AP NBA Game Theory Decisions 12/19 - DFS Karma
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AP NBA Game Theory Decisions 12/19

Happy Wednesday Karma Nation! How about John Wall last night? What a bust. One of my builds on Draftkings hit 330 with Wall in it. Oh well, crazier things have happened, we have to brush it off and move on.

We have a massive 12 game slate to tackle tonight. However, there is one question on everyone’s mind. . .

‘. . . No Randle. . . No Mirotic. . . 232 total. . . Do we play Anthony Davis at 40-50%+ ownership tonight?’

. . . I’ll answer this question in great detail but let’s first review the vegas odds and injury situations on this slate.


CLE at CHA – CHA by 12.5 o/u 216.5

Q Jordan Clarkson SG CLE – low back – rest

NYK at PHI – PHI by 13.0 o/u 225.5

D Damyean Dotson SG NYK – shoulder bruise

OUT Allonzo Trier SG NYK – strained left hamstr

OUT Mitchell Robinson C NYK – ankle

Q Tim Hardaway Jr. SF NYK – sore right heel

SAS at ORL – SAS by 1.0 o/u 208.0

OUT Timofey Mozgov C ORL – sore right knee

D Isaiah Briscoe PG ORL – DOUBTFUL

6:30pm – Starts in 8.9h

PHO at BOS – BOS by 11.5 o/u 219.0

P Kelly Oubre Jr. SF PHO – traded

OUT Al Horford PF BOS – left knee soreness

INJ 2g Guerschon Yabusele PF BOS – ankle

Q Jaylen Brown SG BOS – bruised right hand

INJ  Jabari Bird SG BOS – personal

IND at TOR – TOR by 7.5 o/u 210.5

OUT Kyle Lowry PG TOR – left thigh contusion

IN Fred VanVleet PG TOR – doubtful

OUT Pascal Siakam PF TOR – back stiffness

OUT Serge Ibaka PF TOR – right knee swelling

IN Norman Powell SF TOR – shoulder subluxation

P Danny Green SG TOR – eye

7:00pm – Starts in 9.4h

WAS at HOU – HOU by 11.0 o/u 226.0

INJ 3g Otto Porter SF WAS – right knee contusion

P Marquese Chriss PF HOU – sprained ankle

INJ 3g James Ennis SF HOU – strained hamstring

NOR at MIL – MIL by 8.5 o/u 231.5

OUT Nikola Mirotic PF NOR – right ankle soreness

OUT Julius Randle PF NOR – ankle

Q Ian Clark SG NOR – right ankle sprain

Q Malcolm Brogdon SG MIL – left hamstring soren

OUT Ersan Ilyasova PF MIL – nose contusion

DET at MIN – MIN by 5.0 o/u 218.0

INJ 4g Henry Ellenson PF DET – left ankle sprain

INJ 4g Glenn Robinson III SF DET – ankle

OUT Jeff Teague PG MIN – left ankle

INJ  Jerryd Bayless PG MIN – knee

BKN at CHI – BKN by 2.0 o/u 213.5

INJ 3g Treveon Graham SG BKN – torn left hamstring

Q Allen Crabbe SG BKN – knee

P Robin Lopez C CHI – PROBABLE

Q Jabari Parker SF CHI – stomach illness

INJ 2g Zach LaVine PG CHI – ankle injury – left

8:00pm – Starts in 10.4h

GSW at UTA – GSW by 3.0 o/u 221.0

9:00pm – Starts in 11.4h

OKC at SAC – OKC by 5.5 o/u 234.5

Q Iman Shumpert SG SAC – left hip contusion

Q Bogdan Bogdanovic SG SAC – sore right foot

MEM at POR – POR by 6.0 o/u 201.5

Q Joakim Noah C MEM – right heel soreness

Q Mike Conley PG MEM – left hamstring soren

P Kyle Anderson SF MEM – right hip contusion

Q Anfernee Simons SG POR – illness


Alright, so back to the most important question on this slate. . .

‘. . . No Randle. . . No Mirotic. . . 232 total. . . Do we play Anthony Davis at 40-50%+ ownership tonight?’

Let’s take this question piece by piece. First, we need to understand why Anthony Davis is going to be popular, which is fairly straightforward->

  1. Vegas has the total set at 232, which is one of the highest on the slate, meaning we could see some fantasy goodness in this game.
  2. In the 100 minutes Anthony Davis has played without Elf, Randle or Mirotic, he owns a 40% usage rate and averages 2.22 fantasy points per minute.
  3. Anthony Davis averages 37 minutes per game, which is one of the highest in the NBA.

Given these metrics, Anthony Davis is in one of the most elite spots on this slate and he will be popular (rightfully so). In a crazy scenario where Anthony Davis wasn’t chalk and if I magically knew the ownership before hand and let’s say he was sub 10% owned. I would most likely empty my DK roll and go all in on Anthony Davis. However, at 50%+ ownership and at his price, if he doesn’t hit a certain number we could gain a massive edge on the field. Let’s tackle the next question at hand;

‘. . . How could Anthony Davis possibly not hit value. . . ?’

  1. The game blows out. The Bucks are 20-9 and 13-3 on their home court. They have been involved in 11 blowout wins this season. Most notable blowout wins over; Warriors, Blazers, Raptors and Pistons. . . They also beat the Kings by over 40 points.
    1. Against the Warriors, the Bucks extended their 14 point lead at half to 27 points in the third quarter. Curry & Durant didn’t see any minutes in the 4th quarter.
    2. Against the Blazers, the Bucks extended their 17 point halftime lead to 27 points in the third quarter. Lillard, McCollum & Nurkic didn’t play a single minute in the 4th quarter.
  2. Team Pace. On the season, the Bucks rank 5th and Pelicans 7th in overall team pace. From a macro view, this is an elite pace spot, which is arguably why Vegas has this total set so high. However, over the their last three games, the Bucks rank 18th and Pelicans 15th in overall team pace. Sure, this drop in pace could be due to their last three matchups. But over the past two weeks, the Bucks rank 16th and Pelicans 11th in team pace. This is speculation but the drop in pace could be due to Budenholzer wanting to run more plays opposed to sprinting up and down the court chucking up jumpers. You also have George Hill getting 14-18 minutes with the second unit. Hill is a slow, pass first type of guard.
  3. Matchup’s. The matchup against Brook Lopez is an interesting one. Lopez isn’t an elite defender but he takes a lot of three point shots. This pulls opposing bigs outside of the paint and what we see is a modest reduction in the center guarding him’s defensive rebounding rate. The only reason this is significant is due to Anthony Davis’s price and projected ownership. If the game doesn’t blow out, pulling AD outside of the paint could not only reduce his rounding rate but also his opportunity for blocks and steals. Why do you think the Bucks are elite at limiting fantasy points to opposing bigs (rank 4th in efficiency and 6th individually)? In my opinion, it is all about the matchup and situation as opposed to Lopez being elite defensively (Lmao). Note; Drummond and Jokic have played the Bucks a combined four times, together they have one block against the Bucks.
  4. Injury. Injuries isn’t a risk I factor in at all but Anthony Davis is notorious for ‘heading to the locker room’ if the game isn’t going his way early. I doubt something like this happens, However, it wouldn’t surprise me at all.


In sum, here is my long winded answer;

GPPS -> Fade. Assuming Anthony Davis is going to be extremely popular (at least over 40%), we have a very rare opportunity to potentially gain a massive amount of leverage on the field. This is far different than Randle chalk or a value play as chalk, Davis is the most expensive player on this slate. If he busts, half of the lineups in the field will go down in flames. And honestly, the only way he absolutely burns you if he puts up some sort of ridiculous number. . . like 80+ dk points.

CASH (H2Hs/Double ups) -> Do not fade. He is a free square and is surely to be 80%+ owned. You only need to beat half of the field, just pick a different spot to battle it out at.


On to the meat of this article. . . I let twitter decide the content of todays Game Theory blog, here were the results->

*Game by game- 13%

*Roster Construction Strategy-30%

*Core Plays- 57%


AP Core Plays & Strategy


GPP/Tournament Strategy

Disclosure; This core could very well change before lock if unexpected news drops or if I find another angle I really like. If you are a member of my NBA Bets package, you will receive my updated core in discord before lock. Unfortunately, it may be difficult for me to make adjustments to this article.


James Harden, PG/SG, 11,400 -> If I’m pivoting off of Anthony Davis, I want to build my lineup around another stud who; (1) will be lower owned and (2) carries a similar ceiling. I played around with a few builds and it is very difficult to fit both Harden and Anthony Davis into your builds. In theory, this will automatically make my roster construction fairly contrarian. As far as ownership goes, I have Harden right around 10% and Anthony Davis around 40%. With James Ennis out, through 367 minutes this season, Harden owns a 44.7% usage and 1.79 fantasy point per minute average. Harden is also locked into massive minutes and despite the -11 Vegas line, the Rockets just haven’t been able to blow teams out this year.


Trevor Ariza, SF/PF, 4,500 -> The Wizards rolled Ariza out for 38 minutes last night. Now he gets to face his former team. The Rockets have generally been sound defending wings but I can’t pass up a player with 38 minute upside at his current price tag. Add in the revenge factor and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Ariza found his way into all of my lineups tonight. I expect Ariza will be popular, however, completely fading every potential chalk spot is a losing proposition. Having exposure to Harden will immediately give our lineups some leverage.


Kawhi Leonard, SF/PF, 9,200 -> Leonard might not pop in many models. The reason is he has only played 8 minutes with Ibaka, Lowry and Valanciunas off the court this season. However, if we add Ibaka back into the mix, Leonard owns a 35% usage and 1.40 fantasy point per minute average over 128 minutes of play. If put Lowry in and keep Ibaka OFF, Leonard’s usage and fantasy point per minute is the same in the first scenario. Let’s look at the scenario when VanVleet AND Leonard are ON the court together; Leonard owns a 33.5% usage and 1.35 fantasy point per minute average. With three main starters out tonight I think we will see Leonard shoulder more of the load on offense and defense.

Note; Pascal Siakam, who is only 5,700 on DraftKings, would be my auto plug in play for cash games. He could easily push for 36+ minutes alongside Leonard tonight.

Note; Another tourney pivot idea; Siakam over Leonard and you should have enough room for Paul George, who is 300 cheaper than Leonard.


Nemanja Bjelica, SF/PF, 4,800 -> The Kings will be without Iman Shumpert, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Marvin Bagley. Again, another team with three key players out (are you seeing a trend yet?). Bjelica was 80% owned on Monday when Dave Joerger pulled all of the starters after 5 minutes of play. This is an elite bounce back spot for these starters and we might get Bjelica at more than half the ownership we saw on Monday. As I said previously, I don’t mind eating certain chalk value spots, this is definitely one of those spots.


Derrick Rose, PG/SG, 6,700 -> With Teague out, Rose owns a 33.4% usage and 1.20 fantasy point per minute average. This spot is fairly straightforward as DraftKings arguably didn’t adjust Rose’s price enough to account for the situation. In addition to the massive fantasy point per minute bump over his average (+0.18) he has one of the better matchups on the board. The Pistons rank 26th vs opposing guards.


Salary left per position; $4,467

Positions open; C, G, & UTIL

Build notes; You’ll notice, this build isn’t ultra contrarian and probably isn’t best suited for large field tournaments. My specialty is single entry, 3max, and larger buy in tournaments with under 2,500 entries. The tournament I have my eyes on tonight is the $600 buy in with 835 total entries on DraftKings. I’m eating quite a bit of chalk, however, I estimate that around 55-60% of the lineups in this event will have Anthony Davis. As I stated above, in a situation where Anthony Davis doesn’t hit value or if Harden outscores him, I’ll have a leg up on well over half the field.

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