The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
What a day: We have more awesome basketball games plus Sunday at a major. Let’s dive into this DFS slate, which begins at 2 p.m. ET, and try to make some money.
There are three options at PG on FanDuel priced above $7,000 today: Damian Lillard ($9,800), De’Aaron Fox ($8,000) and Ja Morant ($7,400).
Of the three, my preference is Fox, who is in an uptempo spot against the Rockets, whereas Lillard and Morant have tough defensive matchups against the 76ers and Raptors, respectively. Lillard is also on the second leg of a back-to-back, and Morant may really struggle to do damage against a Raps team that really excels at defending the paint. Of course, all of those guys are worthy plays in tournaments given their ceilings, but Fox is the safer pick today, in my opinion.
Caris LeVert, Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen are all doubtful today for the Nets, which means there’s a ton of value available at a cheap price. Look no further than Chris Chiozza and Tyler Johnson, both of whom are around the min price tag and should have to handle 30-plus minutes and nearly all of the creation duties. The matchup against the Clippers isn’t ideal, but the price tags are way too low.
Kyle Lowry is coming off a poor game against the Celtics but is in a nice bounce-back spot against the Grizzlies. He is an interesting tournament pivot from those paying up or down given his mid-tier $7K price tag on FanDuel.
Michael Carter-Williams, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier will be out for the Magic today, which means that DJ Augustin should see an increased role at just $4,100.
James Harden is the lone high-priced stud at the position, and he’s pretty much a free square today. The Rockets will be without both Eric Gordon and Russell Westbrook vs. the Kings, which means that Harden’s already-high usage rate could balloon even further. We’re projecting him to use over 40% of the Rockets’ possessions — I’m not sure how you fade that at his current price tags. He owns the highest Projected Plus/Minus on the slate. Play him.
There are numerous guys in the cheap range today who are all worth a look due to injuries. Ben McLemore is another Rocket who should see a role increase without Gordon and Westbrook. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Garrett Temple deserve a bump given the Nets’ injuries. Josh Richardson is too cheap with Ben Simmons now out. I’d probably let roster construction dictate which of those to choose, and you can mix-and-match in tournaments.
If you want to get fancy in tournaments, the road less traveled will definitely be with DeMar DeRozan and CJ McCollum in that $7K price range. Almost everyone will likely pay up for Harden and a cheap value, so this is one way to really differentiate your lineups from the field. Of the two, I prefer DeRozan, who has a better matchup vs. the Pels and isn’t on a back-to-back.
There are three options on FanDuel over $6,400 in Kawhi Leonard, Tobias Harris, Pascal Siakam and Brandon Ingram. To be honest, I think potentially all of these guys will go somewhat lower-owned than expected, just because people will prefer to pay up for Harden and probably Joel Embiid.
Of those four, I think I prefer the middle two in Harris and Siakam. Ingram has really struggled in the bubble — and generally in life with Zion Williamson playing — while Kawhi could get a fourth quarter off against a terrible Nets squad. Harris and Siakam have solid matchups, and their minutes should be fairly safe today.
In his four bubble games, Houston wing Danuel House has exceeded salary-based expectations in each one. And it seems sites just won’t bump him up despite his elevated role without Gordon in the lineup. That role should increase even further today with Westbrook also out, making him a solid value play at just $4,500.
There are two other guys in that Houston-Sacramento game who have SF eligibility on DraftKings and are underpriced: Bogdan Bogdanovic and Robert Covington. Bog has been hot the last two games, and his usage has gone through the roof: He’s taken 39 shots over those last two. Covington gets the injury boost in Houston, and he’s a fine price at $6,400.
Power forward is definitely the weakest position of the day. The only three guys priced above $6,200 on FanDuel are Jayson Tatum, Zion and Covington (who is a PF on FanDuel). Covington is the obvious choice if you want to pay up a little at the position, so the former two will likely be quite low-owned. Zion is a tough buy just because of his limited minutes; he’s efficient, but he has to be ordinarily so to hit value in that time. Tatum is more intriguing, especially in an easy matchup against the Magic, so he would be my preferred tournament pivot.
But the optimal lineups will likely include Covington and/or a couple cheap guys at the position. Two who stand out are Rodions Kurucs at $3,900 and Jeff Green at $4,300. The latter will see increased minutes for the Rockets with Gordon and Westbrook out, while Kurucs will definitely have to play a big role today with all of the Nets’ main guys sitting.
I would assume most people would prefer Kurucs and Green to Gary Clark, but at $3,500 he’s definitely in play. He won’t be a high-usage guy by any means, but at that price tag if he just racks up a couple steals and blocks, he’ll be fine.
While power forward is a tough position today, center is absolutely loaded. If you want to pay up, you have quite the option in Joel Embiid, who has played awesome in the bubble and should continue to see a massive workload with Simmons out. The matchup against the Blazers is a little tougher with Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic back, but he is catching them on a second leg of a back-to-back. He leads the position in Projected Plus/Minus, highlighting his value.
You could also completely punt at the position and go with PJ Tucker, who also owns a Projected Plus/Minus over +10 at FanDuel. Tucker isn’t a high-usage guy at all — we’re projecting him under 10%, in fact — but he should have to play all he can handle down low, and he’ll be able to rack up rebounds and stocks.
And we also have a really nice tournament pivot! Nikola Vucevic will be the guy for the Magic today, who again are down several key players in Gordon, MCW, Fournier and Jonathan Isaac. The offense should run through him, and the matchup isn’t terrible against the Celtics, who are weakest at the center position.
Pictured above: James Harden
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