AP NBA Game Theory Decisions 10/31
Happy Halloween Karma Nation! We have a wonderful seven game slate to tackle tonight! Last nights slate was chalk city (again). If you followed my article and playbook you would have at least been on Aaron Gordon & the Kings players. Hopefully your screens were green. Let’s dive into tonights slate.
*As always-> the AP Playbook will be posted around 4-5pm central*
Pistons AT Nets -2.5, 214
Detroit’s on the back end of a back-to-back. Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith are in a complete timeshare. My preference of the two would be to take the 1,100 savings with Ish Smith. Stanley Johnson has returned to full minutes and could go overlooked. In a matchup and assuming he sees 30+ minutes, he makes for a fine value play. I’d throw Reggie Bullock into that same category as Stanley Johnson. Both are shot dependent but their low prices and minutes upside put them in play. I wouldn’t blame anyone for targeting Blake Griffin or Andre Drummond in this elite matchup. However, I’ll most likely be looking to spend up in other spots on this slate.
Pistons: Ish Smith, Stanley Johnson, Reggie Bullock (All Fine GPP Value plays)
I have a love-hate relationship with the Nets. I love their pace of play. I hate their rotation. Caris LeVert is the one player we can count on to MAYBE exceed the 30 minute mark. Outside of him, the nets are comfortable running a nine to ten man rotation, which reduces everyone’s minutes upside. In a situation like this, it’s always going to come down to price and the matchup. The matchup? Well, this is a pacedown spot for the Nets. Pricing? Caris LeVert’s price has come down a bit, but he still needs 36+ points to hit gpp value. Detroit struggles against wings with his style of play, so I’d for sure give LeVert some GPP consideration. However, it’s always going to be an opportunity cost situation. Ex; Do we pay 6k for LeVert or do we pay for a player in that range in a much better game (Mavs/Lakers); Barnes, Dennis Smith, Kuzma, Ingram, Rondo etc. With that in mind, it might be more advantageous to snag a one-off value play from the Pistons or Nets side. Lastly, Jarrett Allen dominated in his first matchup against Andre Drummond (17pts, 10 boards, 4 blocks). However, the situation is a bit different with Rondae Hollis and big Ed Davis playing. If Allen stays out of foul trouble, he should push for 30 minutes as they will need his size and abilities on the court. Long story short, pricing really puts a few of these nets players in play.
Nets: Caris LeVert, Jarret Allen, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, D’Angelo Russell (Solid GPP plays). Spencer Dinwidde, Allen Crabbe (Fine Value GPP plays)
Jazz At Wolves +2.5, 222
Alec Burks, Derrick Favors, & Andrew Wiggins all questionable.
Coaches note; Thibodeau wants rose to get 26-28 minutes per game
*Update 12:25pm* I wrote this game up at 6am before news hit. Jeff Teague & Jimmy Butler are OUT while Andrew Wiggins remains QUESTIONABLE. This will be a fabulous spot for value plays despite the difficult matchup. Derrick Rose remains an elite play. I’ll have a final update in my player pool.
Yup, Karl Anthony Towns absolutely got his against the Lakers. And now he gets a nasty matchup against Rudy Gobert and the Jazz. This should be fun. In all honesty, this is a pace up spot for the Jazz and slight pace down spot for the Timberwolves. For Utah, a fine game to look at as a comparison would be their matchup against the Pelicans. I mention this because the Peli’s were without Brow, who is an elite overall defender in the paint. Additionally, Jrue Holiday is an elite on ball defender who was locked up on Donovan Mitchell in that first half. Tonight, Jimmy Butler will be playing that role. On paper, this should open things up for Ricky Rubio and Rudy Gobert. Rubio has been insanely volatile this season, but he should be able to fill up the stat sheet in this pace up spot.
Jazz: Rudy Gobert (Elite Play). Ricky Rubio (Elite GPP).
Thibodeau stated he wants Derrick Rose to see 26-28 minutes per game. Before continuing, let’s take a look at what Rose has been doing
Through his last five games, Rose has been averaging; 1.07 fantasy points per minute, 45% of his points have come via peripheral stats (I view this as a safety net), a 69% efficiency rating (DKp/DKu), a true upside average of over 40 points while maintaining a true downside of 25 points. You could argue that Rose has benefited from Wiggins being sidelined, which has helped. However, his biggest game was against Dallas, where Wiggins saw 27 minutes. I’ll be very curious to see what happens with Karl Anthony Towns (KAT) ownership after his monster game. Naturally, I’m going to assume his ownership will tick up a bit with the public wanting to chase that monster game. How about we pause and take a breath first. KAT had 16 rebounds and 4 blocks against the Lakers. KAT had 3 TOTAL blocks in the 4 games they played against Utah last year. He also averaged 8.5 rebounds against Gobert. Take those things into consideration and KAT is in line for a mediocre performance, further frustrating the DFS community. I’d much rather take the savings and play Gobert. Or, you could play Jimmy Butler, who is 200 cheaper. With the Jazz being so good at limiting fantasy production, my preferred route will most likely be to snag Rose as a value play.
Timberwolves: Derrick Rose (Solid Value Play). Jimmy Butler (Fine GPP).
[More will be added to my final player pool]
Nuggets AT Bulls +8, 225
No new injury information*
Let’s first start with the Bulls side; if they can keep this game close, it could be very interesting for fantasy purposes. Here’s how the usage and fantasy points per minute shakes up given their current injury situation (Dunn, Lauri, Bobby, Denzel OUT)
Zach LaVine, 39.5% USG, 1.33 FP/min
Jabari Parker, 27.4% USG, 1.12 FP/min
Wendell Carter Jr, 20.6% USG, 1.10 FP/min
Cameron Payne, 17.8% USG, 0.96 FP/min
Justin Holiday, 13% USG, 0.67 FP/min
Antonio Blakeney, 24.6% USG, 0.89 FP/min
Zach LaVine has the highest true usage rate on the slate and he is 7,400. If this game stays close, he should push for 35+ minutes, giving him a nice range of 40 to 55 fantasy points. Add in the fact that the way to attack Denver is through guards with LaVine’s skillset. Wendell Carter faces the tough task of guarding the Joker. In theory, he should see tons of court time as they will need him to matchup with Jokic, but I hate the matchup. Jabari Parker basically runs everything with the second unit. With that being noted, Denver arguably has the deepest front court in the league with Mason Plumlee and Trey Lyles. Long story short, if the Bulls stay in this game it will be due to the play of Zach LaVine and Jabari Parker. If they get blown out, that severely limits all the key players from each side.
Bulls: Zach LaVine & Jabari Parker (Elite GPP), Cameron Payne & Wendell Carter (Fine Value)
Despite the elite matchup, it feels like chasing points with Jamal Murray. He’s typically a raw point dependent fantasy producer and I see some outliers in his stats over the past two games (6 total steasl/blocks vs NOP and 10 rebounds vs LAL). If this game stays close, Jokic is the guy you want to lock into your lineups. This spot should be similar to his game against the Suns where he had the freedom to do whatever he wanted. Trey Lyles only plays 21-23 minutes a game but owns a 31% true usage rate with the second unit. I’ve had him in my player pool as a value GPP for awhile now because that 33+ point DK game is coming. Long story short, if you think this game stays close, you can make a case for any of the Nuggets starters.
Nuggets: Nikola Jokic (Elite GPP), Gary Harris (Solid GPP), Jamal Murray & Paul Millsap (Fine GPP), Trey Lyles (Solid GPP)
Pacers at Knicks +6, 211 -> If you follow me, you will find that I’ve pretty much faded any Pacers game all season and I have absolutely zero regrets. They are health and are defensively sound. If you want to take a guess as to what the Knicks are going to do, have at it. Outside of Tim Hardaway Jr (THJ), I don’t trust any of their minutes. The Pacers traditionally haven’t been the best rebounding team, so if you want to take a flier on a guy like Noah Vonleh, I get it. Long story short, I’ll most likely be looking to avoid this game.
Pelicans at Warriors -11.5, 235.5 -> This game really hinges on the viability of Anthony Davis. If Davis is unable to suit up, I have a hard time believing the Pelicans have a chance at keeping this close. If Davis is able to suit up, this game becomes a bit more intriguing as they have the weapons to keep pace with the Warriors. The last time these teams played each other the Pelicans came away with the win. Here’s how that game looked;
Anthony Davis, 40mins, 34pts, 12rebs, 4ast, 2stl, 4blks (69 dk pts)
Nikola Mirotic, 40mins, 28pts, 6rebs, 4ast, 3stl (50.5 dk pts)
Jrue Holiday, 40mins, 25pts, 5rebs, 6ast, 4stl, 1blk (50.75 dk pts)
Rajon Rondo, 32min, 12pts, 5rebs, 17ast, 2stl (47.75 dk pts)
*Steph Curry did not play
Kevin Durant, 36mins, 41pts, 10rebs, 5ast (65 dk pts)
Draymond Green, 37mins, 11pts, 10rebs, 9ast, 1stl (41 dk pts)
Klay Thompson, 37mins, 18pts, 4rebs, 1ast
So, even without Steph, the Pelicans had to push their stars a full 40 minutes to keep pace with this Warriors team. Well, I guess I’m really torn with this matchup. If Anthony Davis plays, part of me thinks the Pelicans will play with a chip on their shoulder and will really push for the win. The other part of me sees the Warriors getting up big early which could lead to one of those, ‘Anthony Davis heads to the locker room with a. . . ‘ type of games. If Anthony Davis is ruled out, Jrue Holiday, Nikola Mirotic & Julius Randle would be GPP considerations only.
Pelicans & Warriors: TBD (Really depends on the status of Anthony Davis)
Spurs at Suns +7.5, 216.5 -> Devin Booker is doubtful tonight. Without Booker, this Suns team really is a mess. Just look at the minutes distribution over their past few games (without Booker);
Vs Thunder; Vs Memphis
Ryan Anderson 31min, 21min
Trevor Ariza, 28min, 34min,
TJ Warren 21min, 18min,
Josh Jackson, 20min, 24min,
Mikal Bridges, 22min, 24min
Elie Okobo, 30min, 18min,
Deandre Ayton, 32min, 33min
Troy Daniels, 17min, 4min
Jamal Crawford 16min, 13min
Deandre Ayton is arguably the only player I’d feel comfortable targeting. It’s obvious they are trying to develop the young star they drafted.
Suns: Deandre Ayton (Solid GPP)
DeMar DeRozan leads the Spurs with an insane 35% true usage rate and 1.30 fantasy points per minute average. LaMarcus Aldridge is a close second and Rudy Gay would fall right into that third place spot. Without Booker on the court, I can’t see how the Sun’s will keep this game close.
Spurs: DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, Bryn Forbes (GPP Only due to blowout risk)
Mavericks AT Lakers -7.5, 234.5
We have a 2 unit over bet placed on this game. I also believe it will be a fabulous spot for fantasy production. LeBron clearly leads this Lakers team in true usage (32.4%) and fantasy points per minute (1.55). With Rondo back and with this team having two true point guards (Rondo & Ball), we have seen a dip in LeBrons assist rate. We saw this rate tick up significantly when Rondo was out due to suspension. I bring this up because naturally this is going to lower his ceiling. LeBron has one of the safest floors on the slate, but his ceiling relative to his current price, means he isn’t a must play in tournaments. If we can find enough obvious value, then getting an almost guaranteed 5x from LeBron would be a great way to approach cash games. JaVale McGee’s price has dropped by 300 on Draftkings, and his size and skill set will be needed to match up with DeAndre Jordan. McGee owns the 2nd highest fantasy per minute average on this Lakers team (1.25). Lonzo Ball started last game but Rajon Rondo saw more minutes. Assuming Rondo sees another 31+ minutes tonight, he makes for an excellent play at 5,700 on DraftKings in this #revenge game (Ha!). In all seriousness, this is hardly a revenge game. Rondo has played on six different teams in his career in the NBA.
Lakers: JaVale McGee & Rajon Rondo & Brandon Ingram (Elite/Solid GPP). LeBron James (Solid Cash). Kyle Kuzma (Fine GPP).
Despite their current record, I think this Mavericks team may surprise a few people this year. Against the Spurs, they rolled out a fairly tight rotation. Wesley Matthews, DeAndre Jordan, Dennis Smith Jr, and Luka Doncic all saw over 33 minutes (not including overtime). Against the Jazz, all of their starters saw 34 minutes. This is exactly what we want to see from a team. Add in the massive pace bump against the Lakers and you can make a case for any one of these starters. A good example of how to view this spot is to look at the Kings game against Orlando last night. The Kings were obviously mispriced and we saw solid fantasy numbers from three out of the five starters. Let’s take a look at the Mav’s usage & fantasy per minute numbers;
DeAndre Jordan, 15% Usage rate (not as relevant for bigs), 1.21 FP/min
Luka Doncic, 26.4% Usage rate, 1.04 FP/min
Dennis Smith Jr, 29.2% Usage rate, 0.98 FP/min
Harrison Barnes, 23.5% usage rate, 0.80 FP/min
Wesley Matthews, 24% Usage rate, 0.80 FP/min
You can look at this and think, ‘those FP/min figures aren’t that impressive’. However, in almost every game this season, the Mav’s have seen at least two of their starters hit cash line values. Add in the elite matchup against the Lakers, I can almost guarantee you that two of these players will hit cash line, if not gpp line levels (6x+). So far, the best way to attack the Lakers is through the shooting guard and center position. The Lakers rank 28th and 29th vs these positions. This would make Wesley Matthews and DeAndre Jordan the players to target. Wesley Matthews is a low usage, shot dependent guy, but he’s only 5,000 on DraftKings. He’s an incredibly boring player but he is going to get you 15+ shots tonight. Throw in some peripherals from being on the court for 35 minutes and I like his chances of hitting 30 DK points (6x). DeAndre Jordan is probably my favorite center on this slate. Wouldn’t surprise me to see him get his first 20-20 game of the season. Harrison Barnes is a price driven play; 5,500 is far to low for a player who is going to be taking shots and getting peripherals. Luka Doncic is coming off his first 30+ point game of his NBA career. Can’t blame anyone for playing him in this matchup. However, I feel his price has finally caught up to him. He’s most likely a fade for me given that almost every other player on this team is underpriced.
Mavericks: DeAndre Jordan, Harrison Barnes, Wesley Matthews (Elite Plays). Dennis Smith Jr (Solid). Luka Doncic (Fine).