The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
Sunday features a four-game main slate starting at 7:00 pm ET.
Russell Westbrook headlines the PG position on today’s slate, but he’s currently questionable to suit up with an ankle injury. He missed their most recent game and yesterday’s practice and looks like he’ll be a true game-time decision for today’s contest with the Grizzlies. Luckily, this is one of the three games that tip off at 7:00, so we should receive word on his status before lineup lock.
If Westbrook is active, his matchup with the Grizzlies is intriguing. They’re playing at the slowest pace in the league, but that hasn’t stopped them from being a strong matchup for opposing PGs. Westbrook’s Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.07 on DraftKings ranks third at the position on today’s slate. Westbrook has also torched the Grizzlies over the last two seasons, averaging a Plus/Minus of +6.82 and exceeding value in four of five contests.
The Mavericks are going to be pretty shorthanded today, with JJ Barea, Wesley Matthews, and Dirk Nowitzki all sitting out on the second leg of a back-to-back. That should result in plenty of minutes for both Dennis Smith Jr. and Yogi Ferrell in a pace-up spot against the Houston Rockets. Smith Jr. and Ferrell have also seen the largest usage bumps on the team with all three players off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.29 fantasy points per minute for DSJ and 0.86 fantasy points per minute for Ferrell.
The only issue with these guys is their potential minutes: They’re currently 13.5-point underdogs on the road in Houston and would likely see reduced minutes in a blowout.
De’Aaron Fox looks like a potential value today on FanDuel, where his $5,400 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 95 percent. He played approximately 34 minutes last game after the Kings traded away George Hill and has averaged 0.87 fantasy points per minute over the past month.
Ricky Rubio left his last game early with a sore hip, snapping a streak where he exceeded value in seven straight games on DraftKings. He’s currently questionable for today’s contest, but if he suits up he could be a nice value on DraftKings given his Bargain Rating of 98 percent. He’s currently projected for 31.1 minutes in our NBA Models and has averaged 1.09 fantasy points per minute over the past month.
The Houston Rockets have been dominant recently. They’re in the midst of a seven-game winning streak, and the way that they’ve been winning has been even more impressive. They’ve won five of those seven games by double digits, and the 13.5-point spread in tonight’s game suggests they could be in line for another easy win.
Unfortunately, their dominance has had a negative impact on the fantasy numbers for James Harden. He’s posted a usage rate of at least 40.5 percent in each of his past three games, but he’s only returned value in one of them due to reduced minutes in blowout situations. Even if today’s game against the Mavericks does stay close, it’s not the best spot for him. Dallas is playing at the fourth-slowest pace this season, resulting in an Opponent Plus/Minus of just +0.25 for Harden on FanDuel. The Mavs have been one of the only teams to contain Harden somewhat over the past two seasons.
Between the spread and matchup history, Harden carries more risk than usual on today’s slate.
One factor that increases Harden’s appeal is the lack of viable value options. One option who could have some appeal though is Buddy Hield. The Kings have stated that they’re looking to play their young players more through the end of the season, and Hield has averaged 0.96 fantasy points per minute over the past month. He offers significant upside if he sees a boost in playing time.
If Rubio doesn’t play today for the Jazz, Donovan Mitchell could be forced into a massive role on offense. So far this season, he’s posted a usage rate of 35.1 percent with Rubio and Rodney Hood off the court, resulting in an average of 1.22 fantasy points per minute on DraftKings.
He’s in play regardless of Rubio’s status on DraftKings, where he has a Bargain Rating of 93 percent.
Tyreke Evans is expected to suit up today after the Grizzlies were unable to find a trade partner before the deadline. There’s no guarantee he’ll step into the same role, but his current $7,700 salary represents a decrease of $800 over the past month on FanDuel. He could offer some appeal for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs).
If Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony can’t go today for the Thunder, Paul George will command massive ownership. He scored 47.3 FanDuel points with both players out of the lineup in his most recent contest and has seen a usage bump of 13.3 percent with both players off the court this season.
He leads all SFs with 13 Pro Trends on FanDuel, where he has a Bargain Rating of 81 percent.
Dillon Brooks has been a nice source of value recently, exceeding salary-based expectations in four of his last five games. He’s played at least 31 minutes in all four of those games, yet his salary has actually decreased over that time frame. His Opponent Plus/Minus of +0.64 against the Thunder is pretty uninspiring, but the Thunder have been a much worse defensive team since losing Andre Roberson to an injury.
Joe Ingles has a Bargain Rating of 97 percent on FanDuel and figures to play the majority of the SF minutes for the Jazz after they traded away Joe Johnson. He’s averaged 0.77 fantasy points per minute over the past month and is currently projected for 33.2 minutes on today’s slate.
Al-Farouq Aminu has been priced down to $4,900 on DraftKings, and he’s historically been a solid value with a comparable salary as a member of the Trail Blazers.
The biggest issue with Aminu today is his matchup with the Jazz. They’ve been elite defensively, holding opponents to fewer than 100 points in six of their past eight games.
The PF position is light on elite talent on today’s slate. Only three players have salaries of at least $6,000 on FanDuel, and none of the options is priced above $6,500. Of the three, Dwight Powell is in the best recent form. He’s posted a Plus/Minus of +4.87 on DraftKings over his last 10 games and has a Consistency Rating of 84 percent over the past month. He could see some extra playing time with Nowitzki out of the lineup, and he has a solid Opponent Plus/Minus of +2.52 against the Houston Rockets. He’s a much stronger value on DraftKings, where he has a Bargain Rating of 97 percent.
Sticking with the Mavs: Maxi Kleber could also see a boost in playing time and is priced at the dead minimum on FanDuel. He’s averaged 0.84 fantasy points per minute over the past month, so any additional playing time could make him a strong value.
Derrick Favors has the best matchup of the day at the position, owning an Opponent Plus/Minus of +2.15 on FanDuel. He’s maintained a solid role for the Jazz despite the return of Rudy Gobert, playing at least 30 minutes in each of his past two games. He’s averaged 0.98 fantasy points per minute over the past month, making him one of the safer options at a weak position.
If Carmelo Anthony is active, he also makes some sense on today’s slate. No one at the position offers the same combination of projected playing time (33.7 minutes) and recent fantasy production (0.93 fantasy points per minute). If he’s inactive, look for Jerami Grant to assume a larger role for the Thunder. He played 35.5 minutes against the Warriors after Melo left the game early with an ankle injury.
The center position is one of the most talent-rich on today’s slate. Karl-Anthony Towns leads the group, and he has a wonderful matchup against the Sacramento Kings. The Kings’ slow pace has hurt opposing guards this season, but it’s had no such effect on opposing big men: Towns leads the slate with an Opponent Plus/Minus of +4.81 on DraftKings. The Timberwolves’ implied team total of 112.5 points ranks second on today’s slate.
Jusuf Nurkic is in an interesting spot today against the Utah Jazz, who are an incredibly tough matchup: He has an Opponent Plus/Minus of just +1.43, and Gobert has graded out as the second-best defensive center in the league per Defensive Real Plus/Minus (DRPM). That said, Nurkic has been priced down to just $5,700 on DraftKings in anticipation of the tough matchup and has averaged 1.22 fantasy points per minute over the past month. His minutes have been a bit volatile this season, but if he plays on the high end of his minute range he has tons of upside at his current salary.
Rudy Gobert has some appeal on the other side of the same matchup, especially on DraftKings, where he has a Bargain Rating of 93 percent. He has a strong Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.59 and has averaged 1.13 fantasy points per minute over the past month.
After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players. Be sure to stay ahead of your competition with our NBA news feed.