AP NBA Game Theory Decisions 10/24
*Player Sheet Updated*
Happy Wednesday Karma Nation! We have a massive 11 game slate to tackle. Most notably tonight every game, except Pacers/Spurs, has a total of 220 OR HIGHER. Roster construction and picking the right spots is going to be vital in all formats.
As always, let’s try to identify a few spots we can lock in on to cut this slate down a bit. If you are new to my content, I’m heavily weighting fast-pace/high total games & injury situations that could lead to increased usage and tighter rotations.
Games/Teams to attack -> DAL/ATL, BKN/CLE, NYK/MIA, PHI/MIL, UTA/HOU, CHA/CHI, LAL/PHX
On the fence/one offs -> MEM/SAC, Spurs, MINN/TOR, WAS/GSW
Full Fades -> Pacers
Current Injury situations & vegas lines
Games to break down-> I’m not going to touch on every game, that would take up my entire morning (yes, during NBA season I’m typically up at 5am to start working on the slate)
Mavericks AT Hawks +1, 234
Dirk Nowitzki & Harrison Barnes are still OUT and Dewayne Dedmon is IN for the Hawks. Last year, one of the main issues with targeting the Hawks was their unpredictable rotations. Year to date, Trae Young appears to have the safest rotation on this team (37m, 33m, 33m). You would think Taurean Prince would be next in line, however his minutes have been fairly volatile (25m, 23m, 32m). Dewayne Dedmons return will sure muddy things up, from a minutes perspective between him and Alex Len. And finally, Kent Bazemore is always a volatile GPP candidate whose minutes typically reflect how he is playing on said night. Long story short, on a slate this large we want predictable minutes, and for the Hawks that is Trae Young.
Hawks-> Trae Young (Elite Play), Kent Bazemore (GPP)
I’m not a huge fan of Rick Carlisle, but at least he has been somewhat predictable and reliable with his rotations. I also think this team could surprise many this year as they have looked solid even without two key players. With Barnes out, Dorian Finney-Smith has soaked up his minutes. Dorian isn’t DFS viable as he is being used for his defensive skill-set. However, this is a good thing as it means that offensive usage is being dispersed to other players on the court. Luka Doncic has been outstanding to start off his rookie career. His minutes are solid, but his price is starting to catch up to him. Doncic does appear to have triple double upside and a matchup against the Hawks could be what it takes to showcase it. The addition of DeAndre Jordan is already paying dividends. DeAndre is what this team needed to take some addition away from the likes of Barnes & their two dynamic young guards.
Mav’s -> Luka Doncic, DeAndre Jordan, & Wesley Matthews-> all of these guys are in play, but it is going to come down to roster construction as we might be able to find safer floors & higher ceilings elsewhere.
Nets AT Cavaliers -3, 229
The biggest news for the Nets would be the return of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson #babynarrative. RHJ missed the two previous games to be with his family after the birth of his son. With Allen Crabbe’s minutes also working their way back up, we are most likely back to the ways of the Nets dishing out minutes in the high 20’s to their starters. This is not what we want from a DFS perspective. Caris LeVert has been excellent to start the season but I just can’t pay 6,800 for a guy who might not see 30 minutes. I’d rather take the discount with D’Angelo Russell at 6,300 on DraftKings. Russell can pile up DK points quickly and the return of RHJ really has no affect on his minutes. Also, let’s not forget Trae Young absolutely lit this Cav’s team up last game. Crabbe had a brutal matchup last game, but if he gets 25+ minutes again, at 4,100 he is a viable value option. Lastly, #babynarrative RHJ and his cheap price tag of 5,500. Last year, we typically saw him priced in the mid 6k range, so he is firmly in play at a discounted price.
Nets-> D’Angelo Russel (Solid GPP), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Solid GPP), & Allen Crabbe (gpp value)
The 0-3 LeBronless Cav’s have been competitive up until the 4th quarter in all three of their games. This team looks hungry for a win and everything is running through the play of Kevin Love and Cedi Osman. I’m far from looking through each game, but Kevin Love might be my overall favorite play on this slate. We have yet to see an above average shooting performance from love and he is coming off games of 44 & 63 DK points. If this team wants to get a win, Kevin Love must be efficient. Let’s take a deeper look into his numbers YTD ->
In his last two games, Love has shown his elite FP/min upside, which I believe will return tonight in a favorable matchup. If Love can increase his efficiency rate, I believe he is a lock for 50+ DK points tonight. Outside of Cedi Osman, the rest of this Cav’s rotation is a guess.
Cavs-> Kevin Love (Elite). Cedi Osman (Mins safe/Cash type play)
Knicks AT Heat -8.5, 224
The Knicks fall into consideration due to their injury situation. Porzingis, Kevin Knox, Courtney Lee, and Isaiah Hicks are all OUT while Emmanuel Mudiay is questionable. Last Knicks slate, I predicted Burke would hit 36 or 37+ fantasy points on increased efficiency. His efficiency ticked up, however he only played 22 minutes due to Fizdale giving Damyean Dotson an extended run. With blowout risk (not something I typically factor in too heavily) being somewhat of a concern, this might be a spot to find some value for our line ups. The cheap price tag of Damyean Dotson & his alluring 30 dk point performance feels like a trap. Dotson could easily lose minutes to Burke in this spot. The sharp value play, in my opinion, is SUPER Mario Hezonja. Mario is the perfect guy to fully absorb all the usage Kevin Knox left on the court. Mario was incredibly aggressive against the Bucks and in a blowout scenario he should see all the garbage time.
Knicks-> Enes Kanter (Solid), Tim Hardaway Jr (GPP- he’s been a stud YTD but this matchup is nasty), Mario Hezonka (Solid Value), Damyean Dotson (GPP value)
Heat key injuries; Wayne Ellington, James Johnson, and Dion Waiters are all still OUT & Derrick Jones Jr is questionable. The most notable thing is Justise Winslow is probable, which could cut into Rodney McGruders upside a bit. First things first, let’s get Hassan Whiteside out of the way. Whiteside had two quick fouls in the 1st QTR & and another in the 2nd QTR just one minute after entering the game. This was unfortunate for Miami as he was a monster on the glass in this game. Whiteside held his own against Nikola Vucevic, which really makes this an interesting GPP consideration as they will need his size against Enes Kanter. It appears that Whiteside is out of the doghouse, however fouls are still the biggest risk for him. At 7,400 on Draftkings, I think he is a fine fade and interesting GPP play. The safer plays, with plenty of upside, are Goran Dragic & Josh Richardson, who are both underpriced on Draftkings. Richardson is coming off a poor outing where he had some foul issues and just couldn’t get going. The only thing this will do is lower his ownership, which makes him an excellent spot to target tonight.
Heat -> Goran Dragic & Josh Richardson (Elite), Rodney McGruder & Justise Winslow (GPP value), & Hassan Whiteside (Contrarian GPP)
Jazz AT Rockets -2, 220
The most notable thing in this game is Chris Paul is still suspended for one more game. With Chris Paul off the court, Hardens usage & fantasy points per minute increase to 35% & 1.65/min. I know I previously said Kevin Love might be one of my favorite plays on this slate, but let’s not over think this spot. James Harden is the best overall play on this slate. I am not concerned one bit about this matchup, if anything, I hope it lowers his ownership.
Rockets-> James Harden (Elite)
Last season the Rockets were sound at limiting fantasy production to opposing teams. With the loss of two key defensive pieces over the offseason, we are seeing teams produce against Houston. Factor in the loss of Chris Paul, we could see multiple players from the Jazz hit cash line or greater values tonight. The greatest impact could be to Donovan Mitchell, who won’t have to deal with Chris Paul’s pesky defense. Mitchell has underwhelmed thus far, but this could be the spot where he goes off. He makes for an intriguing GPP play. We are also getting a nice discount on Ricky Rubio, who has had a slow start to the year.
Jazz -> Donovan Mitchell (Solid GPP), Ricky Rubio (Solid), Joe Ingles (safe floor)
Lakers AT Suns +3, 237 ! ! ! !
The DFS game of the night, right? Well, one of them for sure. We have the perfect storm on the Lakers side; high total, fast pace, and suspensions which lead to a fairly predictable rotation. Since minutes and usage rule all in NBA DFS, let’s take a look at the Lakers rotation vs the Spurs (not including OT);
LeBron James, 38 minutes, 33.2% USG, 1.30 FP/min
Kyle Kuzma, 40 minutes, 27.3% USG, 0.93 FP/min
Josh Hart, 33.5 minutes , 18.3% USG, 0.96 FP/min
Lonzo Ball, 28 minutes, 16.1% USG, 1.0 FP/min
JaVale McGee, 28 minutes , 24.5%, 1.11 FP/min
DK Price & Points needed to hit value (6x)
LeBron James, 11,100, Pts needed-> 66.6
Kyle Kuzma, 6,900, Pts needed-> 41
Josh Hart, 33.5 minutes , 5,800, Pts needed-> 35
Lonzo Ball, 6,300, Pts needed-> 38
JaVale McGee, 5,300, Pts needed -> 32
In theory, it wouldn’t surprise me if four out of five of these players hit value. For me, it is going to come down to roster construction. Year to date (small sample size, I know), LeBron James hasn’t had that dominating usage rate we are all accustomed to seeing. With him and Harden being equally priced, I like the idea of rostering Harden + two pieces from this lakers team. I could see a combination like this working;
James Harden (mins & usage safe) + Kyle Kuzma (mins safe) + JaVale McGee (he pushed 28 minutes last game & they will need him to guard Ayton).
Lakers -> James, Kuzma, Hart, Ball, McGee (All Elite)
I love Devin Bookers game but he is priced appropriately given that he is a shot dependent type of play. At 8,300 on DraftKings, we need him to get over that 50 DK point mark in our lineups. My personal opinion is I’m going to try to find others in that range who have a safer floor via their ability to rack up peripheral stats. We don’t have to go very far to find a guy who might fit that mold. DeAndre Ayton minutes appear to be safe and he has been a monster on the glass. Trevor Ariza’s name also needs to be thrown into the mix. As we all know, recency bias dominates NBA DFS. Ariza put up a monster game against the Mavericks and is coming off b2b poor fantasy outings. His price is back under 5,000 and he doesn’t appear to be on anyone’s radar. Ariza’s minutes are safe, as they will need him on the floor guarding LeBron James but his fantasy production is the questionable aspect.
Suns -> Devin Booker (GPP), Deandre Ayton (Solid), Trevor Ariza (Mins safe GPP), TJ Warren (High usage, value GPP, mins not safe)
Other Notable Players
Antonio Blakeney 3,300 (GPP punt value on DK) -> Every time Dunn is out, we have seen chalk city Cameron Payne. Payne was a dud as chalk his first time out & then had a fine performance vs the Pistons. Payne is obviously a fine play, especially in cash games. However, I love Antonio Blakeney’s game. He is fairly aggressive and isn’t afraid to shoot the ball. If the Bulls need offense, I could see many scenarios where Blakeney eats into Paynes production (again).
Joel Embiid, 10,000 (Elite) -> Bigs against the Bucks is something that just works. If Simmons is OUT again, I’d just about consider Embiid a lock in all formats.
Robert Covington, 5,400 (Solid) -> JJ Redick was on fire last night, this arguably cut into Covingtons shooting upside. His minutes are are safe and I like his ability to get peripheral stats. At 5.4k on DK, he makes for an excellent GPP play.
Eric Bledsoe, 6,700 (Elite GPP IF Simmons is OUT) -> If Simmons plays, this is a tough matchup. With him out, Bledsoe could absolutely feast in this matchup.
Malik Monk, 4,700 (Solid GPP) -> Monk’s minutes have been consistently in the mid 20’s (which makes him a GPP play). But he is averaging double digit FGA’s & holds an excellent usage rate with this second unit. If Monk gets hot, I could see him getting some deeper run in the 4th quarter.
Marc Gasol, Jaren Jackson, & Mike Conley (All solid plays against the Kings)
*Check back around 5pm central for my updated player sheet*