AP NBA Game Theory Decisions 11/2
Happy Friday Karma Nation! We made it through another week and now it’s time to absolutely smash this 8 game Friday slate. Personally, I feel my research has been on point, but my personal builds have been just off slightly. I have one goal for today’s article; we are going to focus on finding the absolute best plays in each game.
Clippers AT Magic +1.5, 217
Notable Info; Clippers on B2B,
Clippers rank 9th & Magic rank 21st in overall team pace. Oddly enough, the Magic recieve a slight pace bump (+1.7) while the Clippers see a slight pace decrease (-1.7). The Magic are one of the best teams to attack (26th in defensive efficiency) while the Clippers are one of the better defensive teams in the NBA (9th in def eff). Both teams are deep with bench players that have the ability to cut into starters time on the court (Terrence Ross, Jonathon Simmons, & Mo Bamba for ORL & many different players for LAC-> 10 players saw over 10 minutes last night).
Given all of the above points; I’m going to want to limit my exposure to this game. Patrick Beverley and Avery Bradley are getting more minutes but their range of outcomes is 4 FPs to 30 FPs. Given that Orlando is weak vs opposing guards, I don’t mind Pat Beverley in GPPs.
The Play; Skipping over this spot for now. Doesn’t mean I’m going to fade this game, I just want to properly prioritize the games I want exposure too.
Rockets AT Nets +3.5, 216.5
Notable Info; James Harden – Doubtful
Rockets rank 14th & Nets rank 26th in overall team pace. Overall, this is a combined net decrease of (-3.1). I think much of this has to do with Harden being off the court. The best way to attack the nets has been through the front court (29th vs PF’s & 17th vs C’s). Houston has been weak on defense this year (20th def eff). This makes sense as they lost two key defensive pieces from last year’s team. On the Houston side, this game depends on the viability of James Harden.
With Harden OFF the court this year; Chris Paul owns a 27.5% usage rate & 1.36 fantasy point per minute average. These numbers are way lower than the numbers he was putting up with Harden OFF the court last season. I’ll be trusting the long term data in this spot and will most likely be going back to the well on Chris Paul. My hope is that we see his ownership continue to tick down due to his recent two ‘duds’. I also hope everyone forgets about Eric Gordon. Gordon is under 6k and he’s taken an average of over 17 shots per game with Harden OFF the court. Lastly, due to his price, Clint Capela makes for an intriguing tournament play. I can’t see many paying 7.8k for him, as he hasn’t paid off that salary point all season.
Rockets: Chris Paul (Elite GPP), Eric Gordon (Solid GPP), Clint Capela (Contrarian play)
The Nets are another deep team with an inconsistent rotation. For example, Joe Harris & Jared Dudley along with Caris LeVert lead the team in minutes against the Pistons. In their previous game, Dudley saw 18 minutes while Harris saw 27. The one consistent spot is Caris LeVert, who has seen just about 30 minutes in every game this season. However, his current price on DraftKings reflects this ‘consistency’. I love Jarrett Allens price at 5,100 on DraftKings. He couldn’t go three minutes without commiting a foul against Drummond. This is still a primary risk for Allen. My thought is if Chris Paul finally heats up, he’ll be taking more shots and possibly feeding Capela less. In this scenario, it would reduce Allen’s foul risk just a bit. If he stays out of foul trouble, he has 27 to 28 minute upside.
Nets; Jarrett Allen (Solid GPP), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Fine GPP), Caris LeVert (Fine Play)
Thunder AT Wizards -2.5, 228
Notable Info; Thunder on B2b, Dwight Howard STARTING
Thunder rank 4th & Wizards rank 6th in pace of play. Overall, this is a massive net pace increase (+6.8). Washington has been one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA (28th def eff) & my preference would be to attack them with high usage/high FP/min players. The Thunder have been below average against every position outside of the center spot. Steven Adams is an elite defender and rim protector. Oklahoma City, from a talent & shooting ability perspective, is not a deep team. If this team wants to start winning games, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Steven Adams and Dennis Schroder are all going to have to see big minutes. The Wizards are somewhat deep but really this team revolves around John Wall and Bradley Beal. Dwight Howard will slide into the starting lineup tonight; he is priced very low on DraftKings at 5,200 but he faces a brutal matchup and there is no word (yet) on what his minutes limit will be.
This looks like the perfect spot to pair the two starting point guards against each other. John Wall is underpriced on DraftKings at 8,100 and Russell Westbrook is still searching for his first triple double of the season. Imagine if there was a prop bet at the start of the season on who would be the first player to triple double between Russell Westbrook and De’Aaron Fox. Can’t begin to imagine what the line would have been for Russ. If Fox can do it surely Russ can get it done. If you want one other nugget to chew on, John Wall hasn’t scored under 40 DK points vs the Thunder since 2015.
Lastly, not sure how relevant it is, but on 1/25 of last season, Beal, Wall & Russ combined for 184 DK points. . . That’s over 7x their current prices. I’m not saying this exact scenario can or will happen again, I just like the fact that we tend to see lots of fantasy points when these two teams clash. If you want to maximize minutes exposure; Paul George + John Wall + Bradley Beal (48.4% of salary cap usage) make for an intriguing game stack. Russell Westbrook + John Wall (38.2% of salary cap usage) make for a great ‘opposing PG’ stack.
Thunder: Russell Westbrook (Elite Play), Paul George (Elite GPP), Dennis Schroder (Solid), Jerami Grant (Solid Value), Steven Adams (Fine GPP)
Wizards: John Wall (Elite Play), Bradley Beal (Elite GPP), Dwight Howard (Depends on minutes)
Pacers AT Bulls +8, 214
Notable Info; Bulls key players still OUT
Pacers rank 30th (slowest in NBA) & Bulls rank 21st in pace of play. This is the largest overall ‘pace down spot’ on the slate (-6.4). The Pacers have a fairly deep rotation and rank 6th overall in defensive efficiency. The Bulls are rattled with injuries and rank 27th in defensive efficiency.
In my opinion, Victor Oladipo continues to be priced too high. He hasn’t topped 50 DK points once all season and has failed to top 40 DK points four times already. This game has a chance of getting out of hand, which would firmly bring Cory Joseph (3,900) into play. Corey Joseph and Darren Collison have been in a complete time share this season. Between the two, minutes have been fairly similar, but Joseph gives us a nice 700 in savings off Collisons price tag.
Pacers: Cory Joseph (Solid GPP Value) Tyreke Evans (GPP Value)
The Bulls are coming off a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Nuggets. Jabari Parker started in this game and logged over 30 minutes (not including overtime). This is very interesting as the one leaky spot in the Pacers defense is to opposing PF’s (20th in def eff). The Pacers use to be a team that we could attack with Centers. That is not the case this year. Year to date, the Pacers have held opposing centers to 17.50 fantasy point average, this is a net -26% in relation to the industry average. I make note of this because Wendell Carter has been fantastic over his last three games. DraftKings has yet to bump his price up, which makes him an interesting play for tournaments. Cameron Payne continues to start but has really underwhelmed outside of a few games. Antonio Blakeney, in my opinion, is their best healthy option at point guard, but his minutes have been very inconsistent. Zach LaVine has been the focal point of this offense but Oladipo will be matched up on him all game.
Bulls: Jabari Parker (Elite GPP), Wendell Carter (Fine GPP), Antonio Blakeney (Deep gpp punt play)
Knicks AT Mavericks -6.5, 218
Notable Info; Kevin Nox OUT (2more games), Devin Harris OUT
Knicks rank 24th & Mavericks rank 14th in team pace. This is also another overall net decrease in pace spot when you combined both teams (-2.5). Dallas is a pretty deep team where we have seen some volatility in player minutes. The Knicks are another team that has been hit by the injury bug. David Fizdale has been pretty creative with his players rotations; this is not something we like in daily fantasy. We want very predictable minutes and rotations. However, what Fizdale has been doing has worked. The Knicks picked up a win against the Nets and kept things very close vs the Pacers. The Knicks rank 24th & Dallas ranks 22nd in overall defensive efficiency.
From a minutes perspective, Tim Hardaway Jr’s role is by far the safest. Then it appears as if Frank Ntilikina, Damyean Dotson, and Noah Vonleh would fall in line after THJ. However, I’d argue any of these guys could get pulled quickly if the Knicks get off to a cold start. Noah Vonleh feels like a trap spot. His price is up to 4,800 and he’s a guy that relies heavily on peripheral stats, especially steals and blocks. Over his last three games, he’s averaged 5.5 FG attempts. I’d much rather target Damyean Dotson who is a good shooter and is 400 cheaper that Vonleh. Frank Ntilikina is arguably starting because of his defensive skills. However, Fizdale did state that he wants Franky to shoot the ball more.
Knicks: Damyean Dotson & Frank Ntilikina (Solid Value)
In my opinion, the Mavericks side of this game is fairly straightforward. Harrison Barnes is way too cheap on DraftKings. At 5,300, I’m going to make sure I make him a priority in my builds. DeAndre Jordan feels a bit too expensive, I’d much rather pay 8,200 for John Wall. I really like Luka Doncic’s game but he has only hit value at his current price tag twice all season. I’d rather take the discount with Dennis Smith Jr. Wesley Matthews is always going to get the minutes but he is always going to need an efficient raw scoring day. At 4,800, he makes for a fine value play but if he comes out ice cold, he has the ability to sink your lineups.
Mavericks: Harrison Barnes (Elite Play), Dennis Smith Jr (Solid Play), Wesley Matthews (Fine Value)
Grizzlies AT Jazz -7.5, 204.5
Notable Info; Donovan Mitchell OUT, Alec Burks OUT, Raul Neto OUT (Jazz), Chandler Parsons OUT
Grizzlies rank 29th & the Jazz rank 16th in pace of play. With Donny Mitchell out, I’d rank them right next to the Grizzlies in pace of play. Yup, I believe Mitchell has that big of an affect on this teams pace as he is always the guy pushing things in transition. Usually, in this situation, I’d just plug in the info to see which player soaks up Mitchells usage. That really isn’t going to work and could be a bit misleading with the data set being so limited. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time he missed a game. Lastly, Memphis ranks 14th & the Jazz rank 7th in overall defensive efficiency.
Let’s map this situation out to make sure we are approaching it in the most optimal way;
- Multiple guards out for the Jazz including their star Donovan Mitchell (This does 2 things)
- Opens up value as sites haven’t adjusted for new starters & roles value players will now take on (Royce O’Neale & Dante Exum)
- Usage & FP/min should disperse to key players on the offense (Ricky Rubio & Joe Ingles)
- Two slow paced & defensively focused teams are facing each other.
- Slow pace = less opportunities
- Sound defense = reduce scoring & assists opportunities (in theory)
The safe way to approach this game and situation is probably by limiting our overall exposure. A great way to do this would be through one of the value plays. Dante Exum has the overall scoring upside while Royce O’Neale may have the minutes upside, due to his defensive skill set. Joe Ingles is already great at racking up peripheral stats and now we could see an uptick in his field goal attempts. The biggest beneficiary could be Ricky Rubio, who should be running the offense while he is on the court. His price of 5,700 on DraftKings is 400 cheaper than the last time these two teams faced each other earlier this year.
Jazz: Dante Exum (Solid to Elite GPP value), Royce O’Neale (if starting) (Solid Value), Joe Ingles (Solid), & Ricky Rubio (Solid & probably an elite GPP play)
Grizz: If I’m going to get exposure to this game, it will be through the Jazz given the current injury situation. Grizz will be a pure fade unless some injury or random rest scenario pops up.
Raptors AT Suns +11.5, 225.5
Notable Info; Devin Booker Questionable
Raptors rank 12th & the Suns rank 18th in pace of play. If Devin Booker isn’t able to suit up, this game is going to be a blow out. If Devin Booker is able to suit up, I still think this game will probably end in a blow out. Given these two things, I have zero interest in paying over 10k for Kawhi Leonard. At Leonards current price, he has hit 5x only three times this season. Pascal Siakam has had two monster games but it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him come crashing down to his normal range. Kyle Lowry is 8,400. . . I’d much rather pay 8,200 for John Wall.
Timberwolves AT Warriors -11, 242
Notable Info; Jimmy Butler Probable, Tyus Jones/Jeff Teague Questionable
Well, here we go, on to one of the more interesting games on the night. Jimmy Butler didn’t feel like playing against the Jazz so he took the night off. Lmao! Tyus Jones & Jeff Teague are both questionable; keep an eye on this entire situation heading up to lock*.
Timberwolves rank 10th & the Warriors rank 11th in pace of play. We see an overall net increase in total pace (+2.2). The Wolves rank 18th in overall defensive efficiency while the Warriors actually rank 2nd. The Warriors are the most efficient team offensively in the NBA and are probably one of the more sneaky good teams on defense. This generally leads to quick blowouts and with all those mouths to feed, I generally take a pass on the Warriors. However, I have to take a step back as Stephen Curry has hit just about 5x his current salary seven different times this season. However, I still think Wall might be able to put up a number that matches Currys & I think Westbrook still has more upside. At this point, I’d prioritize those two ahead of the Chef.
Nothing has changed in regards to Klay Thompson. He’s always going to be a raw scoring dependent player. Given his current price and the total of this game, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him land in that mid 30 point range. In regards to the Warriors studs, I like Kevin Durant the most. He is just under 10k and outside of his last two games, he has been putting up big numbers all season. Right behind Kevin Durant, Draymond Green is also firmly in play at 6,900 on DraftKings. I feel like this is one of those Draymond games where we might see 5+ total steals and blocks.
Warriors; Kevin Durant (Elite Play), Draymond Green (Elite GPP), Stephen Curry (Solid Play), Klay Thompson (Fine GPP)
Karl Anthony Towns has been his old elite self over his past two games. He actually had two solid games vs the Warriors last season (58, 53, & 36 DK points). Even with Jimmy Butler back, his price hasn’t increased enough to shy away from him. If he stays aggressive it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him put up another 55+ DK point game. However, Jimmy Butler might end up being my favorite GPP play on this slate. Jimmy is the type that always tends to show up for the bigger games (54 vs Lakers & 48 vs Raptors) and this is as big as any game can get. Lastly, Thib stated he wants rose to see 27-29 minutes per game. If the Wolves want to keep this one close, they are going to need another big game from the legend Derrick Rose. Rose makes for a fine GPP play at his current price. However, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him cool off after that monster game. Either way, I’ll be rooting for DRose.
Wolves; Jimmy Butler & Karl Anthony Towns (Elite GPP), Derrick Rose (Solid GPP) *Monitor the Teague/Tyus news*
To sum this up, here’s how I view the key spots on this slate;
- Will CP3 finally have that high usage/high fantasy point per minute game with Harden off the court ?
- Prioritizing our stud stacks around Thunder/Wizards and Wolves/Warriors
- Jazz situation-> lock in the value to pay up for the games we like right above us is the route I’m liking
- Could Jabari Parker & Harrison barnes (along with a few others) be a few mid range one-offs to throw into the mix.
*As always, check back around 5pm central for my final AP NBA Playbook*
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