NBA DEEP DIVE – 4/6/17

High Priced ($8,500+)


John Wall has a very nice matchup against a Knicks team that is just playing out the string tonight.  It is an important game for the Wizards, however, as they need to pass Toronto for the three seed if they do not want to face the Cavs in the second round.  Wall has been doing everything he can to win games for the Wizards lately and it has given him a higher ceiling than we have seen for much of the season.  In three games against New York this season, he is averaging 1.45 DraftKings points per minute compared to his season average of 1.35 fantasy points per minute.  New York ranks in the middle of the pack in defensive rating since the start of March, but they have struggled against good point guards all season long and tonight should be no different.

Karl-Anthony Towns gets to face a Portland frontcourt that is missing Jusuf Nurkic, leaving them with no true bigs.  In this matchup three days ago, Towns went for 34 points and 12 rebounds in 38.6 minutes and he should have success again tonight as there is nobody on the Portland roster to defend him.  He should be able to have his way in the paint, grabbing plenty of rebounds and scoring off pick-and-rolls with Ricky Rubio.

Jimmy Butler will be facing a Philadelphia team that ranks in the bottom ten in defensive rating since the start of March and in the top five in pace over that span.  He will benefit from playing without Dwyane Wade or Rajon Rondo, who is sidelined for tonight’s game.  In 609 minutes without Wade or Rondo on the floor this season, Butler has a 36.6 percent usage rate and is averaging 1.53 DraftKings points per minute.  He will spend plenty of time handling the ball, increasing his peripherals, and will also benefit from Robert Covington being sidelined.

Secondary:  Paul George, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard

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


Ricky Rubio remains too cheap for his current production.  He is averaging 1.18 DraftKings points per minute since the start of March.  He had not averaged more than 1 fantasy point per minute in any previous month.  Not coincidentally, Rubio’s usage rate in March was 23.2 percent, over four points higher than in any other month.  Portland has done a good job of limiting assists to opposing point guards this season but, now that Rubio has proven to be a capable scorer, he is still a safe play with a high ceiling.  In the game against Portland on April 4th, Rubio scored 11 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 16 assists- equaling 44.8 DraftKings points.  That game is in line with what I expect from Rubio tonight.


Elfrid Payton has seen stable minutes in recent games, excluding a blowout loss to the Cavaliers, and his price is nowhere close to being correct for his ceiling.  Tonight, he faces a Brooklyn team that has played at the third fastest pace in the league since the start of March.  Brooklyn has been better defensively in that time, but the fast pace is still more than enough to make Payton a strong option.  In his last meeting against Brooklyn, on April 1, he posted a triple-double with 20 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds.  Anytime you can roster someone in the mid-$7,000 price range with 50+ fantasy-point upside in a pace-up game, it is a good idea to do so.


C.J. McCollum has a favorable matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves.  Minnesota has been one of the worst teams in the NBA at defending spot-up shooters and, while McCollum is not a true catch-and-shoot guy, he is second in catch-and-shoot attempts on the Blazers with 3.8 per game.  McCollum also drives to the rim frequently and Minnesota does not have an imposing rim protector to stop him.  Shooting guard is a relatively weak position tonight and McCollum makes for a strong option.


Gorgui Dieng remains too cheap, especially on FanDuel.  With the exception of the Golden State blowout in Minnesota’s last game, Dieng has played at least 32 minutes in each of his last 9 nine games.  Minnesota appears to be done experimenting with small-ball lineups that take Dieng off the floor and Thibodeau has not eased off the gas in terms of playing time for his starters with the ‘Wolves out of the playoff race.  Portland has no true big in their frontcourt and Dieng should be in line for a nice night.


Brook Lopez, as almost always, is my favorite center on the slate when price in considered.  Coach Kenny Atkinson continues to play him around 30 minutes a night, excluding blowouts, and Lopez has been extremely active on the offensive end. In addition, he is averaging 6.8 rebounds per game over his last five compared to 5.4 for the season.  The rebounding trend is a good sign in terms of increasing his floor so he does not hurt you as bad if he is missing shots.  Lopez is averaging 1.23 DraftKings points per minute against Vucevic this season and, since Vucevic is not known for his defense and Lopez is very tough for opposing bigs to defend on the perimeter, we should see another big game tonight.  He certainly has tournament upside at his price.


Secondary: Isaiah Thomas, Jeff Teague, Dennis Schroder, Jeremy Lin, Bradley Beal, Evan Fournier, Khris Middleton, Nikola Mirotic, Nikola Vucevic, Al Horford, Myles Turner


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


Al-Farouq Aminu drew the start at center against the Jazz and there is no reason to think they would not go back to the well against Gorgui Dieng if they were willing to do it against Rudy Gobert.  Minnesota has struggled to defend stretch bigs all season long as a result of their defensive scheme and their personnel.  Aminu should get some very nice looks tonight on the perimeter and also benefit from spending more time near the basket on defense.


Robin Lopez has not played well lately but he has been seeing plenty of minutes, averaging 33 per game over his last four.  He has a 19 percent usage rate alongside Jimmy Butler without Wade or Rondo on the floor this season and is averaging 0.74 DraftKings points per minute in that time.  He may see a decrease in efficiency without Rondo on the floor, but his increased role on offense gives him a higher ceiling in a fantastic matchup against a Philadelphia frontcourt that has been getting absolutely destroyed by opposing bigs for over a month.  Lopez is one of the few centers who has failed in this matchup over that time, but he still has a huge ceiling for his price.


Secondary: Jerian Grant, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarot, Denzel Valentine, Allen Crabbe, Guillermo Hernangomez, Kyle O’Quinn, Mo Harkless