NBA Morning Thoughts 01.02.19

NBA Morning Thoughts 01.02.19

Unsurprisingly, I initially got the date wrong in the title. Welcome to 2019, and as we all slowly begin our realization that the holiday season has officially ended, allow me to guide you through the process of building your NBA DFS lineups. Let’s get right to it…

Miami Heat @ Cleveland Cavaliers (o/u 204.5, MIA -6.5)

Miami is 7th in defensive rating, 21st in pace.

Cleveland is 30th in defensive rating, 29th in pace.

Miami heads to Cleveland and finds themselves in a good spot against the Cavs and their 30th ranked defense. While Cleveland can be exposed on the defensive end, their slow pace limits some of the Miami Heat players upside.

With Goran Dragic’s continued absence Justise Winslow has taken the reigns as the Heat PG. Winslow is far from a value on either site, priced at $7100 on FD and $6900 on DK, but the opportunity for production is clearly there for him vs a team like Cleveland. Winslow had a 50 burger vs Cleveland last week. One important note, Dion Waiters may return for this game. I’d expect him to be limited, but depending on his minutes limit he could have an impact on Winslow.

It’s rare we see Hassan Whiteside priced this low on both sites and centers have struggled to produce vs Cleveland, as Nance and Frye’s mobility has limited their rebounding. Still, Whiteside is cheap and carries his typical Whiteside upside. He’s a GPP target at center.

Depending on Waiter’s availability and/or how limited he will be, Tyler Johnson and Dwyane Wade are usable cheap guards.

On DK, priced at $6800, Josh Richardson is a little more in play than on FD at $7700. Still, I’m not actively looking to get JRich in my lineups.

With Rodney Hood potentially returning in this game, the appeal to target Cavaliers players continues to be less and less. In terms of the matchup, this isn’t a particularly good one, as the Heat have been playing at much slower pace of late and continue to be a good defensive team.

The one Cavaliers player we can count on is Larry Nance Jr., especially if Ante Zizic remains out. Bigs have had success against Miami this year, and Nance’s ability to produce across all categories elevates his floor. Nance’s risk is his coach, as Larry Drew has shown time and time again he will pull Nance in favor of Zizic. If Whiteside is dominating with his size there is the potential for that tonight.

Alec Burks and Jordan Clarkson would remain in play for me if Rodney Hood remains out. If Hood plays I’m off on the rest of the Cavs, as Patrick McCaw and Hood would just complicate the rotation. None would be worth the risk.

Atlanta Hawks @ Washington Wizards (o/u 229.5, WAS -4)

Atlanta is 25th in defensive rating, 1st in pace.

Washington is 28th in defensive rating, 9th in pace.

This is quite the NBA DFS game to target, as both teams play with a ton of pace and with terrible defense. With John Wall out it wouldn’t shock me to see the Wizards begin to improve on the defensive end. The Hawks come into this game with a ton of injuries and are a good source of value tonight.

With Bazemore and Prince out, DeAndre Bembry should continue to be locked into 25+ minutes a game for the near future. Bembry’s defensive potential offers the most appealing upside of any Hawks player not named John Collins. And Bembry has had monster production in short spurts all year, his stabilized minutes give him a decent floor. Bembry’s $4200 on DK is an elite price, and he’s in play on FD priced at $5500. Dewayne Dedmon’s status could also have an impact on Bembry’s minutes.

No Bazemore will lead to strong minutes for Kevin Huerter. The Wizards provide an elite matchup for the Hawks players, and this is a good spot for Huerter and his extended minutes. Expect Huerter to be a fairly-popular target.

It’s crucial we monitor Dedmon’s status. If he can’t go, Alex Len would remain an appealing, cheap center worth considering. Len has proven his upside when the minutes are there, and the minutes would be there without Dedmon playing.

The future of the Hawks seems to ride with Trae Young and John Collins. While this is a strong matchup for Collins, it’s tough to make him a priority at his price and with so many cheap Hawks available. Still, Collins continues to produce and is in a good matchup. Young has shown a moderate level of consistency in his last three games. He has seen a slight price bump, and I still don’t trust him, but this is an elite spot for Trae and he will continue to see a usage bump with Bazemore and Prince out.

The Wizards also happen to find themselves in an elite spot, as the Hawks are potentially my favorite team to attack in DFS ever, as they play at the fastest pace, are 30th in TOV%, and 23rd in TS%. What does that mean? They turn the ball over the most, are the 23rd least efficient team in the NBA, and play the most possessions out of any team. That’s a good recipe.

With Wall officially out for the year, Bradley Beal has officially been handed the reins to the team. FD has priced Beal up at $9800, making him a bit more difficult to stomach. On DK priced at $8400, Beal is firmly in play. That’s an elite price for Beal considering the matchup and usage bump. Beal is still doable on FD, he’s just a bit riskier.

Tomas Satoransky is an elite target on DK, priced at $4600, and is firmly in play on FD at $6500. I’m not exactly sure what DK is doing by not pricing Satoransky up, so expect him to be high owned, as that is a price to exploit, especially vs a team like the Hawks. While at first glance $6500 my seem steep for Satoransky, I don’t think that is too much for him, especially vs Atlanta. There’s a path to 35+ FD points for him and attacking Atlanta at PG is typically a sound strategy.

With Otto Porter Jr. returning, it complicates Jeff Green and Trevor Ariza’s minutes. With Markieff out I still expect the three of them to split minutes at the 3 and 4, with Green potentially getting some run as the Wizards small ball 5. Porter’s return will also have an impact on Thomas Bryant depending on what his minutes limit is set at. I think Green and Ariza are still usable. I’d prefer to wait and see on Thomas Bryant on FD, as he’s priced a bit up. On DK, Bryant is fine to target at $4700.

Dallas Mavericks @ Charlotte Hornets (o/u 220, CHA -2.5)

Dallas is 14th in defensive rating, 11th in pace.

Charlotte is 16th in defensive rating, 15th in pace.

The Luka train heads to Charlotte in a mediocre matchup vs the Hornets. I’m not afraid of attacking the Hornets by any means, but I have minimal interest in targeting Mavericks players at the moment, as their rotation is a bit tricky.

DeAndre Jordan is priced at his low on FD. While this isn’t a matchup to drool over, Jordan is noticeably more athletic than Willy Hernangomez. Jordan has seen a slight price jump on DK, but is still priced fairly cheap at $6500.

With Dennis Smith Jr. back in the picture I’m staying away from Luka Doncic. I love Luka and his price has dropped a touch, but we’ve seen his upside limited with Dennis Smith in the lineup. Dennis is priced appealingly and I’d expect his minutes to jump in this game. His risk, though, remains his minutes. He’s a GPP target.

The Hornets are banged up and provide some interesting value on the slate. In terms of their matchup vs Dallas, Dallas is a decent defensive team that plays at a good pace. It’s an ok spot for Hornets players. Jeremy Lamb is doubtful and Cody Zeller is out.

Kemba Walker is not cheap, but if you’re paying up for a PG, Kemba is a good one to pay for. Kemba is ninth in the NBA in usage percentage at 29.9%, which should go up with Lamb unlikely to play. Versus PGs the Mavericks are bottom 10 in the NBA in DvP, so this is a good spot for Kemba.

With Lamb doubtful, Malik Monk is a strong value SG worth considering. Monk should see around 25 minutes, and he’s priced close to the minimum on DK. On FD, Monk isn’t THAT cheap priced at $4600. Still, there is a path to upside for him at that price.

It’s worth noting Devonte’ Graham has seen extended minutes in his last two games. With Lamb unlikely to play and Graham seemingly a part of the Hornets rotation Graham could find himself in the 20 minute range again.

I think Nic Batum has the opportunity to be the biggest beneficiary of Lamb potentially being sidelined. Lamb is a good rebounding guard who also touches the ball a lot. No Lamb would lead to Batum crashing the defensive glass a bit more, and see more ball handling opportunities. Batum is dirt cheap, and he’s one of my favorite targets on the slate. The risk with Batum remains the same, as he has shown very little aggression on the offensive end, making him tough to trust to produce.

No Zeller should lead to Willy Hernangomez getting the start. Willy has proven to be a capable producer when given minutes. He’s an elite target on DK priced at $3800, though that’s more of a debate on FD, priced at $5400.

New Orleans Pelicans @ Brooklyn Nets (o/u 230.5, NO -1)

New Orleans is 26th in defensive rating, 5th in pace.

Brooklyn is 22nd in defensive rating, 22nd in pace.

Well this is certainly an appealing DFS game to target, as Anthony Davis and the Pelicans bring their high pace to Brooklyn, where DFS production comes to thrive. I don’t view this as a pace-down game for the Pelicans, as Brooklyn will play up to the Pels pace, so this is a strong matchup. The Nets always play in back-and-forth games, especially in Brooklyn, which typically gets star players engaged.

One of my mottos is “ATTACK THE NETS AT CENTER,” and this is the perfect spot to do so with Anthony Davis. I’m still hurting from his New Year’s Eve late scratch, but I’ve decided to place my blame on the Pelicans staff, as this is too good of a spot for Davis to have a biased mind. Hopefully people are still frustrated, which could lead to Davis being lower owned then he should be. Davis is far from cheap and still listed as questionable, but this matchup couldn’t get any better for him.

The Pelicans have two bigs firmly worth considering, with other being Julius Randle. Randle also sees strong minutes as the Pelicans center, and this is an elite matchup for him. While I expect both to be fairly popular targets, I don’t expect many to play both, I like that as a GPP strategy. On FD Randle isn’t easy to fit, with good value centers available tonight.

Elfrid Payton played 24 minutes in his return from his injury, and I expect that to increase tonight. Payton was out with a finger injury, so I don’t expect him to see limited minutes much longer. Payton is cheap and in an elite matchup, so he’s an interesting sub $6k PG to consider.

While his price has started to come down, I’m a bit worried about Jrue Holiday with Payton back in the picture. Jrue will still continue to produce ok, but his upside is limited. Still, I think Jrue is cash game safe, as he should see his usual high floor in an elite spot vs the Nets.

The Nets find themselves in an elite pace-up game with the luxury of also facing a bad defensive team. This is an elite spot for Nets players.

High pace and bad defense is a great recipe for a PG success in DFS. The Nets have two usable PGs in Spencer Dinwiddie and D’Angelo Russell. Both are firmly in play, but I’m thinking this is a bit more of a Russell outing, as the Pelicans typically don’t play much defense early in the game. This could lead to a Russell hot start, which typically ends with 25+ shot attempts. Russell’s price has come down too — he’s actually cheaper than Dinwiddie on DK. This is an elite spot for both, so you can target either with confidence.

With Rondae Hollis-Jefferson out, DeMarre Carroll will see a really strong minutes bump in the immediate future. Quietly, before the RHJ injury, Carroll was in the midst of a modest minutes bump. FD has priced Carroll up accordingly, but at $5100 there is still a path to upside, especially with this matchup. DK however hasn’t priced Carroll up, listing him at $4000. He is an elite target at that price.

One risk to Carroll’s potential minutes bump is Kenneth Faried, and the fact the Pelicans start both Randle and Davis. Faried played well against the Bucks, and could find himself in the Nets starting lineup to combat Randle. At the moment, Faried is an interesting GPP dart.

Joe Harris and Rodions Kurucs are both usable in this spot, and I prefer Harris. The minutes are there for both with the Nets a bit banged up. Jarrett Allen could potentially see his minutes stabilized with the Nets injuries. Still, Allen is strictly a GPP-only target at center.

Orlando Magic @ Chicago Bulls (o/u 199.5, CHI -2.5)

Orlando is 15th in defensive rating, 27th in pace.

Chicago is 18th in defensive rating, 23rd in pace.

This is a gross game to watch with some DFS appeal, as the Magic are a bit banged up at the moment, DJ Augustin and Nikola Vucevic are listed as questionable. The Bulls provide Orlando with an ok matchup, and the real appeal with Orlando would come if Vuc or DJ are scratched.

If Vucevic can’t go, Mo Bamba would be my favorite of the value centers. Bamba has been a strong point-per-minute producer, and would find himself in an elite spot vs the Bulls, who are Nets-esque vs opposing centers. Bamba would be chalky, but he’d be chalk that would be tough to fade.

If Nikola Vucevic plays he’s firmly worth considering at center. Vuc would be pricey, and a bit hobbled, but he has smashed the Bulls twice this year.

If Augustin can’t go, that would open the door for Jerian Grant to be a strong value PG worth considering. Grant isn’t anything special, but he’d provide value at his price with his expected minutes. Isaiah Briscoe played 27 minutes in DJ’s absence last game, and that to me was due more to the nature of the blowout than his role. Still, that is something worth monitoring.

If both Vuc and DJ can’t go, we would have to consider targeting both Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon. Both would become the focal point of the Magic offense, as it’s an elite spot for both players. Gordon would be an elite target at PF, as he’s priced down a touch with an elite matchup and a usage bump.

For Chicago, the Magic are not a great matchup for DFS, as they play really slow. Their slow, unexciting brand of basketball doesn’t translate well to DFS production.

Wendell Carter Jr. has played 30+ minutes in back to back games. What does this mean? Well quite frankly it could mean Jim Boylen has finally decided to unleash his rookie big man. Carter is priced up on both sites, but remains firmly in play at his current price if he is in the 30-minute range. Carter’s defensive and rebounding ability leads to intriguing upside.

Justin Holiday is cheap and continues to see big minutes. That alone carries some DFS appeal.

I’m sort of off on Dunn, LaVine, and Markkanen tonight. With all three in the picture and Carter seeing a larger role in a slow paced matchup, they’re all a bit pricey for me. Markkanen would be my favorite target of the trio.

Detroit Pistons @ Memphis Grizzlies (o/u 199, MEM -5)

Detroit is 12th in defensive rating, 18th in pace.

Memphis is 5th in defensive rating, 30th in pace.

Another Grizzlies sub-200 point total played at home. One word best describes how I feel about this matchup: RUN!

Seriously, on a big slate I don’t particularly want anything to do with the Pistons, especially since their two most usable targets are expensive bigs. There are other appealing cheap and expensive bigs littered on this slate. I can live with myself if I miss a monster Blake Griffin or Andre Drummond game here.

I don’t particularly have much interest in Grizzlies players either, as the Pistons have started to play a similar brand of “grit n’ grind” basketball, emphasizing Blake in the post. That slows the overall pace down, and couple that with the Grizzlies 30th-ranked pace, and there’s not a whole lot here.

If you’re desperate for Grizzlies exposure, the guy I’d want is Mike Conley. Conley is priced fairly on DK at $7700, and the Pistons have given up some big games to opposing PGs.

I’m off on Jaren Jackson Jr. as my typical GPP guy, as he’s prone to foul trouble, and Blake Griffin is drawing the most fouls in the NBA. JJJ’s foul trouble seems inevitable in this spot. With that same thinking that could mean more minutes for JaMychal Green. Green is nothing more than a GPP value or a “last guy in” sort of target.

Minnesota Timberwolves @ Boston Celtics (o/u 221.5, BOS -6)

Minnesota is 20th in defensive rating, 12th in pace.

Boston is 4th in defensive rating, 20th in pace.

After a string of really appealing games, we are now hitting back-to-back, not-so-great DFS matchups to target. I don’t like attacking the Celtics, especially at home. Derrick Rose is doubtful, while Jeff Teague is listed as questionable for the T-Wolves.

Wait, so we have some Thibs uncertainty, coupled with a matchup vs the Celtics in Boston!? Yeah that’s not my favorite combo. If Teague AND Rose are ruled OUT, we can target Tyus Jones with confidence on both sites even with his price bump. Jones is a capable producer and a steals machine. If Rose is ruled out and Jeff Teague IN, then Teague is fairly appealing at a reduced price. Thibs doesn’t particularly believe in limiting his players minutes, so I’m not overly concerned about Teague’s minutes unless an exact number is defined beforehand.

While Karl-Anthony Towns has been on an absolute heater of late, I’m off of him here. His price is up and I don’t think it’s necessary to spend up on him at center. Still, this isn’t too bad of a spot for Towns, as the Celtics are not a very good rebounding team, and don’t have a big that is capable of matching up with his height and athleticism.

After showing signs of improvement on the defensive end, the T-Wolves have regressed of late, so this is a good matchup for Celtics players.

It’s important we monitor the status of Kyrie Irving, as he’s listed as questionable with a scratched cornea. If Kyrie can’t go Terry Rozier would be an elite value PG on the slate. Rozier would be chalk, but he would be chalk I would absolutely not fade.

There are also rumblings of Kyrie Irving playing with a mask tonight. Masked Kyrie is a bad man. Some things in the NBA just don’t make analytical sense. Hoodie Melo and Headband Harden are two that come to mind, and masked Kyrie is right up there. Couple the mask and the matchup and Kyrie would be an appealing target. All jokes aside, “masked” games are a popular narrative among the DFS community. I’d imagine it would actually impact Kyrie’s ownership.

Marcus Morris is cheap on FD priced at $5500. He’s not a must for me, but that is a strong price for someone who has consistently produced.

Al Horford has yet to take that next minutes jump since returning from injury. It wouldn’t shock me if this was the spot to see him creep around 30. Horford is cheap on both sites considering what he is capable of doing. Still, Horford remains a risk.

Philadelphia 76ers @ Phoenix Suns (o/u 228.5, PHI -5.5)

Philadelphia is 11th in defensive rating, 8th in pace.

Phoenix is 27th in defensive rating, 17th in pace.

The Sixers are on a back to back and head to Phoenix in a strong matchup vs the Suns. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Joel Embiid sit this game out, as he played 35 minutes last game after missing the previous game with some knee pain.

If Embiid is “rested” both Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler would become intriguing targets. Simmons would be the guy I really want in an elite spot vs the Suns. Butler has been a frustrating target at times recently, but his usage bump vs a bad defensive team would make him appealing.

I’m not against targeting Joel Embiid if he plays, as this is an elite spot for him. I just don’t think it’s necessary to pay up for him tonight. I’d rather spend $10k+ on Anthony Davis.

JJ Redick is priced down a touch on both sites at $5200 on FD and $5300 on DK. Those are both strong prices for JJ, who typically has a high floor because of his scoring ability.

The Suns are in a pace-up spot vs a somewhat overrated defense in the Sixers. Targeting Suns players is fairly straight forward.

I love to target Devin Booker vs top players, and we get that tonight. Booker’s price has dropped on both sites, and while he’s still not cheap, he carries 50+ point upside at sub $9k. After a lackluster performance vs the Warriors, this seems like a nice bounce-back spot for Booker.

TJ Warren continues to consistently outperform his price without seeing any price increase. Warren is a rock solid upper middle priced SF, so this is a strong matchup for him.

A cheap sub $4500 priced SF worth considering is Mikal Bridges. Bridges continues to play big minutes at a cheap price. Besides his last game, Bridges has produced well with his minutes.

I’m only interested in Deandre Ayton if Embiid does not play. If Embiid plays I’m worried Ayton will find himself into foul trouble, as Embiid LOVES to get young talented big men in foul trouble. It’s almost become a point of pride with Embiid.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Los Angeles Lakers (o/u 230, OKC -6)

Oklahoma City is 1st in defensive rating, 4th in pace.

Los Angeles is 10th in defensive rating, 3rd in pace.

The last game of the slate is one of the most appealing games of the slate. This game only needs one team intro, as both teams play fast with good defense. This is a much tougher matchup for Lakers players, as the Thunder boast the highest defensive rating in the NBA. Both of these teams’ paces, however, outweigh the strong defense that will be played in this matchup.

Russell Westbrook returns to his hometown and finds himself in a strong matchup. While the Lakers have been a steady defensive team vs opposing PGs, this is the perfect game environment for Westbrook to thrive in. The constant, up and down, frenzied pace will allow Westbrook to produce across the board. Stars typically show up in the Staples Center. Westbrook is an elite target.

Paul George is also returning to his home state, and like Westbrook is in a really strong spot. George has been awesome all year, and that should continue tonight. He’s not cheap and not particularly easy to fit, but you can target George with confidence.

I like to target Jerami Grant in up-tempo matchups, and this fits that bill. Grant’s ability to rack up steals and blocks is what makes him an intriguing DFS target, especially on FD. Sure, he’s not THAT cheap, but Grant will play big minutes in this game environment.

The Lakers have struggled vs bigs, and Steven Adams is one of the most consistent centers in the NBA. Adams is a safe target who has a good chance to hit his ceiling in this spot.

I’d expect Dennis Schroder to be a fairly-popular target tonight, especially at his $5100 FD price tag. FD priced Schroder way down after one poor performance, and that is a price we can exploit. Schroder becomes a bit more appealing if you’re fading Westbrook.

With LeBron James out, it’s the Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram show in LA. Kuzma is the safest and my favorite of the Lakers trio, as he’s playing HUGE minutes (40+ in 3 straight games) and has yet to see a massive price increase. The Thunder are a good defensive team, but his increased role and minutes outweigh that. Lonzo and Ingram are also seeing huge minutes, so you can target them with confidence. After constantly touting him and coming off of his best game, Ingram is surprisingly my least favorite of the Lakers, as he will likely get long stints of Paul George on him.

FD finally priced Josh Hart up, and unfortunately, they priced him a bit too up for me at $6500. On DK, Hart remains firmly in play at $5200.

With JaVale McGee, back Luke Walton has taken Ivica Zubac out of the rotation. McGee is cheap on both sites and carries really appealing upside. The way the Thunder attack the basket could lead to added blocks opportunities.


Teams to Attack

Hawks, Wizards, Pelicans, Nets, T-Wolves, Suns, Lakers/Thunder matchup

Blowout Potential

Sixers @ Suns, Heat @ Cavs

Top Targets

PG: Russell Westbrook, Kemba Walker, Lonzo Ball, Tomas Satoransky

SG: Bradley Beal (dk), Devin Booker, D’Angelo Russell, Dennis Schroder (fd), Josh Hart (dk), Kevin Huerter, Malik Monk (dk)

SF: Paul George, Brandon Ingram, TJ Warren, Justise Winslow, DeAndre Bembry, Nic Batum, DeMarre Carroll (dk)

PF: Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma, Aaron Gordon (if Vuc OUT), Larry Nance Jr.

C: Karl-Anthony Towns, Julius Randle, Alex Len (if Dedmon OUT), Willy Hernangomez (dk), Mo Bamba (if Vuc OUT)