NBA Narrative Watch: Kawhi Leonard-DeMar DeRozan Revenge Game on Tap

Hello DFS community, welcome to the first edition of the DFS Narratives article! I’m going to highlight my favorite NBA narratives for this upcoming week. I know you’re probably asking yourself – do narratives really matter? Let me put it to you this way. Let’s say you’re playing a game of pickup basketball at the local gym and your significant other/spouse shows up to watch you. Are you going to ball out harder? Of course you are. Are you going to dunk on your opponent harder? Well, probably not, since I assume most of us can’t even touch the backboard. But regardless, I am a believer that narratives matter, and even if there’s no scientific proof it impacts a player’s performance, they are just a fun part of DFS.

Here are the top narratives I’m monitoring this upcoming week:

Dwyane Wade Farewell Tour

With Wade expected to call it quits after this season, these final games matter to him as he continues his farewell tour around the league. The Heat take on the Cavaliers on Wednesday in Cleveland, where Wade played for two seasons. Granted, they weren’t the most memorable years for Wade, as he clashed heads with coach Ty Lue at times and ended up coming off the bench for most of his tenure there. It’s also worth noting that the Heat play in Cleveland again on Jan. 25, so this isn’t his last stop in Cleveland this season, but I do love a good #RevengeGame, especially for a player who is retiring at the end of the season. I will point out that when Wade faced off against former friend LeBron James and the Lakers a few weeks ago, Wade played 32 minutes (his second highest total of the season) and dropped 15 points, 10 assists and five rebounds for a 40.75-DKFP outing. It seems like the special matchups bring out the best in Wade. He has profiled as a tournament option this season since he continues playing limited minutes off the bench, but these are the types of games that pique my interest in him.

Deandre Ayton Bobblehead Night

The Suns are giving Ayton his first bobblehead night on Wednesday against the 76ers. It’s not an easy matchup against Joel Embiid, who is making a case for defensive player of the year, but you know the rookie will want to shine on his bobblehead night game. There’s also an extra narrative here because what Embiid said back in September, that Ayton was “about to get his (bad word) kicked this year.” And it’s clear Embiid didn’t like the comparisons that Ayton drew to him. Embiid said the following in that interview: “I play on both sides of the court. I think I’m a good offensive player, good defensive player. I do it on both ends of the floor. I watched him play and he’s got a lot of work to do. But he’s got a lot of potential. He’s going to be really good.”

From a DFS perspective, Ayton has seen his minutes solidify during the month of December and his numbers trending up with Tyson Chandler no longer in town. Ayton leads all rookies in rebounds per game and is second in points and minutes per game only to Mavs rookie Luka Doncic. I love this play in GPPs if you think Ayton shows up on his special day.

Paul George Homecoming Game

This past offseason, George admitted he would’ve joined the Lakers had it not been for the Pacers trading him to the Thunder, where he eventually fell in love with Oklahoma City. On Wednesday, George heads back home to Los Angeles and faces the team he grew up rooting for. George grew up in Palmdale, California, and now gets a #HometownNarrative to provide some extra motivation. The last time George faced the Lakers, he dropped 50.3 DKFPs on them and finished with 29 points. There’s a lot to love here from a DFS perspective regardless of the narrative. Both the Lakers and Thunder rank among the top 5 in pace, so this game should feature a ton of scoring and be a track meet.

Kawhi Leonard/DeMar DeRozan Revenge Games

On Thursday, the Spurs and Raptors meet for the first time this season since the big offseason trade that sent Leonard and Danny Green to Toronto for DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl. There should be some fireworks in this game and revenge on both sides of the ball. DeRozan was told by the Raptors front office he wouldn’t be traded during the offseason, yet the team later apologized for “miscommunication” after the trade. Yikes. Meanwhile, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Leonard was a great player but “wasn’t a leader.” These are words that must sting beneath Leonard’s robotic body (I assume Leonard has emotions but it’s still unclear if he’s actually a robot). It seems like neither organization left on great terms with the players they traded away, and I’m sure the players involved all want to ball out here to show up their former teams.

The Spurs have been awful defensively this season, and I’m completely fine attacking them with Raptors players in this spot as these are not the same Spurs we’ve been historically used to. They rank among the bottom half of the league in defensive efficiency, which is a huge change considering they ranked 4th last year. Roll out the Leonard / DeRozan #revenge stack in this nationally televised game.

Thanks for reading, and good luck this week. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (@allanlemdfs) and let me know what your favorite NBA narratives are this week. May variance be on your side.

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is fathalpert) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.