NBA Morning Thoughts 02.05.19

NBA Morning Thoughts 02.05.19

We’ve got an eight-game NBA DFS slate on our hands, so let’s get right to it…

Los Angeles Clippers @ Charlotte Hornets (o/u 226, CHA -3.5)

Los Angeles is 19th in defensive rating, 9th in pace.

Charlotte is 21st in defensive rating, 20th in pace.

This is an appealing spot for both teams, as the Clippers bring pace while both teams bring below average defense. The argument can be made that this is a pace-down game for Clippers players, but even on the road I expect them to push the pace of this game. While there should be plenty of points scored in this game there really isn’t a single Clipper players I’m forcing into my lineups. Danilo Gallinari remains out.

It appears Boban Marjaonovic is back in the Clippers rotation. Boban has played 13, 16, and 16 minutes in three straight games off the bench, and has been his usual productive self. Boban is a usable cheap center priced at $4100 on FD and $3500 on DK. We know he’s productive whenever he gets  minutes, so he’s decent value as long as he remains in the rotation.

Strictly on DK, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a strong value PG worth considering. Shai is priced at $4400 and has 35+ DK points in each of his last two games. With Gallinari out the Clippers continue to use three-guard sets, so the minutes will continue to be there for Shai.

Lou Williams continues his elite production off the bench, and this is a good spot for him. Before Sunday’s blowout against the Raptors, Lou was over 30+ minutes in three straight games, going over 40+ fantasy points in all three. Those type of minutes are huge for Lou and in a matchup vs Charlotte if he’s in that 30 minute range I’d expect around 40+ fantasy points. The $7700 on FD and $7200 on DK aren’t cheap but they are fair.

While I’m not against them in GPP’s it’s tough for me to pay up for Tobias Harris and Montrezl Harrell tonight. Harris has been consistently producing around 30 fantasy points per game which isn’t enough at his $7200 FD and $6600 DK price. His ceiling just hasn’t been there. Tobias has just been inconsistent, and while I like the matchup, I’d rather spend up elsewhere. To me it seems Tobias has been most affected by Lou Williams playing more minutes.

The Clippers are one of my favorite teams to attack because of their fast pace and poor defense. The issue with targeting Hornets is there just isn’t really anyone we can trust.

The Clippers get torched by PGs, so naturally I like Kemba Walker tonight. Kemba is not cheap priced at $9300 on FD and $8700 on DK, and he has been brutal to target. If this game happened in the first month of the season Kemba would be a must, but at the moment it’s hard to trust him. Still, the Clippers are 23rd in DvP against PGs, so Kemba is an elite GPP target.

Malik Monk is slowly starting to see more and more minutes and has been over 24+ fantasy points in his last four games. It makes sense that Charlotte would start unleashing Monk, as they aren’t going anywhere and they invested a high pick in him. Monk is $4400 on FD and $3800, so he provides high upside at a cheap price.

While I love attacking the Clippers, I really don’t have much interest in any other Hornets players. Nic Batum is ok as he’s seen his minutes rise a touch, but his production hasn’t been anything worth noting. With Cody Zeller expected to be back, I want no part of their frontcourt.

Los Angeles Lakers @ Indiana Pacers (o/u 217, LAL -3)

Los Angeles is 8th in defensive rating, 4th in pace.

Indiana is 2nd in defensive rating, 24th in pace.

It’s hard to talk about the Lakers in DFS with all of the Anthony Davis trade rumors swirling around. We need to monitor the Lakers, as there is a real opportunity this trade gets done today or tomorrow. If it’s done today the Lakers will have like six players available for this game. In terms of the matchup, it’s not a great spot, as even without Victor Oladipo the Pacers are a strong defensive unit. This is the second of a back to back for Indiana, and they see a very minimal increase in defensive metrics, but nothing noteworthy.

With LeBron James back I really don’t have any interest in Lakers players tonight except for him and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. LeBron is LeBron and while he’s on the west coast now he has made a career of destroying the Pacers. KCP is interesting ONLY if Josh Hart can’t go. Pope would be locked into strong minutes priced at $3800 on FD and $4300 on DK. Both prices offer good value, and his FD price would be way too cheap.

The Lakers are a strong defensive team, but bring an elite pace-bump to this game for Pacers players.

I’m willing to go back to the well with Darren Collison tonight. Collison continues to produce in his 30-34 minutes of play, averaging around 1 point per minute over the last 14 days with Oladipo OFF the court. He’s priced at $6400 on each site and in a pace-up game environment he should be right around that 34-40+ fantasy point range again. In eight back to backs thus far in the year for Indiana, Collison has averaged a few seconds more per game during that second game. All that means is we don’t have to worry about Collison seeing less minutes.

If you’re in the need of a high upside upper middle priced center, then Myles Turner is the center for you. Turner carries elite defensive upside on any given slate, and in a pace-up spot Turner has a chance to see +steals and +rebounds. Turner has actually improved on back to backs this year, averaging almost five more fantasy points on them.

Domantas Sabonis and Thad Young are what they are. Sabonis will play 22ish minutes and put up 30ish fantasy points. That’s elite production from a per minute standpoint, but he carries no ceiling priced at $6300 on FD because of his minutes. On DK, Sabonis is a bit more usable at $5600, but he’s more of a cash target with minimal upside. Young has shown spurts of amazing production and the price is fine, but he’s tough to trust and strictly a GPP candidate.

Boston Celtics @ Cleveland Cavaliers (o/u 214.5, BOS -12.5)

Boston is 3rd in defensive rating, 17th in pace.

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

Even on the road without Kyrie Irving, there’s still some blowout potential here for Boston, as they face the Cavs and their league-worst 30th ranked defense.

UPDATE: Marcus Morris is OUT – Daniel Theis get’s a bump.

The $7000 on FD and $6700 on DK for Terry Rozier isn’t cheap, but Rozier is still one of the top targets at PG. Over the last 14 days Rozier is averaging 1.23 FD points per minute and 1.25 DK points per minute with Kyrie Irving OFF the court. That is elite production and Cleveland is horrible defensively, so along with Rozier’s typical rebounding and defensive upside, Scary Terry will see +points and +assists.  I’m hoping his price will scare people off of him. I won’t be one of them.

The Celtics are a bit shorthanded in the frontcourt with Baynes out and Robert Williams questionable. Expect Marcus Morris to see a few added minutes, and pair that with Cleveland’s propensity to giving up wide-open threes, and Morris is an interesting middle priced PF. Morris is also a beneficiary of Kyrie being out as he’s seen a 6.06% usage bump while averaging around .2 more points per minute with Kyrie OFF the court. The $5500 on FD and $5400 on DK provides cap relief with some upside.

Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart are all usable Celtics with Kyrie out; I’d rank them in that order. I’d love Tatum but he continues to show a lack of aggressiveness on the offensive end. Luckily, against a team like Cleveland he won’t need to be that aggressive in order to produce.

Al Horford is a bit too expensive for me considering the matchup. I just don’t think this is a spot where Horford has any sort of upside.

The Cavs shipped Rodney Hood off to Portland, so while I typically would run away from this spot there are a few Cavs players that intrigue me.

The first two are Jordan Clarkson and Alec Burks. Clarkson is priced cheap at $5400 on FD and $5200 on DK, and with Hood gone he has one less person to compete for shots with. Clarkson continues to be productive with his minutes, and the minutes should be there tonight, as Osman will also not be playing. With Hood and Osman OFF the court, Clarkson see’s a .11 FD and .12 DK per minute point bump. This is a spot where opportunity outweighs the bad matchup. I really like Clarkson here.

We can still continue to get Larry Nance Jr. at a discount tonight, as he’s $6300 on FD and $5800 on DK. Nance has played 24 and 27 minutes in back to back games, and continues to be his strong per-minute production self. Nance is a $7k+ player. Yes the matchup is bad, but his price is great.

If you’re desperate for a punt at SG or SF, David Nwaba and Deng Adel should see decent minutes with Hood gone and Osman hurt. Both are strictly GPP darts who carry a ton of risk.

Detroit Pistons @ New York Knicks (o/u 205, DET -3)

Detroit is 11th in defensive rating, 23rd in pace.

New York is 28th in defensive rating, 15th in pace.

The Pistons head to the Garden in an elite matchup vs the lowly Knicks. The Knicks in their first game with their new arrivals played at an excruciatingly slow pace. I don’t think that is going to be a consistent trend, but it’s something worth noting.

I continue to be really impressed with Andre Drummond’s activity since returning from his concussion, and we can go right back to targeting him tonight in a smash spot vs the Knicks. Drummond is a rebounding machine and the Knicks are 30th in the NBA in true shooting percentage while also ranking 26th in rebounding percentage. One potential area of risk for Drummond is the back to back, but surprisingly he’s averaging 3+ more minutes in the five back to backs he’s played this year. All signs point to a Drummond smash which quite frankly is his only risk. In NBA DFS we’ve seen far too often the player in a smash spot flop, but I don’t think that’s the case here. Love Drummond tonight, he’s an elite target.

This is also a smash spot for Blake Griffin, who will look to rebound after a disappointing outing vs Denver. Most people will flock to Drummond tonight after his strong performance, which could potentially leave Griffin under owned. I personally still prefer Drummond tonight, but Blake is an elite GPP target, and an interesting GPP strategy would be to stack both Drummond and Blake. Blake is arguably cheap at his $9200 FD and $8800 DK price tags against a Knicks team that’s 25th and 26th in DvP vs PFs.

Reggie Jackson is $7k on FD, and I’d rather just light my money on fire than play Jackson at that price. There are just some things in life we must stand up for. I don’t care if he goes for 100, I will not pay $7k for Reggie Jackson. On DK priced at $5500, Jackson is still overpriced and not worth the ulcer he will give you.

I don’t love him but Reggie Bullock is a usable value vs a bad Knicks defense. Bullock typically shoots and produces well vs bad teams, as bad teams typically leave good shooters open. His $4200 on DK is a good price.

One thing the Porzingis trade has done for the Knicks that the media refuses to acknowledge is further complicate the Knicks rotation, which means more Dave Fizdale minutes predictions. In terms of the matchup, this is a tough spot simply because of the Pistons slow pace.

On FD we can confidently fade all Knicks players, as everyone is priced up and not worth the risk.

On DK, DeAndre Jordan and Dennis Smith Jr. remain priced appealingly. Minutes were there for both of them in their debut, and I expect Smith to be in the 30+ minute range tonight. I don’t love the matchup, but the $6200 for Jordan and $5700 for Smith are good prices.

Orlando Magic @ Oklahoma City Thunder (o/u 224.5, OKC -10)

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

Oklahoma City is 4th in defensive rating, 3rd in pace.

The Magic wrap up their season series vs the Thunder in Oklahoma City tonight, and head in as 10 point road dogs. While we can attack the Thunder’s pace in DFS, I’m a bit worried about Orlando Magic players in this game.

He’s no longer a bargain which makes him even more of a risk, but it’s hard to ignore Jonathan Isaac’s production, going for 30+ fantasy points in six of his last seven games. A common theme amongst bad teams over the years has been young players being unleashed around this part of the season. In Isaac’s case we have to determine if he’s still underpriced — meaning we expect this trend to continue, or is this an anomaly and he’s overpriced. Weirdly, in Isaac’s case, I think it’s a little bit of both. Steve Clifford is an older coach who relies on veterans, and while the leash may seem long on Isaac, Clifford worries me. Isaac has a world of talent, and in a pace-up spot he has a good chance at going for 30+ tonight at under $6k. He just carries some risk.

Aaron Gordon continues to frustrate me as a basketball fan. With Gordon’s athleticism he should walk into 17 and 8 a night, and yet Gordon loves to drift around the court and do nothing. With that being said, Gordon always carries elite GPP upside because when he’s engaged he can fill up the stat sheet. This is the right sort of game environment for him, and his prices are fine on each site. He’s just impossible to trust.

This isn’t the spot where I want to pay up for Nikola Vucevic. I’d rather spend up on Embiid or save a touch and go Drummond.

Orlando plays exceptionally slow low-post basketball, which is something I don’t love to target. Still, we have nothing to fear on Orlando defensively.

Russell Westbrook and Paul George both continue to be super pricey elite targets. This is a matchup where both can excel, and both almost dropped 60 vs Orlando last week. Not much analysis is needed here — if you’re targeting either, do so with confidence. 1 vs 1 I prefer Paul George on DK because of price, and Westbrook on FD because of the matchup. Orlando has wings that can at least attempt to limit George, and D.J. Augustin can’t handle Westbrook.

I don’t have much interest in the rest of the Thunder. Steven Adams is fine at his price but I don’t like targeting bigs against Vucevic. I prefer to target Jerami Grant in pace-up spots, not vs slow-paced teams like Orlando who don’t turn the ball over much. Dennis Schroder is usable in GPPs.

Minnesota Timberwolves @ Memphis Grizzlies (o/u 203.5, MIN -1.5)

Minnesota is 18th in defensive rating, 11th in pace.

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

This is an injury riddled matchup played at slow pace, which is not ideal for NBA DFS. Derrick Rose and Tyus Jones remain OUT while Jeff Teague is doubtful.

No Rose, Teague, and Jones would mean we can confidently target Jerryd Bayless. Bayless continues to produce well, and priced under $6k he remains an elite target. I’d expect Bayless to be on the heavier owned side even in a tough spot vs the slow-paced Grizz.

Andrew Wiggins has also been a beneficiary of the Minnesota PG injuries, as he’s been leaned upon heavier on the offensive side of the ball. Derrick Rose is more of a scorer than facilitator which means when he’s out Wiggins sees more shots. And Wiggins is priced appealingly on both sites.

Lastly we know the deal with Karl-Anthony Towns, when he’s on … he’s ON. Towns is a production monster who can sometimes frustrate us when we target him. With all of the Minnesota injuries he’s the alpha and is once again in a position to produce. The matchup isn’t ideal and Towns struggled in his last outing vs Memphis, but his upside remains.

This is a pace-up spot for Memphis, and Minnesota is a team we can attack in DFS because of their pace and poor defense. We need to monitor Memphis during these last days of the trade deadline, as Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are two names being discussed. Kyle Anderson, Omri Casspi, and Garrett Temple remain out.

I’m sort of on the wait and see approach with Memphis, and I don’t particularly want to spend up on anyone. It wouldn’t shock me if Conley and Gasol see a few less minutes to preserve them in case they are traded. I don’t think anyone is worth the risk.

Toronto Raptors @ Philadelphia 76ers (o/u 229, PHI -4.5)

Toronto is 9th in defensive rating, 16th in pace.

Philadelphia is 10th in defensive rating, 7th in pace.

These Atlantic Division rivals square off for the fourth time this year. This is a great NBA game to watch which I expect to be played at high intensity with almost a playoff atmosphere in Philly. Kyle Lowry is considered doubtful tonight.

UPDATE: Kyle Lowry said “He’ll play” tonight. We need to continue to monitor this situation.

In two games this year vs Philly (he missed one), Kawhi Leonard is averaging 60.85 FD points and 58.5 DK points. With Kyle Lowry OFF the court, Kawhi has not seen much of a production bump, and his usage increases by 1.23%. Kawhi has shown up vs the Sixers this year, and I expect that to happen again tonight. The $9800 on FD and $9300 on DK are good prices for him. Kawhi is an elite target tonight.

No Lowry would push Fred VanVleet into the starting lineup. VanVleet isn’t super cheap on FD at $5900, but he poses as strong value on DK at $4600. VanVleet sees a minutes increase as well as a .12 per minute fantasy point increase while seeing a 5.26% usage bump with Lowry OFF the court. He’s usable on FD and an elite target at his DK price.

Both Toronto bigs Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam are usable targets, but far from priorities in my lines. Ibaka has been the more consistent producer of late, but is also the more costly of the two. I prefer Siakam in pace-up games, as his ability to start the break after crashing the defensive glass leads to good fantasy production.

Delon Wright is a usable GPP dart. Wright is always a strong per-minute producer and typically sees a minutes bump in games Lowry does not play in.

The Sixers are expected to have their full squad tonight except for Wilson Chandler. While Toronto is a strong defensive team, interestingly enough in the 12 games Lowry has missed this year Toronto has really struggled on the defensive side of the ball.

Usually when Sixers players are on the slate it’s all about picking the right stud, and Joel Embiid remains the safest of the Sixers. In an high-intensity, playoff-like atmosphere, I expect Embiid to come out strong. Embiid’s issue on FD is he’s a center and he’s expensive. We could see Embiid go under-owned here, with most saving a touch and going Drummond. While it may seem like I’m gushing over him, Embiid does carry some risk and has not produced all that well vs Toronto, averaging 43.27 FD and 45.67 DK points in three games.

This will be Jimmy Butler’s fourth game vs Toronto, and his first was with Minnesota. Of all of the Sixers players, Butler has had the most success vs Toronto this year, averaging 49.23 FD and 48.42 DK points. I don’t love Butler’s $8600 price tag on FD — it’s usable but a bit high. Butler remains appealingly priced on DK at $7500, and that is a price we can look to target. The minutes have been there for Jimmy since returning from injury and the production has been there two of his last three games. And Jimmy typically shows up in big games vs elite opponents like tonight.

Ben Simmons is my least favorite of the Sixers stars, as I just don’t think he’s worth his price when all three are healthy. Simmons is one of the top fantasy producers in the NBA so I wouldn’t call him a complete fade. I just prefer Embiid and Butler.

This is a sneaky spot to get JJ Redick at $5500 on both sites. The Sixers are a bit thin on the wing, and Redick should play big minutes and have his typically large role on offense.

Landry Shamet and TJ McConnell should pick up a few added minutes with Chandler out.

Miami Heat @ Portland Trail Blazers (o/u 213, POR -7.5)

Miami is 7th in defensive rating, 25th in pace.

Portland is 16th in defensive rating, 18th in pace.

The late night hammer tonight isn’t much of a hammer, as the Miami Heat bring their slow-paced, grind-it-out style of play to Portland. The Blazers are a team that seem to mimic their opponents pace, which vs Miami is not ideal for fantasy production. The Miami Heat and Coach Spo are always a challenge to figure out in DFS, as they play a ton of guys and Spo isn’t afraid to mix and match his rotation.

I don’t have a ton of interest in any Heat players, as I don’t think any are worth the risk in this spot. Two guys who frustrate me and will frustrate you are Dion Waiters and Kelly Olynyk. I know, and I’m sorry. Dion is under $4k and has played 18, 26, and 28 minutes in his last three games. His production has been terrible, but those are interesting minutes for a player like Dion at his price and his love of not passing. Kelly O has been over 30 minutes in back-to-back games, and producing over 1 fantasy point per minute. At $4500 on FD and $3900 on DK, Olynyk offers cap relief and upside. With the way Portland plays Collins and Leonard together off the bench, there are minutes here for Olynyk from a matchup standpoint. Still, both Waiters and Olynyk are risky GPP targets.

For Portland, as mentioned above, this is a brutal matchup, as Miami plays slow and are a good defensive team. I expect Jusuf Nurkic to return for this game.

The one area where Miami struggles defensively is vs shoot first guards, and Portland has two of them in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Both are a bit too pricey for me on FD. On DK, Dame is priced fairly at $8900 and while he’s not a must, there’s upside at that price. CJ is more of a GPP target because of his high price but he’s shown his ceiling over his last two games, including one 50 burger.


Teams to Attack

Clippers, Lakers pace, Cavs, Knicks, T-Wolves (dependent on Grizz news)

Blowout Potential

Celtics @ Cavs, Magic @ Thunder,

Top Targets

PG: Russell Westbrook, Kemba Walker (GPP), Terry Rozier, Jerryd Bayless, Fred VanVleet* (DK), Shai Gilgeou-Alexander (DK)

SG: Jimmy Butler (DK), Lou Williams, Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Clarkson, Jaylen Brown

SF: Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Johnathan Isaac (GPP)

PF: Blake Griffin, Jayson Tatum, Larry Nance Jr, Kelly Olynyk, Daniel Theis

C: Joel Embiid, Andre Drummond, Myles Turner, Boban Marjonovic