NBA Morning Thoughts 01.09.19

NBA Morning Thoughts 01.09.19

We have a 10-game NBA DFS slate on our hands, highlighted by Harden vs Giannis. Let’s get right to it…

Indiana Pacers @ Boston Celtics (o/u 212.5, BOS -6.5)

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

Boston is 3rd in defensive rating, 19th in pace.

We start the slate off with two incredibly-talented defensive Eastern Conference foes. Overall, this is far from an NBA DFS friendly game, as the Pacers slow pace coupled with both teams strong defenses will lead to less efficient offense, but also less production across the board. For the Pacers, they are on the road for a second of a back to back, which is something that has not affected them much.

It’s important we monitor the status of Myles Turner. If Turner remains out we can target Domantas Sabonis with confidence. Sabonis is just flat out solid, and the production will be there regardless of the matchup if the minutes are there.

I don’t love him here but we’ve seen Indiana lean on Victor Oladipo more so on the offensive end vs top teams. Dipo is a pricey SG with a bad matchup on paper, but he carries some GPP appeal.

The Pacers are one of my least favorite teams to attack in the NBA, and the Celtics are one of my least favorite teams to target. I’m on board with fading all Celtics here, as their deep roster eats into their individual players’ production.

If you’re desperate for Celtics exposure, then I’d look to pay up for Kyrie Irving. Irving is priced down on both sites and tends to step up vs top Eastern Conference teams. The Pacers are one of the top teams in the NBA at defending opposing PGs, but Kyrie is Kyrie. He’s matchup proof.

Philadelphia 76ers @ Washington Wizards (o/u 226, PHI -2.5)

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

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

The Sixers and Wizards are on the tail-end of a back to back and home and home. If this matchup looks familiar that’s because it should, as these two played in Philly last night. By now, we should know the deal between these two teams, as Washington provides an elite matchup for the Sixers. While Vegas seems to think the Wizards hang around, they’ve proven they couldn’t in their previous two meetings vs the Sixers. So I do believe there is a touch of blowout potential.

Yesterday we were all over Joel Embiid and for the right reasons, and then Jimmy Butler and the blowout happened. Embiid now has two 38+ fantasy performances in under 25 minutes vs the Wizards. Why? Well, Philly up big early is one reason, but it’s also coupled with the fact the Wizards play small for A LOT of the game. When the Sixers are up 16+ points, Brett Brown doesn’t see a reason to have Embiid chasing smaller players around, which is sound logic. Do I still like Embiid tonight? Yes I do, a lot, especially if this game stays close, as that same rationale also means there is no one on the Wizards who can stop him late in the game down in the low post. If Embiid is around 40 fantasy points in 23 minutes, he should be well over 50+ if in his usual 35+ minute range. Embiid’s price has dropped a touch to $10800 on both sites, and he remains an elite target, but just with some added risk.

Jimmy Butler got off to a rock-solid start last night, and then scored 13 fantasy points in the remaining three quarters. I still think the Sixers are looking to get Jimmy going, and I continue to like him vs the Wizards at his down price.

TJ McConnell remains a value PG worth considering, especially on DK priced at $3900. We also have to continue to monitor JJ Redick’s situation. If Redick can’t go, McConnell and Furkan Korkmaz see an appealing bump.

I was wrong about Ben Simmons last night, but got bailed out by the blowout, I’m going to double-down on my thinking. I still believe this is a matchup where Brett Brown wants to get Embiid and Butler as many shots as possible, meaning Simmons will have to dominate the peripherals in order to hit his ceiling. Like I said yesterday, it’s possible, but I’d rather spend up elsewhere.

I don’t have a ton to say about the Wizards except we need to monitor Otto Porter Jr.’s status throughout the day. Personally, I think Otto will sit this game out, as he’s recently returned from injury while just picking up a new injury and on the second of a back to back.

If Otto can’t go, we can target Jeff Green and Trevor Ariza. Both would be locked in to around 30-37 minutes in a pace and DFS friendly game environment.

No Otto would also lead to secure minutes for Thomas Bryant. Scott Brooks loves to play Jeff Green as his small-ball 5, and he can’t do that unless he has Otto, as I don’t think he trusts Sam Dekker in that rotation yet. Bryant seeing added minutes to matchup vs Embiid also makes a ton of sense. It’s dependent on Otto news, but Bryant has a shot at some really appealing production.

I’m in on Bradley Beal on DK, priced at $8900, I’m out on Bradley Beal on FD, priced at $10000. Beal’s risk and ceiling just aren’t worth it at his FD price tag.

Atlanta Hawks @ Brooklyn Nets (o/u 227, BK -8.5)

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

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

Well…Hello. This is a beautiful DFS game to target, as the Hawks blistering pace heads to Brooklyn where fantasy production THRIVES. On paper this appears as a pace-down game for Atlanta, but the thing with Atlanta is everyone is a pace-down game for them, so don’t over think it. The Nets will play up to the Hawks pace. With the Hawks on a back to back I do think there is a smidgen of blowout potential. The status of Kevin Huerter is crucial — something we need to monitor throughout the day.

If Huerter can’t go, Jeremy Lin would be one of my favorite targets on the slate. Let’s forget the narrative of Lin back in Brooklyn. More importantly, Lin got the spot start for Huerter last night and produced really well in his 34 minutes. First off, 34 minutes for Jeremy Lin, who has always been a capable producer, is incredibly appealing at $4400 on FD and $4200 on DK. Couple that with those 30ish minutes that will come against the Brooklyn Nets, a team that has been torched by opposing PGs all year and I’m all in. I’d expect Lin to be chalky if Huerter doesn’t play, but he’s chalk I wouldn’t avoid.

Regardless of Huerter’s status, Trae Young is interesting to me. We’ve seen Young produce well when he’s in a good matchup, and this is an elite matchup for him. He’s impossible to trust and he doesn’t play a ton of minutes, but Young carries elite GPP upside tonight.

Where else can we attack the Nets? Say it with me, at CENTER. Attack the Nets at Center! The Hawks have a tricky “three-headed” monster of a rotation at center between Alex Len, Dewayne Dedmon, and John Collins. Starting with Collins, on FD he’s a bit pricey but more than in play at $8100. On DK, Collins is priced appealingly at $7200. We know Collins is a capable producer and this is an elite matchup, so you can target him with confidence.

Len and Dedmon are GPP candidates unless one of them is scratched because of the back to back. It’s been mostly Dedmon these last few games, and for that reason I think Len sees a slight bump in minutes. We’ve seen Lloyd Pierce go with Len for longer stints, and he’s averaging around 6-7 more fantasy points on the second of back to backs. The Nets matchup just extenuates his appeal.

Another benefactor of Huerter’s potential absence is DeAndre Bembry. Bembry is a strong per minute producer and would be locked into strong minutes in a decent matchup. Bembry is an elite target if Huerter can’t go.

The Nets are absolutely in an elite matchup vs the Hawks. I’m going to continue to say it over and over: I love attacking the Hawks because they are first in pace, 24th in defensive rating, 30th in turnover percentage, and 23rd in true shooting percentage.

Coming off of his expected occasional down game, I’m back on D’Angelo Russell tonight and the Hawks matchup is a big reason why. Russell typically thrives in pace-up games having smashed the Pelicans recently, and the Lakers, and the Hawks earlier. The Hawks face the easiest path to DFS success for Russell.

DeMarre Carroll and Joe Harris are expected to return to action tonight, and Carroll is an intriguing lower middle priced SF worth considering. With Rondae Hollis-Jefferson out, Carroll should be locked into around 25-30 minutes, and that’s typically enough to hit his upside at $5400 on FD and $5500 on DK.

At $5800 on FD and $5700 on DK, Jarrett Allen offers elite GPP upside. The Hawks play a traditional big for the majority of the game so Allen should see strong minutes and be around the rim a lot. The Hawks pace leads to added rebounds, steals, and blocks, which will help Allen hit his ceiling.

San Antonio Spurs @ Memphis Grizzlies (o/u 204, SA -3)

San Antonio is 17th in defensive rating, 23rd in pace.

Memphis is 6th in defensive rating, 30th in pace.

Yikes. On a large slate loaded with some really appealing matchups … this is not one of them, as both teams play slow and boast strong defense. The Spurs are ranked fifth in the NBA in defensive rating in their last 10 games. Slow-paced teams who play strong defense don’t typically translate to NBA DFS success.

Derrick White’s minutes remain high but he’s also seen a slight production drop, and that in turn has lowered his price on both sites. It’s a brutal matchup but I’m fine with targeting White at $5300 on FD and $4900 on DK.

With Rudy Gay out, Davis Bertans is a usable value. No Gay will also lock in Bryn Forbes minutes.

If you’re looking for Grizzlies exposure in this matchup, Marc Gasol is about as cheap as I can ever remember him being on DK, priced at $6500. I still wouldn’t call him a top target, but Gasol is usable at that price tag, and the pace-down game environment doesn’t particularly effect him negatively.

Cleveland Cavaliers @ New Orleans Pelicans (o/u 221.5, NO -13.5)

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

New Orleans is 25th in defensive rating, 6th in pace.

The Cavs are on a second of a back to back, and head to New Orleans for an appealing matchup vs the Pelicans. I hate targeting the Cavs but love attacking the Pelicans, so something has to give right?

With Rodney Hood expected to miss this game, both Alec Burks and Jordan Clarkson are incredibly appealing targets. This is an elite matchup for both, with both priced down a bit. I have no issues having both in the same lineup. The Pelicans exuberant pace leads to fantasy goodness, and typically the back to back doesn’t affect either player.

Larry Nance Jr. got hurt last night and could barely walk off the court. There are reports circulating that there’s optimism he will play tonight, but I’d be SHOCKED if he takes the floor. I fully expect Nance to sit this contest out. With that being said, frontcourt minutes will open up for Jalen Jones and Ante Zizic, with Tristan Thompson remaining a reliable middle priced center to target. Jones and Zizic are usable punts.

While the Cavs are the worst-rated defense in the NBA, their slow pace is not ideal for fantasy production. I have serious blowout concerns in this game, as the Cavs are terrible and on a road back to back, something teams don’t typically get up for. There is a vast talent discrepancy between these two teams, too.

Let’s start off with Anthony Davis. He’s a stud, and obviously an elite target, I don’t have anything new to say. The Cavaliers won’t be able to stop him, but the risk for AD is: Does he even need to really try all that much for the Pelicans to win? There’s also blowout risk. I surprisingly am not making him a priority tonight, but as usual if the right value opens up it won’t be easy fading AD.

The Cavaliers won’t be able to stop Julius Randle, either. The Cavs slow pace has limited opposing big men from monster outings, however, I think Randle could have a huge scoring outing here.

Jrue Holiday is priced appealing on DK at $7700. Yes, the return of Elfrid Payton has hurt his production, but Holiday still carries an elite floor, especially at his DK price tag. On FD, I’m more off on Holiday. Payton is a bit too pricey for me on both sites.

Milwaukee Bucks @ Houston Rockets (o/u 225.5, HOU -1)

Milwaukee is 4th in defensive rating, 5th in pace.

Houston is 26th in defensive rating, 28th in pace.

We have a fun game here, as the two favorites to take home this year’s NBA MVP square off. This is a stronger matchup from a Bucks standpoint as the Rockets are a bad defensive team. Sure, it’s a pace-down game, but I expect Houston to play a bit up to the Bucks fast pace.

We start with Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis is someone I’ve actually stayed away from a lot recently, as I didn’t think his $12k+ price tag was justified. Well, with Giannis back under $12k on FD, and listed at $11100 on DK I’m back on board. The Rockets truly don’t have anyone that can really contain Giannis, especially if Capela is away from the rim. In a nationally-televised game, I expect Giannis to come out strong and look to claw back his standing as the front-runner for league MVP.

Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe are fairly cheap on DK. Middleton scares me as he will get a lot of minutes on Harden defensively, which will have an impact on his offensive production. Still, Middleton is typically a 30-40 point producer and is priced at his floor at $6400. Bledsoe tends to play up vs top teams, and at $5900 that’s an elite price for someone with real 40+ point upside.

On DK, Brook Lopez remains too cheap at $4800. If you’re in need of a sub $5k center, Lopez is a good target.

With the Bucks frontcourt depth a bit limited, I actually think Ersan Ilyasova is an interesting punt, especially in this spot. I think Milwaukee will try and keep Capela away from the rim as much as possible to give Giannis a free path to the rim, and Ersan will help with that.

For Houston, the Bucks are a tough defense to crack, but their high pace leads to DFS production.

I guess we can say James Harden is priced down a touch at $12600 on FD and $12200 on DK. Harden has been on one of those runs, and I don’t think it stops tonight. Sure this isn’t a great matchup, but the Beard is matchup-proof and has been playing on another level since CP3 went down. The debate with Harden is always: Can you justify his price tag? Usually we can. Play or fade Harden at your own risk.

Clint Capela continues to grow offensively, and has been about as steady of a fantasy producer at center as there has been all year. On FD, Capela isn’t cheap but also not overpriced at $9100. On DK, Capela is priced appealingly at $7800. I don’t love the matchup, as Brook Lopez tends to pull centers away from the rim, but Capela’s DK price outweighs that. You can target him with confidence.

Gerald Green and PJ Tucker remain usable cheap targets at their respected positions. Austin Rivers is a bit priced out for me on FD, though he’s usable on DK at $4500.

Phoenix Suns @ Dallas Mavericks (n/a)

Phoenix is 28th in defensive rating, 15th in pace.

Dallas is 12th in defensive rating, 11th in pace.

This matchup features too much injury news to fully breakdown yet as Devin Booker, Luka Doncic, and Dennis Smith Jr are all listed as questionable. For now let’s leave this as pending, and I will update this matchup later in the day. One quick note: If Booker can’t go and Doncic is in, I don’t think this game stays remotely close, as Phoenix is coming off of a win and on the second of a back to back on the road.

Orlando Magic @ Utah Jazz (o/u 206.5, UTA -8.5)

Orlando is 14th in defensive rating, 26th in pace.

Utah is 5th in defensive rating, 16th in pace.

This is another gross game, as the Magic and their slow pace head to Utah to face a Jazz team really excelling on the defensive side of the ball. If it weren’t for some Utah backcourt injuries I’d be ok with completely fading this game.

There’s one Magic player I’d consider tonight and that is Nikola Vucevic. I don’t particularly want to pay up for Vuc in this spot, as the Jazz boast the stingiest defense in the last 10 games, but if there is one area where you can attack the Jazz in DFS, it’s at center. Vuc has been a production monster all year, and he will be low owned because of the Utah matchup. This is a decent GPP spot for him.

While I’m not at all worried about Orlando’s defense, their slow pace does not translate well in DFS for opposing teams. Unfortunately for us, with Ricky Rubio and Dante Exum both OUT we have to consider some Utah players.

Raul Neto is expected to take the helm at PG for Utah, and unfortunately for us, FD has already priced Neto up to $5900! Yeah that’s right, no minimum priced Neto for us. On DK, Neto is priced more appealingly at $4300. That’s still not the sub $4k price tag we were looking for, but that’s doable for him.

No Rubio or Exum should lead to greater ball-handling responsibilities for Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles. I don’t particularly love either because of the matchup, but Mitchell does carry some GPP appeal. Mitchell has been way too scoring dependent this year, and perhaps the increase in touches will lead to more peripheral stats.

Chicago Bulls @ Portland Trail Blazers (o/u 205.5, POR -9.5)

Chicago is 19th in defensive rating, 24th in pace.

Portland is 15th in defensive rating, 18th in pace.

There is not a ton to love about this matchup as a whole, especially for the Bulls, who shockingly boast a ton of pricey fantasy options for such a bad team. In terms of team metrics the Blazers are middle of the pack in just about everything, and there’s not much to get excited over for the Bulls.

One area where you can attack the Blazers is on the wing, as opposing SGs and SFs have torched Portland all year, so Zach LaVine is on my radar. After struggling to find his groove since returning from injury, LaVine has produced well in back-to-back games, while his price has stayed below $7k. This isn’t a sexy pace-up matchup by any means, which could keep LaVine’s ownership down. I like him in this spot.

Kris Dunn feels more like a cash game target than a GPP one, as he has consistently produced over 30 fantasy points while not showing any sort of ceiling. He’s not cheap, but Dunn is usable.

The rest of the Bulls? No thanks. With Bobby Portis back the Bulls frontcourt rotation is not something I want to be a part of, and tonight’s matchup doesn’t help change that thought.

For as hard as head coach Jim Boylen tries to make the Bulls a good defensive team, they just flat out aren’t. The Bulls slow pace is what prevents them from being one of the most appealing teams to attack in DFS. With that being said, this is an ok spot to target Blazers players.

There is one Blazer I have on my mind and that is Jusuf Nurkic. I’ve said this before in other articles: The Bulls are Nets-esque vs opposing centers. Nurkic is exactly the type of center who should smash Chicago. On FD, Nurk isn’t cheap and is a bit of a debate. Still, I think he’s usable even at his elevated price tag. On DK however, I’m in love with targeting Nurkic at $8200. The Bulls play a traditional big for the majority of the game, which should keep Nurk around the rim. The Bulls also won’t be able to expose Nurk on the perimeter, so I believe his minutes will be locked in. I do think there is a touch of blowout risk here, but if Portland is running away with it, Nurk will be a big reason why. Nurkic is an elite target tonight, especially on DK.

With Mo Harkless out, Evan Turner is a usable value SF on both sites. Turner typically produces in the 20-30 minute range, which is where he should be tonight.

I’m not exceptionally opposed to targeting Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum, I would just prefer to spend elsewhere. I’m not confident this game stays all that close, and it smells like a Nurk game to me.

Detroit Pistons @ Los Angeles Lakers (o/u 218, LA -1.5)

Detroit is 13th in defensive rating, 20th in pace.

Los Angeles is 8th in defensive rating, 3rd in pace.

The Pistons head to LA in a pace friendly matchup vs the LeBron-less Lakers. While the Lakers have remained a strong defensive team with LeBron sidelined, they still produce an appealing DFS opportunity for Pistons players because of their pace.

This is an elite spot for Andre Drummond, who still remains appealingly priced on DK at $8600. Although he produced well last game, Drummond still didn’t show that same aggressiveness we saw from him on the offensive end earlier in the year. I expect Drummond to be decently owned, as this is a great spot for him.

I have strong interest in Blake Griffin tonight, as he’s back in the Staples Center with a strong matchup. Kyle Kuzma is not strong enough to deal with Blake down in the low post, so this has the potential to be a big Blake scoring night. Perhaps the Lakers frenzied pace will give Blake a bump in his peripheral stats, too. Play Blake with confidence. He’s an elite target.

The Lakers remains fairly straightforward with LeBron and Rondo still out and Kyle Kuzma back. Their matchup vs Detroit isn’t anything noteworthy. The Pistons play slow, but I expect them to play up to the Lakers crazy space. The Pistons are also the least efficient team in the NBA, which could lead to added rebounding opportunities for Lakers players.

Brandon Ingram finally looked aggressive last game, similar to the Brandon Ingram of the preseason. He’s still a bit cheap on FD at $6900, and I love him at that price. On DK Ingram is a bit more of a debate, but still firmly in play at $7500. What doesn’t help Ingram on DK is his lack of SF eligibility.

Similar to Ingram, Lonzo Ball looked good in his last game, which is something that didn’t happen in his previous five games. I still don’t trust Lonzo, but he carries some GPP upside.

Kyle Kuzma remains a rock solid upper middle priced PF on both sites. I still consider Kuzma an elite target, even though he has one big risk and that is Blake Griffin, Blake has drawn the most fouls in the NBA this year.

After his 50 burger last game, Josh Hart remains in play. Hart is a bit cheap on FD, priced at $5900, and still affordable on DK at $6100. Hart should continue to see big minutes in a pace-friendly affair.


Teams to Attack

Wizards, Nets, Hawks, Pelicans, Suns, Pistons-Lakers matchup

Blowout Potential

Suns @ Mavericks, Cavaliers @ Pelicans, Bulls @ Blazers, Sixers @ Wizards

Top Targets

(Lots of SGs with PG eligibility on DK, SG is much stronger overall tonight)

PG: Kyrie Irving, Trae Young (gpp), Jeremy Lin (if Huerter out), Raul Neto (dk)

SG: James Harden, D’Angelo Russell, Donovan Mitchell (gpp), Zach Lavine, Khris Middleton (dk), Josh Hart, Jordan Clarkson, Alec Burks

SF: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brandon Ingram, DeAndre Bembry

PF: Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, John Collins, Domantas Sabonis (if Turner out), Kyle Kuzma

C: Joel Embiid, Jusuf Nurkic, Andre Drummond, Julius Randle, Clint Capela (dk), Alex Len,