The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
It’s officially the second weekend of the bubble, and today we have a five-game DFS slate starting at 1 p.m. ET.
At the point guard spot today, especially on FanDuel, it’s Damian Lillard or bust. He’s easily the highest-priced option at $9,700; next is Malcolm Brogdon all the way down at $6,600. As a result, lots of people might elect to take the safety of Lillard and push his ownership up high.
And it’s hard to argue with his current safety, even in a tough matchup against the Clippers. He’s coming off a 45-point outing against the slow-paced Nuggets, and in his four games in the bubble he’s played 40-plus minutes. He’s hit value in each of those four games. You just won’t see that workload anywhere else, making him a solid cash-game play.
Make sure to keep an eye on the Miami Heat today. Jimmy Butler and Kendrick Nunn, two of their main ball-handlers, have already been ruled out for today’s game against the Phoenix Suns. Goran Dragic, meanwhile, is questionable with an ankle injury that held him out Thursday. If he goes, he’ll be a really nice value at $5,100 on FanDuel given that he’ll have to take over a lot of the play-making duties.
The Pacers could be quite shorthanded today: Myles Turner, TJ Warren and Doug McDermott are all questionable against the Lakers. That could lead to a lot of value up and down the roster, but especially with play-makers given how important Warren especially has been in the bubble. Both Malcolm Brogdon and Aaron Holiday are worth a look.
Keep an eye on the Clippers as well. Kawhi Leonard was ruled out this morning for rest, opening up a ton of minutes and usage in the starting lineup. Landry Shamet was likely to start at guard, but it’s possible they could slide him over to SG in Kawhi’s absence and give Reggie Jackson some more run.
Luka Doncic, like Lillard, is in a tier of his own today at the SG position at FanDuel. He’s $10,400, and then it’s a dip all the way down to the $7-8K range for other guys. Luka hasn’t quite been himself in the bubble, but his role hasn’t changed. He’s playing absolutely huge minutes — approaching 40 most nights — and posting a sky-high usage rate. If the shooting comes around, he’ll be able to smash value given his opportunity. The only problem today is the matchup against the Bucks, although there’s upside given Milwaukee has somewhat limited motivation.
As mentioned above with Dragic, the Heat are really missing some key play-makers. And if Goran is out, welcome to the Tyler Herro show, my friends. He’s been incredible in the bubble so far, hitting value in all four of his games. He ticked up to over 33 minutes last game without Butler, and that could push up even more today. At $4,500 he’s a steal — and if Dragic is out, he’s an absolute lock.
With Kawhi out, plus Montrezl Harrell still not with the team, there’s usage to be gained for the Clips. Enter Paul George, who has actually played high minutes the last two games. At $7,700, he’s way too cheap given his current role.
With the Heat, don’t forget about Duncan Robinson, who is also really cheap at $4,100. He’s fairly one-dimensional in fantasy as a scorer, but shots may not be a problem today. At that price tag, there’s little downside.
At the top of the SF position on FanDuel are Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James, although the latter is currently questionable to play tonight. Giannis looks like he’ll suit up for now, but you never know with these teams that have already locked up seeding and don’t have much to gain.
Giannis definitely seems like the guy to buy, despite his safer injury designation. He’s started the bubble right as he left off the regular season, dominating every team and looking like the MVP. He won’t play a ton of minutes likely, but he’s an efficiency monster; he put up 33 points on 17 shots last game. Keep an eye on Bucks news today, but if he’s able to go he’s an intriguing buy, especially if users elect to pay up for guys like Doncic, Lillard or Nikola Jokic.
Cam Johnson has seen a sizable increase in his role in the Orlando bubble for the Suns, moving into the starting lineup and playing heavy minutes. He’s gotten nearly 40 in each of his last three games. He’s not a super-high usage guy, but he has a beautiful shot and has been quite solid on the boards. At $4,500, you could do worse.
It’s a tough position today, especially if LeBron and Warren don’t play as two studs. The guys down at the bottom of the pool are all fairly one-dimensional players, either as shooters or defensive specialists. Carmelo Anthony is a fine option at $4,900 on FanDuel, and Jae Crowder and Derrick Jones Jr. could be worth a look if the Heat are as shorthanded as it looks they might be.
The two most-expensive options today at PF on FanDuel are Anthony Davis ($9,400) and Kristaps Porzingis ($8,800). Of the two, I prefer AD given the superior matchup against the Pacers; Porzingis faces the Bucks.
The problem with AD is there’s pretty significant upside and downside today. The Lakers have little motivation given where they stand in the West, which could mean they are cautious with LeBron and hold him out today. But that could also mean they don’t really push AD, too. If LeBron doesn’t go but AD does, you almost have to play him — but he might be a superior tournament option than an absolute lock in cash games.
You’ll notice a trend in this piece: It’s all about the Heat today. With all of those guys out, Bam Adebayo will be an important player for this shorthanded roster. He’s been fairly disappointing as a fantasy asset in the bubble, but the Heat have had a brutal schedule against the Nuggets, Raptors, Celtics and Bucks. Today’s matchup against the Suns should be easier; he’s worth a buy at $7,600.
With Kawhi and Harrell out for the Clips, there’s more opportunities for Marcus Morris, their midseason acquisition. He’s been fairly low-usage in Orlando, but that could increase today, and his minutes have been very solid so far.
Center is quite loaded today, which is particularly tough on FanDuel, where you can roster just one player. Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic sit atop the pool, and both are incredible plays today. Jokic has been boom-or-bust in the bubble as he’s worked his way back into shape, but the upside is there with the Nuggets still so shorthanded. Nurkic has been the more steady option and has a nice matchup against the Clips today.
Jokic is probably the tournament option while Nurkic is a safer cash-game play. The problem with both, however, is that the value is immense at the position, so an optimal roster construction may not include them. Perhaps that means that both players are intriguing high-upside pivots in tournaments.
Kelly Olynyk — yes another Miami player — leads the entire slate in Projected Plus/Minus in our models currently. He’s hit value in each of his four games in Orlando, and he’s been over 30 minutes in each of the past three. Sites have not adjusted his salary up near enough, so his $4,800 mark on FanDuel and $4,900 price tag on DraftKings are quite juicy.
With Jokic and Nurkic at the top and Olynyk looking like an easy cash-game play, that means guys like Ivica Zubac and Deandre Ayton could go very low-owned. Of the two, I like Ayton better because of his high ceiling, which he showed last game against the Pacers, putting up 50.5 FanDuel points in 35 minutes of action.
Pictured above: Tyler Herro
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