NBA Deep Dive – 3/23/17
High Priced ($8,500+)
Damian Lillard has finally been living up to expectations lately and gets a very nice matchup with the New York Knicks in a game with the second highest total on the slate. Both teams have been playing at a middling pace and the Knicks rank 26th in defensive rating over the last two weeks. Without Mason Plumlee on the floor this season, Lillard has a 34.4 usage percentage and 28.5 assist percentage. Lillard has taken at least 20 shots in six of his last eight games and attempted 17 and 18 shots in the other two. On most slates, Lillard would be a little too expensive at his new price tag but there are not a ton of good options on this slate and there is a strong chance that significant value opens up on the Knicks’ side, making it easier to slightly overpay for Lillard.
DeMar DeRozan showed against the Bulls that he is still capable of reaching a high ceiling and he will have to carry the offensive load tonight with Serge Ibaka suspended. DeRozan’s usage percentage jumps from 32.1 percent alongside Ibaka without Lowry to 42.5 percent with neither one on the floor. This is going to be a slow-paced game and DeRozan’s price quickly jumped after the Bulls game, but he is a top play at a weak shooting guard position. From a GPP perspective, I think it is a good idea to roster him tonight (hope for a huge game) and then jump back off once Ibaka returns and people are chasing back-to-back monster game logs.
Hassan Whiteside is dealing with a hand injury but is expected to play tonight against Toronto. The game is in Miami, where Whiteside is generally more productive, and he has had success in past matchups with Jonas Valanciunas. In four games against Valanciunas dating back to last season, Whiteside has averaged 1.37 DraftKings points per minute and recorded block totals of 6, 3, 1 and 4. Toronto is allowing the second fewest offensive rebounds per 36 minutes to opposing centers since the All-Star break, as well as the fewest total rebounds per 36 minutes, and ranks in the middle of the pack in blocks allowed. There is certainly some risk because of these stats, but Whiteside still comes with a high ceiling. He is relatively more valuable on DraftKings than FanDuel because he is priced closer to the other high-upside center options, but he still makes for a nice tournament option on FanDuel where you can probably be contrarian by paying up.
Secondary: Kawhi Leonard (more valuable if Tony Allen out), Blake Griffin, Chris Paul
Tyler Ulis is coming off of a poor performance against Miami, but he played 42 minutes (giving him at least 39 minutes in four straight games) and faces a Brooklyn team that has been near the top of the league in pace and bottom of the league in defensive rating all season long. Brooklyn has played a bit slower lately, ranking 10th in pace over the last two weeks, and has been a bit better defensively, ranking 20th in defensive rating over that period. Still, we should not be overly concerned about them stopping Ulis, who can contribute in multiple categories. Ulis is also very capable of racking up high steal totals, as he is averaging 1.86 steals per 36 minutes this season and Brooklyn is a sloppy team that will turn the ball over. Jeremy Lin’s probably return to the starting lineup means that Ulis will be guarding someone who has the ball in their hands constantly, which increases his ceiling even more.
Devin Booker also had a bad game against Miami but his price is still very reasonable and he should also be in line for minutes in the mid-high 30s at least. Booker is a scoring dependent player so there is always some risk in rostering him, but he has a 30.7 usage percentage alongside Ulis and Warren without Bledsoe or Knight this season. He has not been more productive on a per-minute basis because he has shot horribly. His true shooting percentage in his 126 minutes alongside Ulis and Warren without Bledsoe or Knight is just 42.8 percent. His true shooting percentage overall this season is 52.6 percent and for his career it is 53 percent. Even if we assume a drop in efficiency due to him being the main focus of the defense, he should still improve significantly from where he is currently at. He has a very high ceiling for his price in this matchup.
LaMarcus Aldridge faces a Memphis team that has struggled to defend stretch fours this season and has struggled to defend pretty much anyone recently. Memphis ranks 15th in defensive rating over the last two weeks and is in the bottom ten in the league since the All-Star break. Aldridge matches up well with the Memphis frontcourt and has had tremendous success against them since joining the Spurs. In his last four games against Memphis, Kawhi Leonard has been active in three of them. In those three games, Aldridge has averaged 1.59 DraftKings points per minute with totals of 59.5, 56.8 and 39.2 DraftKings points on the back of 32, 31 and 21 real points. In the game that Kawhi sat, Aldridge was still productive- posting a line of 13 points and 10 rebounds. Aldridge has been playing very well lately and should continue that tonight against Memphis in a matchup where he may go overlooked.
Kristaps Porzingis appears to be immune from the Knicks’ rest talks as he is a young player who can benefit from all the playing time that he can get. He appears to be back to full strength after dealing with some injuries around the All-Star break and has nice matchup against Portland. He has been getting more minutes at center, which are more valuable, and even matched up with Rudy Gobert last night. Jusuf Nurkic, as good as he is offensively, is not an imposing presence on the defensive end and Porzingis should be able to do well against him. Derrick Rose is questionable for this game, and there is a chance that Carmelo Anthony sits as well after playing a full allotment of minutes last night despite the announcement that the Knicks would like to limit him to 25 minutes per game for the rest of the season. Porzingis has a 23.1 usage percentage alongside Rose and Anthony this season. His usage percentage alongside just Anthony is 25 percent. Alongside just Rose it is 27.3 percent and, with Rose and Anthony both sidelined, it is 26.7 percent.
Jusuf Nurkic has filled up the stat sheet in all categories since being traded to the Blazers and is finally starting to see his price increase because of it. He has a phenomenal matchup against the Knicks tonight, however. Over the last two weeks, the Knicks have allowed the most total rebounds per 36 minutes to opposing centers, and rank 24th in offensive rebounds allowed per 36, last in field goal percentage allowed, 26th in blocks allowed, second to last in assists allowed per 36 and last in points allowed per 36. Over the last six games, the worst fantasy performance from a center against the Knicks was DeAndre Jordan’s 34 DraftKings points in 27 minutes. Nurkic may be a little scary because of the increased price, but his upside in this matchup is huge.
Not to be outdone by the Knicks, the Phoenix Suns have allowed 1.5 DraftKings points per minute to opposing centers over their last five games. The list of centers includes big-time producers in Hassan Whiteside, Andre Drummond, Nikola Vucevic and Jusuf Nurkic, but Phoenix also allowed 51.2 points to Willie Cauley-Stein and 27 points to Kosta Koufos in the same game. Brook Lopez should have no trouble adding to the list of centers who dominate the Suns as Phoenix is allowing the second highest three-point percentage and 18th highest field goal percentage to opposing centers in the month of March. They rank 23rd in total rebounds allowed per 36 and 19th in offensive rebounds allowed per 36.
Secondary: Goran Dragic, Mike Conley, C.J. McCollum, T.J. Warren, James Johnson, Dirk Nowitzki, DeAndre Jordan
Marquese Chriss should see minutes in the high-20s to low-30s tonight against Brooklyn as Alan Williams is expected to return to the lineup. He has been just about a point-per-minute fantasy producer as a member of the new Suns lineup that does not include Bledsoe or Chandler. The pace of this game suits Chriss, who is a very athletic stretch four who should do well playing in transition against Brooklyn. Chriss is averaging 1.22 points per possession in transition this season, ranking in the 71st percentile in the NBA.
J.J. Barea is a high-upside option available for cheap because the Mavericks’ propensity for getting blown-out has not translated into consistent minutes for Barea. He has played just 17 minutes in three of his last four games as a result of blowouts, but played 27 in the one game that stayed close. The Clippers like to use a small lineup of Paul-Redick-Rivers, which should make it easier for the Mavericks to get Barea minutes alongside a combination of Ferrell, Matthews and Curry. It is also worth noting that Barea closed over Ferrell in the close game that he played 27 minutes. He is a very capable scorer and will likely be a big part of the reason if the Mavericks keep this game close, which makes him a strong GPP option.
Secondary: Cory Joseph, Wesley Matthews, JaMychal Green, Wayne Ellington, Noah Vonley, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Justin Holiday, Lance Thomas, Chasson Randle, Ron Baker
Bolded are all dependent to some extent on Rose and Anthony news.