NBA | Sunday, 4/7

NBA | Sunday, 4/7

I like to start by identifying which NBA 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.

Early Slate

Games/Teams to Target

  • Find NBA team stats here.
  • Find player rates here.

All stats in the following chart are from the past 10 games.

Here are my Pace Projections alongside opponent defensive ratings for the Early 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 (a nod to Vegas totals more heavily reflecting the pace of the hosts).

From a pace standpoint, this is a pretty ugly slate. Only Minnesota and Indiana get a boost, and neither gets a large one. The OKC-MIN game environment is unquestionably the best.



Russell Westbrook
Westbrook’s intensity wouldn’t be a question regardless of OKC’s standing, but one argument for paying up is OKC’s need to win. Westbrook could easily see a handful of extra minutes as OKC gives it their all to avoid a first round matchup with the Warriors. I wouldn’t say he’s too cheap, but the best fantasy player in the slate’s best game environment seems like a good building block to me.

Paul George
PG13 probably is too cheap, so I wouldn’t argue against dipping down to George instead of Westy, or going with both. I prefer to play him against teams with high turnover rates or teams that could pose trouble for Westy. Minnesota is neither of those things, so Westy is my choice today.

Karl-Anthony Towns
Steven Adams seems healthy finally so this is a somewhat difficult matchup, but KAT is among the most talented bigs in the game. It’s all about intensity level with him. On the bright-side, the constant attack of Westbrook and Adams pick and rolls should keep KAT engaged and around the ball defensively. The big concern here is his recent play has at times suggested he’s already checked out into the off-season.

Andre Drummond
Tell me, who will keep Drummond from getting 20 boards in this one? I want to watch for CHA’s starting lineup here. If they roll with Kaminsky at center again, I’m going to have a good amount of Drummond.


Blake Griffin
The Charlotte front-court is simply outmatched. My current thought is Drummond if Kaminsky is the center, Griffin otherwise. Both are solid plays regardless of the Charlotte lineup though.

DeMar DeRozan vs Kevin Love
I’ve put these two together because I think this is a really interesting dilemma… On the one hand, you have a pretty solid leverage opportunity with Kevin Love coming off injury and no Tristan Thompson. Love will be lower owned, but may have a higher ceiling than DeRozan. On the other hand, these two are positively correlated today as DeRozan needs a close game to see a full complement of minutes (and dominate usage), and a big game from Kevin Love is one of the most likely pathways to justify that.

Steven Adams
I often play Westy and Adams together. Against a possibly checked out Towns, I love this pairing today. Adams played through a bad ankle injury for a lot of this season and saw his production and effectiveness drop. He finally seems healthy again, averaging 40 DK points in his past five games. Assuming he avoids foul trouble, he should see over 35 minutes.

Myles Turner
Center vs Brooklyn, do I need to say more? Turner is playing 33-34 minutes in close games these days, about five more than his season average. Turner is a core play for me today.


Jalen Brunson
Memphis has played faster and worse defensively ever since the Gasol trade. I’m not afraid of this matchup, and Brunson should play huge minutes with Doncic and THJ out. I don’t love the ceiling here, but he’s a great value on a slate that has surprisingly few of them.

Ivan Rabb / Joakim Noah
If Noah plays without a strict limit, he’ll be a core play. If he misses, Rabb should see 30 minutes and becomes a great value at .96 FPPM.

Tyreke Evans
We need more value! Hopefully Collison (questionable) misses this one so we can confidently roll with Tyreke.

Ish Smith
Reggie Jackson stepped up his play while Blake was out, but with Blake probable, I love Ish’s chances to steal minutes. At his price, he’s fairly safe even if he only plays backup PG minutes. Ish has a 21.7% usage rate over the last ten, giving him unrivaled upside at his price if he can get to 25 minutes or more.


Main Slate

Games/Teams to Target

Here are my Pace Projections alongside opponent defensive ratings for the Early Slate:

Now this is more like it! ATL-MIL flies off the page with a 111+ Game Pace. This is just the second projected 111+ game of the year! NO-SAC and UTA-LAL are also full of fantasy goodness.



James Harden
Blowout risk is enormous in this one since Devin Booker is out, but it’s still Harden in a great matchup so I can’t ignore him. In the last ten games, Harden’s usage rate is still 41%. It’s just not going to come down.

Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis news looms over the entire slate. If he plays, this is an incredible matchup for the only Bucks player not on a back to back. He played 35 minutes against Philly, so if he plays I expect him to see his usual minutes.

Rudy Gobert & Donovan Mitchell (technically in the tier below)
These guys are core plays for me without Rubio and Favors. They should see a few extra minutes and plenty of extra usage with a massive six possession pace boost. The risk here is blowout, so we’ll have to find a Laker or two to run them back with in tournaments.


Kyrie Irving
Boston is one game ahead of Indiana for home court in their likely opening playoff series. Expect Kyrie to play big minutes against an equally urgent Magic squad. We’ve also seen Kyrie up his aggression level vs good defenses this season, and Orlando qualifies as just that. DJ Augustin might be in for a long night.

Trae Young
Young may be rested, but if not, he’s likely going to be in my lineup given the pace of the game. His usage rate is two percentage points higher in the last ten games than his season average.

Eric Bledsoe & Khris Middleton
In the event that Giannis sits out again, both of these players will be musts to me. I realize they’ve let people down a bunch this season with Giannis out, but those games weren’t played in 111+ Game Pace.

Elfrid Payton
Payton is a triple double threat every game and he played 43 minutes last game. The already fast Pelicans get a pace boost and Sacramento is struggling defensively down the stretch. Payton is one of my favorite tournament plays of the slate.

De’Aaron Fox
Fox is insanely cheap for a pace-up game. I’m a little concerned with his minutes since he left last game early with foot soreness, but the upside is there as long as he plays 30. If we knew he would play 35 in a close game, he’d be a core play for me.

DeMarcus Cousins
Speaking of too cheap, my goodness. Cousins is averaging 1.46 FPPM and should see around 30 minutes in a close game. LAC has been dominated by centers all year, so lock and load!

Brook Lopez
This price is getting a bit out of hand for him, but in this pace and with no Dedmon to deal with, I like Lopez today. I’ll like him a lot more if Giannis misses, of course, but his defensive stats and three point shooting are less dependent on Giannis missing than the usage of Middleton and Bledsoe.


Alex Len
Len is not priced for his 1.1 FPPM production now that Dedmon is done for the year. Sure, his minutes are wildly volatile, but that just means he has added upside if he gets the minutes. I’m happy with the risk trade-off.

Bogdon Bogdanovic
If fading Fox, you kind of need Bog-Bog. Even when he starts, he takes the reigns of the second unit when Fox heads to the bench. He is way too cheap for the matchup regardless.

Mason Plumlee, Monte Morris, Will Barton, & Trey Lyles/Juancho Hernangomez
You need to make Plumlee the first player you lock into your lineups. Jokic AND Millsap are resting tonight, so Plumlee and his 1.11 FPPM are locked into 30+ minutes. That FPPM ratio should get a boost, too, since most of his minutes have come in games where either Millsap or Jokic were active.

Jamal Murray is also resting, so Morris should jump into the starting PG role, and is a an efficient producer. Even as a backup, he averages .89 FPPM. He should get a major usage bump with the three best players resting. Will Barton, meanwhile, suddenly becomes one of the primary playmakers and is just $4200. Hopefully he’s overlooked because this is an excellent spot for him.

Lyles should start, but Juancho could get the nod. Whoever starts at PF is way too cheap. I hope it’s Lyles since he has the highest FPPM of the two.

Nemanja Bjelica
Bjelica’s minutes are never certain, but if he plays even 20, he should have no problem paying off this tag in this matchup. He’s right at a FPPM and thrives in pace.

Kent Bazemore & Jaylen Adams
Should Trae Young rest, both of these guys should see an uptick in minutes and usage. Since they’ll be playing in 111+ pace, they’ll both be great plays, but Adams is probably the better option as his minutes will be less affected by a blowout.