The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
Saturday features a nine-game main slate starting at 7 p.m. ET.
Damian Lillard put up a big performance yesterday vs. the Mavericks, scoring 55.25 DraftKings points over 39.8 minutes. That said, his salary has actually decreased for today’s contest vs. the Thunder, which makes him a very appealing target. He’s currently priced at just $8,200 on DraftKings, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 88%.
He also sees a boost in value with C.J. McCollum out of the lineup. Lillard has seen a team-high usage bump of +4.3% with McCollum off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.29 DraftKings points per minute.
Sticking with the Blazers, Anfernee Simons is a prime candidate to replace McCollum in the starting lineup. He played more than 28 minutes in relief of McCollum yesterday and responded with 22.75 DraftKings points. He’s a tough fade at $3,100 on DraftKings.
Ricky Rubio stands out on FanDuel, where his $6,300 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 99%. He’s coming off a monster performance in his last game, scoring 65.1 FanDuel points vs. the Knicks, and he’s averaged 1.1 FanDuel points per minute over the past month. His matchup vs. the Celtics isn’t ideal — he owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of -0.63 — but this is simply too cheap for Rubio.
Markelle Fultz has revived his career with the Magic this season, and he recorded a triple-double vs. the Lakers two games ago. He should continue to benefit from the absence of D.J. Augustin, who is set to miss an extended period of time with a knee injury. Michael Carter-Williams is questionable to make his return, but Fultz has likely grabbed a stranglehold of the PG minutes with his recent play. His in a wonderful spot today vs. the Warriors, who rank tied for 21st in defensive efficiency.
James Harden squares off with the Lakers tonight in a marquee showdown on ABC. The Rockets and Lakers both own top-five records in the Western Conference, and this game obviously features a ton of star power. The total on this game also sits at a slate-high 234.5 points, so it has plenty of fantasy viability as well.
Harden is coming off three straight subpar games, so this is a rare time to buy low on him. His price has decreased to $11,200 on DraftKings, which represents a decrease of -$1,200 over the past month. Harden has crushed with a comparable price tag this season, averaging a ridiculous Plus/Minus of +10.04 over 12 contests.
The Lakers are a tough matchup, but the Rockets’ implied team total of 118.25 still ranks first on the slate. If they’re going to score that many points, it’s a good bet that Harden will be responsible for plenty of them.
Dennis Schroder has dominated in his past two games, scoring 38.6 and 36.4 FanDuel points. Those games have come against strong defensive teams in the Heat and Raptors, which makes his performances even more impressive. He started the second half of his last game, and he’s a prime candidate to start today with Terrence Ferguson out of the lineup.
He has a wonderful matchup vs. the Blazers. They rank just tied for 21st in defensive efficiency, and Schroder owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +2.56 on FanDuel. He’s underpriced at just $5,500, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 98%.
The Warriors have had a disastrous season, but D’Angelo Russell has still provided excellent fantasy value when he’s been on the court. He’s scored at least 43.75 DraftKings points in four of his past five games, which makes him an appealing target at just $7,400. The Warriors will also be without Draymond Green, and Russell has seen a team-high usage bump of +5.5% in three contests without Green this season. He’s averaged 53.25 DraftKings points in those games, resulting in an average Plus/Minus of +13.5.
Donovan Mitchell has been priced down to $6,600 on FanDuel, which represents a decrease of -$2,000 over the past month. It results in a Bargain Rating of 98%, and his 14 Pro Trends are tied for the top mark at the position. Mitchell has only had a comparable price tag in one previous game this season, but he scored 59.2 FanDuel points in that contest.
The Lakers have the potential to be pretty shorthanded today. Rajon Rondo has already been ruled out, while Anthony Davis and Alex Caruso are questionable.
Davis is obviously the big injury to monitor here — which you can do using the new Labs Insider tool — and his absence would increase the value of LeBron James. James has increased his usage rate by +6.3% with Rondo and Davis off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.59 DraftKings points per minute.
The Rockets also represent a strong matchup for James. They’ve played at the second-fastest pace this season, so this is a pretty significant pace-up spot for the Lakers.
Eric Paschall will likely move into the starting lineup with Green out of the lineup, which makes him an appealing value at $4,100 on DraftKings. He’s averaged 0.89 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, and he’s currently projected for 30.6 minutes in our NBA Models. Historically, players with comparable salaries and minute projections have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +3.11.
Jaylen Brown has been ruled out for today’s contest vs. the Suns, which makes Gordon Hayward a pretty appealing option. He’s seen a usage bump of +2.6% with Brown off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.06 DraftKings points per minute. Kemba Walker is also questionable, and his absence would make Hayward an even stronger option.
Joel Embiid remains out for the 76ers, so we can continue to fire up Tobias Harris with confidence. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in six of his past seven games on FanDuel, and his $6,800 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 97%. He leads the position with 15 Pro Trends.
Jayson Tatum isn’t exactly priced like a stud — particularly on DraftKings at $7,100 — but he has the potential to provide stud-like production vs. the Suns. He’s seen a team-high usage bump of +4.9% with Brown off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.27 DraftKings points per minute.
If Walker is ruled out, Tatum would move close to must-play territory. He’s seen a usage bump of +9.6% with Brown and Walker off the court this season, and he’s averaged 1.39 DraftKings points per minute in that situation.
The Celtics also have an appealing matchup vs. the Suns, and their implied team total of 114.25 ranks fifth on the slate.
Nerlens Noel started in place of Steven Adams in his last game, and Adams is questionable for today’s matchup vs. the Blazers. Noel would be a very appealing punt play if Adams is ultimately ruled out. He’s averaged 1.37 FanDuel points per minute over the past month, and he played more than 21 minutes in his last game. That’s obviously not a ton of playing time, but it should be enough for him to pay off his $4,000 price tag.
The Blazers are also one of the best possible matchups for a big man, and Noel leads the position with an Opponent Plus/Minus of +5.95.
Julius Randle has been on a heater recently. He’s averaged a Plus/Minus of +10.01 over his past 10 games on DraftKings, and he’s increased his production to 1.37 DraftKings points per minute over the past month. Randle has always been a guy who has averaged well over a fantasy point per minute, so there’s no reason to believe he can’t continue to produce at that level. Overall, he leads the position with 13 Pro Trends.
Aaron Gordon is too cheap at $5,700 on FanDuel given his Bargain Rating of 97%. He’s scored at least 34.7 FanDuel points in two of his past three games, and he’s historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +6.33 with a comparable salary and minute projection. He’s a nice buy-low target in a plus-matchup vs. the Warriors.
Hassan Whiteside remains comically underpriced on DraftKings at $7,900. It results in a Bargain Rating of 96%, and Whiteside has averaged a Plus/Minus of +3.70 with a comparable price tag as a member of the Blazers. He’s increased his fantasy production to 1.41 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, and he’s playing way more minutes than he did as a member of the Heat.
He’s in a great spot today vs. the Thunder. He owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.67, and that matchup would be even better if Adams is ruled out.
Willie Cauley-Stein is dirt-cheap at $3,700 on DraftKings, and he has the potential to play more minutes than usual with Green out of the lineup. He’s currently projected for 26 in our NBA Models, and he’s averaged 0.97 DraftKings points per minute this season.
Nikola Vucevic has been one of the safest investments in fantasy recently. He’s increased his fantasy production to 1.41 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, and he’s posted a positive Plus/Minus on DraftKings in 11 of his past 12 games. He owns one of the best matchups of the day vs. the Warriors, resulting in an Opponent Plus/Minus of +5.53, and his salary makes him viable on both FanDuel and DraftKings.
The Raptors have been playing a big lineup recently, with Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka, and Marc Gasol all starting in each of their past two games. Gasol has logged at least 28.8 minutes in each of those contests, and he’s posted a Plus/Minus of at least +12.19 in both contests. He remains affordable at $5,000 on FanDuel, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 82%.
Photo credit: Maddie Meyer-Getty Images
Pictured above: Celtics F Jayson Tatum