AP NBA Game Theory Decisions 11/14
Happy Wednesday Karma Nation! We have an EXCELLENT 11 game slate to break down tonight. I’m going a little heavier tonight so I felt it would be best to do a game by game breakdown. My playersheet will be posted around 5pm central & will essentially organize and prioritize the plays in this article. Let’s dive in.
76ers AT Magic +6, 220.5
injuries (PHI); Jimmy Butler (IN)
injuries (ORL); Jonathan Isaac & Tomofey Mozgov Questionable
Pace (PHI); 4th Pace Bump; -1.1 proj poss
Pace (ORL); 22nd Pace Bump; +2.6 proj poss
USG (PHI w/ Cov/Saric); Embiid (33%), Redick (25%), Simmons (22%), Fultz (20%), Saric (19%), Covington (15%)
FP/M (PHI w/ Cov/Saric); Embiid (1.56), Simmons (1.27), Redick (1.11), Fultz (0.88), Covington (0.81), Saric (0.80)
*Jimmy Butler-> L2 Seasons, 26.3% USG rate & 1.10 FP/min
It looks like Jimmy Butler is going to be thrown into the starting lineup tonight. You would think that a higher usage & FP/minute player like Butler would arguably drop every other starters USG & FP/M numbers. In cash, on an 11 game slate, I don’t mind taking a wait and see approach. In tournaments, you can make arguments for all three of the 76ers All Stars. . . Remember when the Cavs made their huge trade last season? I believe that first game they absolutely demolished Boston. I could see this being a similar spot where all three of the Philly All Stars put up big numbers. Due to the situation, I’m marking them all as solid GPP plays.
Ben Simmons, PG/SF, 8,700 – Jimmy Butler, SG/SF, 8,200 – Joel Embiid, C, 10,500 -> Solid GPP
USG (ORL w/o Isaac); Fournier (29%), Ross (26%), Vucevic (25%), Gordon (23%), Simmons (22%)
FP/M (ORL w/o Issac); Vucevic (1.26), Fournier (1.07), Gordon (1.05), Mo Bamba (1.03), Ross (0.99), DJA (0.93)
Two things stick out for me; (1) I hate Orlando’s rotations. Their starters minutes have been somewhat unpredictable & no one player is consistently logging over 33 minutes. (2) With Butler/Simmons/& Embiid on the court, this is a terrible matchup.
Jonathan Isaac, PF, 3,900 -> Fine GPP Value *If he plays and no minutes restriction*
Cavaliers AT Wizards -12, 219
Notables; Cavs on B2B
injuries (CLE); George Hill, Sam Dekker, Kevin Love, Kyle Korver OUT, Cedi Osman Questionable
injuries (WAS); None
Pace (CLE); 27th Pace Bump; +1.7 proj poss
Pace (WAS); 9th Pace Bump; -2.7 proj poss
USG (CLE); Clarkson (29%), Hood (25%), Sexton (24%), Thompson (18%), JR Smith (17%), Nance (16%)
FP/M (CLE); Thompson (1.24), Clarkson (1.17), Nwaba (1.0), Hood (0.85), Nance (0.83), Sexton (0.78)
Tristan Thompson has been an absolute monster on the glass over his last four games. My main concern is he is still a low usage player who isn’t typically getting a lot of points in the paint. I’m really torn on Tristan; on the one hand, his rebounding upside gives him a nice floor but his elite efficiency rate is going to be difficult to sustain moving forward. Jordan Clarkson is the guy I’d prefer to target but his minutes are volatile and his price is getting up there. David Nwaba is coming off a fine fantasy performance, much of his damage was done in garbage time (which he could get again tonight if they are trailing big to the Wizards).
What about Larry Nance? Last season, with Love OFF the court, Nance owned a FP/M rate over 1.10. So far this season, in a much larger role, his FP/M rate isn’t anywhere close to last years number. My take is twofold; (1) Tristan is taking away from his rebounding upside & (2) Cleveland isn’t getting many points in the paint (rank 24th). I think Nance will show glimpses of his 2017 upside from time to time this season, which really makes him a tournament consideration play only for me.
It feels dirty to mention it but Collin Sexton feels like a viable cash play at his current price. Sexton is getting all the minutes and we have seen an average of just over 15 FGA’s per game. Through three games he has only taken two free throws. Given his new role & minutes upside, he should be able to get you 5x. However, on an 11 game slate, I’d prefer to go elsewhere. Rodney Hood is a player who can create his own shot and makes for a fine GPP play tonight.
Collin Sexton, PG, 5,000 (Fine Play), Rodney Hood (Fine GPP), Tristan Thompson (Fine Play), David Nwaba (Solid GPP Punt Value), Larry Nance (Fine GPP)
USG (WAS); Wall (30%), Beal (29%), Oubre (22%), Green (18%), Howard (18%), Morris (18%)
FP/M (WAS); Wall (1.23), Beal (1.13), Howard (0.96), Green (0.88), Morris (0.84), Oubre (0.83)
The Cavs shot 53% FG & 54% from 3pt’s yesterday. Even the worst team in the league is not going to lose with a shooting night like that. . . Well, the Warriors at full health would be the one team I could still see winning. Now the Cavs travel to face the Wizards who are coming off b2b wins. The Wizards have been one of the worst teams in the league on defense this season (28th vs 15h last season). I expect this to change and it could start tonight with an easy matchup against the Cavs. Typically, the Wizards roll out a fairly predictable rotation. However, over their last two wins, Otto Porter hasn’t seen the court in the 4th quarter. Jeff Green and Kelly Oubre played the entire 4th in a tight game vs Orlando. Do note, both players didn’t log many minutes in the first half. My take is Jeff Green, Markieff Morris, Kelly Oubre and Otto Porter are all going to be risky targets. It appears whoever has the hot hand on offense or defense is going to get priority. You could also throw Dwight Howard into that mix as the Wizards preferred to go small in the 4th against the Magic. John Wall and Bradley Beal are the priority targets. Both are priced up and the blowout concerns has me caution on this spot.
John Wall, PG, 9,100 (Fine Play), Bradley Beal, SG, 7,500 (FIne GPP)
Heat AT Nets +2, 218.5
injuries (MIA); James Johnson, Dwayne Wade, Dion Waiters OUT
injuries (BKN); Caris LeVert OUT , Jarrett Allen Questionable
Pace (MIA); 10th Pace Bump; -2.3 proj poss
Pace (BKN); 25th Pace Bump; +1.0 proj poss
USG (MIA); Dragic (27%), Richardson (26%), Johnson (22%), Winslow (21%), Whiteside (20%)
FP/M (MIA); Whiteside (1.43), Richardson (0.99), Dragic (0.99), Olynyk (0.97), McGruder (0.85)
Hassan Whiteside is like hitting with 16 against a dealer’s face card in blackjack. It never feels good but you know you should do it. Whitesides FP/M average is just .02 shy of LeBron’s average this season. However, you have two main risks to deal with; (1) Fouls and (2) if Spoelstra decides to go small. On the other hand, over their last seven games, the Nets have given up 58 to Drummond, 51 to Capela, 69 to Jokic and 54 to Towns. In sum, playing Whiteside is like playing with fire while fading Whiteside in this matchup is like playing with a hand grenade. With all of this being noted, I’ll be grading Whiteside as an Elite tournament play. Josh Richardsons price has come down to a level where makes for a safe target. Goran Dragic has been a bit volatile this season but he is still priced just right for this matchup. He makes for a fine target.
Hassan Whiteside, C, 8,400 (Elite GPP play), Josh Richardson, SG/SF, 6,800 (Solid Cash Play), Goran Dragic, PG, 6,300 (Solid tournament play), Wayne Ellington, SG/SF, 3,900 (Punt Value), Kelly Olynyk, PF/C, 4,100 (Punt GPP value)
USG (BKN); Dinwiddie (29%), Russell (29%), RHJ (23%), J Allen (18%)
FP/M (BKN); Russell (1.18), Dinwiddie (1.11), J Allen (1.09), RHJ (0.99), J Harris (0.86)
The main news here is that Caris LeVert suffered a brutal injury just seconds before halftime against the Wolves. This is a huge blow as LeVert has been the Nets best player this season. For DFS purposes, I think the main beneficiaries will be Spencer Dinwiddie and D’Angelo Russell. Joe Harris and Allen Crabbe should see a safer amount of minutes but from a usage standpoint I feel Russ & Dinwiddie benefit more. Dinwiddie will most likely be one of my favorite value plays on this slate. I’d expect D’Angelo Russell to see an uptick on the offensive side of the court. At 6,700, he makes for an elite tournament play. He’s a tournament play due to his minutes volatility. The Nets like to keep their players around or under 30 minutes per game. If Jarrett Allen misses again, RHJ and Ed Davis become solid options to target. If Allen is ruled IN, they will need him on the court to matchup with Whiteside.
Spencer Dinwiddie, PG/SG, (Elite Value), D’Angelo Russell, PG/SG, (Elite GPP), Jarrett Allen, C, (Solid IF playing), RHJ, PF/C, 5,200 & Ed Davis, PF/C, 4,200 (*Solid IF Allen is OUT).
Bulls AT Celtics -12.5, 209.5
injuries (CHI); Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen, Bobby Portis, Denzel Valentine OUT
injuries (BOS); None
Pace (CHI); 17th Pace Bump; -1.6 proj poss
Pace (BOS); 20th Pace Bump; -1.7 proj poss
USG (CHI); LaVine (37%), Parker (25%), Carter Jr (22%), Holiday (14%), Arcidiacono (11%)
FP/M (CHI); Carter Jr (1.22), LaVine (1.18), Parker (0.90), Arcidiacono (0.74), Holiday (0.70)
Zach LaVine has been an absolute beast doing everything on the offensive end of the court for the Bulls. He is basically playing the entire game and putting up 23+ shots a game. These numbers are pretty ridiculous. However, he faces a brutal matchup and this game is a large overall pace down spot. Zach LaVine, Jabari Parker, Wendell Carter, and Ryan Arcidiacono are GPP viable only in my opinion. I just think this game could be a massive blowout.
USG (BOS); Irving (29%), Morris (24%), Tatum (23%), Brown (21%), Hayward (20%), Horford (20%)
FP/M (BOS); Irving (1.23), Morris (1.06), Horford (0.99), Tatum (0.97), Hayward (0.91)
As noted above, I think this game has a good chance of blowing out in favor of Boston (obviously). However, Gordon Hayward saw 31 minutes last game. He’s in a favorable matchup and his price hasn’t been adjusted for the minutes uptick. Hayward makes for a solid play in all formats. Jayson Tatum has one of the best matchups on the board against Jabari Parker. Due to how deep Boston is, Tatum should fly under the radar tonight. He makes for a solid GPP play. Jaylen Brown has been pretty average all season. He is 4,400 on DraftKings and a matchup against the Bulls could be what he needs to get his shot going. I have Brown as a solid GPP value play. I’ll also list Kyrie Irving as a fine GPP play but I like him more in games that stay close. If I was mutli-entering, I don’t hate the idea of building a LaVine + Kyrie Irving stack. However, my plan is to limit my overall exposure to this game.
Gordon Hayward, SG/SF, 5,100 (Solid in all formats), Jayson Tatum, SF/PF, 6,600 (Solid GPP), Jaylen Brown, SG/SF, 4,400 (Solid GPP value), Kyrie Irving, PG, 8,000 (Fine GPP)
Pistons AT Raptors -9.5, 224
injuries (DET); Luke Kennard OUT, Blake Griffin Probable
injuries (TOR); Norman Powell OUT, CJ Miles Questionable
Pace (DET); 8th Pace Bump; +1.3
Pace (TOR); 14th Pace Bump; +0.6
USG (DET); Griffin (30%), Jackson (27%), Drummond (26%), Bullock (20%), Smith (18%)
FP/M (DET); Drummond (1.45), Griffin (1.33), Jackson (0.90), Johnson (0.75), Smith (0.75)
The Pistons are the most transparent team in the league; this offense runs directly through Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. Griffin has been struggling over his last two starts. The matchup tonight is tough but he is in a rebound spot. While Griffin has struggled, Drummond has been a beast since Joel Embiid got the best of him.
Andre Drummond, C, (Fine GPP), Blake Griffin, PF/C, (Solid GPP)
USG (TOR); Leonard (32%), Ibaka (25%), Valanciunas (24%), Lowry (21%), Siakam (19%)
FP/M (TOR); Valanciunas (1.40), Leonard (1.30), Ibaka (1.23), Lowry (1.21), Siakam (1.0)
Serge Ibaka has been starting except when Toronto faces a team with a traditional big. Valanciunas starts & fantasy production; Jazz/25pts , Suns/36pts , Mavericks/30pts , & Cavs/25pts. Assuming ValaNasty gets the start, he makes for an elite tournament play on this slate. Kawhi Leonard burned everyone, including myself, on Mondays slate. The upside is there, he is just struggling with his shot. I’m also think his steals upside increases in this matchup. Leonard won’t be guarding Griffin but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him get some sneaky steals while Griffin is trying to get cute driving to the paint. In all, I feel Leonard is in another bounce back spot in a game that should be fast paced. I have no interest in Pascal Siakam in a matchup against Griffin, who has been excellent on defense. And assuming Valaciunas starts, I have no interest in Serge Ibaka.
Kawhi Leonard, SG/SF, 8,600 (Elite GPP), Jonas Valanciunas, C, 5,000 (Elite GPP), Kyle Lowry, PG, 8,100 (Fine Play)
Knicks AT Thunder -9.5, 215.5
Notables; Emmanuel Mudiay & Kevin Knox Starting*
injuries (NYK); Courtney Lee, Lance Thomas OUT
injuries (OKC); Russell Westbrook OUT
Pace (NYK); 19th Pace Bump; +1.4 proj poss
Pace (OKC); 11th Pace Bump; -1.5 proj poss
USG (NYK); THJ (34%), Burke (27%), Knox (26%), Hezonja (26%), Kanter (26%), Dotson (20%)
FP/M (NYK); Kanter (1.29), THJ (1.07), Vonleh (1.05), Burke (0.93), Hezonja (0.90), Mudiay (0.86)
Kevin Knox came off the bench against Orlando and saw 25 minutes. He will get the start tonight. At 3,900 on DraftKings, he will be a solid value play tonight. Emmanuel Mudiay, 3,700 on DraftKings, also gets the start at point guard tonight. He draws a favorable matchup against Dennis Schroder and should have no issue hitting value if given normal minutes. I’m not real excited about targeting this Knicks team. They have been incredibly volatile with their rotations all season. Thus, my preferred route will be through these value plays who are getting the start tight.
Kevin Knox, SF, 3,900 (Solid Value), Emmanual Mudiay, PG, 3,700 (Solid Value), Tim Hardaway Jr, SG/SF, 7,000 (Fine GPP)
USG (OKC); PG13 (32%), Schroder (32%), Adams (20%), Grant (17%), Abrines (13%)
FP/M (OKC); PG13 (1.25), Schroder (1.11), Adams (1.10), Grant (0.76), Abrines (0.56)
This spot is pretty easy to figure out. With Westbrook ruled out, everything runs through Paul George, Dennis Schroder and Steven Adams. Personally, I do not feel like we have seen Paul Georges ceiling with Russ out. George was very close to a double double against the Suns and with the right game environment a triple double isn’t out of the question. Schroder is averaging 20 FGA’s through his last two games. His price has rapidly increased which will probably help keep is ownership down. Due to these factors, he makes for a solid tournament play. Lastly, Steven Adams are arguably fairly priced at 7,300. Adams has a safe floor and moderate upside. He makes for a solid cash type of play.
Paul Geroge, SF/PF, 9,600 (Elite Play all formats), Dennis Schroder, PG/SG, 7,800 (Solid GPP play), Steven Adams, C, 7,300 (solid play all formats)
Pelicans AT Timberwolves -1, 234.5
injuries (NOR); Elfrid Payton Questionable & Nikola Mirotic Probable
injuries (MIN); Andrew Wiggins & Jeff Teague Questionable
Pace (NOR); 6th Pace Bump; +1.4 proj poss
Pace (MIN); 13th Pace Bump; +3.7 proj poss
(Assumes ELF is OUT*)
USG (NOR); Holiday (28%), Davis (27%), Randle (27%), Mirotic (26%)
FP/M (NOR); Davis (1.37), Randle (1.31), Mirotic (1.26), Holiday (1.25)
Jrue Holiday, PG/SG, 8,500 -> Elite Play IF ELF is OUT. If Payton is OUT, Jrue will handle PG duties, which increases his peripheral and raw scoring upside.
Nikola Mirotic, SF/PF, 7,500 -> Elite GPP While Jrue, Randle and Davis are essentially priced as if ELF and Mirotic are OUT, Mirotics price has actually come down from his high of 8,200. Everyone is always afraid to play someone coming off an injury, with that being noted, Mirotic is an Elite GPP play tonight.
Anthony Davis, PF/C, 11,300 -> Elite Play. Davis arguably has the highest ceiling on this slate. Mirotic being back lowers his raw point upside but I expect multiple Pelican players to hit value tonight in this fast paced matchup.
USG (MIN); TBD
FP/M (MIN); TBD
Robert Covington, SF/PF, 4,700 -> GPP Value. Covington is slated to start tight. As a starter, my guess is he will see big minutes. His low price tag alone puts him into solid value consideration.
Karl Anthony Towns, C, 9,500 -> Solid GPP. This is now officially KAT’s team. His price is up, which should keep his ownership down. The matchup is tough but is almost offset by the fast pace of this game. Town’s is a solid tournament play.
Grizzlies AT Bucks -10, 215
injuries (MEM); Dillon Brooks, JaMychal Green, Chandler Parsons, Omri Casspi OUT
injuries (MIL); None
Pace (MEM); 30th Pace Bump; +3.1 proj poss
Pace (MIL); 5th Pace Bump; -5.5 proj poss
USG (MEM); Conley (30%), Brooks (25%), Gasol (22%), Jackson (21%), Temple (18%)
FP/M (MEM); Conley (1.05), Gasol (0.99), Jackson (0.89), Brooks (0.85), Anderson (0.78)
USG (MIL); Giannis (33%), Middleton (25%), Bledsoe (21%), Lopez (19%)
FP/M (MIL); Giannis (1.67), Middleton (1.15), Bledsoe (1.13), Lopez (0.92), Brogdon (0.87)
We have one of the fastest paced teams vs the slowest pace team in the league. This is a huge pace up spot for the Grizzlies. With that being noted, the Bucks still rank 2nd overall in defensive efficiency. To be blunt, you don’t want heavy exposure to this game. Memphis is dealing with many injuries; thus, my preference would be to target their value pieces. Giannis has such an elite fantasy point per minute rate that I wouldn’t blame you for targeting him. However, I think it makes much more sense to just play Anthony Davis for 300 more.
Jaren Jackson, PF, 5,600 (Solid GPP), Kyle Anderson, PG/SF (Fine Value), MarShon Brooks, SG, 3,300 & Wayne Selden, SG (Punt Value)
Jazz AT Mavericks +4.5, 212
injuries (UTA); Raul Neto OUT
injuries (MAV); Dirk Nowitzki OUT, Wesley Matthews Probable
Pace (UTA); 10th Pace Bump; N/A
Pace (Mav); 16th Pace Bump; -1.5 proj poss
Much like the Grizz/Bucks matchup, I have very little interest in this spot. Both teams are healthy and play solid defense. Although we like the over in this game; It isn’t one we want to target heavily in DFS.
Spurs AT Suns +5, 213.5
injuries (SAS); Pau Gasol & Lonnie Walker & Ruy Gay OUT
injuries (PHX); None
Pace (SAS); 24th Pace Bump; -2 proj poss
Pace (PHX); 21st Pace Bump; -3.1 proj poss
USG (SAS); DeRozan (33%), Aldridge (28%), Belinelli (22%), White (21%), Forbes (19%)
FP/M (SAS); DeRozan (1.25), Aldridge (1.17), Belinelli (0.99), White (0.87), Bertans (0.79)
So we have three games in a row that, in my opinion, just aren’t DFS viable. We are on the UNDER in this game. On either side, the one guy you could play (his price has come way down) is Deandre Ayton. Ayton is 6,400 on Draftkings.
Deandre Ayton, C, 6,400 (Fine Play), LaMarcus Aldridge, PF/C, 8,300 (Fine Play)
Blazers AT Lakers -2.5, 223
injuries (POR); Moe Harkless OUT
injuries (LAL); None
Pace (POR); 18th Pace Bump; +4.2 proj poss
Pace (LAL); 2nd Pace Bump; -0.7 proj poss
USG (POR); Lillard (31%), McCollum (27%), Nurkic (27%), Turner (18%), Collins (18%), Aminu (13%)
FP/M (POR); Nurkic (1.36), Lillard (1.28), McCollum (0.98), Turner (0.92), Collins (0.86), Aminu (0.80)
The Blazers are coming off games against Boston, the Clippers and Bucks. All of these teams play excellent defense. This, in my opinion, has deflated the Blazers pricing. Now they get an elite matchup against the Lakers. Damian Lillard has put up 48 and 45 DK points against the Lakers this season. He’s also over 1k cheaper than the last time he faced the Lakers. I’m not really sure much else needs to be said. . . Lillard is an elite play tonight at his cheap price tag. Nurkic often gets into foul trouble which leads to much volatility in his minutes. He played 30min the last time these two teams faced and put up almost 40 DK points. He actually left quite a bit on the table as he was 5 of 13 from the field. CJ McCollum is also price attractively. CJM is generally raw scoring dependent which puts him into the GPP category for me. Lastly, Aminu and Evan Turner grade out as solid value plays in this pace up spot.
Damian Lillard, PG, 8,800 (Elite Play), Jusuf Nurkic, C, 6,500 (Elite GPP play), CJ McCollum, PG.SG, 6,600 (Solid GPP play), Evan Turner, SG/SF, 4,400 (Solid Play), Al-Farouq Aminu, SF/PF, 4,900 (Solid GPP value).
USG (LAL); James (32%), Kuzma (24%), Lance (24%), Ingram (24%), McGee (19%), Rondo (18%)
FP/M (LAL); James (1.45), McGee (1.23), Lance (1.09), Rondo (1.04), Ball (0.97), Kuzma (0.93), Ingram (0.85)
Luke Walton and his rotations, man. Over their last two games, only a couple of players have seen just over 30 minutes. Lonzo Ball, Rajon Rondo and Josh Hart are all basically in a timeshare together. Weeee, how fun! JaVale McGee and Tyson Chandler are also in a timeshare at the center position <insert happy face here>. Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram are generally seeing between 26 and 32 minutes per game. Oh, let’s not forget that everyone needs a turn to play; Lance Stephenson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are also seeing around 15 minutes a game. This, in my opinion, would be frustrating as a player. How are you supposed to get into a rhythm when you could be pulled at any moment in the game? LeBron James has the safest upside and his price is in a very comfortable range. He makes for a solid to elite play in all formats tonight.
LeBron James, SF/PF, 10,300 -> Solid to Elite in all formats
Brandon Ingram, PG/SF, 5,700 -> Fine GPP
Tyson Chandler, C, 3,400 -> Punt GPP Value
Lonzo Ball or Rajon Rondo -> whoever plays better defense on Lillard will probably get more run. Your guess is as good as mine. In GPPs, Rondo makes for a interesting very low owned play. If it’s a good play is highly debatable.