The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
Monday features a six-game slate starting at 7 p.m. ET.
Kyrie Irving has gotten off to a strong start with the Brooklyn Nets, posting an average Plus/Minus of +6.51 on FanDuel through his first six games. He’s on pace to set new career highs in usage rate, assist rate, and rebound rate, and he’s currently averaging 1.54 FanDuel points per minute. That’s the top mark among today’s point guards.
Irving has an elite matchup today vs. the New Orleans Pelicans. They rank sixth in pace and 27th in defensive efficiency, and the Nets’ implied team total of 121.25 ranks first on the slate. The Pelicans have also struggled in particular against opposing point guards, giving Irving an Opponent Plus/Minus of +4.00.
Karl-Anthony Towns will serve this final game if his two-game suspension today, which increases the appeal for Jeff Teague. He dominated in his first game without Towns this season, posting 44.30 FanDuel points in just 27.6 minutes. He has the potential to see a few additional minutes if today’s game vs. the Bucks stays competitive, and Teague has averaged 1.46 FanDuel points per minute with Towns off the court this season.
Ja Morant has been very useful from a fantasy perspective to start his rookie season, averaging 1.19 DraftKings points per minute. He’s in an interesting spot today vs. the Rockets. They’ve played at the fastest pace in the league this season, although they could play a bit slower with Russell Westbrook out of the lineup. That said, they also rank dead last in defensive efficiency, so this is still a strong matchup even if they do play a bit slower than usual.
Joel Embiid will also finish serving his two-game suspension today, which makes Ben Simmons an interesting option. He’s coming off 47.75 DraftKings points in his last game, including a season-high 11 rebounds. He leads the position with 13 Pro Trends on DraftKings, where his $8,500 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 85%.
It’s going to be incredibly difficult to avoid James Harden given the absence of Westbrook. He’s posted a mind-boggling 49.7% usage rate with Westbrook off the court this season. Westbrook has also been a monster a piling up the peripherals, so it’s not surprising that Harden has seen huge bumps to his assist and rebound rates with Westbrook off the court as well.
Overall, he’s averaged 1.76 DraftKings points per minute in that situation this season, despite the fact that he’s shot the ball horribly from the field. If he can keep his same rate statistics while increasing his efficiency, his ceiling could approach 100 fantasy points.
Harden is also in an excellent spot vs. the Grizzlies. They’ve played at the third-fastest pace this season and rank just 18th in defensive efficiency. The Rockets’ implied team total of 117.5 ranks third on the slate.
Harden is going to command massive ownership — he’s currently projected for greater than 40% ownership on DraftKings — but anything less than 100% feels like a mistake.
The Pistons are going to be extremely thin in their backcourt tonight. Reggie Jackson and Derrick Rose have already been ruled out, while Tim Frazier is listed as doubtful. Blake Griffin remains out with knee and hamstring injuries, so there is a lot of playing time and usage up for grabs on today’s slate.
Bruce Brown is expected to start at point guard, and he’s currently projected for 33.4 minutes in our NBA Models. He’s also dirt-cheap at just $3,200 on DraftKings, and players with comparable salaries and minute projections have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +4.51 on DraftKings (per the Trends tool).
Langston Galloway is another option for the Pistons. He likely wont see as many minutes as Brown, but he has been a better fantasy producer on a per-minute basis this season. He should garner lower ownership coming off the bench, which makes him an interesting pivot for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs).
Josh Richardson stands out at just $4,600 on DraftKings given his Bargain Rating of 91%. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in each of his first five games and has averaged a respectable 0.86 DraftKings points per minute. He hasn’t displayed a huge ceiling as a member of the 76ers, but he’s a very reasonable value play for cash games.
Andrew Wiggins could be a bit overlooked today despite Towns being out of the lineup. He leads all shooting guards with 11 Pro Trends on FanDuel, and he’s coming off 38.0 FanDuel points in his last game. He played just 26.4 minutes in that contest, so he obviously has upside for a bigger performance today.
Harden will draw the majority of the attention at the top of the pricing spectrum today, but don’t forget about Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s averaged 1.89 DraftKings points per minute this season, so he has just as much upside as Harden.
He’s in a great spot today vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves, who have played at the second-fastest pace in the league this season. They have been solid defensively this season, but the Bucks’ implied team total of 118.0 points still ranks second on the slate.
Jamming Harden and Antetokounmpo into the same lineup is definitely possible today, and it should probably be the default strategy.
The value for the Pistons does not lie solely in their backcourt. Markieff Morris and Luke Kennard are both very reasonably priced considering their current roles.
Kennard finished third on the team with 37.4 minutes in their last game, and his 26.7% usage rate ranked first. He finished with 31.6 FanDuel points in that contest, and he’s priced at just $5,000 for today’s matchup vs. the Wizards.
Morris hasn’t exactly thrived while filling in for Griffin — he’s averaged just 0.67 FanDuel points per minute this season — but he does have one of the better individual matchups on the team. He owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +2.17 on FanDuel, which is the top mark at the small forward position.
Taurean Prince has seen a ton of playing time for the Nets to start the season. He’s logged at least 30.5 minutes in five of his first six games, including at least 33 minutes in each of his last two. He’s also been productive when on the court this season, averaging 0.85 FanDuel points per minute. He has a nice ceiling at just $4,800 on FanDuel.
Finding value on today’s slate is not that hard. The Grizzlies are another potential team you can target given the likely absences of Jaren Jackson Jr. and Grayson Allen.
Kyle Anderson figures to see a boost in playing time — he’s currently projected for 27.8 minutes — and he’s averaged a strong 0.96 DraftKings points per minute this season. His $3,600 salary on DraftKings also comes with a Bargain Rating of 81%.
Al Horford stands out today with Embiid out of the lineup. He’s been fantastic in two games without Embiid this season, scoring 44.3 and 49.5 FanDuel points. Overall, Horford has averaged 1.33 FanDuel points per minute with Embiid off the court, which is the top mark among 76ers’ regulars.
He also has a solid matchup vs. the Phoenix Suns, who are thin in the frontcourt without Deandre Ayton. It results in an Opponent Plus/Minus of +1.84 on FanDuel, where Horford leads the position with 12 Pro Trends.
We haven’t even touched on the Warriors, who are yet another source of potential value. Draymond Green will join Steph Curry and Klay Thompson on the sidelines, while D’Angelo Russell is questionable. The shorthanded Warriors scored just 87 points with those players out of the lineup in their last contest, but they still had a few players provide excellent fantasy value.
Eric Paschall was one of those players. He scored 34.8 FanDuel points in that contest, and he’s scored at least 28.3 FanDuel points in all three games where he’s played at least 31 minutes. He has been priced up a bit across the industry, but his $5,000 salary on DraftKings is still very reasonable.
A blow to the head has been the only thing able to stop Brandon Ingram this season. He left his last game after just 13.2 minutes with a possible concussion, but he is not listed on the injury report today. He’s averaged 48.35 DraftKings points over his first five games with the Pelicans, and his $7,200 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 91%. He could be a bit overlooked today with most people employing a stars-and-scrubs approach.
Brandon Clarke exploded for 42.2 FanDuel points in just 22.1 minutes in his last contest, and he could see a few additional minutes today if Jackson Jr. is ultimately ruled out. He’s averaged a stout 1.21 FanDuel points per minute this season, so he could do some damage with additional playing time.
Andre Drummond has looked like a man among boys this season. He’s posted an average Plus/Minus of +9.90 on FanDuel through his first seven games, and he’s already had at least three games of greater than 65 FanDuel points.
He has dominated in particular against teams with weak frontcourts, and he has another juicy matchup today vs. the Washington Wizards. They currently rank just 28th in team rebound rate, and they’re also allowing the eighth-most shots per game from within six feet. That’s a deadly combination for a guy like Drummond who does nearly all of his damage inside the paint.
The only problem with rostering Drummond today on FanDuel means you’ll have to sacrifice one of the best value options on the slate. Gorgui Dieng was absolutely phenomenal in his first start of the season, racking up 42.1 FanDuel points in just 23.6 minutes.
He’s averaged a stout 1.52 FanDuel points per minute this year, which is only slightly lower than Drummond’s mark of 1.60. Granted, most of that production did come in an elite matchup vs. the Wizards, but he has another solid matchup today vs. the Bucks: Dieng’s Opponent Plus/Minus of +2.10 is actually better than Drummond’s mark vs. the Wizards.
You can roster both players together on DraftKings — Dieng has dual eligibility at PF/C and there is always the utility spot — but I’m taking the superior value with Dieng on FanDuel and paying up for guys like Harden and Giannis.
Hassan Whiteside is expected to suit up today, and he’s been priced down to just $6,400 on DraftKings. That’s really cheap considering his average of 1.27 DraftKings points per minute and his elite matchup vs. the Warriors. Golden State has been an abomination defensively this season, particularly at the rim. Opponents are currently shooting 67.2% from inside six feet, which is the worst mark in the league.
Speaking of the Warriors, Willie Cauley-Stein is worth some consideration at $4,400 on DraftKings. He’s averaged 1.21 DraftKings points per minute this season and is currently projected for 22 minutes in our NBA Models.
Photo credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Pictured: Rockets G James Harden (13)