The NBA is far different than the NFL because it’s all about pricing. A guy will be a good play at $4500 but an awful one at $5700. That’s especially true on DraftKings right now, as the pricing is incredibly tight. We also have to really be on top of news all the way up to lock because things can change very, very quickly. Just about every night there will be surprise scratches that will change a lot of ideas I’ve discussed below.
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MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT
1. Reggie Jackson against the Sixers “defense”
The Sixers are bad at defending all positions, but they’re especially bad against point guards. They give up a whopping 3.7 more DK points than salary expectation to the position, a far worse mark than even the Lakers’ notoriously bad PG defense (2.7). Now Philly is on the road one night after winning at home, always a spot for tired legs. Jackson is on an uptick in terms of minutes lately, getting at least 30 in five of his last six games. He’s also getting complements on his defense from coach Stan Van Gundy, which helps secure the playing time.
MIN-PRICED SHOTS OF THE DAY
1. Richaun Holmes at Pistons
We won’t find a guy “in play” at stone minimum $3000 every night. And he’s never going to feel good. But Sixers backup big Richaun Holmes deserves a look given how tight the salary cap is on DraftKings. Note that Jahlil Okafor (illness) has already been ruled out and Andre Drummond is 13th in the league in fouls drawn per game (5.3). Nerlens Noel, sliding over to the center spot again tonight, is a candidate for foul trouble. At 6’10/245, Holmes is the only big in the current rotation outside of Noel. A talented athlete with some range, he averages a very solid 0.859 DK points per minute and averages 16.2 minutes in games without Okafor this year. He could push for 20-24 if things break right tonight.
2. Charlie Villanueva at Warriors
Both Dirk Nowitzki (rest) and Zaza Pachulia (heel) are out tonight. Last time Dirk sat, Charlie V played 28 minutes and took 14 shots. He’s since fallen back out of the rotation, but it’s grown clear the Mavs don’t want to start Dwight Powell or JaVale McGee. So assuming Villanueva draws the start, he’s likely to play at least 22 minutes at minimum $3000. We have to at least consider that even in an awful matchup against Warriors team that ranks third in defensive efficiency in large part thanks to bigs Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut.
CONTRARIAN GPP PLAYS
1. Kemba Walker at Jazz
Most owners will see a matchup with the Jazz and immediately back off. They rank 30th in pace this year after sitting in that same dead-last rank last year. They also have Rudy Gobert (knee) fully back. But if we look closer, this team has been susceptible to point guards without Dante Exum (knee). Reggie Jackson gave them 29-4-3 on Monday, Deron Williams had one of his best games of the season on Nov. 20 (23-8-6), Mo Williams had his best game of the season against them, Damian Lillard went 21-10-7 on Jan. 13 etc. Just nine days ago, Kemba Walker went off for 52-9-8 in a double-OT win. With Nicolas Batum/Jeremy Lamb questionable and Al Jefferson/Cody Zeller out, Walker’s usage rate has gone off the charts. I don’t like using players at Utah in cash games, but the ceiling is there for tournaments despite the “bad” matchup.
1. James Harden against the Spurs
There’s a lot working against Harden tonight. First, Dwight Howard (ankle) is back in the starting lineup. Harden averages 55.6 DraftKings points per game when Dwight is out vs. 47.9 when Dwight plays. Second, Harden has arguably the toughest possible matchup for a wing against the Spurs and Kawhi Leonard. In his last six games against San Antonio, he averages just 36.3 DK points and hasn’t topped 41. Given that Harden would need 50.0 DK points just to 5x his salary tonight, it’s an easy spot for me to be off him.
WHO I’M CONSIDERING IN DRAFTKINGS CASH GAMES
(No particular order)
PG: Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson, J.J. Barea, Chris Paul, Ricky Rubio
SG: Archie Goodwin, Avery Bradley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Andrew Wiggins
SF: Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Morris, Chandler Parsons
PF: Nerlens Noel, Paul Millsap, Charlie Villanueva (if he starts)
C: DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond, Rudy Gobert, Salah Mejri, Alex Len