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 nine-game main slate starting at 7 p.m. ET.
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Ja Morant isn’t the most expensive PG on today’s slate, but he stands out as one of the best pure values on FanDuel. He’s priced at just $7,000, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 82%, and Morant has historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.22 with a comparable price tag (per the Trends tool).
His minutes have been down a bit recently, but that’s due to the Grizzlies playing in a bunch of blowouts more than anything else. The average margin of victory over his past four games has been 19 points, and all four games have been decided by at least 12.
He should return to his normal workload if today’s game stays competitive, and the Pelicans represent an excellent matchup. Morant owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.37 on FanDuel, which is the top mark at the position.
The Spurs have the potential to be pretty shorthanded against the Rockets. LaMarcus Aldridge and Lonnie Walker have already been ruled out, and Dejounte Murray is questionable.
That should result in a few additional minutes for Derrick White. The Spurs have eased him back into the rotation following a lengthy injury absence, but White has averaged a solid 1.06 DraftKings points per minute since returning. Any additional playing time would make him an excellent option, particularly on DraftKings given his Bargain Rating of 95%.
Make sure to monitor Murray’s status using the Labs Insiders tool.
Paying up for Luka Doncic is always an option, and he’s in a solid spot against the Warriors. They’ve played at the second-fastest pace this season, and the Mavericks’ implied team total of 117.75 ranks first on the slate. He’s a more appealing target tonight on FanDuel, where his $10,700 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 78%.
Coby White has had a quiet sophomore season, and he’s been a major disappointment recently. He’s posted an average Plus/Minus of -6.83 over his past 10 games on DraftKings, and he’s posted a finished with a positive Plus/Minus in just three of those contests.
That said, he’s still playing a bunch of minutes, and his salary has come way down across the industry. He’s tied for the most Pro Trends at the position on both DraftKings and FanDuel, so he’s an interesting buy-low target.
Who knows what’s going on in Brooklyn at the moment? After the fiasco with Kevin Durant last night, it appears as though we’re headed toward a similar situation today. Durant was ruled out last night, but he’s since been upgraded to questionable. I still think it’s unlikely that he plays, but we probably won’t know for sure until tip-off.
One thing that’s certain is that Kyrie Irving will not suit up. He’s been ruled out with an injury to his right index finger, which means there’s a possibility that James Harden will be the lone stud standing for the Nets. Even if Durant suits up, Harden would still be an excellent play. He’s increased his usage rate by a team-high +5.4% with Irving off the court this season, and no one on the slate is projected for more minutes in our NBA Models.
If Durant is also ruled out, Harden becomes essentially a must-play.
Sticking with the Nets, the injury to Irving makes Bruce Brown one of the best values on the slate. He will likely move into the starting lineup, and Brown has averaged a solid 0.81 DraftKings points per minute this season. He’s currently projected for 29.4 minutes in our NBA Models, and players with comparable salaries and minute projections have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +4.14.
We’re still waiting on an injury report for the Thunder, but it’s at least possible they will be extremely shorthanded again today. They were without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort, and Theo Maledon in their last contest, which forced Hamidou Diallo to serve as the emergency PG. He finished with a career-high 10 assists, resulting in 34.4 FanDuel points, so he would be a very appealing target if he fills that role again today.
The Hawks are another team that will potentially be shorthanded tonight, but they should draw minimal ownership. The teams with newer injuries will likely be fresher in DFS-players’ minds. Kevin Huerter should be looking at another expanded workload against the Raptors, and he has the potential to smash his $4,900 salary on FanDuel.
I don’t think you need to pay all the way up at SF today.
DeMar DeRozan is very reasonably priced at $7,200, and he should provide stud-like production for the shorthanded Spurs. He’s increased his usage rate by +5.9% with Aldridge and Walker off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.28 DraftKings points per minute. He’s simply too cheap on DraftKings given his Bargain Rating of 92%.
There are plenty of different value options to choose from at small forward, but Justin Jackson stands out if the Thunder are shorthanded again. He played more than 30 minutes last night, and he’s projected for a comparable workload tonight vs. the Pelicans. He’s also priced at the absolute minimum on FanDuel.
Keldon Johnson’s playing time has been a bit volatile recently. He’s played 30.5 minutes or more in three of his past five games — and he posted a positive Plus/Minus in each of them on FanDuel — but he’s played 21.4 minutes or less in the other two. However, the Spurs may have no choice but to unleash him today if Murray is ruled out. Johnson has averaged 0.98 FanDuel points per minute this season, so he’s capable of making the most of his playing time.
Juan Toscano-Anderson moved into the Warriors’ starting lineup in their last game, and he responded with 35.5 DraftKings points over 39.6 minutes. The Warriors absolutely rolled in that contest — they put up 147 points on the Mavericks — so expect another heavy workload tonight. He’s vastly underpriced at $4,200 on DraftKings given his Bargain Rating of 99%.
The amount of value that’s available tonight makes it pretty easy to pay up for whoever you want.
Harden will likely be the No. 1 priority for most people, but Giannis Antetokounmpo should be next in line. He’s been rolling recently, scoring at least 62.0 DraftKings points in five of his past six games, and he’s in another great spot tonight against the Cavaliers. The Bucks’ implied team total of 119.25 ranks second on the slate, and Giannis scored 64.5 DraftKings points against the Cavaliers last night.
Chris Boucher’s playing time had been way down recently, but he emerged from the bench with 26.7 minutes yesterday against the Nets.
Aron Baynes saw only 18 minutes as the starter, so this is hopefully a sign of things to come. Boucher has been absolutely elite on a per-minute basis this season — he’s averaged 1.29 FanDuel points per minute — so he doesn’t need a ton of playing time to pay off his current salary. He’s particularly appealing at just $4,700 on FanDuel.
The Thunder have a few interesting options at power forward. Darius Bazley should see the majority of the playing time, and he finished with 24.5 FanDuel points yesterday vs. the Timberwolves. That said, he shot just 4-of-14 in that matchup, so he has much more upside today if his jump shot is falling.
Mike Muscala and Isaiah Roby are also options for the shorthanded Thunder. They’re both significantly cheaper than Bazley, and both players have also been more productive on a per-minute basis. They’re not as safe, but they have the potential to provide better value.
Thaddeus Young has quietly been balling for the Bulls recently. He’s averaged a stout 1.19 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, and he’s posted an average Plus/Minus of +8.62 over his past 10 games. Lauri Markkanen is currently considered doubtful, so Young could benefit from some additional playing time against the Magic.
Another night, another quality performance from Nikola Vucevic. He’s now posted a positive Plus/Minus in nine of his past 11 games on DraftKings, and last night’s performance was particularly impressive. He finished with 43 points and 19 rebounds, resulting in 77.75 DraftKings points.
He’s probably due for some shooting regression in Saturday’s rematch against the Bulls, but he still has the potential to easily return value at his current salary. The Magic are playing without Aaron Gordon, Michael Carter-Williams, and Markelle Fultz, and Vucevic has seen the largest usage bump on the team with all three players off the court. He leads the position with 14 Pro Trends on DraftKings, so he’s a great option once again on today’s slate.
Christian Wood is out of the lineup against the Spurs, which means DeMarcus Cousins is back in play for fantasy purposes.
He’s been an absolute monster with Wood out of the lineup this season, averaging 41.98 FanDuel points over four starts. That’s good for an average Plus/Minus of +20.0. He isn’t exactly a free square at $5,900 on FanDuel and $6,300 on DraftKings, but he’s pretty darn close.
Al Horford turned back the clock with his performance last night against the Timberwolves. He led the Thunder in scoring, and he ultimately finished with 59.4 FanDuel points over 29.1 minutes. He should be looking at another increased usage rate tonight, which makes him one of the most appealing values on the slate.
Jakob Poeltl will likely draw another start in place of Aldridge, and he’s coming off 44.1 FanDuel points in his last start. He owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.43 against the Rockets, and he should be an afterthought at a loaded center position.
Pictured: James Harden.
Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images.