NBA DEEP DIVE- March 28, 2017


High Priced ($8,500+)


James Harden is the most expensive player on the slate and is playing in a game with a 234 total against the Golden State Warriors.  Harden has been a bit more productive this season with Ryan Anderson sidelined.  He has a 35.4 usage rate and is averaging 1.43 FanDuel points per minute alongside Ariza and Anderson this season, compared to a 37.3 usage rate and 1.56 FanDuel points per minute alongside Ariza without Anderson.  Obviously, when discussing Harden, small boosts in production are just icing on the cake since he has a huge ceiling any time that he takes the floor.  As always, he is an elite play if you can afford him- just keep in mind that shooting guard is actually a deep position today with very strong mid-range options.


John Wall does not often reach the ceiling that we would like from someone at a price tag over $10,000 but he does have a fantastic matchup tonight against the Lakers.  Since the beginning of March, Los Angeles is playing at the third fastest pace in the NBA and sits second to last in defensive rating.  The Lakers are allowing starting guards the most points and second most assists per 36 minutes over that span.  They also rank last in field goal percentage allowed and 23rd in three-point percentage allowed.  Wall, over that time period, has a 32.6 usage rate and is averaging 10.55 assists and 3.43 rebounds per 36 minutes, along with 1.55 steals and just shy of 1 block.  He is always a strong cash game option in good matchups because he plays big minutes every night, but his ceiling is higher than usual tonight making him a quality GPP option as well.


Damian Lillard has finally caught fire like many of us have been waiting for all season long.  In the month of March, he has a 35.2 usage rate and is averaging 1.25 FanDuel points per minute.  He has been playing even better over the last two weeks, averaging 1.36 FanDuel points per minute.  Denver has not been as bad defensively as the Lakers over that span, but they are close.  They rank 25th in defensive rating and are allowing opposing guards the sixth most points per 36, 4th highest field goal percentage and highest three-point percentage.  It is also a pace-up game for Lillard, despite the fact that the Nuggets are playing slower than they were earlier in the season when they were one of the fastest teams in the league.  Lillard has destroyed Denver all three times that he has faced them this season, averaging 1.47 FanDuel points per minute and finishing with totals of 54.5, 57.6 and 53.6 FanDuel points in those three games.


Stephen Curry has struggled mightily on the road this season, but he was fine on the road last season so we can overlook that somewhat in high-scoring spots like tonight.  It has not translated into a ton of huge fantasy games yet, but Curry is seeing a huge boost in opportunity without Kevin Durant.  Durant was injured on the last day of February.  In March, Curry has a 31 percent usage rate and is averaging 1.17 FanDuel points per minute alongside Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.  The Warriors are staggering Curry and Thompson’s minutes, however, and Curry usually sees 12 or 13 minutes on the floor without Thompson.  Curry has played 309 minutes alongside Draymond Green without Thompson or Durant this season and has a 43.9 usage rate and is averaging 1.59 FanDuel points per minute.  In about 89 minutes since the Durant injury, Curry is averaging 1.76 FanDuel points per minute in this spot.  We should see Curry’s per-minute fantasy production increase moving forward, as his true shooting percentage in March (since the Durant injury) is just 59.2 percent, compared to 61.9 percent for the season and 66.9 percent last season.  Patrick Beverley is a capable defender and Steph Curry has not had huge games against him in the past, but the tournament upside is certainly there at a price tag below $10,000 across the industry.


Nikola Jokic gets to face off against former frontcourt-mate Jusuf Nurkic and the Portland Trailblazers.  Mason Plumlee has returned to the bench with Gallinari and Chandler back in the lineup for Denver, and it should translate to more production for Jokic.  In 105.8 minutes alongside Plumlee this season, Jokic is averaging “just” 1.40 FanDuel points per minute with a 24.5 usage rate, 12.59 rebounds per 36 and 7.83 assists per 36.  In 164.7 minutes in March with Wilson Chandler on the floor and Plumlee off, Jokic has a 27.6 usage rate and is averaging 1.50 FanDuel points per minute with 15.96 rebounds per 36 and 6.56 assists per 36.  Since March 1st, he ranks 4th in points per 36, 1st in assists per 36 and 3rd in rebounds per 36 amongst centers who have started at least 10 games.  It is an added benefit that Jokic is still power forward eligible on FanDuel so you can get an extra center in your lineup by rostering him.


Secondary:  Karl-Anthony Towns, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George


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


Ricky Rubio has been playing tremendous basketball of late and should go overlooked on this slate with so many late games with high Vegas totals.  Rubio has a 17.8 percent usage rate for the season but, since the start of March, his usage rate is 23.5 percent.  This coincides with Coach Thibodeau stating that Rubio needed to shoot more if he wanted to stay on the floor.  It has translated into significantly increased fantasy production, as Rubio has gone from averaging 0.92 FanDuel points per minute this season to averaging 1.19 FanDuel points per minute in March.  The pace in this game is going to be much slower than many of the other games on the slate, but Rubio is available at a discount compared to guys like Lillard, Curry and Wall.  He does not have the same raw point ceiling as those players, but he can still flirt with 45-50 fantasy points and pay off his salary very nicely.


Dennis Schroder has played 111.9 minutes alongside Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Ilyasova without Paul Millsap this season.  In those minutes, he has a 35.2 usage rate and is averaging 1.29 FanDuel points per minute as he has to take on a bigger role in the offense and there is more spacing on the floor so it is easier for him to operate.  He has an excellent matchup against a Phoenix team that ranks first in pace in the month of March.  In part because of the pace at which they play, Phoenix has allowed opposing guards to average the second most points per 36 minutes in March.  Schroder is still very reasonably priced and has a high ceiling in this matchup.


Tyler Ulis is criminally underpriced on FanDuel and is reasonably priced on DraftKings as well.  Ulis is averaging 41.1 minutes per game over his last six games and, even if Barbosa and/or Ronnie Price are able to suit up tonight, he should see plenty of minutes for a Phoenix team that wants to see if he is a part of their future.  Ulis has played 153.4 minutes alongside Booker and Warren, without Bledsoe or Knight, and has a 20.6 percent usage rate.  He is avaerging 7.28 assists and 1.41 steals per 36 minutes with them on the floor with him.  His ability to rack up steals gives him added upside, especially against a high-usage player like Dennis Schroder.  Atlanta is quietly playing at the 8th fastest pace over the last month so there should be plenty of possessions to go around.  Ulis is a strong play in any format because of his matchup and minutes.


Bradley Beal leads the Wizards in catch-and-shoot attempts per game and is facing a Lakers team that is tied with the Nuggets for the most points per possession allowed to spot-up shooters.  The Lakers also rank 2nd to last in opponent field goal percentage on spot-up attempts.  In addition to the Lakers not having anyone to defend Beal individually, he should benefit from their pace and overall lack of defense as well.  Otto Porter is also a high-upside play in this matchup, although his minutes have been less consistent with Kelly Oubre taking on a larger role in the rotation for defensive purposes.


Devin Booker clearly has upside, as evidenced by his 70 real-point outburst against the Celtics.  The Hawks are missing their best wing defender in Thabo Sefolosha, as well as Kent Bazemore, and Booker is primed for another big game tonight.  In 130 minutes alongside Ulis and Warren this month, Booker has a 29.4 percent usage rate.  He also looked better than usual as a passer in his last game, as the defense keyed in on him more after his explosion against Boston.  Booker is likely to be a very popular option at a position where there are strong pivots in his price range but, other than that, he makes for a strong option in any format.


Tim Hardaway, Jr. is averaging 35.4 minutes per game over his last five and has attempted at least 16 field goals in three consecutive games.  For everything Devin Booker can do on the offensive end, he cannot do much on the defensive end and Hardaway should be in line for a big game regardless of if he sees more of Devin Booker or T.J. Warren defense.  Hardaway is a capable, athletic scorer and he should benefit from a track meet with the Suns, who are allowing the third most points per possession in transition this season and allowing opposing teams the third highest frequency of plays in transition.  Hardaway is averaging 1.18 points per possession in transition this season, ranking him in the top one-third of the league.


T.J. Warren, like just about everyone in the Phoenix game, is more attractive on FanDuel than DraftKings- but is in play on both sites.  Warren returned to the starting lineup against the Hornets and saw 39 minutes of playing time as the Suns remain depleted by injuries and by design.  Warren, like Booker, should benefit from the absence of Sefolosha and Bazemore and should also benefit if the Hawks focus in on stopping Devin Booker as it will lead to better looks for Warren.


Draymond Green is averaging 1.08 FanDuel points per minute alongside Thompson and Curry since Durant’s injury.  In those 233 minutes, Green has a 17.1 percent usage rate and is averaging 8.80 rebounds and 6.64 assists to go along with 2.78 steals and 1.70 blocks per 36 minutes.  He truly is a five-category player and a pace-up matchup against the Rockets should add to his production.  Unlike Curry and Thompson, who have had some struggles against Houston over the last two seasons, Green has averaged 1.21 FanDuel points per minute against Houston and failed to produce at least a fantasy point per minute just once in those five matchups.


Julius Randle only played 19 minutes against Portland as he did not see any blowout minutes.  He produced 27 FanDuel points in those 19 minutes, however, and remains a high-upside play tonight against the Wizards.  Randle has played 201.1 minutes alongside Clarkson and Russell since March 1st and has easily been the most productive of the three.  He has a 21.6 percent usage rate and is averaging 10.56 rebounds and 4.48 assists per 36 minutes, in addition to slightly over 1 block per 36.  He is averaging 1.07 FanDuel points per minute over that span.  The Lakers have been much better at keeping games close at home than on the road this season and Randle has occasionally seen blowout minutes as well.  His price is very fair at just $6,900 and he has a ton of upside in a fast-paced game against the Wizards.


Jusuf Nurkic is in a great matchup tonight against Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets and, by the way, he HATES the Nuggets.  He has not kept it a secret since the trade that he was not happy with many things that occurred in Denver and he is showing just how good he can be now that he is in a better situation in Portland.  Denver ranks 21st in points allowed and 20th in field goal percentage allowed to opposing centers in March.  Nurkic is not a traditional center, however, in that he is also a good passer who can rack up assists.  Since March 1st, Nurkic ranks 9th in points per 36, 4th in assists per 36 and 10th in rebounds per 36 amongst centers who have started at least 10 games.  He should benefit from a pace-up game against his former team.


Secondary: C.J. McCollum, Nicolas Batum, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Robert Covington, Wilson Chandler, Dario Saric, Richaun Holmes (if Okafor out), Marvin Williams, Andre Drummond, Dwight Howard, Brook Lopez


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


Ish Smith played 35 minutes in a blowout loss to the Knicks last night and he should see big minutes again tonight with Reggie Jackson doubtful.  Smith has an 18.2 usage rate and has averaged 0.77 FanDuel points per minute with the starters this season and, in the month of March, has a 20.2 usage rate and has averaged 0.88 FanDuel points per minute alongside them.  The Detroit game is not overly appealing from a fantasy perspective, but Smith is a very strong value option despite the slow pace.


Tauren Prince has shown that he has a long way to go before he is a consistent NBA player, but minutes are opportunity in NBA DFS.  When those minutes are coming against the Phoenix Suns, the opportunity is even better.  Prince saw 38 minutes in his last game without Bazemore and Sefolosha and they will both be out again today.  Prince should draw another start and benefit from a fast-paced, probably sloppy, game against Phoenix.


Marquese Chriss remains cheap across the industry and has a nice matchup against Atlanta.  He has been very productive with the Suns current starting unit, averaging 0.91 FanDuel points per minute with a 21.2 usage rate and per-36 minute averages of 7.53 rebounds and 2.62 blocks.  He is averaging 28.5 minutes per game over his last six, but should see north of that unless he gets in foul trouble early.


Ersan Ilyasova has not had a really big game yet in Millsap’s absence but he is very capable.  The Suns are tied for the sixth-most point per possession allowed to spot-up shooters this season and Ilyasova is second on the team, just behind Tim Hardaway, Jr., is catch-and-shoot attempts since his playing time increased on March 18.  He is way too cheap on FanDuel at just $4,800.


Lou Williams remains a very strong play in a fast-paced game against the Warriors with Ryan Anderson sidelined.  Anderson’s absence moves Eric Gordon into the starting lineup, which increases Williams’ upside and minutes off the bench.  He played 30.6 minutes in his last game without Anderson and should see similar minutes in this one.  In addition, he got up 15 shot attempts, which was his most since March 15th against his former Lakers team.  He is too cheap and has a massive ceiling in this spot.


Secondary: Patrick Beverley, Kris Dunn, Monta Ellis, Trevor Ariza, Bojan Bogdanovic, Larry Nance, Clint Capela, Frank Kaminsky, Ivica Zubac, Gorgui Dieng, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson