AP NBA Game Theory Decisions 10/26
Happy Friday Karma Nation! We have a pretty straight forward 7 game slate to tackle tonight. As always, I’ll be posting my Playbook before 5pm central right here at the top of this article. As always, below is the injury data as of 2pm central today.
Bulls AT Hornets -10, 226
This is going to be a very interesting spot tonight. These teams just played in Chicago, with the Bulls winning 112-110. The Bulls have FOUR key players OUT; Kris Dunn, Larui Markkanen, Bobby Portis, & Denzel Valentine. What this translates too is we should have a very tight rotation. Let’s take a look at the usage data in this scenario (very limited sample size);
*Usage data can be found at basketballmonster.com (check out their usage monster calculator, it’s awesome)
If you follow basketball, I think what the data shows is fairly obvious in that Zach LaVine & Jabari Parker soak up the most amount of usage. Zach LaVine’s price has been adjusted to 7,900 on DraftKings, which should keep his ownership at bay. Jabari Parker’s price on DraftKings only increased 600 to 5,500; this is much to low given his style of play. The guy who’s minutes are the safest is Justin Holiday; However, year-to-date, he has been a low usage player. If we expand the data set to the past two seasons and take Dunn, Lauri, & Valentine off the court, Justin Holiday has a true usage rate of 20.1% and has averaged 0.83 fantasy points per minute. Cameron Payne caught fire last game, hitting five three pointers in the 3rd quarter alone. From a fantasy perspective, I like Antonio Blakeney’s game, as he isn’t afraid to take shots & has a higher usage rate than Payne. However, Payne is the clear number one option and at this point Blakeney can only be considered a very deep gpp value punt at best. Lastly, rookie Wendell Carter Jr’s roll should continue with Chicago being very thin in the frontcourt. Summary of how I view these players;
Zach LaVine, 7,900 -> Highest usage player, highest ceiling on the team. Risks-> Scoring dependent, & some blowout concerns. Overall, LaVine is an elite GPP play tonight.
Jabari Parker, 5,500 -> High usage player, has 40+ upside given his new role, & should be plenty motivated after being snubbed out of the starting rotation to begin the season. -> Elite play
Justin Holiday, Cameron Payne, Wendell Carter Jr -> all very much DFS viable. If this game stays close, it will most likely be due to Jabari & LaVine. With that being said, these three are all very cheap and could very easily hit value due to their minutes upside.
The Hornets are on the complete other spectrum as they are dealing with zero injuries at the moment. This isn’t a huge deal as this team is pretty easy to pick apart. This team runs everything through Kemba Walker who has an insane true usage rate of 34.2% on the year. Add in the fact that throughout his career he has fairly extreme home/road splits, which greatly favor his home court. Outside of Kemba, Nicolas Batum & Marvin Williams appear to be safe from a minutes perspective. Marvin is a low usage player & isn’t typically DFS viable while Batum is a fine GPP dart. Next in line, in my opinion, is Malik Monk, who has been ice cold to start the season. I’m sure by now I seem crazy for continuing to mention this guy, but you have to trust me, he holds the second highest usage rate on this team and he has been ice cold. At his given price, he has GPP winning upside if he is able to catch fire.
Kemba Walker -> Elite play.
Malik Monk -> Risky GPP value.
Mavericks AT Raptors -11, 224 -> The Mav’s get Harrison Barnes back which could muddy usage & fantasy point distribution a bit. They also have a tough matchup against one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. I’ll happily take a wait and see approach on how Barnes fits back into the rotation in this spot. For Toronto, everything runs through Leonard. You could argue Kyle Lowry is in play, but I’d rather pay 400 more for Kemba Walker. If Leonard is projected to be sub 5%, he would make for a low owned, high upside GPP play.
Warriors AT Knicks +12, 227 -> Chef, Klay, KD, & Draymond against Trey Burke, TIm Hardaway Jr, & Enes Kanter. . . I mean, what do you think is the likelist of scenarios in this game? In all honesty, this game should be well over by the third quarter, which makes the Warriors all stars GPP darts at best. I don’t mind a few one-off value plays from the Knicks side; Mario Hezonja & Damyean Dotson. I mentioned both in my last write up and Dotson put up an insane number. The production was there for Mario, he just couldn’t get his shot to fall.
Trey Burke -> Deep, deep GPP play.
Mario Hezonja -> Solid value play.
Damyean Dotson -> Solid value play.
*Just a quick side note, IF this game somehow stays close, it would most likely be on the heels of a Tim Hardaway Jr elite shooting night. Personally, I don’t have the stones to go there, but he would make for a very low owned, high upside play.
Clippers AT Rockets -3, 218.5
This is arguably one of the featured games of the evening with some double revenge narratives at play. Most notably, Chris Paul is back IN after being suspended for a few games; which is huge because the Rockets are rattled with injuries (Harden, Ennis, Nene, & a few others are all OUT). The data is very limited, but let’s take a look at what usage monster (via basketballmonster.com) shows us;
As I stated, the data range (number of minutes) is incredibly limited but we can see that Chris Paul dominates the usage with Harden off the court. Actually, if we increase the range to the past two seasons with Harden OFF the court, Paul owns a usage rate of 32.6% and averages an incredible 1.62 fantasy points per minute. However, in this #revenge narrative between him and his former team, he has yet to exceed 40 DK points (see below).
This truly is the other interesting spot on this slate. Let’s take a look at the relevant players;
Chris Paul, 9,200 -> 32% USG Rate & 1.62 FP/min rate w/ Harden OFF the court the last two seasons. Patrick Beverley is one of the best on the ball defenders in the NBA. With that being noted, Chris Paul is as match up proof as they come when the ball is in his hands. CP3 is an Elite Play in all formats.
Eric Gordon, 6,100 & Carmelo Anthony, 4,900 -> Last year, Gordon was the lock play when either Chris Paul or Harden were OUT. That isn’t necessarily the case this year with Carmelo Anthony on the court. If I were the coach, I’d want Gordon taking twice the number of shots between the two, but we know Melo is going to take as many as he can. With that being said, the two combined for 38 shots in a tough matchup against the Jazz. Gordon was ice cold shooting 1 for 12 from the arch. Melo was the guy with the hot hand making 9 of his 17 attempts. Given their prices & projected output, it feels weird to say it, but Carmelo is an excellent cash play while Eric Gordon grades out as an elite GPP play.
Clint Capela, 6,700 -> ‘Usage’ in itself doesn’t tell the whole story. Usage is ‘an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he is on the court’. Rebounds, steals & blocks, all stats relevant to the Center position, isn’t found in the USG number. I tend to emphasize said players production rate (FP/min) instead. I looked at a few different scenarios for Capela;
Last two seasons with no one off the court, FP/min rate = 1.19
Last two seasons with Chris Paul off the court, FP/min rate = 1.27
*Last two seasons with James Harden off the court, FP/min rate = 1.10
At 6,700, we need around 40+ fantasy points from Capela (6x). The most promising thing this season is the minutes he has been playing (37, 33, 33 his last 3 games). Last season, his minutes were somewhat volatile, but with Nene out, I’m going to assume Capela sees at least 33 minutes tonight. Given the fact that he is a high FP/min player & that he should see 33+ minutes, he is firmly in play tonight.
Bucks AT Wolves +1.5, 235
Milwaukee isn’t dealing with any relevant injury situations. For Minnesota, Andrew Wiggins & Jimmy Butler are both questionable. Again, we have a very interesting spot with these two questionable & some very cheap price tags on Jeff Teague & Karl-Anthony Towns.
The most interesting piece of this game, in my opinion, is Karl-Anthony Towns (KAT). KAT’s price has dropped a massive -1,800 since opening day. This price is definitely justified given his underwhelming output year to date. However, we saw KAT take 17 shots in a difficult matchup against the Raptors. Against the Pacers, a bad rebounding team, we saw KAT grab 15 boards. Tonight KAT gets to face another terrible rebounding team. Add in these two things and KAT is in line for a 30-15 type of game. So we have a few scenarios that could pan out tonight, let’s try to tackle them now so that we can easily adjust when the news hits.
*Both Wiggins & Butler are out
KAT – Elite Lock.
Jeff Teague – Elite.
Derrick Rose – Elite Value.
Josh Okogie & Taj Gibson – Fine value plays.
*Both Wiggins & Butler are IN
KAT – Elite play -> his price is just getting too low which makes his overall floor a bit safer.
Jimmy, Wiggins & Teague would be fades
*If Wiggins is out & Butler is IN or vice versa
KAT – Elite play.
Derrick Rose – Elite Value
Jeff Teague – Elite GPP -> his matchup against Bledsoe is pretty difficult, but his price would firmly put him in play.
What to do with Giannis Antetokounmpo (ABC) ? On a slate like this, where many mid tier plays are in spots where they could put up huge numbers, it is getting more difficult to play Giannis. At 11,700, ABC would need around 70+ DK points, unless we find some value plays that hit 7 or 8x. He is Giannis, shouldn’t 70 DK points be easy to hit? Let’s take a deeper look at his numbers to see if he can accomplish this in back to back games;
According to my metrics, to get over that 70 point mark Giannis had a significant increase in his peripherals relative to scoring (61%) and had an incredibly high overall efficiency rating which was 10 percentage points higher than his three first games. On the other hand, my metrics show his downside to average right around 50 DK points, which is an incredibly safe floor. Here’s my take->
GPPs -> Fade due to opportunity cost issues (missing out on multiple mid tier plays)
Cash -> Perfectly fine due to his floor.
Eric Bledsoe-> Bledsoe has quietly produced solid numbers; 38, 48, 39, & one miss of 29 points. Throughout this period, with all eyes on Giannis, his price has actually gone down. Bledsoe has an excellent matchup and he is firmly in play at 6,600 on DraftKings.
Brook Lopez-> We have bad rebounder vs bad rebounder. Lopez is another sneaky play at his current price of 4,800. Lopez is a big, but his role is to hang out by the perimeter which clears up space for Giannis. If he sees another 30+ minutes, I like his odds of paying off his price tag.
Khris Middleton-> Here is his fantasy point range on the season; 37 to 46. Middleton is a lock to produce, but if Jimmy Butler is on the court, I see him having a difficult time, which really limits his upside. He’s a fairly safe/boring type of play.
Nets AT Pelicans -9.5, 234
Before we dive into anything, just check these production numbers out for the Pelicans;
Anthony Davis-> averaging 1.86 FP/min YTD
Nikola Mirotic-> averaging 1.58 FP/min YTD
Julius Randle-> averaging 1.42 FP/min YTD
Elfrid Payton-> averaging 1.15 FP/min YTD
Jrue Holiday-> averaging 1.01 FP/min YTD
The Pelicans have five key players averaging over 1 fantasy point per minute. If I had to make a guess, I’d argue that no other team comes close to having this number of key players produce at such a high rate. This is indicative of their fast pace and ability to share the ball, which racks up peripheral stats.
Anthony Davis, ‘The Brow’, is priced in the same range as Giannis. If this game stays close, for sure Brow could throw down an insane number. If this game blows out, like the Kings game, it’s going to be pretty difficult to pay off his 11,600 price tag.
If Brow is too expensive, how are we going to get exposure to this game? DraftKings was smart in aggressively increasing Brow’s price, ELF & Jrue saw decreases while Niko’s went up just slightly. It will ultimately come down to roster construction, but I feel the optimal way to get exposure to this game is through Jrue Holiday, Nikola Mirotic or Elfrid Payton.
The Nets are coming off a game where they blew out the Cavs. Caris LeVert was the only player who saw over 30 minutes; either the nets are back to their balanced rotation ways or this was just due to them being up by 23 going into the 4th. I’m going to chalk it up to the latter, as it appeared Russell and Jarrett Allen were in line for 30+ minutes of work. DraftKings is really trying to make things interesting on this slate with how they priced some of these teams, the Nets being one of these ‘interesting spots’.
D Russell, 6,200 -> We are getting him at a discount in an ultra fast pace, high scoring upside spot.
Caris LeVert, 6,300 -> Another guy with 40 DK point upside in a fast pace spot
Jarrett Allen, 5,700-> They are going to need a big game out of him, which means he should be in line for big minutes guarding Brow.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, 5,300-> Was ice cold in his debut, but he’s a solid GPP play, should be very low owned.
Wizards AT Kings +5, 235->
*Vs Memphis* (their last game)
Buddy Hield-> Played 41.4 minutes
Willie Cauley-> Played 35 minutes
De’Aaron Fox-> Played 37 minutes
Justin Jackson-> Played 37 minutes
Nemanja Bjelica-> Played 31.7 minutes
Marvin Bagley-> Played 22 minutes.
*Vs Denver (blowout)* all starters get benched and play around 20 minutes.
*Vs Thunder* Fox plays 42 minutes while Hield & Willie barely exceed 20 minutes.
*Vs Pelicans (blowout)* Bagley is the only one who plays over 30 minutes.
Look, if you have a read on this team, by all means, go ahead and play them. I’m not going to stop you. However, I feel there is plenty of value and medium range plays to go around & I’ll comfortably be fading this team.
Wizards-> Potentially a bounce back spot for John Wall, I don’t hate the play at his price tag. Kelly Oubre has been seeing big minutes in his 6th man role, he’s a fine GPP punt value play. The rest I’d tag as GPP viable.
*As always, check back around 5pm for my updated NBA playbook for the night*