourth quarter minutes. Leuer is almost guaranteed to go under the radar but he has legitimate upside in this matchup at his price.
JaMychal Green is a tournament-only option but he has upside in this spot. New Orleans has been awful against stretch fours since acquiring DeMarcus Cousins (as long as Cousins and Davis both start) and Green has had success against Davis in the past. The games last season that Green went off against Davis were without Conley and Gasol, so we should temper out expectation a bit, but they go to show that he can score in the matchup when he is asked to. He has consistently seen minutes in the mid-twenties and he has shown that he has upside in good matchups with two 35+ fantasy points games against Atlanta in the last ten days. He is a high-risk, high-reward option tonight.
Gorgui Dieng has another matchup tonight where he should see plenty of minutes as the Spurs have a big frontcourt. He matches up well because he is a capable shooter that can step out of the paint and give Dedmon and Gasol problems. In three games against the Spurs this season, Dieng has played 33.1, 28.5 and 37.4 minutes, posting lines of 16 points and 8 rebounds, 17 points and 6 rebounds, and 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Secondary: Spencer Dinwiddie, Isaiah Whitehead, Matt Barnes, Noah Vonleh, Robin Lopez, Ivica Zubac (especially FanDuel), Jonas Valanciunas