NBA Morning Thoughts 01.08.19

NBA Morning Thoughts 01.08.19

A surprisingly large eight-game Tuesday NBA DFS slate on our hands, featuring three games with serious blowout potential and a new head coach. Let’s get right to it…

Indiana Pacers @ Cleveland Cavaliers (o/u 208, IND -10.5)

Indiana is 2nd in defensive rating, 25th in pace.

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

The Pacers head to Cleveland a bit banged up as 10-point road favorites. While the Cavs are one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA I don’t have a ton of interest in Pacers players unless multiple Pacers are scratched. Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, and Myles Turner are questionable.

If Collison and Joseph are scratched we will see Victor Oladipo take more ball-handling responsibilities with Aaron Holiday and Tyreke Evans seeing more minutes. In this scenario I’d be ok targeting any of the three, Holiday is a decent punt. Victor Oladipo has surprisingly only played 1.5 minutes without Joseph and Collison, so there isn’t much historical data to back the thought process.

If either Darren Collison or Cory Joseph sits, then the other would see an appealing minutes bump. They both eat into each other’s minutes and production which keeps their prices low. When one sits, it becomes the perfect opportunity to exploit the other’s down price.

If Myles Turner can’t go Domantas Sabonis would become an elite target at PF. Sabonis is a production monster and would be locked in to around 30 minutes. Another stat worth noting is Sabonis is actually the biggest beneficiary if Collison and/or Joseph were to miss time as Sabonis sees a +16.8% usage jump with them off the floor. The Cavs slow pace seems to limit opposing bigs, but Sabonis is well worth paying up for in this scenario.

If Myles Turner can’t go Kyle O’Quinn becomes a usable punt. Anytime KOQ sees any sort of minutes, he produces. No Turner would ensure him 15-20 minutes and potentially more if the Pacers run away with it.

This is a brutal matchup for the Cavaliers, facing one of the league’s top defensive units in a slow paced game. I have close to zero interest in targeting Cavs players.

With Rodney Hood and David Nwaba out and Patrick McCaw waived the only two Cavaliers I have any interest in are Alec Burks and Jordan Clarkson. Both are cheap scorers who will see strong minutes at low cost. No matter what the matchup is, that has some appeal.

Washington Wizards @ Philadelphia 76ers (n/a)

Washington is 27th in defensive rating, 9th in pace.

Philadelphia is 11th in defensive rating, 7th in pace.

This is one of those matchups that carry a ton of DFS appeal but is a bit of a challenge to target with so many high priced targets in it. While the Sixers are rated as a strong defensive team they are susceptible to strong opposing players fantasy production because of their top 10 pace.

Since John Wall went down Bradley Beal has averaged around 45.9 Fantasy Points per game. At his FD price, Beal is too much for me at $9800. On DK, however, Beal is still priced right in range at $8900. The only way the Wizards stay in this game is if Beal is able to score, so he’s a strong DK target.

Otto Porter Jr. is still priced at a discount after his big outing last game. Porter’s minutes haven’t been great since returning from injury but his production has been very strong. Still priced down on both sites I expect Porter to see more minutes, he’s an elite target at his down price.

Jeff Green and Trevor Ariza are usable middle priced SFs. I just prefer other targets at their position in their price range.

I love attacking the Wizards, and the Sixers are the beneficiaries of this beautiful matchup. It appears both Jimmy Butler and Wilson Chandler will return to action in this game.

The Wizards are ranked 30th in the NBA in rebounding percentage, which makes a lot of sense when you think about the lack of size on their roster. I’m sure you can put the pieces together here: Joel Embiid is an elite target. The Wizards have no one who can stop him, and Embiid will be a problem everywhere he is on the court. The only thing that will slow Embiid down is if the Sixers run away with it or if Jimmy Butler actually runs away with the ball.

Speaking of Jimmy Butler, I’m not exactly sure what to make of him. I love the matchup for him, and the fact it’s been reported he’s complained about his role to Brett Brown should mean we see more Butler shot attempts tonight. Still, he’s impossible to trust. His appeal is his sub $8k price tag on both sites. That’s low for a “normal” Jimmy Butler.

While I’m not against using him I’d rather spend up on other point guards than target Ben Simmons. This feels like an Embiid smash and/or Jimmy Butler shot attempt game, and that would mean Simmons would have to absolutely smash his peripherals to hit his ceiling. It’s possible, I just would rather spend elsewhere.

With Chandler and Butler back I have no interest in the Sixers values besides for TJ McConnell.

Atlanta Hawks @ Toronto Raptors (o/u 228, TOR -14.5)

Atlanta is 24th in defensive rating, 1st in pace.

Toronto is 10th in defensive rating, 19th in pace.

BLOWOUT ALERT. While the previous two game breakdowns feature some blowout potential, this one features a lot more. For the Hawks, they are banged up and in a bad spot vs a good defensive team. The positive for Hawks players is that they are all blowout-proof, so we don’t need to worry about their regulars seeing limited minutes.

With Bazemore and Prince still out Kevin Huerter and DeAndre Bembry should continue to see strong minutes. Huerter is no longer super cheap but is still priced well at $5k on FD and $4700 on DK. Huerter is averaging 38 minutes in his last four games — those are elite minutes and he should remain in that range again tonight. Bembry will likely remain in that 22-28 minute range, which is plenty for him to hit his ceiling.

The Hawks duo at center, Alex Len and DeWayne Dedmon, continues to carry some DFS appeal even after poor production in the last game. Dedmon is a bit banged up which could potentially lead to a few added minutes for Len. If Dedmon is scratched because of his ankle, Len would become a top target at center.

Trae Young carries his usual GPP appeal especially on DK priced at $5900 with -.5 turnovers and +.5 3PT bonus.

I’m off on John Collins as he’s still priced up and has failed to see 30 minutes in any of his last three games. Once Collins’ price starts to drop I will be back in on him.

The Hawks are 1st in pace, 24th in defensive rating, 30th in turnover percentage, and 23rd in true shooting percentage — it doesn’t get any better in DFS than a Hawks matchup. The issue for the Raptors is the blowout, and it’s a real risk. A good example is the Hawks vs Bucks game , which was over after the 1st quarter.

If the Hawks are able to stay in this game, Kawhi Leonard will smash. He’s a steals machine in a pace-up game vs the most turnover prone team in the NBA. Sign me up for that. The risk with Kawhi is he has the potential to do what Giannis did the other day vs Atlanta, produce 40-45 fantasy points in 20 minutes and sit the final 1.5 quarters. Still, I like taking the risk on Kawhi.

Because of the Hawks fast pace and propensity for turning the ball over, Pascal Siakam is an intriguing target even with his price up on both sites. Siakam can score, rebound, and produce defensively well, it’s an elite matchup for him.

If you’re expecting this game to be over after the first 12 minutes, Greg Monroe is a usable GPP punt/dart at center.

I’m off on Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. I don’t think this game stays close and there’s not enough production to go around for the entire team in limited minutes. There’s no denying that this is an elite matchup  for both, we’ve also seen both sort of coast vs inferior opponents.

Denver Nuggets @ Miami Heat (o/u 209.5, MIA -1.5)

Denver is 9th in defensive rating, 27th in pace.

Miami is 6th in defensive rating, 21st in pace.

Only one team description is needed here, as these two teams are very similar in terms of metrics. Expect this game to be a slow-paced defensive grind, and that typically doesn’t translate well in NBA DFS. We have some juicy matchups tonight, and this is not one of them. I don’t mind steering completely clear of this game. The Nuggets are also on a second night of a back to back.

Nikola Jokic has seen a fairly noticeable production drop on the tail-end of a back to back, and at his elevated price in a sub-optimal matchup Jokic isn’t the slam dunk he has been the last week and a half. The increased health of the Nuggets, his back to back numbers, and matchup don’t justify paying up for his price UNLESS coach Mike Malone decides to rest Gary Harris and Paul Millsap, both whom have just returned from injury.

The Heat have struggled to defend scoring PGs and SGs all year, and this puts Jamal Murray on my radar. As always, Murray is more of a GPP target, but if you’re looking for a low owned PG priced under $8k with 50+ point upside, Murray is your guy.

The Heat are a complete fade for me as they play a lot of guys around 20-25 minutes per game with an at times inconsistent rotation. That coupled with the tough Denver matchup and…no thanks. If you’re desperate for Heat exposure Josh Richardson  and Justise Winslow are the only two Heat players seeing consistent minutes.

Minnesota Timberwolves @ Oklahoma City Thunder (o/u 224.5, OKC -8)

Minnesota is 16th in defensive rating, 12th in pace.

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

The T-Wolves head into today a bit of a mystery with Thibs gone and Ryan Saunders in as the interim head coach. Saunders has said he wants the T-Wolves to play with more pace and adapt to the “new-school NBA.” I also think it’s worth noting that T-Wolves players have a close relationship with Saunders — Tyus Jones and Andrew Wiggins attended his wedding. Here’s a quote from Wiggins: “I trust him. I have a good relationship with him…I feel like we’re all in a special situation. A blessed situation. I think it’ll be positive, I think it’ll be good for us.”

So, do we see an engaged Andrew Wiggins tonight? Based off that quote and what I keep reading I think we do, yes. Increased pace, which is something Saunders has said himself he wants to accomplish, will help Wiggins, as it’s hard to be disengaged when playing that sort of basketball. Wiggins is obviously a risk but he’s super interesting to me.

With Derrick Rose out I’d expect Jeff Teague to be on the fairly high owned side even with his elevated price. Teague has back to back 40+ fantasy outings since his return and has yet to see 30+ minutes. One worry I have with Teague is the relationship Jones and Saunders have, I do however think that will effect Okogie and/or Taj Gibson more so then Teague.

Karl-Anthony Towns is on an all-time heater, averaging around 67 fantasy points in his last six games. Target KAT with confidence even in a not so great Thunder matchup. Towns should also benefit from Saunders’ pace-centric system.

I expect we see a tougher Timberwolves defense tonight, as it appears the players will try harder under Saunders, and that’s a big part of defense. Still, this is a pace-friendly game, Thunder players are in an elite spot.

Russell Westbrook is the top player on the slate for me. Everything I’ve heard about Ryan Saunders and how the T-Wolves are expected to play should also help their opposing teams’ fantasy production. I expect this game to be a pace friendly back and forth affair, and that bodes well for Russell Westbrook’s fantasy production. Russ has triple-doubled in three of his last four, and I think he might make that four out of his last five.

With that same logic, we can target Paul George with confidence. I’d rather target Westbrook over George tonight, but it’s worth noting the Thibs T-Wolves were one of the worst teams in the NBA defending the wing. It’s an elite spot for George.

Dennis Schroder made me eat crow last game and has struggled his last three games. Still, I think Schroder is a decent GPP target at SG at his sub $5500 price tag on both sites.

I prefer targeting Jerami Grant in pace-friendly contests, and this fits that bill. Grant is priced fairly appealingly on both sites.

I’m pretty off on Steven Adams tonight as I think the T-Wolves will play less of Gibson and potentially more of Dario Saric, or go smaller. If that’s the case, then Adams will be away from the rim defending KAT.

Sacramento Kings @ Phoenix Suns (n/a)

Sacramento is 23rd in defensive rating, 2nd in pace.

Devin Booker is 28th in defensive rating, 16th in pace.

The Kings find themselves in an elite matchup vs a Suns team that remains terrible defensively. One note of concern for the Kings — this is the second night of a back to back for them, something they’ve struggled with this year.

With Iman Shumpert out we can continue to target Bogdan Bogdanovic with confidence. Bogdan is an elite target on both sites, as he should see 32+ minutes vs a terrible defensive team. Bogdan remains too cheap on DK at $5900.

I typically don’t like targeting De’Aaron Fox on the second night of a back to back, but he’s too cheap on DK in this sort of matchup. I’d expect Fox to be fairly high owned. He’s a strong target.

It was Willie Cauley-Stein and Nemanja Bjelica who were clearly affected by the return of Marvin Bagley last night and not Justin Jackson. Bagley is expected to continue to have a minutes limit. Unless Bagley is out I don’t think we can trust either of them. Buddy Hield remains a bit too pricey for me. I’d rather target Bogdanovic.

The Suns are also in an elite spot as they are the beneficiaries of the Kings frantic pace. The issue with the Suns is the unknown of Devin Booker’s status. Booker is currently listed as questionable as he’s had back spasms flare up of late. I don’t think Booker is too hurt, but I’m of the thinking he sits this game out. Still, this is something we must monitor throughout the day.

Regardless of Booker’s status, TJ Warren is an elite target. I have no idea what FD is doing with TJ Warren’s price as they refuse to move it off of $6200. Warren has been producing well, is priced down, and in an elite matchup. Sign me up for that. On DK, Warren is still firmly in play at $7100. You can target him with confidence at that price.

If Devin Booker is deemed good to go it’s tough to fade him vs the Kings unless he’s assigned a minutes limit. The uncertainty regarding Booker is frustrating in such a smash spot, and still that could mean we get Booker at lower ownership.

If Booker can’t go De’Anthony Melton would be a really appealing value PG. Melton would see strong minutes in an elite matchup.

We can also target De’Andre Ayton with confidence vs the Kings. The Kings are 15th in TS% which isn’t bad, but when you factor that into their 104.93 pace number then that equals a lot of rebounding opportunities. Ayton has been producing well and should be around the rim all game, I’d expect him to be heavily owned.

A GPP punt worth considering if Booker is scratched is Jamal Crawford. Crawford has shown spurts of strong production throughout the year, the pace-up matchup would help him with his increased minutes and usage.

New York Knicks @ Golden State Warriors (o/u 230, GS -17.5)

New York is 29th in defensive rating, 13th in pace.

Golden State is 18th in defensive rating, 10th in pace.

MAJOR BLOWOUT ALERT. The Warriors are 17.5 home favorites which I think is the highest I’ve seen thus far in the year. I don’t expect this game to stay close, and the Knicks are also on the second half of a back to back tonight. Still, this game will feature A LOT of scoring, so there is some DFS interest.

I’d expect Noah Vonleh and Kevin Knox to see a lot of minutes regardless of the score. I don’t see how Dave Fizdale can leave Luke Kornet and Enes Kanter in the game for long stretches while the game stays competitive, and that should leave Vonleh playing the 5 and Knox playing the 4 a lot. I much rather target Vonleh as he’s been a consistent source of production, Knox is a huge risk and more of a GPP differentiator.

Because it’s the second of a back to back and there is major blowout risk, I’m a bit concerned about Emmanuel Mudiay and Tim Hardaway Jr. For that reason I think Allonzo Trier, Trey Burke, and Damyean Dotson are all interesting super cheap GPP darts tonight. The logic is simple: There will be lots of points scored in this game and a lot of those points will be uncompetitive points. Trier, Burke, and Dotson are all capable scorers who could see 20+ minutes if the Warriors are up 20+ by halftime. The Warriors also tend to clown around vs bad teams which typically leads to strong production from said bad team.

If the Knicks were any good or if this game was being played in Madison Square Garden this would be beyond an elite matchup for the Warriors. But since the Knicks are terrible and are a long shot to keep this game close, it’s hard for me to pay up for three quarters of their studs.

Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are simply GPP targets for me. Like I said, it’s a smash spot but it’s hard to see one specific Warriors player going off and this game staying remotely close. If you’re targeting Warriors studs it’s hard to not have a Knicks player or two in there.

The Warriors seem to love getting Klay Thompson going vs bad teams, and this fits that bill. Klay carries appealing GPP upside and if Klay gets hot early it wouldn’t shock me to see Klay score 40+ in this matchup.

Charlotte Hornets @ Los Angeles Clippers (o/u 230, LAC -6.5)

Charlotte is 19th in defensive rating, 8th in pace.

Los Angeles is 21st in defensive rating, 14th in pace.

Over the last 15 games the Clippers are ranked 28th in defensive rating and fifth in pace, so this is an ELITE matchup for the Hornets.

The Clippers have consistently been torched by opposing PGs all year and the Hornets have one of my favorite DFS PGs in Kemba Walker. Kemba is an elite play tonight and will likely go under owned because of positional strength and recency bias. It’s true, Kemba has been bad in his last 4 games, that doesn’t mean Kemba is no longer capable of producing. This is a perfect bounce back spot for Kemba who has also seen his price drop just a touch. Love Kemba tonight, he’s an elite target.

The Clippers are also one of the worst teams vs opposing centers putting Bismack Biyombo and Willy Hernangomez firmly in play as strong value centers. I still slightly prefer Biyombo as I think his minutes are more secure but Willy carries more scoring upside. You can target both with confidence.

Since Cody Zeller got hurt Marvin Williams has produced a bit more consistently and has even seen some small-ball 5 minutes. I like Williams here as a middle priced PF. I don’t trust him but the path to 30+ fantasy points is there.

We need to monitor the status of Jeremy Lamb throughout the day, if Lamb can’t go Devonte’ Graham would remain a decent value.

For the Clippers, this is an ok sport as the Hornets play fast but struggle defensively. The issue with the Clippers is they are a fairly deep team with multiple players priced up and capable of producing.

If I’m targeting a Clippers player the player I want his Tobias Harris. After a string of poor performances Tobias produced well last game vs Orlando, I expect Tobias to carry that strong scoring performance into tonight. Sneakily, the Hornets give up the 4th most FD and DK points to opposing NBA teams. This is an elite spot for Harris.

On DK, Montrezl Harrell is too cheap priced at $6200. Harrell is an elite target at that price range.

I get the appeal when considering Danilo Gallinari and like Tobias Harris this is a strong matchup for him but I just have a hard time paying up for Gallo at his current price on both sites.


Teams to Attack

Wizards, Hawks, T-Wolves, Kings, Suns, Knicks, Clippers

Blowout Potential

Knicks @ Warriors, Hawks @ Raptors, Pacers @ Cavs, Wizards @ Sixers

Top Targets

PG: Russell Westbrook, Kemba Walker, De’Aaron Fox, Darren Collison/Cory Joseph (if 1 out), De’Anthony Melton (if Booker out)

SG: Bradley Beal (dk), Devin Booker***, Klay Thompson (gpp), Bogdan Bogdanovic, Andrew Wiggins, Alec Burks, Aaron Holiday (if DC + CoJo out)

SF: Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, TJ Warren, Otto Porter Jr.,

PF: Tobias Harris, Domantas Sabonis, Montrezl Harrell (dk), Jerami Grant,

C: Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, De’Andre Ayton, Willy Hernangomez, Bismack Biyombo, Kyle O’Quinn (if Turner out)