Saturday in the park brings us a solid, sweet-spot, seven-game slate. There are some potential blowout landmines out there, with some top players in play (George, Harden, Drummond, LeBron) and some injuries giving opportunities for some value out there so let’s sort it all out. As always, if you have any questions, hit me on Twitter @JasonWalker_72.
Sacramento Kings @ Orlando Magic
Line: Magic -2.5
Sacramento is the second fastest pace team in the league and the Magic are about at league average. The Magic are the fifth worst offensively rated team and the Kings are middle of the pack at 14th worst. Defensively, the Magic have worked to be better this season and are rated 10th in defensive rating while the Kings are sixth lowest rated. Rudy Gay is questionable for today as is CJ Watson for Orlando.
The Kings wrap up their Southeastern vacation in Orlando and they have not been enjoying the journey. After winning three in a row after a players-only meeting at home, they’ve lost to both Atlanta and Miami. Boogie Cousins missed the game in Miami after drawing a suspension for an entanglement with Al Horford. Cousins is the only starter with a positive net rating (Offensive Rating – Defensive Rating) so he’ll be back and ready to deploy his 35.7 Usage rate on the Magic. Helping that effort will be that the Magic are bottom ten bad at defending the center. Nikola Vucevic’s personal defensive rating is 106, a full seven points worse than the team average. Further, if Gay does miss the game here with his sore shoulder, DeMarcus Cousins’ DKPPM rate goes from 1.27 to 1.51. On a lesser scale, Darren Collison’s usage gets a 2% boost and his DKPPM goes from .75 to nearly 1.00.
For Orlando, the usage is so evenly spread around, it’s hard to pinpoint a breakout candidate from night to night. Despite Cousins’ stat stuffing ways, the Kings can be beat inside, Vucevic a good play, especially if Cousins is playing PF and not center. Elfrid Payton has turned things around recently, playing longer minutes with Watson out and producing 33.25, 30.75 and 49.25 DK points and he’s still less than $6K.
– DeMarcus Cousins ($10,300)
– Darren Collison ($4,700)
– Elfrid Payton ($5,900)
– Nikola Vucevic ($7,300)
Milwaukee Bucks @ Indiana Pacers
Line: Pacers -5
Milwaukee has grabbed the mantle of slowest team in the league with their 94.14 possessions per game pace while the Pacers are closer to the middle with 98.56. The Pacers, despite Paul George, are the ninth least efficient offensive team while the Bucks are in the middle in that category, too. And defensively, the Bucks are second worst to only the Pelicans while the Pacers are fourth best. George Hill is questionable as is Rodney Stuckey for the Pacers.
At least the Pacers do have George, who is in the DK Top Ten for DK points per game with 46.5. The Bucks also happen to be bottom five worst at defending the small forward position, helping George’s cause. If Hill and Stuckey miss again, it’s all the George and Monta Ellis again and CJ Miles and Jordan Hill get bumps in that scenario, too.
It’s interesting that, with Michael Carter-Williams back, Greg Monroe has scored more DK points per minute (1.10 from 1.03), but with less usage overall (21%, down from 25%), and Giannis Antetokounmpo has done the same. Indiana has been weak defending the two and the center position, so that may play very well into this game.
– Paul George ($9,700)
– CJ Miles ($4,700)
– Greg Monroe ($7,400)
– Giannis Antetokounmpo ($7,200)
Washington Wizards @ Detroit Pistons
Line: Pistons -2.5
The Wizards are currently the fastest team in the league and the Pistons are slightly below average. Detroit is the fourth worst offensively rated team and Washington is 11th best. Defensively, the Wizards are 12th best and the Pistons are 9th worst. Bradley Beal is listed as questionable, but he practiced in full on Friday.
This game features two teams with the closest net rating (Offensive Rating – Defensive Rating), indicating a really close game here. The Pistons have been more giving to opposing power forwards, so Kris Humphries can be in play if he starts, especially at his 4K salary. He’s delivered over 6x value in two of the last three games. Otto Porter has been really good with Beal out, but when Brad is on the floor, Porter goes almost invisible, usage-wise, dropping to 14%. When Beal is playing, it’s all John Wall/Beal, with both over 26.5% Usage.
Reggie Jackson has quietly snuck in and gone over 30% usage this season in the mayhem over Andre Drummond’s emergence as an elite play every night. But Wall and Beal are defensive stalwarts, so Jackson may use a lot of possessions, but they are going to be less efficient than normal. It’ll be up to the Pistons frontcourt to keep this game as close as the net ratings say it will be. What that means is that Drummond, Marcus Morris and Ersan Ilyasova will be the one to keep this one close.
– Bradley Beal ($6,900)
– Kris Humphries ($4,000)
– Andre Drummond ($9,900)
– Ersan Ilyasova ($4,100)
Atlanta Hawks @ Cleveland Cavaliers
Line: Cavaliers -5.5
The Hawks are middle of the road in pace while the Cavs play much slower, third slowest, in fact, in the league. Both teams are very efficient offensively, with the Hawks coming seventh and the Cavs besting that at fourth. The teams are also 12th (Cleveland) and 13th (Atlanta) in defensive rating. Both teams have a positive net rating. Kent Bazemore, Mo Williams and Timofey Mozgov are already listed as out for the game, while Jeff Teague is questionable.
With Williams out, it means that Matthew Dellavedova is a must play at PG. The Hawks, with or without Teague, have been subpar defending opposing point guards, so Delly-Time is definitely a good play, especially at his 4.1K salary. With both Mo and Mozgov off the court, LeBron’s usage is 37.2%. Just sayin’. Also, the Hawks had no answer for the rebounding skills of Tristan Thompson and since the Hawks also abandon the offensive glass (4th lowest OREB%), Thompson is play here, too. If Anderson Varejao starts for Mozzy, then he’s a solid play at min $3K, given the Hawks lack of offensive rebounding.
For the Hawks, Schröder is always a must play without Teague, but if Teague is back, it will create mayhem in terms of backcourt minutes since Schröder, Thabo Sefolosha, Kyle Korver and any combination of Justin Holiday, Lamar Patterson, et al will be sharing all those minutes. Paul Millsap is always a solid play if you are picking a Hawk to roster, because he can score DK points without being efficient scoring the basketball, being top 20 in DK Net points (which subtracts out scoring points) with 24 per game.
– Matthew Dellavedova ($4,100)
– LeBron James ($10,100)
– Paul Millsap ($8,200)
– Tristan Thompson ($4,800)
New York Knicks @ Houston Rockets
Line: Rockets -4.5
Houston is the seventh fastest team in the league, pace-wise and the Knicks have slowed things down and are now at 10th slowest. The Knicks are league average in both offensive and defensive rating while the Rockets are sixth worst offensively and fifth worst defensively. Dwight Howard played Friday night against Memphis, so that usually means he won’t play tonight. Patrick Beverley has not been officially ruled out but is expected to miss the game tonight as well.
This Knicks have shown excellent competence so far this season, witnessed by their surprising win over Oklahoma City Friday night in OKC. The Thunder were held down to 92 possessions last night, well below their average. The Knicks were able to do that by making shots and while Carmelo Anthony isn’t making value at his DK salary, his shot making and the defensive return of Arron Afflalo are strong positives for this team. There isn’t a ton of value in play since Porzingis’ salary has spiked, but you could use Afflalo as a tourney SG punt since he’ll be out there to hold down Harden tonight and is getting starter’s minutes at his $4.3K price point. Jose Calderon is also getting big minutes at a sub 4K salary.
James Harden won’t be as efficient with Afflalo on him, but you can count on the volume and at $10.1K, he’s still priced for a major value if he goes off. If Howard misses, it’ll open up some value in the front court, though Clint Capela is already sort-of priced to start at $4.7K. Jason Terry started the last game at PG and didn’t do much with it, but you can start PG against the Knicks and do well so he’s an alright target at the min $3K if he starts.
– Carmelo Anthony ($8,500)
– Jose Calderon ($3,600)
– James Harden ($10,200)
– Jason Terry ($3,000)
Philadelphia 76ers @ Miami Heat
Line: Heat -14
The Heat are the fifth slowest paced team in the league and the Sixers are in the middle of the league. The Heat are top ten in both offensive and defensive rating (second defensively, in fact) while the Sixers are the worst offensive team in the league and bottom ten in defense. Luol Deng is questionable for the game tonight.
Pretty simple that you can start any center against Jahlil Okafor right now, as evidenced by Al Jefferson’s fifty burger Friday night. Hassan Whiteside has to be licking his chops for this matchup. The only issue is this game is on major blowout watch. With Deng questionable and the game itself leaning towards backup usage, consider Justise Winslow and Tyler Johnson in play as tournament value.
Jerami Grant is a solid target in this one as he’ll likely get 25-30 minutes no matter what and get value for his $4.5K salary. If the game does remain close Nerlens Noel would be a solid play at $6.4K. Overall, it’s hard to identify a solid play with a team whose net rating is -14.3 like Philly’s.
– Hassan Whiteside ($8,300)
– Tyler Johnson ($3,900)
– Jerami Grant ($4,500)
– Nerlens Noel ($6,400)
Memphis Grizzlies @ San Antonio Spurs
Line: Spurs -7.5
Two of the slowest paced teams in the league (Spurs 6th, Grizzlies 4th) combine to bring you the lowest game total of the slate. The Spurs are fifth best offensively and best defensively. The Grizzlies have struggled, being bottom ten offensively and third worst defensively. LaMarcus Aldridge and Zach Randolph are questionable while Manu Ginobili is expected to return tonight for the Spurs.
I tried one more time to guess what Popovich might do, rest-wise, as I thought he might rest players in New Orleans and save them for this home tilt against the Grizzlies. Well, he didn’t, so I once again retire from trying to guess what Pop will do and will just look at this game without implying any sort of change in rotation. Though, along with the PHL/MIA game, this game has the highest potential for blowout, which is a weird thing to say about Memphis, but the net rating difference between the Spurs (10.6) and Memphis (-6.7) is so obvious it has to be said. Kawhi Leonard is definitely in play as is Tony Parker at his sub $5K salary if this game goes the distance with the starters. If the reserves come in, I’m still all about Patty Mills and his 30% usage when the ‘scrubeenies’ are in the game (3.5K).
As for Memphis, it’ll be tough against San Antonio, especially since value play Jeff Green has to deal with the Kawhi factor. Green’ price has gone up to $4.5K, making him less attractive, especially in this matchup. Mike Conley is a solid play at $6.3K and Mario Chalmers at $3.7K is giving good minutes off the bench for some tourney value with a bump if the game gets out of hand and he gets more minutes. Marc Gasol turned in an epic effort Friday (57.75) and is worth looking at for $7K.
– Tony Parker ($4,700)
– Kawhi Leonard ($8,100)
– Mike Conley ($6,300)
– Marc Gasol ($7,000)