Nice night of basketball with a sweet spot seven-game slate. Five of the slowest teams in the league are on the slate, pushing four of the seven game totals well under 200. That also makes the two high game totals of the night very popular targets. There are a lot of combinations with a slate like this, so let’s sort it all out. As always, if you have any questions, hit me on Twitter @JasonWalker_72.
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(Stats per NBA Stats, StatMuse, NBAWowy)
Milwaukee Bucks @ Washington Wizards
Line: Wizards -4
The Wizards are the fastest paced team in the league at this time and the Bucks are the slowest. Both teams are in the bottom half of the league in both Offensive and Defensive Rating. Jabari Parker is out with a foot injury this week and OJ Mayo is probable to play his first game of the season for the Bucks. Bradley Beal is questionable for the Wizards, and they may hold him out until their next game after this one on Saturday.
Without Beal, John Wall’s usage rate goes up to 29% from 27%, making him a better play, especially at home, but his 9K price tag begs for a 50-burger and this matchup with the Bucks isn’t the best place to find it. If Garrett Temple is the one tabbed to start in Beal’s place, he’s a good place to look for some value, as his last game filling in for Beal resulted in a 31 minute,s 28.25 DK point effort. At 3.2K, that’s a tremendous bit of value there.
The Bucks backcourt is getting pretty crowded with Michael Carter-Williams and, maybe, OJ Mayo back there. Washington can get beat on the wings, especially withe Beal out so Giannis Antetokounmpo is in play, though it remains to be seen how many minutes Mayo will get. Carter-Williams will like the Wizards more up-tempo style, as he has a higher pace rating than his teammates. At 6K and getting 23% Usage at the point, MCW is a good play here, too. Greg Monroe doesn’t necessarily get a bump with Parker out, but is a decent play to make 44 points and get value.
– Garrett Temple ($3,200)
– Giannis Antetokounmpo ($7,000)
– Michael Carter-Williams ($6,000)
– John Wall ($9,000)
Atlanta Hawks @ Brooklyn Nets
Line: Hawks -3.5
Atlanta is middle of the pack in pace with 99.18 possessions per game and Brooklyn is the sixth slowest with 97.42 possessions per game. The Hawks are the fifth best offensive team in the league and the Nets are the sixth worst defensive team. Conversely, the Hawks are middle of the league in defense while Brooklyn has the second worst offense. The Hawks are without Jeff Teague and Kent Bazemore for the game.
This is a great place to start Dennis Schröder. He’s had some starts lately, but it’s been with Jeff Teague. When that happens, Schröder’s usage shrinks to almost nothing (12.8% in 25 minutes with Teague). When Teague is off the court, however, The Umlaut’s usage jumps way up to 30.5% and his DKPPM goes from 0.5 with Teague together to 1.15 with Teague off the court. There will be plenty of DFS players on Dennis, just not as many as before he started with Jeff Teague. With both Baze and Teague off the court and Dennis on the court, Paul Millsap’s rates shoot higher with over 30% Usage and a 1.57 DK PPM rate.
The last time the Nets played the Hawks, Brook Lopez feasted on the Hawks with a 27 points, 11 rebounds game, giving him 47.75 DK points. The Hawks yield big points to big men, so get Lopez involved. Also, Thaddeus Young always plays well against the Hawks and can be a good play at his 5.9K salary.
– Dennis Schröder ($4,600)
– Paul Millsap ($7,900)
– Brook Lopez ($7,100)
– Thaddeus Young ($5,900)
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Detroit Pistons
Line: Cavaliers -5
Cleveland is the fifth slowest team at 96.06 poss/gm and the Pistons aren’t much faster at ninth slowest and 97.99 poss/gm. The Cavs are the fourth best offense while the Pistons are the fifth worst offense. Defensively, both teams are in the top 10 in defense. Kyrie Irving is improving but still very out and the same goes for Brandon Jennings.
Kevin Love has been playing better than last season, putting up the rebounding number rates we used to see in Minnesota, making his peripherals among the 25 best in DFS right now. His price is 8K, so that’s a little high for a slow pace game like this. I’d bank on a 60 DKPT effort from LeBron at 10.1K over hoping Love can get to 46-48 points. Mo Williams has provided some solid value with Irving out, but Reggie Jackson has been a solid defensive guard, statistically and Williams showed against MCW in his last game that he can be muted by good defense.
Andre Drummond’s price has kept rising and rising and rising until now it’s a just a hair under 10K (9.9K). With a slow game combined with some strong Cleveland defense up front, this may be the first slate I don’t have a lot of Drummond out there, but that doesn’t a complete fade. Marcus Morris hasn’t had a game where he’s played less than 32 minutes this season, but his price has slowly risen to the point (6.5K) where we need a 37-40 DKs point game out of him to justify his price. That’s a mark he’s only hit three times this season. But overall, he may be the better bargain of an overpriced lot on both sides of this matchup.
– LeBron James ($10,100)
– Kevin Love ($8,000)
– Marcus Morris ($6,500)
– Andre Drummond ($9,900)
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Miami Heat
Line: Heat -9
The Heat are the third slowest team in the league at 95.64 poss/gm while the Timberwolves are closer to league average at 99.49. The Heat are the second best defensive team and are top ten in offense while Minnesota is also top ten in offense, but they are 12th worst in defense. Ricky Rubio is questionable for Minnesota and Gerald Green is questionable for Miami.
The Heat has maintained their slow play ways even with Goran Dragic at the helm. The triumvirate of Dwyane Wade, Hassan Whiteside and Chris Bosh have been very good for the Heat this season and the team defense across the board has been impressive. Wade is still a Usage king, getting 31% of the possessions and Bosh/Whiteside have held steady in the mid-20s as well. The Wolves are weaker defending the SG and PF positions, so Wade and Bosh have the best matchups here. Wade’s limited minutes are the only concern in rostering him, but his salary is a reasonable 6.2K. Bosh has been consistently cranking out 35-45 DK point games and is in a good salary spot at 7.3K. Being out for the season last year, folks haven’t jumped backed on Bosh as much as his production would usually draw.
Productivity for the Timberwolves in whole drops significantly without Ricky Rubio, so his status makes the rostering of any of the team more/less relevant. Zach LaVine is the only player of value on the team if Rubio sits against, as he has the last four games. The Heat are strong in both backcourt and frontcourt defense, so if you are going to roster Wolves tonight, chase the minutes at value if possible. Kevin Martin is a volume scorer only, but at 4.4K and without Rubio it could work. Martin is third worst in DK Net Points, which focuses on peripherals only. Martin only gets 8.2 DK points per 36 minutes from peripherals, again third worst among players getting 25 minutes per game. Andrew Wiggins is fifth worst at 8.4. I’m proceeding as if Rubio will sit again as Minnesota has been cautious with him.
– Chris Bosh ($7,300)
– Dwyane Wade ($6,200)
– Zach LaVine ($5,300)
– Kevin Martin ($4,400)
Charlotte Hornets @ New York Knicks
Line: Knicks -1
Two similarly paced teams, with the Hornets at 97.65 poss/gm and the Knicks at 98.31. They are both middle of the pack in defensive rating and the Hornets are sixth best in offensive rating while the Knicks are middle of the pack there as well. PJ Hairston and Jeremy Lamb are questionable for the Hornets.
Wait, what? The Hornets are where offensively? It may not seem like they have been a good offensive team so far this season, but they’ve built a competent rotation around Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson and made the most out of offseason acquisition Nicolas Batum. Those three players have OFFRAT scores of 105 or higher, way above the rest of the team. If Hairston and Lamb miss time, this will mean more Jeremy Lin, who has surprisingly not been a huge defensive liability this season. If Lin gets starter’s minutes without those two, expect him to take possessions away from the main three Hornets, making him a better value at 4.1K but leaving Al Jefferson as the best play of Walker/Batum/Jefferson. If Lin does play extended minutes, his defensive liabilities at the shooting guard position could create opportunities for the Knicks wings.
I’ve written about #FreeZingis before in this space and have been thrilled to see the rookie get some extended run recently, including the game last week in Charlotte. He had 33 minutes and 32.75 DK points, but at his 5.9K salary, he’d have to go bigger than that to play to value. Against the Hornets and the combination of Marvin Williams and Cody Zeller, he could do that with 30 minutes. Carmelo Anthony has been huge recently, putting up 40.5, 42.5, 41.8 and 52.8 DK points in his last four games, with the 42.5 being against the Hornets and Nic Batum in Charlotte. He’s 8.5K and leans fairly heavily on scoring to get to value, so he’s a risky play in cash games here.
– Kristaps Porzingis ($5,900)
– Langston Galloway ($4,300)
– Al Jefferson ($6,000)
– Jeremy Lin ($4,100)
Denver Nuggets @ New Orleans Pelicans
Line: Pelicans -6
The Nuggets and Pelicans both play at higher than league average pace, with the Pelicans playing at 101.01 poss/gm (8th in the league) and the Nuggets at 100.20 (13th). Neither team has been good in terms of offensive efficiency, with the Nuggets 7th worst at 98.4 pts per 100 possessions and the Pelicans at 9th worst with 98.6. Defensively, the Pelicans have been off the rails, yielding 108.9 points even with Anthony Davis being available for most games. The Nuggets have been better than that low bar for defensive efficiency, but are still worse than the league average at 102.4.
The Pelicans are still without Tyreke Evans and Norris Cole, while the Nuggets are missing Wilson Chandler, Jusuf Nurkic and Joffrey Lauvergne for sure and Kenneth Faried is questionable.
New Orleans has been ravaged by injury in the backcourt, making both offense and defense difficult for the team. Jrue Holiday is a usage monster when playing, but he’s been limited in minutes and hasn’t played in back-to-back games. New Orleans plays again on Wednesday, so it remains to be seen if Holiday plays tonight against the Nuggets or they hold him out for the matchup against Russell Westbrook and the Thunder Wednesday night. If they do hold Holiday back, it’s all the Ish Smith you can roster (which is one slot, unfortunately) as Ish has scored 31.8 and 42.3 DK points in the last two games Holiday sat out. Smith is 13th in DK Net Points with 24.8 per 36 minutes, which is 4.5x his salary without even scoring a point.
Faried has not been good defensively so far this season (107.6 defensive rating), so the Pelicans wouldn’t mind seeing him and JJ Hickson (105.1 DEFRAT) soaking up the defensive minutes. Anthony Davis is a strong play anyway against this team at the usual up-tempo game. Also, chasing the minutes Eric Gordon gets at 6.3 could be solid, too, but he could be seeing 30+ minutes of Will Barton (98.9 DEFRAT), which would mute his value.
The place to attack the Pelicans is front the backcourt, so rookie Emmanuel Mudiay and his 27.8% usage rate is a solid play at 6.1K and Will Barton, who has played 31 and 37 minutes the last two games, is a good play, too at 4.7K. Barton is averaging 17.1 DK Net Points per 36 minutes, giving him a solid floor from peripherals if he continues to get the run he has been getting from Michael Malone. Hickson flopped his last time out against Tyson Chandler and the Suns, but has been a DK point per minute player the rest of the season, so even against some Omer Asik, Hickson is good value at 4.3K.
– Anthony Davis ($10,800)
– Ish Smith ($5,500)
– Will Barton ($4,700)
– Emmanuel Mudiay ($6,100)
Toronto Raptors @ Golden State Warriors
With all the low scoring games with slow paced teams on the slate, you can bet there will be a lot of players piled into this game, which features two of the better offenses on the docket tonight. The Warriors play the fourth fastest pace at 102.58 poss/gm while the Raptors play a slower pace at 98.32. Golden State is the most efficient offensive team at 110.6 pts per 100 poss and are the third best defensive team, allowing only 94.1 points per 100 possessions. Toronto is top ten in offense with 103.4 pts per 100 poss and 11th defensively at 99.1 pts per 100.
Draymond Green is questionable with an illness and KLay Thompson is probable with his back injury. Terrence Ross is out indefinitely for the Raptors.
The Warriors are relentless, often playing out a game like a horse race, playing enough to stay in front a smidge before leveraging a strong finishing kick, putting their opponents away. Draymond Green has had back-to-back 60-burgers, so if he is out, that’s a blow to the defense as well as leaves a statistical vacuum. If Green is out, it bumps up Harrison Barnes slightly. Stephen Curry is 10.7K, but he also hasn’t scored less than 38 DK points in his last eight starts and gets 22 DK PP36M from his peripherals, a solid floor to go with his insane 33.4 points per game scoring average.
The Raptors have been going strong with the backcourt 40+ DK scoring tandem of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. DeRo might have more value going against a hobbled Klay Thompson and no Draymond Green, though the Warriors could prescribe some Andre Iguodala if things got bad. DeRozan is third in free throw attempted per 36 minutes (9.4), offering some DK point insurance for his 7.3K salary.
– Stephen Curry ($10,700)
– DeMar DeRozan ($7,300)
– Harrison Barnes ($5,300)
– Andre Iguodala ($4,800)