The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
Friday features an eight-game slate starting at 7 p.m. ET.
Kemba Walker has missed the Celtics’ past two games with an injury, but he’ll be back in the lineup tonight vs. the Hawks. His timing couldn’t be better.
Walker should also benefit from the Celtics’ current injury situation. Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown have both been ruled out, and Walker has increased his fantasy production to 1.24 FanDuel points per minute with both players off the court. He’s underpriced at $7,300 on FanDuel given his Bargain Rating of 86%.
The Heat could be a nice source of value today. Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, and Meyers Leonard have all been ruled out, and it’s unclear if any of their new acquisitions will make their debuts.
Goran Dragic should see a boost in production with all those players out of the lineup. He’s averaged 1.08 DraftKings points per minute in games without Butler in particular this season, leading the team with a usage rate of 27.6%.
Ben Simmons is an interesting buy-low target on DraftKings. His salary has decreased by -$1,000 over the past month, and his current $8,000 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 92%. He has an elite matchup vs. the Grizzlies, resulting in an Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.3.
The Mavericks’ injury report will be important to monitor heading into lineup lock. Luka Doncic remains out with an injury, but Kristaps Porzingis, Seth Curry, and J.J. Barea are all listed as questionable. If any of those players are forced to join Doncic on the sidelines, it’s going to open up a lot of usage for the rest of the roster.
Jalen Brunson stands out as one of the biggest potential beneficiaries. He’s been a nice investment recently, posting a positive Plus/Minus in four of his past five games on FanDuel, and he’s coming off 32.8 minutes in his last game. Brunson has averaged 1.05 FanDuel points per minute this season, so he’s too cheap at $5,400 if he’s going to continue to see that much playing time.
The Rockets are going all in on small ball. They shipped Clint Capela out in exchange for Robert Covington, leaving P.J. Tucker as the team’s starting center. It remains to be seen if that experiment will work in the long run, but it should be pretty fun from a fantasy perspective. It likely means even more 3-pointers, and Houston already shoots more 3’s than anyone else in basketball.
James Harden is coming off a poor game yesterday, scoring just 35.9 DraftKings points vs. the Lakers, but his fantasy prospects in this system are still very optimistic. He scored at least 67.5 DraftKings points in each of his three prior games, all of which were without Capela. Overall, he’s increased his usage rate and rebound rate in 10 games without Capela this season, resulting in an average Plus/Minus of +12.3 on DraftKings.
Russell Westbrook will also get the night off for rest purposes, which puts Harden in an even better spot. He’s increased his already ridiculous usage rate by +10.3% with Capela and Westbrook off the court this season, and he’s averaged 1.90 DraftKings points per minute in that situation. He’s a very tough fade.
The Pistons are in an interesting situation tonight. They’ll be without Derrick Rose, Markieff Morris, and Svi Mykhailiuk, who are all dealing with injuries. They also traded Andre Drummond to the Cavaliers for essentially a bag of peanuts, so they’re going to be pretty shorthanded. That said, they are 12.5-point underdogs vs. the Thunder, so this game could turn into a blowout. There’s a little more risk with the Pistons than teams like the Mavs or Celtics.
Still, it’s hard to ignore Bruce Brown at just $4,900 on FanDuel. He’s averaged a respectable 0.91 FanDuel points per minute this season, and he’s increased his production to 0.95 FanDuel points per minute with Rose, Drummond, and Blake Griffin off the court. He’s currently projected for 33.4 minutes in our NBA Models, and it’s hard to pass up that kind of potential at such a cheap price tag.
Most of the attention will likely be placed on teams that are shorthanded following the trade deadline, which means someone like Devin Booker could garner lower ownership than usual. His production has also been subpar recently, which has caused his salary to drop by more than -$1,000 from its peak on DraftKings. He’s a nice buy-low target in an excellent matchup vs. the Rockets.
Marcus Smart will likely draw the start today in place of Brown or Hayward, and he’s simply too cheap at $5,300 on FanDuel. It results in a Bargain Rating of 93%, and Smart has averaged a Plus/Minus of +8.54 over his past 10 games.
Marc Gasol will miss his fifth straight game for the Raptors, which means that starters should be looking at another heavy workload vs. the Pacers. Toronto only played nine guys in its last contest, and Chris Boucher played less than eight minutes off the bench. That’s a really tight rotation for a regular season game.
Pascal Siakam led the team with 39.6 minutes in that contest — which was also against the Pacers — and he responded with 51.3 FanDuel points. Overall, Siakam has posted a positive Plus/Minus in seven of his past eight games. The Pacers are not a team you want to target very often, but Siakam makes some sense here.
Tony Snell has SF eligibility on DraftKings, and he could be worth some consideration at just $3,200. He’s not all that productive when on the court — he’s averaged 0.52 DraftKings points per minute over the past month — but he should be able to overcome that through sheer volume. He’s currently projected for 33.2 minutes in our NBA Models, and players with comparable salaries and minute projections have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +4.52 (per the Trends tool).
Kelly Oubre has been playing massive minutes recently. He’s logged at least 38.3 minutes in three of his past four games, including nearly 42 minutes in his last game vs. the Pistons. Oubre has averaged 1.00 DraftKings points per minute this season, so he’s capable of producing big numbers with that much playing time. He’s also in a wonderful spot today vs. the Rockets given his Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.44.
There was some talk that Danilo Gallinari would wind up in Miami before the end of the trade deadline, but he ultimately stayed with the Thunder. That’s probably a good thing for his fantasy value. He’s averaged 1.07 FanDuel points per minute over the past month, and he’s a safe bet for around 30 minutes of playing time. That makes him an appealing option at just $5,700 on FanDuel.
Porzingis stands out at the PF position if he suits up. He has been an absolute monster in games without Doncic this season, averaging a ridiculous 52.32 DraftKings points per game. He has been priced up a bit across the industry, but he still offers plenty of value at $8,800 on DraftKings given his Bargain Rating of 92%.
Christian Wood season is upon us. He’s been an amazing fantasy asset this season, averaging 1.28 DraftKings points per minute, and the coast is now clear for him to play big minutes for the Pistons. He’s currently projected for 32.2 minutes in our NBA Models, which should be more than enough for him to pay off his $6,000 salary on DraftKings. Wood has been projected for a comparable workload just once this season, and he responded with 35.0 DraftKings points.
Serge Ibaka should continue to provide nice fantasy value for as long as Gasol is sidelined. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in each of his past six games, and he exploded for 42.9 FanDuel points in his last outing. He’s too cheap at $6,200.
Jayson Tatum is pricy across the industry, but he has big upside today vs. the Hawks. They’ve obviously struggled defensively, and Tatum has increased his usage rate by a team-high +8.8% with Brown and Hayward off the court this season.
Deandre Ayton has been an awesome fantasy asset recently, posting an average Plus/Minus of +7.90 over his past 10 games on FanDuel. He’s played huge minutes over that time frame, including 41.0 in his last game vs. the Pistons.
He should have a massive advantage today vs. the Rockets. Tucker is a good defender, but Ayton is going to have a size advantage of nearly half a foot vs. whoever the Rockets throw at him. He leads the position with 11 Pro Trends on FanDuel.
Enes Kanter has seen a price decrease of -$1,200 over the past month on DraftKings, and he’s an awesome buy-low target vs. the Hawks. He’s coming off nearly 26 minutes in his last game, and he’s currently projected for a similar workload with Daniel Theis out of the lineup. Kanter has averaged 1.30 DraftKings points per minute this season, so he’s always an appealing option when he’s expected to see increased playing time.
Joel Embiid has been priced down to $8,500 on DraftKings, which is almost unprecedented for him. It’s been warranted — he’s posted an average Plus/Minus of -2.49 over his past 10 games — but he has scored at least 45.75 DraftKings points in three of his past four games. That includes his last game vs. the Bucks, despite the fact that he shot just 6-26 from the field. Good things appear to be on the horizon for Embiid, and his current matchup vs. the Grizzlies results in an Opponent Plus/Minus of +2.34. This may be your last opportunity to target him at a reduced price tag.
Rudy Gobert is another center who has seen a price decrease recently, and he’s in an elite spot today vs. the Blazers. They’ve been one of the worst teams in fantasy this season against opposing centers, giving Gobert an Opponent Plus/Minus of +6.25 on DraftKings.
Photo credit: Bill Baptist-NBAE via Getty Images
Pictured: Rockets SG James Harden (13)