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 p.m. ET.
Damian Lillard has been an absolute workhorse to start the season. He’s currently averaging a whopping 38.4 minutes per game, which stands out in a year where star players are generally playing fewer minutes. All that playing time has translated into fantasy success, with Lillard posting an average Plus/Minus of +5.48 over his past 10 games on DraftKings.
His matchup vs. the Spurs doesn’t jump off the page — he has an Opponent Plus/Minus of +1.69 on DraftKings — but it’s better than it looks on paper. The Spurs rank just 26th in defensive efficiency this season, and all-world defensive PG Dejounte Murray will get the night off for rest purposes. Murray finished first among PGs in Defensive Real Plus/Minus in his last full season, so Lillard gets a huge upgrade with him out of the lineup.
Speaking of the Spurs, Murray’s absence will open up some opportunity for the rest of the backcourt. Derrick White stands out as one of the most obvious candidate for a few additional minutes, and he’s averaged 0.86 DraftKings points per minute this season. He’s a strong value at just $4,500 on DraftKings given his Opponent Plus/Minus of +2.58 vs. the Blazers.
The hits just keep coming for the Indiana Pacers. Jeremy Lamb remains out, while Myles Turner and Malcolm Brogdon are both doubtful. Even T.J. McConnell has been downgraded to questionable. That doesn’t leave the team with many options today.
Aaron Holiday started in place of Brogdon in the second half yesterday, and he seems likely to start today if Brogdon is ultimately unable to suit up. Holiday has averaged a solid 0.81 FanDuel points per minute this season, and he has the potential to play well over 30 minutes in today’s contest. He’s an elite value at just $4,000 on FanDuel given his Bargain Rating of 97%.
The Heat are another team worth monitoring today. Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler are both questionable with illnesses, and their absences would obviously open up a ton of value with the rest of the roster. Kendrick Nunn would become one of their primary scoring options in that situation: He’s averaged 1.29 FanDuel points per minute with both players off the court this season. The Heat are also in an elite spot vs. the Pelicans, who currently rank first in pace and 28th in defensive efficiency.
It looks like there’s going to be plenty of value available on tonight’s slate, which should make it easy to jam James Harden into your lineups. He’s coming off another phenomenal performance in his last outing and has now scored at least 71.0 DraftKings points in five of his past six games. He’s been as good as ever from a fantasy perspective despite the addition of Russell Westbrook in the offseason.
Westbrook has already been ruled out for rest purposes tonight, which gives Harden an even greater ceiling. His numbers with Westbrook off the court his season are absurd: 47.5% usage rate, 50.6% assist rate, 1.78 DraftKings points per minute.
Tonight’s game between the Rockets and Timberwolves also figures to be one of the best from a fantasy perspective. It leads the slate with a total of 231.5 points, and the spread currently sits at just 1.5-points. This should be a high-scoring, back-and-forth affair, so fade Harden at your own risk.
Westbrook isn’t the only player who won’t suit up tonight for the Rockets. Clint Capela and Eric Gordon will also be sidelined, while Danuel House is currently questionable. That leaves them without a ton of viable options.
Ben McLemore and Austin Rivers both played more than 30 minutes in yesterday’s contest, and that was with Westbrook playing 35 minutes. If House doesn’t rejoin the rotation today, both players could be looking at huge workloads. Neither player has been great this season — McLemore has averaged 0.62 DraftKings points per minute while Rivers has averaged 0.60 — but it’s hard to find that kind of minute potential at such low price tags.
DeMar DeRozan has been disappointing to begin the season, but his price has decreased to just $7,600 on FanDuel. He could be an interesting buy-low option with Murray out of the lineup, and he leads all SGs with 12 Pro Trends on FanDuel.
Fred VanVleet has dual PG/SG eligibility on DraftKings, where his $7,100 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 75%. He has been fantastic all season, but he’s really elevated his game since Kyle Lowry got injured. He’s scored at least 52.5 DraftKings points in two of his past three games, and he has the potential to play upwards of 40 minutes tonight vs. the Mavericks.
Harden will command the majority of the ownership at the top of the pricing spectrum today, which makes Giannis Antetokounmpo an interesting pivot. He isn’t as consistently dominant as Harden, but his ceiling is just as high. He’s averaged a ridiculous 1.93 DraftKings points per minute this season and is currently on pace to set new career highs in usage rate, assist rate, and rebound rate.
Unfortunately, his matchup vs. the Pacers is far from ideal. They’ve played at the fifth-slowest pace this season, making this a massive pace-down spot for the Bucks. They’ve also fared well defensively, giving Giannis a pedestrian Opponent Plus/Minus of +0.33 on DraftKings.
Josh Okogie has been a reliable fantasy producer recently, posting a positive Plus/Minus in four of his past five games on FanDuel. He would become an excellent option if Andrew Wiggins is unable to suit up — he missed yesterday’s contest to attend his grandmother’s funeral — but he should have some value even if the Timberwolves are at full strength.
Who is going to score the ball today for the Pacers? T.J. Warren stands out as one of the most logical choices. He hasn’t exactly dominated with Lamb, Brogdon, and Turner off the court this season, but he’s also played just 60 total minutes in that situation. Warren has shown the ability to score the ball at a high level in the past, so it wouldn’t be a huge shock to big performance from him tonight.
De’Andre Hunter is coming off his best game of the season, scoring 32.4 FanDuel points vs. the Suns in his last outing. The playing time has been there for Hunter all season — he’s logged at least 33.9 minutes in each of his past three games — and players with comparable salaries and minute projections have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.82 on FanDuel (per the Trends tool).
Domantas Sabonis is coming off a poor performance yesterday, scoring just 38.25 DraftKings points over 36 minutes. That said, his fantasy outlook is still positive for the shorthanded Pacers. He leads the team with a usage rate of 29.3% with Lamb, Brogdon, and Turner off the court this season, which represents a massive increase compared to his season average of 24.3%. Sabonis has averaged 1.27 DraftKings points per minute this season, and he’s capable of exceeding that mark in this contest.
He’s currently grading out as one of the best tournament plays in our NBA Models. He owns the ninth-highest ceiling projection regardless of position but is projected for just 5-8% ownership.
This slate didn’t really need any more injury craziness, but the Pelicans will be without JJ Redick, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Jahlil Okafor for tonight’s matchup vs. the Heat. Brandon Ingram is also listed as questionable, while rookie phenom Zion Williamson remains out. That’s more than half their roster.
Derrick Favors isn’t exactly a “value” at $6,200, but that still seems way too cheap considering the current injury situation in New Orleans. He’s averaged 1.15 DraftKings points per minute this season, and the Pelicans have no choice but to lean on him for big minutes tonight. Favors has dominated when given the chance to play extended minutes recently, and he’s coming off 52.5 DraftKings points in his last contest.
Jabari Parker is another player who has taken advantage of additional minutes lately. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in seven of his past eight games on FanDuel, despite the fact that his salary has increased by $2,800 over that time frame. He’s averaged 1.12 FanDuel points per minute and is currently projected for 32.6 minutes, so he still seems like a viable option at $7,400 on FanDuel.
Julius Randle and LaMarcus Aldridge both check a lot of the same boxes on DraftKings. Talented players? Check. Large recent price decreases? Check. Excellent Bargain Ratings? Check. Both players are solid buy-low options who could be under-owned given all the injury craziness on today’s slate.
Karl-Anthony Towns is so freaking good. He posted 36 points, 10 rebounds, and three assists in yesterday’s contest with some of the most efficient shooting numbers possible. He was 13-of-18 from the field, 4-of-6 from 3-point range, and 6-of-8 from the FT line, and he finished with 55.0 DraftKings points. The only thing that stopped him from posting a bigger performance was seven turnovers and the fact that the Timberwolves lost the game by nearly 20 points.
He’s in an excellent spot today vs. the Rockets. They’ve struggled defensively to begin with, and now they’ll be without their starting center in tonight’s contest. Tyson Chandler is a competent backup, but he doesn’t possess the athleticism to hang with Towns on the perimeter.
Towns would also see a bump in value if Wiggins is ultimately ruled out. His usage rate of 33.0% in his last game was his second-highest mark of the season, and he’s averaged a ridiculous 1.99 DraftKings points per minute with Wiggins off the court this season.
Mitchell Robinson has played pretty sparingly this season, but he did play 22.4 minutes in his last game. While that’s still not a ton of minutes, it should be enough to make Robinson viable at $4,500 on DraftKings. He’s averaged 1.28 DraftKings points per minute this season and he owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.24 vs. the Hornets.
Alex Len and Damian Jones are both expected to see roughly 20 minutes of playing time for the Hawks, which gives them some appeal on FanDuel. Len is priced at just $4,100, while Jones is priced at the absolute minimum. Both players have averaged at least 0.88 FanDuel points per minute this season.
Pictured: Timberwolves C Karl-Anthony Towns (32)
Photo Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports