NBA Deep Dive- May 2, 2017
Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics
John Wall is where we have to start with the Wizards. Wall had a 31.6 percent usage rate in the first round against the Hawks, averaging 29.5 points, 10.3 assists and 4.2 rebounds in 38.7 minutes per game. We can expect Scott Brooks to continue playing Wall as many minutes as he can handle as the Wizards’ starters have been relied on to play heavy minutes all season. Wall was good, but not great, against the Celtics in the regular season but that should change in the postseason as he is able to consistently get whatever he wants when Isaiah Thomas tries to defend him and the ball will be in his hands constantly as he looks to carry Washington past the Celtics. Wall was very good in game 1, with 20 points and 16 assists in 39.1 minutes.
Bradley Beal will have a difficult matchup with Avery Bradley and the Celtics, but he plays such a large role in the Washington offense it may not matter. Beal was second on the team to John Wall in first round usage rate at 29.1 percent. Beal only faced Avery Bradley in two of the four games that he played against the Celtics this season. In the first game, Beal played only 11.5 minutes and, in the second game, he was limited to 24 DraftKings points in 32.8 minutes. He did not seem fazed by the Celtics’ defense in game 1 of this series, however, as he shot 4-7 from three and contributed 27 real points. He is a high-upside play with some risk- especially because he is now priced up due to his dominance over the Hawks.
Otto Porter makes for a VERY interesting GPP option coming off of a disappointing series against the Hawks where he had just a 12 percent usage rate. Beal will have a tough matchup against Avery Bradley, which could lead to some more opportunities for Porter. Although we did not see it in the regular season, it would also make sense for the Celtics to try and hide Isaiah Thomas on Porter and defend Wall with Marcus Smart (with Bradley on Beal and Crowder on Morris). This would be a huge mismatch in Porter’s favor and he would get every opportunity to knock down shots against Thomas. The reason that it would make sense for the Celtics to try it is that Thomas is going to be at a disadvantage against whoever he defends and it is going to come down to whether Brad Stevens wants to make John Wall beat them or make Otto Porter beat them. Most coaches would probably choose Porter. Even if they do not hide Thomas on Porter, there is likely to be some sort of defensive scheme that gets the ball out of Wall’s hands and into Porter’s. This is the kind of thing that we want to jump on before we actually see it happen in GPPs, as once Porter has one big game everyone else will catch on. Porter saw 40.5 minutes in game 1, in part because Markieff Morris was injured. Porter is an appealing GPP play in game 2 and he gets an upgrade if Morris sits.
Markieff Morris should have a nice bounce-back series after being in foul trouble for most of the Atlanta series. Nobody on the Celtics should be able to draw fouls on Morris like Millsap was able to in the first round and Morris should be able to have success against a weak Boston frontcourt. Morris averaged 0.95 DraftKings points per minute against the Celtics during the regular season. Kieff was off to a productive start with 5 points, 3 rebounds and a block on 2-7 shooting in the first 11 minutes so, if he suits up, he remains a strong option.
Marcin Gortat will likely see a little less playing time in this series since Morris probably will not be in foul trouble every day (if he returns from his ankle injury), but he will still have a chance to be productive as the Celtics do not rebound the ball well. Gortat was essentially non-existent on the offensive end against the Hawks, however, and, unless that changes, his upside will be limited despite the nice rebounding matchup. Gortat was much more involved in game 1, attempted 13 field goals.
Core: John Wall
Secondary: Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Marcin Gortat, Markieff Morris
Value: Kelly Oubre
Isaiah Thomas will need to play extremely well in this series for the Celtics to advance to the finals. He had a 32.4 percent usage rate against Chicago in the first round and averaged 1.3 DraftKings points per minute against the Wizards this season. He is a very strong option in any format.
Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and Jae Crowder all averaged over 30 minutes per game against the Bulls and that should continue against the Wizards as all three players will be needed on the defensive end. Crowder and Bradley are the strongest plays of the trio, but Smart is viable as well where he is shooting guard eligible. All three players saw more than 30 minutes in game 1.
Al Horford played very well against the Wizards in the regular season, averaging 1.11 DraftKings points per minute, and continued his stellar play in game 1 with 21 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds in 35 minutes. Look for Horford to keep up the momentum against Washington and be a strong and consistent option throughout the series. He is especially valuable if you can find a site that has a bonus for injuring Wizards’ shooters.
Core: Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford
Secondary: Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart
Value: Kelly Olynyk
Utah Jazz at Golden State Warriors
Gordon Hayward was phenomenal against the Clippers in the first round and he will need to maintain his solid play if the Jazz want any chance of advancing. Hayward averaged 36.4 minutes per game in round 1, but that was pulled down by an abbreviated game four where he played just 9 minutes. He had a 28.7 percent usage rate in round 1, up from his season average of 27.5 percent.
Utah dealt with a lot of injuries this season and those injuries coincided with games against the Warriors, so it is tough to see how guys did against Golden State. Rudy Gobert, however, played in three games against the Warriors and is generally not influenced by who is or is not on the floor with him. He averaged 1.28 DraftKings points per minute against Golden State in the regular season and recorded a double-double with at least 17 rebounds in each game. He is an elite option in any format.
George Hill should have more success in this series than he did against Chris Paul and the Clippers simply as a result of pace. The Warriors, of course, are a strong defensive team but efficiency is not as important as volume in NBA DFS and Hill should get enough volume to offer a nice ceiling at his mid-$5,000 price tag. Joe Ingles and Joe Johnson both played big roles in round 1 and they should continue to have sizeable roles this round as there is no reason to expect the Jazz not to play small. Johnson is the preferred option of the two as he had a 23.9 percent usage rate in round 1 compared to 10.8 percent for Ingles.
Core: Gordon Hayward, Rudy Gobert
Secondary: George Hill, Joe Johnson
Value: Joe Ingles, Boris Diaw
Golden State Warriors
Golden State dispatched of the Blazers in four games and has been resting since April 24th. Utah has been vulnerable against good point guards for much of the season and Steph Curry clearly fits that description. Curry averaged 1.31 DraftKings points per minute in three games against Utah this season and had a 34.5 percent usage rate in the first round against Portland, although that could tick down a little bit with Kevin Durant healthy.
Kevin Durant played just 1 and a half games in the first round, but he should be good to go after having a week to rest. His matchup against Gordon Hayward and the slow-paced, defensive-minded Jazz will be difficult, but he is one of the best players in the game and is a strong option regardless of matchup.
Draymond Green was very effective against Utah this season, averaging 1.26 DraftKings points per minute and topping 45 DraftKings points in two of three games. He and Klay Thompson are at risk of being hurt the most by the pace at which the Jazz play, but he clearly still has plenty of upside. Thompson struggled against Utah much more than Green did during the regular season, averaging just .77 DraftKings points per minute. He is a risky option in this series because we know that Curry and Durant will dominate usage and there are going to be less possessions available than usual because of the pace that the Jazz play at. Factor in that Utah is also strong defensively and it is a tough spot to expect big things from Thompson.
Zaza Pachulia is a sneaky option as the Jazz have a true center for him to match up with in Rudy Gobert. Gobert is, of course, an elite rebounder and an elite defender but minutes are minutes and Pachulia is just $2,600 on DraftKings for game 1. He played 22.1, 15 and 25 minutes in three games against the Jazz this season.
Core: Steph Curry, Kevin Durant
Secondary: Draymond Green, Klay Thompson
Value: Zaza Pachulia
Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers
Kyle Lowry had some troubles in round 1 against the Bucks, but he gets a much friendlier matchup this round with Kyrie Irving and the Cavs. After struggling in his first game against Irving this season, Lowry went for 57.2 DraftKings points in 39.7 minutes and 44.2 DraftKings points in 40.3 minutes in his final two games against Kyrie. Lowry played 39.4 minutes in game 1, shooting 7-13 from the field and scoring 20 points to go along with 11 assists. He remains a strong option in any format in game 2.
Like Lowry, DeMar DeRozan played heavy minutes in round 1 and had his share of struggles. Also like Lowry, he has a better matchup this round and has had plenty of success in it this season. In the three games against Cleveland that Kyrie Irving played, DeRozan averaged 1.27 DraftKings points per minute. He played 36.8 minutes per game in round 1. He underwhelmed in game 1, shooting just 16 times and scoring just 30.75 DraftKings points. The minutes and opportunity will continue to be there, however, making him a viable option.
P.J. Tucker played very well in game 1, posting a double-double in 25.5 minutes of play. His playing time should increase as he is a better defender than Demarre Carroll. Tucker is a strong option, especially in cash games, as long as his price remains low across the industry.
Serge Ibaka played extremely well against the Bucks in a matchup that suited his game perfectly. He will have a tougher time dealing with Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson in this series, but is still in play as a GPP option as he should see time at center and he has power forward eligibility. Ibaka averaged just 29.7 minutes per game in round 1, but did have a 22.4 percent usage rate. Ibaka struggled in game 1, which is something that will probably continue moving forward, but he played 32.3 minutes and got up 14 field goal attempts so he still has GPP upside despite the difficult matchup.
Core: Kyle Lowry
Secondary: Serge Ibaka, DeMar DeRozan
Value: P.J. Tucker, Jonas Valanciunas
As usual, we can expect the Cavaliers to be a three man show. Kyrie Irving has a nice matchup that we targeted in DFS all season long as a point guard against the Raptors. Irving had a 36.4 percent usage rate in round 1 against Indiana and we should see him continue to dominate offensively in this series. In three games against Kyle Lowry this season, Irving was not great- averaging just 1.04 DraftKings points per minute. Irving picked it up in game 1, scoring 24 points and dishing out 10 assists in 34.4 minutes. Irving remains a strong option, although his ceiling is always a bit limited because of LeBron James’ presence cutting into his usage and his assists.
LeBron James played 43.8 minutes per game in round 1 with a usage rate of 32.2 percent and an assist rate of 36 percent. He will likely have to continue to completely carry the Cavaliers on his back, as they do not play defense and are facing a Toronto team that can definitely give them trouble. James will likely see a healthy amount of P.J. Tucker in this series but, with as much as he will have the ball in his hands, he remains a top option on any site regardless of format. James played 41 minutes in game 1, shooting 13-23 from the field and grabbing 10 rebounds to go with his 35 points. He only picked up 4 assists, as Irving uncharacteristically had 10, but we should see an increase in his assist numbers as well moving forward.
Kevin Love was a bit disappointing in round 1 as he had only one big game, but we should see him do better in this matchup. He averaged 33 minutes per game with a 20.5 percent usage rate in the first round. Ibaka was vulnerable against stretch fours throughout the regular season and Love should be able to take advantage. Love flirted with a double-double in game 1, finishing a rebound shy, but he did not get minutes at center as Tristan Thompson played 38.2 minutes. His upside will increase if he starts getting time at the five but, for now, he is a marginal option as he has upside but will not hit it very often because of LeBron and Irving dominating usage.
Tristan Thompson played 38.2 minutes in game 1, which is more than I was expecting. He remains cheap, which makes him a strong option because he should do very well against the Toronto frontcourt as long as he gets the minutes.
Core: LeBron James
Secondary: Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love
Value: Tristan Thompson
Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs
James Harden dealt with an ankle injury in the first round against Oklahoma City but should be feeling better with the rest that he got between series. He averaged 37.4 minutes per game in the first round with a 37.6 percent usage rate and 35 percent assist rate. He obviously has a tough matchup with the Spurs, but he had some success against them this season scoring no less than 56.5 DraftKings points in any of his four games against them and topping 60 fantasy points in three games. He never showed his 70-80 point upside, but it is good that we at least saw him consistently score in the low-60s. He played well in game 1, a very surprising Houston blowout, scoring 20 points with 14 assists in 31.2 minutes (he did not see the floor in the fourth quarter because of the score). Look for Harden to remain productive moving forward. He is a strong play in any format, especially on dynamic pricing sites that have adjusted his price downward to account for the matchup.
Trevor Ariza, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and Patrick Beverley will all need to step up as role players in this series to help out Harden. Ariza was steady against San Antonio in all four games this season, scoring at least 25 DraftKings points in each game with a high of 36. He was strong in game 1, posting 36.5 DraftKings points in 31.2 minutes. Sam Dekker’s eventual return could possible steal a few minutes but we will have to wait and see. He offers pretty solid production for a very fair price. Gordon saw at least 35 minutes in each of the last three games of the Oklahoma City series and he showed some upside against San Antonio in the regular season, scoring 42.8 DraftKings points behind 32 real points in a game in November. Other than that, he was mediocre as he scored between 21 and 25.5 in the other three games. He stayed in that range in game 1, scoring 23.75 DraftKings points in 23.4 minutes. He was pulled halfway through the fourth in the blowout so, if he had closed in a close game, he would have likely had a very nice statline. Anderson has shot better on the road than at home all season long and, in theory, matches up relatively well with the Spurs defensive scheme that can be vulnerable to stretch fours. He had one big game against San Antonio this season (in San Antonio) and struggled in the other three. He came out firing in game 1, shooting 4-10 from three (4-12 overall) and scoring 34 DraftKings points. He makes for a high-upside GPP option as long as he remains dirt cheap. Lou Williams is also a high-risk/high-reward option coming off the bench.
Nene and Clint Capela are both in nice spots in this series, although it is likely that they will more-or-less split minutes and that will limit their respective upsides. They are significantly cheaper on DraftKings than they are on FanDuel for game 1, so that is the place to roster either of them. Capela saw 24.7 minutes to Nene’s 15.9 in game 1, but Nene did not get his fourth quarter minutes because of the blowout. It appears that a time share is still likely, but it is worth noting that Capela was extremely effective, with 20 points and 13 rebounds.
Core: James Harden
Secondary: Trevor Ariza, Eric Gordon, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams
Value: Ryan Anderson, Clint Capela, Nene
San Antonio Spurs
Kawhi Leonard played out of his mind in round one against the Grizzlies and now gets a pace-up matchup against the Rockets. Leonard averaged 1.13 DraftKings points per minute against the Rockets in the regular season, but showed upside with a 51.2 fantasy point game in November and a 61.5 fantasy point game in March. Leonard averaged 37.7 minutes per game against Memphis with a usage rate of 31.2 percent. Look for continued excellence from him in this round.
Tony Parker finally saw extended minutes in the Memphis series starting in game four and he did not disappoint. Parker took at least 12 shots in each of the last four games and averaged 33.2 DraftKings points per game. His price has quickly increased but he is still a strong option, although he comes with risk since we never really know what Pop is going to do with his minutes. He averaged 0.83 DraftKings points per minute in his three games against the Rockets this season. He played 22.8 minutes through three quarters in game 1, which is a good sign that the plan is for his minutes to remain in the 30s.
LaMarcus Aldridge was disappointing in the Memphis series, but he did play very heavy minutes throughout the series which bodes well for him moving forward as it is unlikely that he continues to disappoint throughout the entire playoffs. He should benefit from the fast pace that the Rockets play at. Aldridge averaged 0.95 DraftKings points per minute against the Rockets in the regular season, which will pay off his current price tag nicely if he continues to see the 37.3 minutes per game that he saw in the first round. He was atrocious in game 1 with a -36 net rating in 25.4 minutes, but that was just a weird game. He still has a high ceiling going forward.
David Lee moved into the lineup in game four as the starting center and played 33, 26 and 26 minutes in those games. He remains very cheap across the industry and should easily pay off his price tag as long as he remains in the starting lineup. Lee’s increased role makes Pau Gasol a very risky option that only makes sense in GPPs because it is a two-game slate and if, for some reason, Gasol’s minutes increase he should be productive in the matchup.
Core: Kawhi Leonard, David Lee
Secondary: LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker
Value: Danny Green, Pau Gasol