I like to start by identifying which teams are in the best game environment. Identifying pace-up spots is more than just looking at who plays a faster paced team. I try to quantify pace boost by projecting the pace of each game and then comparing it to the teams’ averages. I will then go tier-by-tier (price-wise), breaking down the plays that stand out to me, and which chalk merits fading (on bigger slates, don’t expect anyone to command fade-worthy ownership unless there is big injury news). I’ll summarize by position at the end.
- Games/Teams to Target
- Find NBA team stats here.
- Find player rates here.
All stats I mention are from the past 10 games.
Here are my Pace Projections alongside opponent defensive ratings for today’s slate:
I start by multiplying the Pace Factor of each team, then dividing by league average. Thus, a team gets a pace boost anytime they play a team that is faster than the league average. Finally, I make a small adjustment to weight the pace of the home team more, which is a nod to Vegas totals more heavily reflecting the pace of the hosts.
Brooklyn, Indiana, and Washington stand out as the best teams to target. All three will see a pace boost against a bad defensive team.
Interestingly, Boston is probably the only team to avoid, as Minnesota’s defense has improved immensely since the arrival of Robert Covington and Boston is on the second leg of a road back-to-back. RoCo’s DRPM is more than twice the DRPM for the second place SF in the NBA. His impact is incredible.
Kevin Durant & James Harden (Fades)
Both of these studs recently saw their production and prices rise due to the absence of their star PGs. Both Chris Paul and Steph Curry are back in action, which makes both KD and Harden overpriced.
Andre Drummond & Blake Griffin
While Steph is back, Draymond Green will miss another game. As such, GS has absolutely no one in the frontcourt with the strength or size to keep either Detroit big from padding their stats in the interior. The two are combining for 43.5 points and 25.8 rebounds per game. While Blake has the higher usage percentage, Drummond has more defensive upside.
Capela is averaging over 40 DK points on the year (nearly 50 in his past six games) but is priced under $8k on DraftKings. Brooklyn is 23rd in defensive rebounding and 29th in overall rebounding, which bodes really well for him since he’s tied for second in the NBA with five offensive boards per game.
Sabonis played a season-high (off the bench) 29 minutes last game. More encouragingly, those minutes did not come at the expense of Thaddeus Young or Myles Turner. Perhaps he’s finally going to get the minutes he deserves?
In nine games without Caris LeVert, D-Lo is averaging just under 32 minutes per game with a 31.3 percent usage rate. That workload makes his price insanely low. I would consider him one of the best values on the slate.
Fox’s 21.9 percent usage rate is nothing to write home about, but his assist rate is nearly 50 percent, which gives him an excellent floor, considering the pace Sacramento plays with. Indiana’s defensive rating falls to 105.6 if you only consider the last six games (Oladipo has missed six in a row), so they’re not quite as tough of a matchup as their seasonal defensive rating suggests.
Dinwiddie drew the start last game for Joe Harris and likely will do the same tonight. He’s second on the team in usage rate since LeVert’s injury, but a move into the starting lineup will probably hurt his usage. On the second unit, he doesn’t have to contend with Russell. As such, he’s probably a GPP fade if his ownership projections are high, but the minutes and his ability to contribute in multiple categories makes him a strong cash play.
Tristan is the guy tied for second in the NBA in offensive rebounds per game along with Capela. He’s been active defensively, playing big minutes, and his scoring is up recently. Surprisingly, Toronto is just 24th in defensive rebound rate.
Hield’s usage rate over the last five and 10 games is right in line with his seasonal average. Despite the return of Bogdanovic, Hield’s minutes are also holding steady over 30 per game. This makes him a great buy-low candidate at home against the Dipo-less Pacers.
Morris should continue to see minutes at the “Center” position as Scott Brooks is quite comfortable playing small. His rebounding numbers are up, as a result, and the matchup with Brooklyn is a great one.
Speaking of Bogdan, it seems as though he will lead the Kings in usage whenever he is on the floor. He has close to the shooting upside that Hield possesses, but adds an assist rate over 20 percent and is more effective getting to the hole.
Allen has a juicy matchup and his minutes are back to 30-ish per night. Washington is dead last in defensive rebounding, and they’re only going to get worse with Howard out for months. The pace of this game gives him some additional defensive upside. Allen is probably my favorite play on the slate.
His minutes are hard to predict, but the 38 he saw last game is certainly encouraging. The pace boost should mean extra shot opportunities for Bojan. He’s too cheap for the matchup.
Evans is second on the team in usage rate during the six games Oladipo has missed. His production has been capped by poor play, blowouts, and terrible shooting, but the opportunity is still there for him. Eventually, he should be able to play a strong game from start to finish, which will earn him additional playing time and lead to the type of performance that can win you a GPP. I’m going back to the well, here. The pace and overall matchup really benefits him.
I’m really curious as to who will start at center for Toronto. Tristan’s ability on the offensive glass makes me think it will actually be Valanciunas. If he gets the start, Valanciunas is an excellent GPP play.
Smart has no played 40 and 29.5 (in a blowout) minutes in the two games Brown has missed. With Brown doubtful for tonight, Smart is one of the best values on the slate once again, as DK actually made him $100 cheaper. Minnesota is suddenly a very tough matchup, but Smart’s ability to contribute in all categories neutralizes that for the most part.
Out of nowhere, Carroll played 39 minutes last game. I’m actually really worried they will cap his minutes below 20 once again tonight as he’s still on the road back from injury, but at $3400 it’s really hard to pass up the potential for 30 minutes from a guy who scores, rebounds, and racks up defensive stats.
One side effect of Dinwiddie moving into the starting lineup is that Napier gets most of the backup PG duties, instead of just some. He took advantage of the opportunity last game is just $3200 against the struggling Wizards defense in a pace-up spot.