The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
Today we’re focusing on the Saturday evening games tipping at or after 7 p.m. ET. That’s the Night slate at DraftKings and After Hours at FanDuel:
- 76ers at Pacers, 7:00 p.m. ET on NBA League Pass
- Lakers at Raptors, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
The key absences here are Indiana’s. We already know Domantas Sabonis is out, and rookie backup center Goga Bitadze is questionable with a sore left knee. Malcolm Brogdon is also questionable with a strained cervical. Victor Oladipo is not on the injury report and has played in scrimmages but remains a bit of a question mark on minute load.
The 76ers, Raptors, and Lakers are largely healthy. Let’s pick a winner.
Ben Simmons may not be a “point guard” for Philadelphia anymore, but he’s still a point guard in DFS and he looks like a fantastic play. Early returns from scrimmages look very promising. Simmons put up 9 points, 7 rebounds, and 9 assists in 22 minutes in his debut, then was one assist short of a triple-double in 26 minutes the next game. It looks like there’s no reason to fear the assists fading away, and Simmons should see more opportunities for rebounds and possibly scoring, now that he’s even shooting a few threes.
Simmons has a +7.62 Projected Plus/Minus today and looks like an excellent way to start off your lineup, especially against a banged up Pacers team with no one that can really guard him. He could have a monster debut at power forward.
With the uncertainty in the Pacers back court, with Brogdon questionable and Oladipo’s minutes potentially limited, it would be wise to get at least one piece of Indiana’s cheaper options. Aaron Holiday looks like a great grab. He could likely get starter minutes and is projected at 29.6, which helps offset his meager 0.82 fantasy points per minute. This is a volume play because someone in Indiana has to get shots up. Holiday has a +5.97 Projected Plus/Minus, and that will only rise if news comes out about Brogdon and/or Oladipo being limited.
T.J. McConnell is another solid Indiana option. He’s a bit cheaper than Holiday if you need to save a few bucks, though he doesn’t have Holiday’s scoring punch so he lacks the same upside.
Shake Milton is the new starting point guard in Philadelphia after the hiatus, and he looks like a great option for your lineup. Milton has been bombing from deep, opening up the Philly offense, and he comes in at a 98 Bargain Rating on FanDuel.
Victor Oladipo might be the most important lineup decision you make tonight. It looks like Oladipo should play, and he’s not on the injury report at all. He played 28 minutes twice in the scrimmages, and that’s right where we’re projecting him tonight. The production has not been there yet, though, nor anytime this season for that matter. His assist numbers remain down, and his scoring has been inconsistent at best, with 8, 10, and 16 in the three scrimmages in pretty solid minutes.
Oladipo is a bargain now because of his lack of production all season. If you think he’s good to go, this is a rare chance to grab a potential high-usage stud on a team missing Sabonis and possibly Brogdon, but he could bust too. And if you do pass on him, you’ll want to load up on other cheap Pacer options. Given the low price, he may be worth the gamble.
Our models love Josh Richardson at +6.58 Projected Plus/Minus on FanDuel. The Sixers still lack options on the wing and Glenn Robinson Jr. is doubtful, so the minutes will be there. Richardson isn’t a volume producer so there’s not a high ceiling, but he’s a safe option at a bargain price and is sure to play a lot.
Oh hey, there’s another game out there on the slate! The guards available in the late game don’t look like great options overall, but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope may be a strong bargain play. KCP played 29.4 minutes in the re-opener, though he only recorded 6 points, 1 rebound, and 2 assists. He’s a 3-and-D guy who isn’t out there to put up numbers, but he doesn’t have to produce much at under $4,000 to be worth the price.
If you’re thinking about a Raptors guard, Fred VanVleet looks like the best option. He’s a middle-price guy with a relatively high floor and low ceiling, so he could be a strong play in GPP. VanVleet has a +4.62 Projected Plus/Minus on FanDuel.
LeBron James was a major disappointment from a fantasy standpoint Thursday night with just 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists while Anthony Davis led the way. He will have his hands full again tonight with OG Anunoby, a physical wing defender that should be able to hang with him (as much as any human can).
The Lakers have all but clinched the West’s No. 1 seed with their win over the Clippers, so beware of LeBron facing a shorter minutes load, especially after a grueling first game back. He looks like a positive play as always but may lack the usual upside.
Our models prefer Pascal Siakam here. Remember, Siakam was a monster in the opening weeks of the season way back in October but saw his numbers fade as he wore down and picked up some injuries. Could this long rest do him well? He may be tasked with defending Anthony Davis, so that’s a rough way to return and offers a -1.15 Opponent Plus/Minus. It’s a tough spot, but he’s a better play at FanDuel with a 94 Bargain Rating.
It could be that OG Anunoby is the better Raptors play. Anunoby is slowly but surely starting to find some offense to go along with all that length and defense, and you have to believe he’ll be on the court as much as possible so he can defend LeBron James. If he stays out of foul trouble and logs big minutes, he could be a great bargain. Anunoby is at +5.81 Projected Plus/Minus at FanDuel.
You’ll be wise to use one of your small forward slots on a Pacer. T.J. Warren is the far higher upside option. He’s one of those guys to get into your lineup if you see that Brogdon and/or Oladipo will be limited or out, because he could take a very high volume. We’re projecting him at 21.7 Usage, but that could rise quickly with another key injury. Warren can fill it up and represents rare upside from a middle price.
If you can’t afford Warren, Justin Holiday is a solid bargain alternative on the same team. Holiday has been a key bench contributor for the Pacers and has the ability to increase his usage and shots if the team is short-handed. His fantasy scoring is volatile as such, and there’s not a huge ceiling, but he looks a great option at only $3700 and +4.16 Projected Plus/Minus at FanDuel.
You may not want to build your lineup around LeBron, but Anthony Davis looks like a great cornerstone. Davis was a monster in the re-opener with 34 points and 8 rebounds, and it doesn’t look like that eye injury is limiting him at all. Our models loves him at +7.63 Projected Plus/Minus at FanDuel and a 69.9 ceiling, and he looks like a strong option to lead all DFS scorers tonight.
He’s going to be in a whole lot of lineups because of the light slate, especially among big men, but he should be. You need a very good reason to fade Davis tonight, and there may not be one, especially at FanDuel with his 88 Bargain Rating.
Kyle Kuzma struggled for much of the season but looked very comfortable Thursday night, putting up 16 points and 7 rebounds in 29.4 minutes. He could be a benefactor from the Lakers missing Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo, simply needing to get another body in the lineup. If you’re not feeling LeBron or Brow, he could be an intriguing pivot.
Serge Ibaka could benefit from the long layoff and a chance to get healthy. He has a tough matchup tonight at -1.87 Projected Plus/Minus and probably gets the first chance at stopping Anthony Davis, but that could also mean a minutes uptick. He has a 95 Bargain Rating at FanDuel and looks like a solid option on a slate with few.
Call it a hunch, but perhaps T.J. Leaf is tonight’s shock producer. With so few options at PF, you may need to take a shot. Leaf did play 17 minutes against the Blazers in a scrimmage and got up 9 shots with 11 rebounds, though he only had 4 points scored. With Indiana lacking big men and Philly such a big opponent, he could be forced into minutes, and he comes at the minimum.
So you know how Indiana is lacking big men options? Advantage Joel Embiid. Myles Turner is no slouch defensively, but if he gets in any foul trouble, Embiid might just start dunking on dudes. Embiid always has that monster game waiting, and tonight could be his chance to feast on a short-handed Indiana roster. At +4.52 Projected Plus/Minus, he looks like a good lineup anchor and could lead all scorers tonight. If you can build a lineup around both Davis and Embiid, tonight might be a good studs and duds night.
Marc Gasol is another one of those Raptors who struggled through injuries and probably benefited from the long layoff. Gasol hasn’t been fully healthy since January but looks slimmed down and ready to go, and he’s a serious bargain now. Gasol isn’t going to put up big numbers anymore but should produce per minute stats and is a nice cash play.
Myles Turner is the other big name center on the slate. If he can stay out of foul trouble defending Embiid, he could be forced into a ton of minutes with Sabonis and possibly Bitadze out. But those minutes will come against Embiid and a -1.13 Opponent Plus/Minus. This is not the Pacer to turn to tonight.
Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee are always solid bargain options when the Lakers play. Our model slightly prefers Howard tonight, and that makes sense against a tough interior Raptors defense that may not leave much room for a JaVale role. Howard is a lineup filler as needed.