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 seven-game slate starting at 7:30 p.m. ET.
The PG position is weaker than usual today at the top. Only Luka Doncic is priced above $8,700 on FanDuel, and he has a tough matchup vs. the Miami Heat.
With that in mind, moving down to Kyle Lowry is an appealing alternative. He’s taking on the Brooklyn Nets, who have been an amazing matchup for PGs this season. Lowry owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.85 on FanDuel, which is the top mark at the position.
The Raptors also could be shorthanded. Fred VanVleet is expected to be a game-time decision, and his absence could result in a few additional minutes for Lowry.
The Heat are extremely thin in the backcourt at the moment. Both Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow have been ruled out for today’s contest vs. the Mavericks, which makes Kendrick Nunn a steal at just $5,100 on FanDuel. It results in a Bargain Rating of 99%, and Nunn has averaged 37.1 minutes per game and a +9.1 Plus/Minus in five games without Dragic and Winslow this season. He leads the position with 12 Pro Trends and is nearly impossible to fade for cash games.
The Clippers are another team dealing with a host of injuries at the moment. Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley both missed yesterday’s contest vs. the Timberwolves, and their status for tonight’s game vs. the Thunder is unknown. Kawhi Leonard has already been ruled out on the second leg of a back-to-back.
If all three players are out, Derrick Walton Jr. would become a viable option at $3,700 on DraftKings and the absolute minimum on FanDuel. He played over 30 minutes for the Clippers yesterday, and minimum-priced players have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +4.17 with a comparable minute projection (per the Trends tool).
Jamal Murray is a boom-or-bust type of option, but he’s one of the best values at the position on DraftKings at just $5,900. It results in a Bargain Rating of 87%, and he doesn’t possess nearly the same downside as usual at such a reduced price tag. Murray has historically been a nice option with a comparable salary, posting an average Plus/Minus of +3.84.
Sometimes I wonder if we all take James Harden for granted. I know watching him play can be a bit frustrating at times, but the dude is scoring at a virtually unprecedented rate this season. He’s scored at least 54 points in back-to-back games, bring his season average up to 39.3 points per game. If that holds, it would be the highest per-game scoring average since Wilt Chamberlain all the way back in 1962-63. That’s insane.
There is no reason to avoid him today vs. the Detroit Pistons. Russell Westbrook will get the night off for rest purposes, and Harden has unsurprisingly thrived with Westbrook out of the lineup this season. He’s increased his usage rate to 48.5%, which represents an increase of +9.3% compared to his season average. He’s also averaged 67.75 DraftKings points per game in two games without Russ this season, resulting in an average Plus/Minus of +10.2.
Harden is very pricey at $12,900 on DraftKings, but he’s historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +6.74 with a comparable price tag. Fire him up with confidence.
Sticking with the Rockets, Ben McLemore should see an expanded role with Westbrook out of the lineup. He’s been a nice value to begin with recently, posting an average Plus/Minus of +5.49 over his past 10 games on DraftKings, and he’s increased his scoring average to 0.87 DraftKings points per minute over the past month. Overall, he owns the highest projected Plus/Minus among the Rockets’ players in our NBA Models.
Jimmy Butler was a bit of a disappointment yesterday for the shorthanded Heat, but that can be excused in a tough matchup vs. the Lakers. He has a much more appealing matchup today vs. the Mavericks, resulting in an Opponent Plus/Minus of +1.78 on FanDuel. His 12 Pro Trends on FanDuel are tied with Harden for the most at the position, and his $9,400 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 73%. Pairing him with Harden on FanDuel is difficult, but it’s definitely a viable option.
Norman Powell would become an interesting value option if VanVleet is ultimately ruled out for the Raptors. He’s averaged 0.90 FanDuel points per minute over the past month, and he played over 34 minutes in their last contest.
Finding injury value on today’s slate is not a problem. The Bucks could be another team to target. Eric Bledsoe has already been ruled out with a shin injury, while Giannis Antetokounmpo is questionable. He played through a quad injury yesterday, but the team could choose to exercise caution with him on the second leg of a back-to-back.
If Giannis is active, he’d still be tough to trust in DFS. He played just 26.7 minutes yesterday despite the fact that the Bucks actually managed to play a competitive contest vs. the Grizzlies. He still fared well in limited playing time, scoring 52.2 FanDuel points, but it’d be hard to pay up for him with Harden available at a comparable price tag.
The more appealing situation would be if Giannis is actually ruled out. That would make Khris Middleton an elite option across the industry. He has unsurprisingly seen a massive usage bump with Bledsoe and Giannis off the court this season, leading the team with a usage rate of 36.9%. He’s averaged 1.44 DraftKings points per minute in that situation, which would be tough to pass up at $7,200.
The Bucks also own an elite matchup vs. the Cavaliers, which would further increase the appeal for Middleton. The Cavs rank just 29th in defensive efficiency this season, and the Bucks lead the slate with an implied team total of 119.25 points.
All of this injury value could result in one of the best games of the night being underowned. The Grizzlies are taking on the Washington Wizards, and that game leads the slate with an over/under of 235.5 points. Both teams have played at a top-five pace this season, and Washington ranks dead last in defensive efficiency.
Troy Brown is a nice way to get some cheap exposure to that contest on FanDuel. He’s priced at just $4,700 on FanDuel, and he’s averaged 0.94 FanDuel points per minute over the past month. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in each of his past seven games, and he’s played at least 28.1 minutes in each of his past two contests.
With Leonard officially ruled out, Paul George vaults into elite territory. He’s a particularly strong option at just $8,300 on DraftKings given his Bargain Rating of 96%. He’s averaged 58.76 DraftKings points per 36 minutes in five games without Leonard this season, and he would be almost impossible to avoid if Williams is also ruled out. George has posted a usage rate of 44.9% with Leonard and Williams off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.89 DraftKings points per minute.
Danuel House is another potential source of value today for the Rockets. He hasn’t been as effective as he was early in the season — he’s averaged just 0.67 DraftKings points per minute over the past month — but he should still see a healthy amount of playing time on today’s slate. His recent struggles have also caused his salary to drop to just $4,100 on DraftKings, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 87%.
It feels like most people are going to pay up for Harden and George today, which could result in Pascal Siakam being underowned. That would be a mistake. His price has decreased by -$1,300 over the past month on DraftKings, and he’s in an elite spot today vs. the Nets. They have been crushed by opposing big men this season, giving Siakam an Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.03. He leads all PFs with 13 Pro Trends on DraftKings, where he is grading out as one of the top overall plays on the entire slate.
Davis Bertans was known for being a deadeye shooter with the Spurs, but he has thrived given an increased role with the Wizards this season. He’s been particularly effective recently, averaging 1.03 FanDuel points per minute over the past month, and he has an elite matchup today vs. the Grizzlies. The Wizards are also shorthanded in the frontcourt — Thomas Bryant and Moe Wagner will both miss today’s contest — so he has the opportunity to play a few additional minutes as well.
This is one of the most interesting slates so far this season. Add Blake Griffin to the list of players worth considering, particularly if the injury news breaks in his favor. Andre Drummond is officially listed as questionable after missing shootaround due to an allergic reaction from an avocado (you can’t make this stuff up).
Luke Kennard is also questionable, although he’s played through the injury in each of his past two games. If both players are ruled out, Griffin would have the opportunity to play more minutes and command a higher usage rate in an elite matchup vs. the Rockets. His salary has also decreased to just $6,400 on DraftKings, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 85%.
P.J. Tucker isn’t the most fun player to roster in DFS, but he’s been productive recently. He’s averaged a Plus/Minus of +5.72 over his past 10 games on FanDuel, and he should see another big workload for the shorthanded Rockets today. He leads all PFs with 11 Pro Trends on FanDuel.
If Drummond can manage to play through his avocado-based injury — like he did on Thursday — he’ll warrant some consideration vs. the Rockets. He leads all centers with 13 Pro Trends on DraftKings, where his $9,100 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 81%. He benefits from the same excellent matchup as Griffin, owning an Opponent Plus/Minus of +2.91.
Marc Gasol has posted back-to-back games of at least 41.2 FanDuel points, yet his salary has actually decreased by -$100 over that time frame. He’s increased his per-minute efficiency to 0.94 FanDuel points per minute over the past month, and he’s a safe bet for around 30 minutes on most nights. He could do a lot of damage in 30 minutes vs. the Nets, who have been one of the worst teams in basketball against opposing centers this season. Gasol owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.77 on FanDuel, which is one of the best marks at the position.
Montrezl Harrell has center eligibility on DraftKings, where he stands out as one of the best pure values of the day. He’s priced at just $6,400, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 96%, and he has the potential to carry a larger workload today for the shorthanded Clippers. He also owns a very appealing matchup vs. the Bulls, resulting in an Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.76.
Ian Mahinmi could be forced into a larger role today for the Wizards. He’s played just three games since returning from injury on Dec. 15, but his playing time has increased in all three contests. He’s been productive when on the court, averaging 1.15 FanDuel points per minute, so he doesn’t need a ton of playing time to pay off his $4,400 salary.
Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Pictured: Clippers SF Paul George (13)