The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
Tuesday features a four-game main slate starting at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Miami Heat at Toronto Raptors (-4) — 207.5 Total
The Heat have kept a fairly tight rotation of late: Five players tonight are projected for 30-plus minutes. Josh Richardson leads the group, and he’s played at least 36 in four straight. That has led to a ton of fantasy value, averaging a robust +7.69 Plus/Minus on 80 percent Consistency over his past 10 games:
Make sure to buy him on FanDuel, where his $5,600 salary comes with a 97 percent Bargain Rating.
I could also write the exact same thing about the other main guys like Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, and Wayne Ellington. All are projected for 30-plus minutes, all have a positive Plus/Minus over the past 10 games, and all are much better values on FanDuel. Dragic is especially interesting, as he could be a bit undervalued today by the DFS market. He has a poor -1.03 FanDuel Opponent Plus/Minus, but that likely misrepresents his matchup. Kyle Lowry, who is out today with multiple injuries, has been one of the better point guard defenders in his career. While replacements Fred VanVleet and Delon Wright have positive Defensive Real Plus-Minus (DRPM) marks, they have mostly played against backups. Dragic and his wings could certainly have success against a Lowry-less Raptors defense.
Lowry’s absence opens up value on the slate, although it is unclear whether VanVleet or Wright will get the starting nod. The latter is the most likely, in my opinion, as he’s been playing more and better of late. Wright is just three games removed from putting up 61.1 FanDuel points in less than 30 minutes of action. His past-month mark of 1.12 FanDuel points per minute is superior to VanVleet’s mark of 0.70. Both could be popular on both sites given their sub-$5,000 price tags and increased role.
The real winner here, however, is DeMar DeRozan, who is set to have a sky-high usage rate tonight. Lowry has yet to miss a game this season, but we do have a solid sample size from last year. Per our NBA On/Off tool, in 22 games without Lowry last season, DeRozan averaged 35 minutes per game, a 34.8 percent usage rate, and 1.15 DraftKings points per minute. With Lowry off the court this year, those numbers have been even more stark. DeRozan has averaged a 40.3 percent usage rate and 1.46 DraftKings points per minute. He should be one of the chalkiest players on the slate.
The Toronto big men should also get some attention. Jonas Valanciunas has gone for 41.25 and 42.25 DraftKings points over the past two games, although he is risky given his low minutes. Serge Ibaka, on the other hand, continues to see heavy minutes and continues to be an excellent DFS asset, averaging a +5.89 Plus/Minus on 80 percent Consistency over his past 10 games. He’s still quite underpriced on both sites.
Portland Trail Blazers at OKC Thunder (-7.5) — 205.5 Total
And we have another high-end point guard out tonight, as Damian Lillard is set to miss his second straight game with a strained right calf. He’s missed six games on the year so far. C.J. McCollum has led the team in Lillard’s absence with a 31.4 percent usage rate and Shabazz Napier has led the team with a +13.2 DraftKings Plus/Minus. They’ve both averaged over 36 minutes in those affairs and should be solid bets to play a ton tonight.
They should be among the most popular players on the slate, although it is fair to be concerned about the matchup. The Thunder remain one of the best defenses in the league, ranking fourth in defensive efficiency and allowing just 102.8 points per 100 possessions. Per Cleaning the Glass, they rank second in half court defense. Portland has been miserable there, ranking 25th in half court offense. That almost certainly will not improve without Lillard.
That said, they do have one big thing in their favor tonight: The absence of Andre Roberson. According to nbawowy.com, the Thunder have seen stark defensive splits with and without their lockdown wing defender:
- Defensive efficiency with Roberson: 102.2
- Defensive efficiency without Roberson: 113.5
That 102.2 mark would be tied with Golden State for third this season, whereas the 113.5 would be over 3.0 points worse than Sacramento’s league-worst mark of 110.3. At least so far this season, the Thunder have struggled to defend with fill-ins like Terrance Ferguson. That bodes well for the Portland wings, although they’ll still have to deal with excellent defenders like Paul George and Steven Adams.
The other Blazers are GPP-only plays and risky ones at that. Jusuf Nurkic and Al-Farouq Aminu are dependent on rebounds for fantasy value and the Thunder rank fifth this season with a 51.6 percent rebound rate. They’re first in offensive rebound rate, led by Adams, who is dominating the league in that regard this year.
The Thunder wings are also in play. Russell Westbrook, with the injuries to Lillard and Lowry, is now the priciest PG option on the slate on FanDuel by $3,900. There aren’t many overall studs to pay for tonight, which means pairing him with Wright or Napier will likely be a very popular strategy in cash games. And it’s hard to fade him on this slate: He’s absolutely crushed lately, posting a +6.90 Plus/Minus on 90 percent Consistency over his past 10 games. That said, as I wrote in my piece today on notable NBA DFS splits, Westbrook has historically feasted on plus matchups:
He’s averaged a +7.9 DraftKings Plus/Minus in good matchups over the past two years and just a +1.0 mark in bad matchups. His -0.37 Opponent Plus/Minus today against a Blazers squad that ranks fifth on defense, allowing 102.9 points/100, would qualify as a bad one. Still, given the lack of studly options on the slate, Westbrook merely hitting value could swing GPPs.
The other guys deal with the same tough matchup, but options like Adams and Paul George are likely still underpriced on DraftKings, where their $6,400 and $7,800 salaries come with Bargain Ratings of 93 and 86 percent.
Orlando Magic at Dallas Mavericks (-7) — 215 Total
Don’t look now, but, yes, the Magic-Mavericks game leads the slate with a 215 Vegas total. What a time.
The Magic, as usual, are dealing with a ton of injuries: Nikola Vucevic, Terrence Ross and Jonathan Isaac remain out with Jonathon Simmons questionable with back spasms. He missed last game with them, in which Mario Hezonja went for 34.0 DraftKings points in nearly 39 minutes of action. Aaron Gordon led the team with a 38.6 percent usage rate and finished with a solid 43.75 fantasy points himself. Their pace was ridiculous in that game:
The starters are all in play tonight, especially if Simmons is out, and they have an interesting matchup against a Dallas squad that ranks 22nd in defensive efficiency this year, allowing 107.3 points/100.
As usual, make sure to buy these players at their low spots. Gordon is a very nice value on FanDuel, where his $8,300 salary comes with a 90 percent Bargain Rating. He’s third among all players on the slate with 10 Pro Trends. Elfrid Payton, on the other hand, is a much better play on DraftKings, where his $7,200 salary comes with a 93 percent Bargain Rating. He has an absolutely massive Opponent Plus/Minus today of +5.04, and he’s been consistent of late, averaging a +6.86 Plus/Minus on 70 percent Consistency over his past 10. He will likely be overlooked today given the value PG options, which makes him an intriguing GPP play.
The Mavericks have been ridiculous on offense of late, ranking third in the league over the past 10 games in offensive efficiency, scoring 113.1 points/100. Over their past five, they’re second behind only the Warriors. The total on this game is certainly interesting and could warrant a game stack: The Magic play super fast, and the Mavs are on an offensive tear. There could be a ton of points in this one.
Also in the Mavs’ favor is the atrocious defense of the Magic, who rank 26th this season, allowing 108.2 points/100. I mean, take a look at these Opponent Plus/Minus marks:
J.J. Barea leads the team with a +7.0 mark. He’s been an incredible DFS asset lately, averaging a +5.62 Plus/Minus on stupid 90 percent Consistency over his past 10. He’s also been the most efficient fantasy player for the Mavs, averaging 1.13 DraftKings points per minute over the past year.
The issue with the Mavs fantasy-wise is that they don’t play heavy minutes. Only Wesley Matthews and Harrison Barnes are currently projected to exceed 30 minutes. Both of those guys are intriguing, especially on FanDuel, where they come with respective Bargain Ratings of 68 and 86 percent. Barnes has gone for 30-plus FanDuel points in each of his past four games. After those guys, it’s fine to take some GPP shots on players like Dennis Smith and even Dwight Powell, who has shown he can fill up the box score even in limited minutes. He had 36.5 DraftKings points just three games ago and he’s averaged a +4.24 Plus/Minus on 80 percent Consistency over his past 10. At just $3,800, that’s worth some exposure.
Sacramento Kings at LA Lakers (-6.5) — 213.5 Total
The final game of the night features the Kings on the second leg of a road back-to-back against a Lakers squad that has had two days of rest. On the Kings side, it’s unclear whether George Hill will be back after missing the past two games with a personal matter. In those games, where Frank Mason was also out due to injury, De’Aaron Fox got the start and averaged 32.6 minutes. He posted a +10.2 DraftKings Plus/Minus differential and helped to speed up the pace for the Kings. They played at a pace of 103.45/48 with him on the floor in those games. He’s hit value in each of his past three games and should have very low ownership given the PG slate dynamics.
The Kings remain not very fantasy friendly, as their players rarely exceed 30 minutes. In the past two games with a limited backcourt, only Bojan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, and Fox hit that mark, although they barely did. The usage has been evenly distributed in the past two games as Willie Cauley-Stein and Garrett Temple have led the team with marks of 24.6 percent, but every player other than Malachi Richardson was between 16 and 25 percent. They’ve all averaged, other than WCS, between 15 and 30 DraftKings points. It is possible that one of these guys goes off — maybe it is Zach Randolph — but it’s very hard to predict who that will be. Get your exposure to them in GPPs instead of cash games.
The Mavs and Lakers are implied for slate-high marks of 111 and 110.25 points respectively. Again, what a slate.
The Lakers were very Kings-like in their last game: Not a single player exceeded 30 minutes. The guys that stand out for this team in our NBA Models are the big men: Brook Lopez and Julius Randle have respective massive Opponent Plus/Minus marks on DraftKings of +5.03 and +4.64. The Kings remain atrocious defensively, ranking dead last in defensive efficiency, allowing 110.3 points/100. They’re also miserable rebounding the ball, ranking 26th with a 48.1 percent rebound rate. These guys certainly won’t approach 30 minutes, but they’re both over a full DraftKings point per minute over the past year and this matchup is enticing.
The other guys to look at here are Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. Ball is a bit pricey at $7,300 on DraftKings, although he does have a nice 86 percent Bargain Rating there. He’s exceeded salary-based expectations in eight of his past 10 games played, and he went for 38.5 fantasy points in just 29.4 minutes on Sunday versus the Hawks. He’s always a triple-double threat, and he should be low-owned given the slate dynamics. Ingram has been disappointing of late, but he did show his ceiling a couple games ago, going for 22 points and 14 rebounds. The Lakers guys may not play a ton of minutes, but they could have low ownership against easily the worst team in the league. That seems like a good tournament spot.
Photo via Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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