NBA | Staying Ahead of the Curve, 1/8

NBA | Staying Ahead of the Curve, 1/8

Each Monday, I will be taking a look at upcoming injury/suspension impacts, teams/situations to attack, and NBA players who I believe will either be under-owned or underpriced. On bigger slates, it’s easy to get lost in the vast number of options, sudden injury news, etc.

Having an idea ahead of time of whose price you should be immediately aware of can help you sort through the chaos. More importantly, anticipating which NBA players are in a position to take a step forward ensures you will get a player that doesn’t just outperform his salary but does so at suppressed ownership.

From this point forward, all stats will be filtered to include the previous 10 games (~three weeks) only, in order to catch trends that haven’t had enough time to drastically change season-long numbers.

Without further ado:

Injury/Suspension/Trades Impacts

Myles Turner

Turner missed last game and didn’t practice today (Monday), so there’s a reasonable chance he’ll miss another. Sabonis is the obvious play in that case, but Kyle O’Quinn has plenty of GPP appeal given his upside. In fact, Indiana faces Cleveland tomorrow night, so O’Quinn could end up seeing 20 minutes or so in a blowout.

Dante Exum & Ricky Rubio

Rubio left tonight’s game early and was immediately ruled out for the rest of the game. Chances are probably fairly high that he won’t be back for the next one. Raul Neto will get plenty of run at PG and is decent from an FPPM perspective. Expect him to be massive chalk. I’m more interested from a GPP angle in Donovan Mitchell, though. Mitchell will have to play more of a point guard role and should see his assist rate spike as a result.

This would have secondary effects, as well. If Mitchell gets run at PG, that would open extra playing time for Crowder, Korver, and Thabo when he gets healthy because Ingles would slide down to the two.

Teams/Situations to Attack or Avoid

Team Data: Pace | DEF

“Target Score” is the average percentile for the team’s defensive and pace rankings (where worse defense and faster pace leads to a higher percentile). As such, a higher Target Score means we should roster players facing that team, and a lower Target Score means we should avoid their opponents whenever possible.

Noteworthy Trends

The first thing that jumps off the page is Boston’s defensive rating. 6.1 points worse is an enormous differential. Of course, it’s only the second biggest of the week. San Antonio is back! Popovich must be so proud.

For the third consecutive week, pace is well down across the league. Once again, that makes the increase in pace of teams like OKC, LAL, and LAC all the more intriguing.

Bad Defense / Fast Pace (Attack)

The gold mine of fantasy opponents, pinpointing which teams will play at a fast pace (more possessions, more turnovers) and defend poorly is essential. Teams with a ‘Target Score’ of 75 or higher are:

  1. Sacramento Kings
  2. LA Clippers
  3. New Orleans Pelicans
  4. New York Knicks
  5. Atlanta Hawks
  6. Phoenix Suns
  7. Washington Wizards

We’ve got a long list this week! Sacramento and LAC are a step above the rest, especially since both are great offensively, leading to plenty of close games.

Last week, I suggested Washington may find its way off this list since Wall is out for the year and Ariza is in town. Their target score is down to a dead even 75. I expect they’ll be off this list by next week.

Good Defense / Slow Pace (Avoid)

Similarly, the teams with a ‘Target Score’ at or below 25 should be avoided whenever possible. Currently, these teams are:

  1. Memphis Grizzlies
  2. Indiana Pacers
  3. Miami Heat

San Antonio just missed making the list and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them on it next week. Miami stands out to me here because in the last 10 days they’ve become significantly slower and better on the defensive end. Avoiding them before the public catches on is exactly what the Staying Ahead of the Curve series is about.

Players to Keep an Eye On

Nikola Vucevic

To not put Vuc on this list again would be to suggest DK has either priced him accordingly or that the public has become aware of his production, making him a chalk option. However, neither is true. For example, tonight he was $9,500 with an expected 6.7 possession pace boost, against the 25th rated defensive rebounding team. In the $20 three-entry buzzer beater, he’s under 20 percent owned! (It’s currently halftime and he has 29.5 DK points. Fingers crossed he keeps it up.) Keep playing Vuc!

Kemba Walker

On the year, Kemba’s usage rate in 29.8 percent. In the past 10 games, it’s 29.7 percent. In other words, we shouldn’t read too much into the drop in production and up next for him is LAC, the second-best team to target. What a perfect buy-low opportunity!

D’Angelo Russell

Russell bombed against Boston tonight which will keep his ownership low moving forward. On top of that, he’s posting a usage rate over 30 percent over the past 10 games. For well over a year now the knock on Brooklyn players in tournaments has been that they don’t play heavy minutes. Prior to tonight’s game, his last four games saw him play: 34, 35, 36, and 33 minutes.

De’Aaron Fox

This is literally a “player to watch”, not necessarily play. Fox has a nagging shoulder issue and took a nasty knee to the quad from Draymond a few nights ago. His production has been way down the past three games as a result, so let’s watch his price. Chances are, his price will keep falling as he gets healthier, resulting eventually in a massively underpriced young stud.

John Collins

After three consecutive blowouts (they actually were on the winning side in one!), Collins price has dropped under $7k due to low minute totals. At 1.23 FPPM, with untapped defensive potential, this price makes him an enormous bargain.

Good luck this week and find me on Twitter @Alexblickle1!