The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
Welcome back! Thursday features a six-game slate starting at 7 p.m. ET.
If you haven’t noticed, Russell Westbrook is back to being a fantasy monster again. He’s thriving in all the open space of this small-ball Houston team, averaging 1.52 fantasy points per minute over the past month, up from 1.41 on the season. He’s exceeded fantasy expectations in 80% of those games with an average +10.15 Plus/Minus per game, making him a near must-play until he slows down from this torrid pace. It’s not like Golden State should give you any reason to pause in this national TV matchup. Westbrook is over a +6.2 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites.
I’m fading Trae Young tonight against Miami. The Heat are a tough, physical defense that will throw a lot of attention at Young in a really difficult matchup, and I just don’t see the value with Westbrook out there at a similar price in a far better spot. If you do want to play Young, make sure it’s at FanDuel, where he has a 93% Bargain Rating.
Derrick Rose is one of the most obvious plays on the board, with Reggie Jackson off to the Clippers on the buyout market. We’re projecting Rose to bump up to 29.8 minutes, and he’s already overperformed expectations in a whopping 76% of his games this season coming off the bench. A minutes or usage boost can only help, and don’t be thrown off by the Milwaukee matchup either. The Bucks offer a +3.24 Opponent Plus/Minus and a huge +6.9 pace differential. Rose is over a +9.7 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites.
De’Aaron Fox seems to have stalled a bit this season on his development curve, but he’s quietly been very good since the turn of the calendar. He’s averaging a +6.5 Plus/Minus over the past month and has a very favorable matchup against Memphis.
Expect a lot of minutes for Shaq Harrison with Chicago’s litany of injuries. He’s averaging 1.24 fantasy points per minute and could push 30 minutes; he’s priced just above the minimum. He’s the best bargain play on the slate at over a +12 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites.
With Westbrook playing so well, you’d assume James Harden is a fade, but he still looks quite valuable, too. Our models still rate Harden with at least a +5.6 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites, and he’s had some huge games against the Warriors in the past. This is a rare chance for you to play Harden in a leverage spot where a lot of other DFS players will be fading him to play Westbrook or some of the other studs available. He can always have a monster game.
Jimmy Butler has just a 41% Consistency Rating on the season and continues to be hit or miss in fantasy, but tonight looks like a nice spot for him in Atlanta. It’s obviously a great matchup and a nice +5.6 pace differential boost, and Butler should be well-rested and ready for big minutes as needed. He leads all shooting guards in Projected Plus/Minus at both sites at over a +7.6 mark.
Damion Lee continues to be a nice value with 69% of his games exceeding expectations on the season at an average +4.35 Plus/Minus. His salary is still quite reasonable, and he’ll play big minutes in a plus matchup against Houston.
If you’re at FanDuel, Bruce Brown looks like a monster bargain. He should be in for a huge role with Jackson gone, and he has a 99% Bargain Rating at just above the minimum salary, giving him a +10.31 Projected Plus/Minus there.
Somehow Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to provide nice DFS value despite coasting through the season as the reigning MVP. He’s exceeded expectations in 60% of his games, including 75% over the last month and nine of the last 10, averaging a +6.98 Plus/Minus over that span. There’s no reason to expect Detroit to slow him or the Bucks down. Giannis is the ultimate high-floor piece, even if he rarely has a monster upside game. On a night with so many interesting bargains, it could be worth his price tag to lock in that safety.
I’m not in love with the other small forward options tonight, but Kyle Anderson looks solid. He’s seen an uptick in minutes after the recent Memphis trade, and he’s averaging a +5.4 Plus/Minus over the last 10 games. That’s right about where our Projected Plus/Minus sits for him tonight at both sites.
One of those guys who got traded was Jae Crowder, and he leads all small forward options tonight with a +7.57 Projected Plus/Minus at FanDuel. Atlanta is a great matchup for him, especially if De’Andre Hunter sits, so he’s a nice value.
Tobias Harris is a strong play as well. Harris gets a nice boost from a positive Brooklyn matchup, and he’s a guy who can fill it up if he gets hot; he provides a solid floor with some intriguing variance.
First-time All-Star Bam Adebayo has been balling heading into the break, topping expectations in nine of his last 10 games with a +7.27 average Plus/Minus. He’s become a true fantasy stud with his production, and he’s yet another Heat player who should benefit from an easy matchup in Atlanta. He should keep momentum going after a great All-Star Weekend showing and rates over a +7.1 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites.
Nemanja Bjelica has been a great fantasy performer this season when he gets minutes, and there should be plenty tonight with Marvin Bagley and Alex Len out. Memphis is a plus matchup, and Bjelica is over a +4.6 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites. He’s exceeded expectations in 63% of his games this season, and he’s been even higher when his minutes jump.
Christian Wood has been killing it for Detroit with Andre Drummond off to Cleveland. He’s averaging 20 points and 11.8 rebounds over the last four games, with over 35 minutes played in three of them; he’s averaging a +8.5 Plus/Minus over that stretch. Our Projected Plus/Minus for Wood is near that number at both sites, so he’s a strong play even with a quickly rising salary.
Robert Covington has gone over expectations in five of his last six games, with a nice uptick in both scoring and rebounding since his trade to Houston. He’s over a +6.1 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites and is yet another quality Houston option tonight.
Joel Embiid is a guy I only play in great matchups, and tonight is one of those matchups. Brooklyn has hemorrhaged points to opposing centers, with an ugly +4.51 Opponent Plus/Minus at the position, and Embiid should be ready for a huge load after the long All-Star Break. At over a +3.4 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites, he looks like a quality play with big upside. He’s a guy who can win your tournament with a big game, especially on a night where his usage may not be as high.
It’s a tough matchup for Dewayne Dedmon, but he should get big minutes for Atlanta with Clint Capela still sidelined, and he’s gone over expectations in five straight games. At over a +4.7 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites, he looks like your best bet at center if you’re avoiding Embiid and looking to spend at other positions.
Marquese Chriss might actually be the biggest guy on the court for much of the game tonight against Houston, and that puts him in a great spot to rack up rebounds and easy buckets. He’s torn it up, exceeding expectations in 81% of his games over the past month, including 11 straight heading into the break. At over a +4.5 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites, he is another outstanding bargain even with a rising salary.
DeAndre Jordan may be needed for more minutes against Embiid if Jarrett Allen is unable to hang in there physically on defense. That could boost his value, and he’s a nice moderately-priced option with over a +3.5 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites.
Photo credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Pictured: Derrick Rose