NBA Deep Dive – 3/08/17

HIGH-PRICED   [$8400+]

Stephen Curry has been rather underwhelming since Kevin Durant hit the shelf, averaging 26 points, 6.2 rebounds, six assists, 2.5 steals and 47.8 DraftKings Points per game. Those are elite fantasy totals for almost any player in basketball, but he’ll need more than that at a $10K-plus price on Wednesday. Curry has attempted 20 or more field goals in each of those four starts, though, and on a night where the Warriors are single-digit favorites against the Celtics (GSW -8.5) in what will be a high-scoring affair, the 60-fantasy point game is more than just a possibility.

Here’s the thing: Curry was guarded almost exclusively by Isaiah Thomas when the Warriors faced Boston earlier this season. Avery Bradley was forced to guard the 6’7” Klay Thompson and Jae Crowder were naturally assigned to Kevin Durant. With Durant sidelined, however, I’m not sure if Brad Stevens will attempt something new, like hiding Thomas on Patrick McCaw or whoever starts at small forward, while sticking Bradley on Curry and Crowder on Thompson. McCaw still stands nearly a foot taller than Thomas, but he isn’t a serious threat to score. Nevertheless, Curry should earn every opportunity to produce in this matchup regardless of who’s assigned to him, as he’s still sporting a near 35 percent usage rate with Durant off the court. I’ll have plenty of exposure to him on DraftKings, but there’s reason to look elsewhere on FanDuel, and his name is John Wall.

John Wall racked up 61 fantasy points in a stellar matchup with the Suns last night, and he’ll draw another elite matchup with Denver on Wednesday. This game boasts a slate-high 228.5-point total with the Nuggets being mere 2-point favorites at home. Both teams play at a top-10 pace and neither poses much of a threat defensively — especially Denver, who ranks dead last in DRtg this season. Teams have effortlessly exploited the Nuggets’ backcourt this season, with ball handlers scoring the third most points in the pick-and-roll and the second most points per possession in transition. Wall ranks amongst the league leaders in both, and assuming he’s not drained after Tuesday’s road win in Phoenix, he should piece together yet another elite performance tonight.

My one concern here is the back-to-back at the Pepsi Center for Washington, as they’re coming off a game last night that saw a combined 258 points and 178 field goal attempts in regulation. Wall ran 2.43 miles in 37 minutes against the Suns and now he’ll be forced to play in altitude on zero days’ rest. Brandon Jennings was ejected after logging only four minutes of court time last night, so Scott Brooks may look to lighten Wall’s workload with Washington’s newly acquired point guard back in the mix. Needless to say, this matchup is as good as it gets, and Wall generally hasn’t been negatively affected on back-to-backs. We’ll consider him a core play on FanDuel where he’s $200 cheaper than Curry, and a secondary option on DraftKings at an unsightly $10,700.

Giannis Antetokounmpo looked fantastic against the Sixers, posting 24 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three blocks, two steals and 52 fantasy points across 35 minutes of work. He only attempted 13 field goals, but Antetokounmpo got to the free throw line 12 times and was aggressive throughout the night. I’m more than willing to double down on Giannis at $9,800 on DraftKings, as he’ll face an unimposing Knicks defense at home in what’s projected to be a closely contested affair. Starting at power forward should also work in Antetokounmpo’s favor against a New York squad that’s decimated in the frontcourt. Carmelo Anthony, if he’s active, won’t exert the energy to guard Giannis, and Lance Thomas, if he starts, will serve as a human turn style all night long. Antetokounmpo’s tournament value at $9,800 is huge, and I’m expecting his ownership to be through the floor for a second straight game. A $10,800 on FanDuel, however, I won’t be touching him in any format.

Jimmy Butler wasn’t stellar on Monday but still managed to post 46 fantasy points against a top-10 Pistons defense. Wednesday’s matchup with Orlando is markedly better in a number of ways, and the Bulls remain only 1.5-point favorites on the road. At $9,200 on both FanDuel and DraftKings, Butler figures to offer a high enough floor to roster comfortably across all formats.

Here are the facts: Butler’s usage rate jumps to 33.5 percent with Dwyane Wade off the court and 37 percent when Rajon Rondo (questionable) is also sidelined. He also enjoys a significant boost in assist rate (31.2%) while posting 1.47 fantasy points per minute in the process. Orlando is allowing the second most points to opposing small forwards this season, and that number hasn’t improved since acquiring Terrence Ross. Actually, the Magic are ceding the highest 3PT% and sixth highest FG% to opposing threes since the deadline. Bismack Biyombo is a serviceable defender, but he stands only 6-foot, 9-inches tall and is allowing 54 percent shooting at the rim. Butler should have no trouble producing on Wednesday, both in the paint and beyond the arc. He’ll become an even more appealing play if Rondo joins Wade on the sidelines.

UPDATE: Jimmy Butler has now been listed as questionable with an illness. His failure to participate in shoot around indicates that Butler may be closer to doubtful on Wednesday.

CORE – John Wall [FanDuel]; Jimmy Butler

SECONDARY – John Wall [DraftKings]; Blake Griffin [DraftKings]

GPP – Stephen Curry; Giannis Antetokounmpo [DraftKings]; DeMarcus Cousins [FanDuel]

 

MID-RANGE   [$5900-$8300]

Rudy Gobert draws a phenomenal matchup with the Rockets on Wednesday, and I don’t see any way we can ignore him at a sub-$8K price point across the board. Houston simply doesn’t have the size to keep Gobert off the glass, and Derrick Favors’ absence should free up even more rebounding opportunities for the Stifle Tower. This is an up-tempo matchup for the Jazz, who play at the slowest pace in basketball, and while I worry that Houston’s league-leading three-point attempts could spray too many rebounds away from the glass, Gobert is going to see ample opportunity to collect peripheral stats. It’s hard to ignore 35-40 minutes of court time for one of the league’s best rebounders and shot blockers. He should stumble into a double-double in this matchup, with the worst case scenario being 35-40 fantasy points against the Rockets.

Hassan Whiteside’s depressed price point on DraftKings is very difficult to ignore. He hasn’t been posting monster 50-plus-fantasy point performances of late, but Whiteside is still averaging north of 41 fantasy points over his last 10 starts with 15 points, 15 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. Cody Zeller has played stout defense this season, but this is more of a price play than anything else. Whiteside has simply been too productive at home to write off at a mid-$7K salary.

Jeff Teague has struggled against some imposing defenses over the past few weeks, including San Antonio, Memphis, and San Antonio again, Miami, Milwaukee and more. As a result, his salary has dropped across the industry, making him a strong mid-range play against the Pistons. Detroit’s one glaring area of weakness is point guard defense, where a combination of Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith have allowed the third highest FG% and highest 3PT% to opposing point guards this season. They’ve also struggled to defend both ball handlers and roll men in the pick-and-roll. On a night where Teague should log upwards of 35 minutes in a closely contested affair (IND -3.5), I’d be surprised to see him finish with less than one fantasy point per minute.

Dennis Schroder was benched early in the second half of Monday’s home loss to Golden State after an on-court argument with Dwight Howard led to a wide open three-pointer from Stephen Curry. Atlanta was ahead 70-69 with 9:30 minutes remaining in the third quarter before Schroder’s brain fart led to a 72-69 Warriors advantage that they never relinquished. Personally, I don’t see why Mike Budenholzer would sideline Schroder for the remainder of the game on a night where he was shooting lights out from the field and still led the Hawks in scoring despite logging only 24 total minutes. I understand him wanting to send the team a message, but Atlanta is just barely hanging onto fifth in the East and can’t afford to lose games just to prove a point.

Ultimately, I’d expect Schroder to play his normal allotment of minutes on Wednesday, but I’m also expecting people to fade him based on the obvious concerns. I’ll certainly roll the dice on Schroder in a pristine matchup with Brooklyn, and wouldn’t be surprised to see him take his aggression out on the court. The Hawks could run away with this game, but a 220-point total and a surprising single-digit spread suggest that they might not actually be that good. There’s too much upside to ignore Schroder at a sub-$7K cost.

Wilson Chandler erupted against the Kings with Nikola Jokic sidelined, posting 36 points (13-23 FG/5-10 3PT), 12 rebounds, four assists and 64 fantasy points across 43 minutes of work. Well, Jokic is doubtful again on Wednesday against a Wizards team that absolutely crumbles to opposing power forwards. On the season, Washington is allowing top-five marks in points, rebounds, field goal percentage and three-point percentage to the position, where Chandler is likely to start. They’re also playing their second of a back-to-back… on the road… at the Pepsi Center… in altitude.

Danilo Gallinari could also sit this game out with an illness, which would make Chandler that much more appealing across the board. He’s going to be chalky in what’s projected to be the highest scoring contest of the night (228.5 O/U), but Chandler’s elite matchup, elevated usage and possible 40-plus minutes as a starter make him well worth the price of admission.

Paul Millsap has tallied 40-plus fantasy points in five straight starts, and he’ll draw an excellent opportunity to make it six straight in Wednesday’s home tilt with Brooklyn. Millsap isn’t overpriced for someone whose floor is around 35 fantasy points in this matchup, especially considering the Hawks are single-digit favorites in an up-tempo affair. As always, you can’t go wrong with Millsap in cash, where he’s very unlikely to kill your lineups.

Gordon Hayward would be a very interesting small forward play if George Hill joins Derrick Favors on the bench. Utah draws an ultra-fast-paced matchup with Houston and is currently only 7-point road dogs in a 214-O/U game. 30 percent usage and 35-plus minutes should be enough to propel him above 40 fantasy points against a Rockets team that plays at the league’s fourth fastest pace. Stay tuned for more information here as we draw closer to lock.

Aaron Gordon’s salary is a bit rich for my blood, but he’s certainly in a good spot against Chicago with Nikola Vucevic sidelined. He fell into some foul trouble in Monday’s loss to New York, but still manage to hoist up 15 shots across 30 minutes of work. The Bulls’ frontcourt is far from imposing, and this game owns a negligible 1.5-point spread (assuming Butler plays), so there’s merit to rostering Gordon in cash. I’m just not sure he possesses the upside to pay for in tournaments, where you’ll likely need more than 6x salary to be competitive.

CORE – Rudy Gobert; Wilson Chandler

SECONDARY – Hassan Whiteside [DraftKings]; Jeff Teague; Paul Millsap; Gordon Hayward [If George Hill is OUT]; Aaron Gordon

GPP – Dennis Schroder; Bradley Beal

 

VALUE   [$3000-$5800]

Mason Plumlee won’t be the sneaky play that many of us benefitted from on Monday, but he’ll certainly be in play against the Wizards if Jokic is out. Jokic went from doubtful to questionable so his status remains unclear, but in the event that he’s ruled out before lock, Plumlee should start and see upwards of 33 minutes against the tired Wizards. Marcin Gortat has looked awful of late, finishing with a team-worst plus/minus of -25 last night, and is beginning to lose playing time to Ian Mahinmi. Plumlee’s low-$5K price point is more than palatable in this matchup, especially considering he can actually operate as a Jokic-lite type of player with his impressive facilitating skills. I’ll be closely monitoring this situation as we lead up to lock.

Dewayne Dedmon and David Lee will always make for risky plays, but I’m expecting them to get quality run on Wednesday. LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard have already been ruled out in a matchup with Sacramento where the Spurs could win blindfolded, which leads me to believe Pau Gasol won’t see many minutes, either. If that’s the case, Dedmon and Lee should have little trouble paying off their near minimum salary price points against the punch less Kings.

Gregg Popovich will have several options to rotate in the frontcourt, but I wouldn’t expect Davis Bertans, who was just recalled from the D-League, or Joel Anthony, who has played one minute since February 15th, to soak up much run. I’m not willing to pay $4,500 for Lee on FanDuel, but Dedmon is $3,900 and both of these bigs are $3,700 on DraftKings. They offer plenty of upside and salary cap relief in GPPs, where risk-taking is necessary.

Jeremy Lin has looked like his old self over Brooklyn’s last two games, where he combined to post 55 fantasy points in 46 minutes of work. Lin is sporting a 30 percent usage rate in that span, and while his assist rate is unbearably low I’d expect it to rise as he works his way back to full strength. Wednesday’s matchup with Atlanta is viable enough to consider Lin at $4,500 on DraftKings, but with value opening up across the board I’d only be willing to deploy him in GPPs. If Brooklyn keeps things relatively competitive and the seventh-year Harvard product sees his minutes increase to around 28, he should blow past his value threshold at a bottomed out price point. I prefer him over Eric Gordon, who is expected to start if Ryan Anderson sits.

Will Barton could be my highest owned value play on Wednesday if Danilo Gallinari is out. Barton is averaging 33 MPG when Gallinari is out this season, and while Denver was missing more than just Gallo in some of those contests, Barton was by far the biggest beneficiary of his absence. Nikola Jokic is listed as questionable but I’m not expecting him to play. This would force Wilson Chandler to play the bulk of his minutes at the four with Barton seeing big minutes at the three. Kenneth Faried also remains sidelined, so Barton and Chandler should both easily eclipse 35 minutes of work if Jokic and Gallo join the Manimal on the shelf.

Norman Powell would figure to inherit big minutes for the Raptors if DeMarre Carroll (doubtful) is unable to play. Terrence Ross’ departure has already increased Powell’s minutes off the bench, and although P.J. Tucker will eat into minutes at the three, Dwane Casey needs to rely on Powell’s scoring now that Ross is gone and Lowry is injured. This is yet another “what if” scenario we’re dealing with on Wednesday, but Powell’s near minimum salary price point across the industry would free up value at a weak shooting guard position on a night where the Raptors are 3-point road dogs in New Orleans.

Rodney Hood is one of the more volatile guards in basketball, but he should see ample opportunity to produce on Wednesday if George Hill is out. On the season, Hood has seen a decent usage boost with Derrick Favors and Hill off the court (26.2% USG), while also averaging 22 points and 33 fantasy points through two meetings with the Rockets. Considering Houston will look to outpace and outshoot Utah from beyond the arc, Quin Snyder should look to exploit Hood’s three-point shooting prowess in an up-tempo affair.

It’s impossible to predict how Hood will perform on a night-to-night basis, but this matchup with the Rockets will at least provide him with every opportunity to produce. You could actually argue that George Hill being active would help Hood, as Patrick Beverley would spend more time guarding Utah’s starting point guard.

Ian Mahinmi could play 25-plus minutes on Wednesday and I wouldn’t be surprised, as his minutes have been trending upwards while Marcin Gortat continues to play his way out of the starting center role. Unfortunately Mahinmi exploded last night in Phoenix which could raise his ownership, but with 11 games on this slate I’d still expect him to go largely overlooked. Now, I’m not saying he’s a lock by any stretch, and there’s no chance he’s going to post another 8-Stock performance any time this season, but at the bare minimum in a fast-paced matchup with Denver (228.5 O/U), Mahinmi could certainly post back-to-back impressive fantasy point performances.

CORE – Mason Plumlee [If Nikola Jokic is OUT]; Will Barton [If Danilo Gallinari is OUT];

SECONDARY – Norman Powell [If DeMarre Carroll is OUT]; Rodney Hood

GPP – Dewayne Dedmon; David Lee [DraftKings]; Jeremy Lin [DraftKings]; Tim Hardaway Jr.; Ian Mahinmi