NBA DEEP DIVE – 4/5/17

Note:  There are a ton of possible rest spots tonight.  Be sure to keep up with news throughout the day and check out Eddie Fear and EMac on the Final Countdown at 6:00 EST to get updates as new information becomes available.

High Priced ($8,500+)

Russell Westbrook tied Oscar Robertson’s record for triple-doubles in a season last night and he has the opportunity to break it tonight against Memphis.  At first glance, Memphis is not an ideal matchup because they are known as a strong defensive team.  They have not been as strong defensively of late, however, ranking 22nd in defensive rating since the start of March.  In addition, Westbrook has had success against them this season.  He has recorded monster triple-doubles in his last two games against the Grizzlies, posting lines of 24 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists and 38 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists.  His price is down on dynamic pricing sites as well and he is a strong option on a slate with a ton of moving parts where value should open up throughout the day.

James Harden is probable to play tonight against the Nuggets after missing Houston’s last game against the Suns.  Harden makes for a strong GPP play as people may still be scared off a little bit by his wrist.  We do not know if the time off helped his wrist or not but, if it did, he has massive upside against the Nuggets.  Even if it did not, he has a reasonably high floor in a fast-paced game against a poor defensive team because he produces so many peripheral stats.  Westbrook is a safer option than Harden in cash games but Harden makes a lot of sense in GPPs.

LeBron James said that he does not care about tonight’s game with the Celtics, but it is a good bet that he plays well anyway.  James has played very well against the Celtics so far this season, producing 59.8, 56 and 67.2 DraftKings points in his three games against Boston.  He has taken on an even bigger role for Cleveland in the second half as the Cavs have struggled defensively and James has been needed to provide even more offense.  He is a strong option in any format.

Isaiah Thomas is one of the few players that is in a meaningful game on this slate.  The Celtics would really like to get the top seed in the East and beating the Cavaliers tonight would go a long way toward doing that.  The Cavaliers rank 28th in defensive rating since the start of March and Kyrie Irving does not pose much of a threat defensively.  One concern for Thomas is that it appears Larry Sanders will see increased playing time for the Cavs tonight with Tristan Thompson doubtful.  Sanders was an elite shot blocker during his time with Milwaukee and, assuming he has not aged too poorly during his time off, he could make life difficult for Thomas on drives to the basket.  Still, this is a very nice matchup for Thomas in a game that the Celtics really want to win.

Secondary:  Stephen Curry, Nikola Jokic, Kawhi Leonard, DeMar DeRozan


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

Ish Smith will start again for the Pistons tonight against the Toronto Raptors.  Toronto has been terrible against opposing point guards all season long and losing Kyle Lowry did nothing to help them.  Smith has been solid for Detroit this season and is averaging 32.4 minutes per game since Reggie Jackson left the rotation.  Smith has a 27.3 percent usage rate over those four games and is averaging 1.01 DraftKings points per minute.  His price has increased but there is still value there in his new role in a good matchup against the Raptors.

Gary Harris will see big minutes tonight, especially if Jameer Nelson and Will Barton are still sidelined.  He has shown significant improvement offensively this season and has a very nice matchup against the Rockets tonight.  He has played slightly over 39 minutes in both games against Houston this season and finished with 31.5 and 42.5 DraftKings points.  He is not a great per-minute producer, but he plays huge minutes for the Nuggets and his price is too low for the amount of playing time that he gets.

Trevor Ariza should return to the lineup for the Rockets tonight in a game that is likely to go small.  Ariza will see plenty of time at the four with Ryan Anderson still sidelined, which increases his upside.  Ariza has been very active in the passing lanes lately, picking up a lot of steals, and it has translated to some big fantasy performances.  Denver is 10th in turnover percentage since the start of March, which isn’t great for Ariza, but the pace of the game should still lead to plenty of opportunities for defensive stats.

Wilson Chandler only played 25 minutes yesterday with Barton out and Faried injured in the first half, but he lost at least 5 minutes to foul trouble in the second half.  Chandler is way too cheap for his upside if Barton and Faried are out today, as he should see at least 30 minutes in a pace-up game that should go small against Houston.  He is an inconsistent player but is capable of producing huge lines in good matchups, and this is one of them.  He posted 35.8 DraftKings points in 29.3 minutes the only time he faced Houston this season and he makes for a very strong tournament play tonight as long as the Nuggets are not at full strength.

Kevin Love seems to be getting back into a rhythm for the Cavs and only played about 28 minutes in last night’s blowout so he should be relatively fresh for a big game against the Celtics tonight.  Love has attempted 14, 12 and 18 field goals in his last three games, after attempting more than 12 just once in his previous seven.  In two games against Boston this season, Love is averaging 1.41 DraftKings points per minute.  He will also have a chance to be more productive tonight as he is likely to get time at center with Tristan Thompson sidelined.  He is a strong play in any format.

Julius Randle is too cheap for his upside because his price decreased for a tough matchup with the Spurs.  He has actually been productive against the Spurs this season, however, averaging 32.8 DraftKings points per game and 1.07 points per minute over three meetings.  His minutes fluctuate, so he is more of a GPP play, but he is averaging 29.3 minutes per game over his last five.  He has 40+ fantasy point upside if he gets over 30 minutes tonight at a very reasonable price point.

Jonas Valanciunas played at least 26 minutes for the fifth consecutive game last night after being in 22-24 minute purgatory for most of the second half.  It may not seem like a big deal, but it drastically increases his upside now that we know he is not on as short of a leash.  He will be playing opposite Andre Drummond tonight.  Drummond is a very good rebounder, but not much of a defender.  In three games against Drummond this season, Valanciunas has averaged 1.06 DraftKings points per minute.  A 28-30 point projection seems reasonable with plenty of upside for more at a sub-$6,000 price point.

Secondary: Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Tyler Ulis, Avery Bradley, Lou Williams, Devin Booker, Klay Thompson (elite if confirmed starting), Jae Crowder, T.J. Warren, Tobias Harris, Marquese Chriss, Hassan Whiteside, Clint Capela, DeAndre Jordan, Al Horford


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

Jamal Murray played 33.2 minutes last night and that makes three straight games with at least 28 minutes played.  He is a very capable scorer and his price point has not increased as much as expected because he has not had a ceiling game yet with Nelson sidelined.  If Nelson and Barton both miss this game, it is a great opportunity for Murray to blow up against a Houston team that plays fast and does not play much defense.  The fact that this game will most likely go very small is also good for Murray as it gives him the opportunity for even more minutes.

Ian Clark is averaging 24.4 minutes per game without Andre Iguodala this season and there is also a chance that at least one of Steph Curry or Klay Thompson rest.  Clark is not afraid to shoot the ball, so he is the preferred play over Patrick McCaw who does not bring as much offensive upside when he is on the floor.  Phoenix is an elite matchup and Clark has 30+ fantasy point upside if he sees at least 25 minutes in this game.

Matt Barnes should also be a huge beneficiary of Iguodala and Green’s absences tonight.  Barnes has played at least 25 minutes in four of his last six games and he should see plenty of time on the floor without those two active.  He will likely see time at the four in this matchup, which makes his minutes even more valuable.

Mason Plumlee has a high ceiling if Kenneth Faried is out.  The concern would be that this game should go small and Plumlee would lose minutes.  D’Antoni was not afraid to use Plumlee alongside Jokic against the Rockets earlier this season, however, so we could certainly see it happen again.  Even if Plumlee only sees 22-23 minutes instead of the 13-15 he has been playing as Jokic’s backup, he will have excess value at his current price point against an undersized Houston frontcourt.

Secondary: Nicolas Brussino, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Patrick McCaw, Troy Williams, Frank Kaminsky, Larry Sanders, Nene, Alex Len, Nerlens Noel