NBA Morning Thoughts 01.03.19

NBA Morning Thoughts 01.03.19

We have ourselves a narrative-filled, three-game NBA DFS slate. Let’s get right to it…

Toronto Raptors @ San Antonio Spurs (o/u 216.5, SA -1.5)

Toronto is 10th in defensive rating, 18th in pace.

San Antonio is 19th in defensive rating, 24th in pace.

The much-anticipated matchup between off-season blockbuster trade partners has arrived. We can’t break down this matchup without mentioning both revenge-game narratives, as DeMar DeRozan and Kawhi Leonard square off against their former teams. In terms of a DFS matchup, this is a slightly better spot for Raptors players, as the Spurs have not been a consistently good defensive team all year. That being said, I don’t think there is too much of a difference between how these two teams currently play. Kyle Lowry is listed as doubtful.

I’m leading off with Kawhi Leonard. Kawhi doesn’t seem like the type who will actively want to destroy his former team and coach, but I’m sure there is a part of him that is still frustrated with their front office and fan base. While a revenge game is always fun, Kawhi is in play tonight because of his price and his matchup. The Spurs have struggled against wings all year and Kawhi remains one of the cheaper studs on the night. He’s too cheap on DK, priced at $8800. On FD Kawhi’s $10300 price tag is still in play, it’s just not as appealing as his DK price.

I’m more interested in Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka on DK, but I don’t think either are egregiously priced on either site. This isn’t the greatest spot for either, as the Spurs get their shots blocked on average 4.4 times per game, sixth lowest in the NBA, and are first in TOV%. That means they don’t turn the ball over and don’t get their shots blocked, and that will limit the upside for both Siakam and Ibaka.

Danny Green and Norman Powell are two cheap targets worth considering. Green plays a lot of minutes, and perhaps facing his former team will lead to a production bump. Norman Powell has seen 22 minutes in back-to-back games, and is a capable producer. At his price, 22-ish minutes is enough for him to hit value on a small slate.

Greg Monroe is a puntable center. He should get about 18 minutes, which is enough for him to provide any sort of value, especially in a pace-down game vs the Spurs.

I’m off on Fred VanVleet, as his production just doesn’t match his price. I like his minutes, but there is nothing to suggest that this is a ceiling game for him.

The player who really has a revenge game narrative on his hands is DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan was NOT happy when Toronto dealt him, and I’m sure he’ll come out firing tonight. While Pop is a disciplinarian at times, he’s also a player’s coach and understands a player’s mentality well. That leads me to think that Pop will focus his game plan even more so on DeRozan in this matchup. I’d expect DeRozan to be high owned, considering the size of this slate and his narrative.

LaMarcus Aldridge has been on a bit of a heater, averaging 52.2 FD points and 50.58 DK points in his last three outings. FD has priced Aldridge up to $9k and that’s tough for me to stomach, even when factoring in that Toronto has struggled vs opposing bigs this year. On DK priced at $7400, Aldridge is a bit more appealing — 5x his FD salary is strong upside at his DK price.

The emergence of Derrick White has begun and it’s here to stay. When Dejounte Murray tore his ACL we kept hearing about how much Pop “liked” White, and that White was a “breakout candidate” this year. Unfortunately for White, that optimism diminished after his injury. Now seemingly healthy, White is playing 25-30 minutes a game and producing consistently well. FD has priced up White at $6100, while DK has kept White’s price down at $4700. White is firmly in play on both sites for me, as I’d rather spend $400 more and target him over FVV on FD, and a sub $5k White on DK offers cap relief and strong upside.

Rudy Gay is listed as questionable, but all reports suggest he’s closer to doubtful. If Gay can’t go, Davis Bertans will likely see 25+ minutes at low cost. Bertans offers cap relief and upside to help fit in some stars on a small slate. Bryn Forbes will also see a minutes bump if Gay can’t go. Forbes continues to be a usable cheap PG. On DK, I’d rather spend $300 more for White.

Denver Nuggets @ Sacramento Kings (o/u 227.5, DEN -2.5)

Denver is 8th in defensive rating, 26th in pace.

Sacramento is 22nd in defensive rating, 2nd in pace.

The non-primetime game is potentially the most appealing DFS game of the slate. The Nuggets find themselves in an elite pace-up spot vs the Kings. The Kings are the ideal team to attack, with their bad defense and high pace. One potential issue with targeting Nuggets players is that they are moderately healthy now, which complicates their rotation. It’s a bit crazy to think that it’s plausible to have zero Nuggets exposure vs the Kings tonight.

Pre Harris and Millsap return, Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic would have been locks in my lineup vs the Kings. Both are still firmly in play, but Murray is a bit too pricey for me at $8k on FD and $7300 on DK. While Murray is tough to trust and overpriced, there is no denying that this is an elite matchup. I’m less concerned about Harris and Millsap’s return when considering Jokic. Jokic is also in an elite spot, and is a much more consistent producer. With so many studs available tonight, I’d expect Jokic to be on the lower-owned side, as he’s not particularly easy to squeeze into your lineups.

Gary Harris is an interesting GPP “dart” at $4800 on both sites. We know Harris is not a $4800 type player, but he will be on a minutes limit. The 20 minutes in his return is encouraging, and if that’s bumped to 25 I’d argue that’s enough for him to see value, especially vs a team like the Kings.

I’d expect we see Paul Millsap’s minutes jump a bit in his third game back.  Millsap is a huge risk, and his appeal is strictly in GPP’s as you try and get him at low cost and ownership for his breakout game.

With Harris back it’s tough to trust Monte Morris, Malik Beasley, Torrey Craig, and Juancho Hernangomez. I trust Morris the most, though Beasley has been the most productive of late.

As good of a matchup as this is for the Nuggets, on paper it’s not a good matchup for Kings players. An important stat that is worth noting: The Nuggets are 23rd in the NBA in defensive rating over their last seven games. That’s not great.

I love Fox, you love Fox, everyone loves De’Aaron Fox. Fox is pricey but considering the Nuggets have always been a team you can attack at PG, he is firmly in play. If you can afford it, I’d prefer to target Fox over Murray.

Nemanja Bjelica continues to produce whenever the minutes are there, but predicting when the minutes are there is the challenge. With the way Denver lines up with two traditional bigs, I think this is a spot where Bjelica is around the 30-minute mark, which is plenty for him at his price.

I’m off on both Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield, I’d rather spend up on different SGs. If you’re looking for a cheap SG, Iman Shumpert has produced fairly well in his last three games. I don’t trust him, but we’re going to have to find a place to save somewhere on this slate.

I’m also fairly off on Willie Cauley-Stein. I don’t like playing bigs vs Jokic, as he brings them away from the rim, and his high-post usage limits his opponent’s rebounding and defensive upside. I’d rather spend up on Jokic or Capela, or just punt the center position.

Houston Rockets @ Golden State Warriors (o/u 225.5, GS -8)

Houston is 24th in defensive rating, 28th in pace.

Golden State is 15th in defensive rating, 10th in pace.

I’m a fan of the Rockets and Warriors rivalry, and always enjoy seeing this matchup on the slate. Unfortunately, this is always a tricky matchup to break down, as it’s loaded with high priced studs. This is a decent pace-up spot for the Rockets. We’ve seen Mike D’Antoni bring the pace to a crawl when these two teams meet, especially in the playoffs. But I think that will only happen if it’s close late, or the Rockets are up. Otherwise, I expect a free-flowing game. Chris Paul and Eric Gordon remain out.

What James Harden has been doing has been nuts. There’s not much to say or break down, it’s just fun to watch. He is far and away the top player on the slate. In GPP’s, there’s a case to be made that fading Harden let’s you load up on other studs, with the real chance the Warriors run away with this game, thus limiting Harden’s much needed upside at his price. On FD I’d expect Harden to actually be lower owned than expected, as $13k is A LOT. The $11k on DK is much more manageable. Regardless of his price and value, Harden is most likely going to be the highest fantasy point scorer of the night, and on a small slate that is important.

While I constantly preach I don’t like targeting bigs vs the Warriors, Clint Capela might be an exception for me tonight.

Capela’s historical numbers vs the Warriors are not good, and he was under 30 fantasy points on both sites in their previous meeting this year. So why the Capela intrigue tonight? Well, the Warriors have been playing a traditional big for longer stretches this year, and Capela is an improved player who is more of a focal point on offense with CP3 out. Do I love Capela tonight? No, but I think his floor and upside are there and I’d expect most to punt at center tonight, meaning we could get Capela at appealing ownership. He is also too cheap on DK, priced at $6900.

PJ Tucker is a bit of a boom or bust option, but fits the mold of an undersized big capable of switching on the perimeter vs the Warriors. Tucker also has appeal as a sub $4500 PF who plays 35+ minutes.

With Gordon out, Austin Rivers is locked into strong minutes at close to minimum price on FD. On DK, Rivers is usable but not nearly as appealing. I don’t like Rivers, but 35+ minutes at $3800 offers cap relief and upside in an appealing game environment. I’d expect Rivers to be high owned. Gerald Green is also a usable punt for the Rockets.

With James Ennis expected to return, I’m a bit worried about Danuel House.

The Warriors are at home and facing a bad Rockets defense, so this is a fairly good spot for them. Some risks with targeting Warriors: Picking the wrong one, and the blowout potential.

I truly dislike having to pick between Steph Curry and Kevin Durant. After Durant was on a bit of a hot streak it’s been all Curry the last two games. Personally, I think this is a better matchup for Curry, as Austin Rivers is a worse defender then the multitude of Rockets players (House, Ennis, etc) that will be on Durant. Is it a strong preference? Not particularly.

In the past I have always loved to target Draymond Green in primetime TNT games against elite Western Conference opponents, and that still holds somewhat true tonight. Draymond quite frankly doesn’t look great on the court. His shot is broken and his rebounding numbers have been down, which has limited his upside. On DK, Draymond will be high owned, as I expect everyone to gravitate to his sub $6k price tag. On FD, $6900 is a real debate. I think it’s doable and there is a real path to 40+ fantasy points for him in this spot, but I no longer trust him.

Klay Thompson won’t be a priority for me but he’s more than usable in GPP’s, as he’s always capable of getting hot. Typically vs the Rockets I tend to stay away from Klay, as most of his effort goes into defending James Harden.

Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell are puntable centers worth considering. Looney is the safer target.

SUMMARY

Teams to Attack

Kings, Rockets

Blowout Potential

Rockets @ Warriors

Top Targets

PG: Steph Curry, De’Aaron Fox, Derrick White

SG: James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Austin Rivers (fd)

SF: Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Nemanja Bjelica, Gary Harris

PF: Draymond Green

C: Nikola Jokic, Clint Capela, Punts(Monroe/Looney/Bell)

Good luck!

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