Here’s another tasty, seven-game slate for us tonight. There are a couple of interesting, high-scoring games, a couple of blowout possibilities and a let down game in the mix. It features the three slowest pace teams and the two fastest. There are five players priced 9K and above, so there will be some interesting decisions to make. As always, if you have any questions, hit me on Twitter @JasonWalker_72
(Stats per NBA Stats, StatMuse, NBAWowy)
Looking for more NBA content? Check out these other articles for tonight’s slate:
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Washington Wizards
Line: Thunder -4.5
This game features two of the top ten teams in the league in pace, with the Thunder ninth and the Wizards second. The Thunder are also the second ranked offensive efficiency team while the Wizards are struggling a little to get online, slogging along at ninth worst. Defensively, both teams are right in the middle of the league. Injury-wise, Bradley Beal is questionable with a sore shoulder and is questionable heading into the game.
There is a thought that whoever covers Russell Westbrook is going to have his offensive game suffer because he’s going to get worn out on the defensive end. This is shown by allowing the eighth fewest fantasy points to opposing point guards. It’ll be interesting to see if John Wall suffers or both guys suffer because the other is so good. My bet is on Westbrook to stay the course on his third ranked usage and third ranking in rebounds+assists+blocks+steals (RABS) per 100 possessions (19.7). He’s good, and there’s not much derailing him at this point. Oh hey, and there’s also Kevin Durant, who’s not only still an excellent offensive player (Top 10 offensive efficiency) but, specifically, he’s been top ten in free throws attempted per 100 possessions as well. His price is still under 10K and he’s turned in games of 59.25, 52 and 52.25 in his last three games. Washington can be attacked at the wings, but also inside as Marcin Gortat has been getting beat. This may provoke Billy Donovan to play Enes Kanter more, but Kanter, while being a gifted offensive player, is the team’s worst defensive regular player, allowing almost 10 points per 100 possessions more than Steven Adams.
For the Wizards, John Wall hasn’t been Russell Westbrook, but he’s been very good in his own right. In our RABS stat, Wall is eighth with 16.5 but will surely hurt if Beal can’t go as Beal has been strong early on this season. Wall is still going to use possessions, though, scoring a 28.1 Usage%. With Beal off the court, Wall’s usage goes to 38% in 40 non-Beal minutes. Dating back to last season, it’s a more modest, but still impactful 29.4%. The narrative is that Wall plays better at home and this will be a high scoring game that should be close. Wall makes for a nice tourney play with plenty of high priced, more popular dudes on the slate tonight. If Kanter does get some run, then Gortat could be in play himself as he’s modestly priced in the industry.
There are going to be some other places where we can find value, but this game is likely to be the marquee scoring game and I will want exposure to the stars here.
– Russell Westbrook ($10,800)
– Kevin Durant ($9,700)
– John Wall ($9,000)
– Marcin Gortat ($5,300)
Utah Jazz @ Cleveland Cavaliers
In contrast, here are two of the slower teams in the league, with Utah being the slowest in the league and the Cavs being sixth slowest. Likewise, they are two of the top defensive teams in the league, and we’re not just talking about Points Per Game. By the Defensive Efficiency metric, the Jazz allow only 90.3 points per 100 possessions (that’s the best) while the Cavs are eighth best with 96.1. Offensively, the Cavs are fifth best and the Jazz are smack dab in the middle of the pack.
In a game such as this, with a low game total and slow pace, there may not look like much to roster, but the Jazz have two guys in the top 20 in our RABS metric. Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors are both in the mix, getting 20.4 and 14.6 raw peripherals every 100 possessions. However, the Cavs are allowing the fifth fewest points to power forwards and fourth fewest to centers. Where you can go at the Cavs is at the wing, and Alec Burks and Gordon Hayward are there. Burks has been coming off the bench but leads the team in Usage% and Hayward has started slow.
The Cavs begin with LeBron James. He’s in the top 10 in every offensive metric I pull up and has the best of a line of bad matchups against Hayward. Quietly, Kevin Love has been super productive. He has more DraftKings net points (that’s the DKPPG – PPG) than LeBron and he’s posted two 50 DK point games in his last five. It’s not a good matchup for him against Favors, but he’s been providing the peripherals beyond the scoring. Mo Williams could be interesting in continued relief pitching for Kyrie Irving. Williams is getting minutes and has been efficient. At 6K and playing a slower game, he’s not a great play, but if he gets to face Trey Burke it gets a little better.
– Rudy Gobert ($7,000)
– Derrick Favors ($7,100)
– LeBron James ($10,000)
– Kevin Love ($7,900)
Los Angeles Lakers @ Miami Heat
Line: Heat -12
The Lakers head east and play the Heat and if they got into town a little too early, there could be a Miami hangover over the Lakers. Vegas has already built in the 12-point advantage, so there is blowout potential here. The Lakers are the fifth fastest team in the league and the Heat are next to Utah, which is to say next to last in pace. The Heat are winning with defense, as they are one of the top five teams in defensive efficiency and a alright offense. The Lakers aren’t winning at all, and are the second worst defensive team in the league right now. Gerald Green is out for the Heat.
The Heat were supposed to pick up the pace with Goran Dragic, but that hasn’t happened, maybe because there’s still Dwyane Wade in a Heat uniform. Wade is still the heavy user in the Heat offense, controlling 31.6% of the team’s possessions when on the floor. Hassan Whiteside is in my top ten in DK Net Points and has a great matchup against the Lakers frontcourt. Even though that includes Roy Hibbert, the Lakers are in the top ten in points yielded to opposing centers. They also give up the third most defensive rebounds, meaning Chris Bosh and Whiteside should clean up. You also usually HAVE to roster the PG going against the Lakers, but this will really put it to the test as Dragic is not using many possessions (18.4%) and he’s still priced as if he were playing in Phoenix. He’s cross 26 DK points once this season despite averaging 30 mpg.
It will be very interesting to see if Kobe Bryant plays. The Lakers have a back to back and if Kobe doesn’t play both as Byron Scott is thinking, then that would free up considerable usage as Bryant still uses 28% of the possessions when he’s on the floor. A quick look tells us that Jordan Clarkson, Lou Williams, Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell all see their usage increase by 3-4% with Kobe off the floor. The Heat backcourt is tough on opposing guards, so it may be Randle that sees the biggest impact if Kobe is out. But the way they are priced, they are all not real good values in a game against a tough opponent like Miami.
– Hassan Whiteside ($7,600)
– Chris Bosh ($7,000)
– Lou Williams ($4,900)
– D’Angelo Russell ($4,500)
New York Knicks @ Toronto Raptors
Line: Raptors -8
These are two pretty average pace teams, hovering right around 100 possession per game. Both teams are also net positive offensive to defense, while being middle of the pack in both. I know, you figured about the Raptors, but the Knicks don’t look like a train wreck? Not at this point at least. DeMarre Carroll is battling plantar fasciitis, missed Sunday’s game and is not confirmed one way or the other yet for this game. Over in New York, Arron Afflalo continues to battle his sore hamstring and is very unlikely to take his steps in Toronto tonight.
Those Knicks are going into a tough place in Toronto, but the Raptors can be had at the power forward position, currently being time-shared, and the shooting guard position, where DeMar DeRozan is playing good defense, so this may be just an aberrant early season fantasy thing. For the Knicks, they have to hope that the way that Kristaps Porzingis and Jerian Grant is for real, because they have arguably been the two most productive players on the Knicks. So why don’t they play more minutes? Porzingis’ talent is so obvious, his feet so quick for such a big guy and his shooting touch looks great. He’s a must play for me because I just like watching the guy right now.
For Toronto, it’s all about DeRozan, who has a strong 27% Usage rate, is playing long minutes and has posted three 40+ DK games this season. The Knicks have been sneaky tough this season, so for the 7.2K you’d have to pay for him, he will have to fight to get there, but he is helped by his free throw rate, which is second in the league behind James Harden at 10.8 attempted per 100 possessions. Kyle Lowry has been solid, but he’s priced at 7.8K to be more than that. At a needed DK total of around 45, Lowry has hit that one time this season. The other solid target on the team, Jonas Valanciunas, just doesn’t get enough floor time, having only played more than 30 minutes twice this season.
– Kristaps Porzingis ($5,700)
– Robin Lopez ($4,800)
– DeMar DeRozan ($7,200)
– Jonas Valanciunas ($6,100)
Dallas Mavericks @ New Orleans Pelicans
Line: Pelicans -2
The Mavs and the Pelicans are both 100+ possessions per game teams, so therein lies some of the explanation of the fairly high game total. The other is that the Pelicans are the worst defensive team in basketball right now. This is due to Jrue Holiday being limited and having no defense behind him, Tyreke Evans being out and Omer Asik missing time, too.
You can attack the Mavericks at the power forward position, where Dirk Nowitzki’s defensive game has been on simmer for quite a while. It just so happens that playing power forward for the Pelicans is Anthony Davis so, you know, he can probably take advantage of the situation. Jrue Holiday isn’t playing back to backs, so it’s questionable which game (the Pelicans have the Hawks Wednesday) Holiday will sit. When Holiday is off the court, there’s a three way line behind Davis to get some possessions, starring Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and Ish Smith. Anderson is a mess defensively and Gordon is little better.
The Mavericks will be able to go at the leaky Pelicans backcourt with their bevy of guards, not that it helps us in DFS at all. Wesley Matthews has been on a minutes limit as he works his way back from an Achilles injury, but he is supposed to stretch that out to 30 minutes tonight. The issue is that none of the Mavericks is averaging 30 minutes per game, with Deron Williams leading the way at 29. So we’re going to have to look lower to find a good target. That guy has been Dwight Powell so far this season, scoring 27.75, 30.75, 32.50 and 24.50 in his last four games. His salary has gone up to $4.7K where it was 3.1K a the beginning of that run.
– Anthony Davis ($10,700)
– Ish Smith ($4,700)
– Dwight Powell ($4,700)
– Wesley Matthews ($4,100)
Charlotte Hornets @ Minnesota Timberwolves
Line: Hornets -2
It’s a fairly fast paced team in the Timberwolves (and Sam Mitchell wants to go faster) against a Hornets team that is typically slow and in the bottom ten in pace again this season. Both teams are net positives, offense to defense, this season, but the Hornets are scoring and giving up more points than the Timberwolves.
The Timberwolves played a great first half in Atlanta, scoring 72 points and racing out to what was, at one point, a 34 point lead. Then they came unravelled and lost it all, losing the lead to the Hawks in the fourth quarter before triumphantly charging back to win the game. Now, the next night, they’ve travelled home and play the Hornets, setting things up for a classic let down game. If they don’t, it’ll be because Andrew Wiggins, who dominated the fourth quarter Monday night, and Karl-Anthony Towns pushed through and got the win for the team. Wiggins was commanding down the stretch and poured in the points while Towns was all over the place. They both scored 40 or more DK points. Wiggins has been getting more minutes (41 and 38 in his last two games) and Towns’ has also been going up. If Towns were on the court for 36 minutes, he’d put up monster numbers. Minnesota didn’t play Ricky Rubio long against Atlanta, so he may be leaned on more on the back to back.
The Wolves have limited teams to 93 points per 100 possessions which means the Hornets will likely look overpriced as you go down the roster. Towns has been tough on opposing centers, so even Al Jefferson’s relatively light salary at 6.5K will be hard to make value. Jefferson, Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum are all 6.5K or higher, making them tournament options only. Even Marvin Williams is priced at 5.4K, meaning he’d have to come through for about 31 points for value. But at least Williams has crossed his current value threshold twice this season, which is the same as Batum, Jefferson and Walker combined at their current price.
– Andrew Wiggins ($6,100)
– Karl-Anthony Towns ($7,400)
– Marvin Williams ($5,400)
– Kemba Walker ($6,600)
Boston Celtics @ Milwaukee Bucks
Line: Bucks -1
While the OKC/Washington game may be the most attractive matchup of the night, I like this game for it’s potential for fantasy goodness. The Celtics play the faster pace in the league and the Bucks are third slowest. The Celtics are the seventh best defensive team so far this year and the Bucks are the eighth worst. Offensively, it’s the Bucks that are eighth best and the Celtics ninth worst. Michael Carter-Williams is out as is O.J. Mayo for Milwaukee while Marcus Smart is doubtful with a toe injury and Jae Crowder expects to play.
With MCW and Mayo out again for the Bucks, it puts Jerryd Bayless back in play. Bayless can drop a dud on you, but but only needs 26 DK points for value and with those two guys out, even if not starting in favor of Tyler Ennis, Bayless easily passed that threshold his last time out. Also, with Smart likely out for the C’s, and his personal 88.6 defensive rating (yow!) out of the way, Bayless can go at either Isaiah Thomas (98.4) or Avery Bradley, who has stumbled defensively out of the blocks this season, with a 104.6 personal rating. Greg Monroe is in the top 25 of the DK Net Points category and has been getting major minutes inside for the Bucks. With nobody inside for the Celtics able to defend well, Monroe will get his. Nobody on the team is playing more minutes per game than Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is getting 37 minutes per game. Even at 7.3K, his minutes and matchup make floor higher.
The Celtics make it hard to pinpoint a nightly play. Brad Stevens mixes and matches by design and then toss in injured and returning players and it’s hard to know who, if anyone, you can count on. But one guy who is resilient to such things is Isaiah Thomas. Thomas is a high usage guy and continues to be so, even with Stevens. Thomas is carrying a 31.7 Usage% and gets a slight uptick when Smart is out, up to 32.2. Thomas also gets to the line regularly, ninth in the league in FTA per 100 possessions, just behind LeBron. So his floor is high and, though appropriately priced at 7K, he’s solid footing in a chaotic, potentially close and higher scoring game. Another player who has done well, but just doesn’t get the consistent minutes in Jared Sullinger. Sullinger is getting 1.32 DK points per minute, but his interior defense has made him a part time player, registering only 21.6 minutes per game. The Bucks have struggled to defend Sullinger’s position, so if Stevens wants to go toe to toe with Monroe’s inside scoring, he could call on Sullinger more in this game. Jae Crowder is another 30 minutes a game guy who hits about a DK point per minute, making a 30 point game value for him. Avery Bradley is the last guy to mention here because his salary is low and his minutes are expected to be strong tonight. He’s only getting .75 DK points per minute, but even a 34 minute game could get him to 27.26 DK points, making value at 4.6K.
– Isaiah Thomas ($7,000)
– Avery Bradley ($4,600)
– Jerryd Bayless ($4,500)
– Greg Monroe ($8,400)