NBA | Staying Ahead of the Curve, 12/3

NBA | Staying Ahead of the Curve, 12/3

Each Monday, I will be taking a look at upcoming injury/suspension impacts, teams/situations to attack, and NBA players who I believe will either be under-owned or underpriced. On bigger slates, it’s easy to get lost in the vast number of options, sudden injury news, etc.

Having an idea ahead of time of whose price you should be immediately aware of can help you sort through the chaos. More importantly, anticipating which NBA players are in a position to take a step forward ensures you will get a player that doesn’t just outperform his salary but does so at suppressed ownership.

From this point forward, all stats will be filtered to include the previous 10 games (~three weeks) only, in order to catch trends that haven’t had enough time to drastically change season-long numbers.

Without further ado:

Injury/Suspension/Trades Impacts

In this section, I’m especially interested in looking at more under-the-radar effects. For example, you don’t need me to tell you that Fred VanVleet is a great play if Kyle Lowry misses, so I’m here to help find subtle advantages we can exploit when chaotic news breaks late. I’ll also touch on injuries that we haven’t seen the effects of in the past (like Luke Doncic).

Jeremy Lin

Any time Lin misses, Trae Young’s minutes become significantly more reliable. It’s not a noteworthy enough injury to make Trae’s ownership rise dramatically, so he becomes a great GPP target.

Joe Harris

In each of the past two games Harris missed, Dinwiddie has moved into the starting lineup, leaving Shabazz Napier in Dinwiddie’s old role. In those two games, Napier has scored 33 and 23 DK points in 24 and 25 minutes, despite shooting just 6-27 from the floor. Napier is $3500 tonight.

Luka Doncic

The biggest beneficiary of a Doncic absence is most likely Wes Matthews, who was seeing decreased minutes, around 20 per night, due to the emergence of Dorian Finney-Smith. We know he’s a capable per minute producer, so the minutes bump back to a full workload is huge for him.

DSJ, Barnes, and Barea all easily hit value last night, and all signs point to the three of them seeing similar usage bumps for any game Doncic has to sit out.

Goran Dragic & Tyler Johnson

Mentioned him last week, but it’s worth repeating… Keep playing Wade for as long as he’s the only active PG on the Miami roster!

Wilson Chandler

Mike Muscala will start and play big minutes any game that Chandler misses. He’s been effective on a per minute basis and I can’t imagine DK would ever price him up out of “punt” territory.

Devin Booker & TJ Warren

Believe it or not, Josh Jackson is playing good basketball again. If either or both of these guys miss, he’s a great option as long as he’s under $5k. Elie Okobo is already seeing good minutes with Canaan waived, but would see an additional usage boost anytime Booker misses.

Marvin Bagley III

Bagley has been stealing minutes from Bjelica, and at times, WCS. With Koufos back from injury, Bjelica’s minutes are the real concern here. If Bagley misses, Bjelica gets a big minutes boost and is an excellent per minute producer.

Teams/Situations to Attack or Avoid

Team Data: Pace | DEF

Trends are on the left, and pace/defensive ranks will be on the right. I flip pace ranks (i.e. 1st in pace will be 30th), so the higher the average rank, the better a team is to target with their opponent.

Noteworthy Trends

Last week, I highlighted the defensive improvements made by DAL, LAL, and MIN. It’s cool to see that all three of those teams have gotten even better defensively, since. I think LeBron realizes this Lakers team can’t take nights off defensively the way his Cavs and Heat teams could. By the way, all three of these teams also saw a decrease in pace over the past ten games.

Houston and New York continue to worsen defensively, but their steps back are nothing like what we’re currently seeing from SA and POR. I don’t know what’s going on in Portland defensively, but they were one of the better defensive teams early in the year and now own the worst past 10-day defensive rating I have seen all season from any team. Yet, the Spurs are only .1 better! Neither team plays fast, but until they figure it out defensively, both should be attacked.

While Covington’s presence continues to drive Minnesota’s defense forward, Philly is no longer feeling the effects of his loss. Their defensive rating seems to have stabilized as Jimmy Butler becomes more ingrained.

Bad Defense / Fast Pace (Attack)

The gold mine of fantasy opponents, pinpointing which teams will play at a fast pace (more possessions, more turnovers) and defend poorly is essential. I will use “Average Rank” from the table above to identify these teams. Teams with an ‘Average Rank’ of 22.5 or higher (chosen because 22.5 is 75 percent of 30) are:

  1. New Orleans Pelicans
  2. Atlanta Hawks
  3. Sacramento Kings
  4. New York Knicks
  5. Chicago Bulls
  6. Washington Wizards

The Pelicans are the most interesting team to me on this list because they’re actually a good team. For one thing, this means people may attack them less often than they should, and perhaps more importantly, play in a ton of high-scoring, close games. The other five teams on this list (with the possible exception of Sacramento), can be blown out often enough that attacking them carries some risk.

Good Defense / Slow Pace (Avoid)

Similarly, the teams with an ‘Average Rank’ at or below 7.5 (25 percent of 30) should be avoided whenever possible. Currently, these teams are:

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves
  2. Memphis Grizzlies
  3. Denver Nuggets
  4. Dallas Mavericks

Minnesota has now come full circle from being a staple in the team to attack list early in the year to headlining the teams to avoid list. This is huge. Over the next week, try hard to find ways to leverage any chalk plays against the Wolves in GPPs.

Players to Keep an Eye On

LeBron James

LeBron’s usage rate keeps climbing. It’s now 33.5 percent over the past 10 games, which only trails Harden and KD, both of whom were missing a stud teammate for most of those games.

Nikola Vucevic

I spotlighted Vuc last week, and his play merits another feature. Until Vucevic crosses the five-digit price threshold, he will be one of the first players I lock in each night.

John Collins

Collins is averaging over a fantasy point per minute this year and is averaging over 30 mpg in their last five. DK somehow dropped his price after a 37.25 DK pt, 33 min performance against Steven Adams and the Thunder. Collins is a lock for me tonight at $5300 and unless his price jumps drastically, will remain so throughout the week.

Lou Williams

Over the past ten games, Lou Williams ranks ninth in the NBA in usage at 30.4 percent. His minutes are down now that Avery Bradley is healthy, but we should expect around 25 minutes per night from Sweet Lou, and that monstrous usage rate suggests we can comfortably expect his >1 FPPM ratio to continue. Tonight, he is under $5k on DK.

Shabazz Napier

See “Joe Harris” in the Injury Section

Good luck this week and find me on Twitter @Alexblickle1!