The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
The NBA is back! The festivities kick off with a two-game slate on Thursday beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Utah Jazz vs. New Orleans Pelicans (-2.5), 222.5 total
Jazz (110.0 implied total)
The Jazz head into the Orlando restart with one of the biggest question marks. Bojan Bogdanovic has been ruled out, which opens up a ton of minutes and usage for the rest of the roster. Overall, Bogdanovic ranked third on the team in minutes per game (33.1) and second in usage rate (25.6%).
Donovan Mitchell is one of the most obvious candidates to pick up the slack. He’s increased his fantasy production to 1.15 DraftKings points per minute with Bogdanovic off the court this season, and he scored 41.5 DraftKings points in his only game without Bogdanovic this season. That makes him a pretty reasonable option at just $7,000.
Mike Conley stands out on FanDuel, where his $5,700 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 92%. Conley got off to a rough start this season, but he started to turn things around prior to the shutdown. He averaged 16.5 points and 4.9 assists per game over his last 13 contests, resulting in an average Plus/Minus of +6.67 over that time frame.
Jordan Clarkson could be the biggest beneficiary for the Bogdanovic injury. He’s currently projected for 29 minutes in our NBA Models, and he’s always capable of putting up a big performance given that much playing time. He hasn’t spent all year with the Jazz, but he’s averaged 0.97 FanDuel points per minute this season. He’s also increased his usage rate by +1.9% with Bogdanovic off the court, which is the second-highest mark on the team. Overall, Clarkson stands out as one of the best pure values on the slate.
Rudy Gobert is definitely worth some consideration on DraftKings given his Bargain Rating of 97%. He’s priced at just $7,100, and Gobert has historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +3.15 with a comparable price tag (per the Trends tool).
Joe Ingles and Royce O’Neale should also figure into the rotation pretty heavily. Ingles is the more capable fantasy producer – he’s averaged 0.85 DraftKings points per minute this season – but he’s also the more expensive option. He’s a better target on FanDuel given his Bargain Rating of 83%.
Finally, Emmanuel Mudiay could have some sneaky upside at the absolute minimum on DraftKings. He’s seen the largest usage bump on the team with Bogdanovic off the court, so he can pay off his salary without a ton of playing time.
Pelicans (112.5 implied total)
The Pelicans have everything to play for in Orlando. They currently occupy the No. 10 spot in the Western Conference, but they’re just 3.5 games behind the Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed. If they can jump to No. 9 in the conference and maintain a distance of 4.5 games or less between them and the Grizzlies, they will have the opportunity to force a play-in for the final spot in the playoffs.
Any analysis of the Pelicans has to start with Zion Williamson, who entered the league with ridiculously high expectations. Still, they might not have been high enough. Williamson has wasted no time making an impact on the court, and the Pelicans have posted a Net Rating of +9.5 in that situation.
He’s also been excellent from a fantasy perspective. He’s averaged 1.55 FanDuel points per minute, which puts him on par with some of the best fantasy producers in the league. The only thing that has held him back is a lack of minutes, but he’s currently projected for 30.1 minutes on Thursday’s slate. Williamson has averaged 37.19 FanDuel points when projected for at least 28 minutes this season, which gives him plenty of appeal at just $7,100.
Jrue Holiday is the most-expensive option for the Pelicans, and his $8,300 salary on FanDuel comes with a Bargain Rating of 86%. He was playing well prior to the shutdown, posting an average Plus/Minus of +6.25 on FanDuel over his last 10 games, and he appears to work well with Zion. His fantasy scoring has actually increased when sharing the court with Williamson, which is a positive for his fantasy prospects moving forward.
The same cannot be said for Brandon Ingram. He was the man for the Pels early in the season, averaging 25.9 points per game during the months of October and November. That number dropped to just 18.6 during his final five games of the season. The more that Williamson sees the court, the less the Pelicans need from Ingram as a scorer. That is obviously not good for his fantasy value, which makes him a risky investment across the industry.
Of course, that matters only if Zion is actually active. He practiced with the team on Tuesday and Wednesday but is currently listed as questionable. He’s tentatively expected to play, but Ingram and the rest of the roster would get a bump if he’s inactive. Make sure to monitor his status using the excellent Labs NBA Insiders tool.
Lonzo Ball is one of the few members of the Pelicans who stands out as a better investment on DraftKings given his Bargain Rating of 83%. He’s capable of filling up the stat sheet, which always makes him a threat for a big game. He was another member of the team playing well prior to the shutdown, posting an average Plus/Minus of +6.46 over his final 10 games.
Derrick Favors rounds out the starting lineup, but his real-life impact is greater than his fantasy impact. The Pelicans have been dominant with both Zion and Favors on the court this season:
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) July 29, 2020
He’s definitely capable of paying off his current price tag across the industry, but he doesn’t appear to have too much upside.
Josh Hart and J.J. Redick are your best bets if you’re looking for a value play with the Pels. Both guys have been productive this season, averaging at least 0.90 DraftKings points per minute. Hart is slightly more expensive across the industry, but his $3,900 salary on DraftKings does come with a Bargain Rating of 83%. Hart is also projected for a few additional minutes, making him the preferred target if you can find the extra salary.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers (-4), 216 total
Clippers (106.0 implied total)
The Clippers have the lowest implied team total on the slate at 106 points, and who really knows what to expect from them? They haven’t cared about the regular season all year, and they’re virtually locked into the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. Still, this is a rivalry game vs. the Lakers, so maybe we’ll see their max effort. You could make a case for either option.
One thing that is certain is that the Clippers will be without both Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell for this contest. Williams is still quarantining after the chicken wings incident, while Harrell is quarantining after leaving the bubble to attend to a family emergency. Patrick Beverley and Landry Shamet are also questionable, but it sounds like both guys are on track to play.
The Clippers have one of the deepest rosters in the league, but they are built around the dynamic duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Leonard has been the superior fantasy option this season, averaging 1.53 DraftKings points per minute compared to just 1.28 for George, but the latter might be the better pure value. He’s roughly $2,000 cheaper than Leonard across the industry, and he’s seen the larger boost in value with Williams and Harrell off the court this season. He’s averaged 1.31 DraftKings points per minute in that situation, while Leonard’s production has dipped to 1.43 DraftKings points per minute. That closes the gap on them pretty significantly.
Both guys are definitely in play, but I would recommend choosing one or the other for your lineups. They have a correlation of -0.22, which makes it unlikely that both can succeed in the same contest.
Marcus Morris was a late addition to the Clippers, but his impact on the squad can’t be overstated. The Clippers have increased their Net Rating by +12.4 points over 340 minutes with Morris on the court, which makes him one of their most important role players heading into the postseason. The fact that they’ve been that good even with Morris shooting just 38.6% from the field and 28.3% from 3-point range makes it even more impressive.
Morris has obviously taken a fantasy hit after moving to L.A., but that will happen when you go from the No. 1 option to a role player. He’s very fairly priced at $4,200 on FanDuel, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 92%, and he has significant upside if his jump shot starts falling.
Reggie Jackson isn’t expected to see as many minutes as Morris, but he should be more productive while on the court. He’s averaged 1.07 FanDuel points per minute this season, and he should serve as one of the focal points for the bench unit with Williams out of the lineup. He’s dirt-cheap at $3,800 on FanDuel.
The Clippers also have some additional minutes available at center, and those should be filled by Ivica Zubac, Joakim Noah and JaMychal Green. Noah has started some games during the exhibitions in Orlando, but Zubac and Green are currently projected for more minutes in our Models. All three have some merit, but Noah is viable only on DraftKings given his Bargain Rating of 91%.
Finally, don’t forget about Beverley if he’s active. He’s not much of a scoring threat, but that hasn’t stopped him from averaging 0.87 DraftKings points per minute this season. He’s underpriced at $4,100 on DraftKings.
Lakers (110.0 implied total)
The Lakers are favored in this matchup, which will likely make them the preferred target for many DFS players. They don’t face the same quarantine issues as the Clippers, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be at full strength. Avery Bradley has opted out of the Orlando restart, while Rajon Rondo will miss the next 6-8 weeks after undergoing thumb surgery.
The Lakers are led by their own dynamic duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. There were some questions about Davis’ availability heading into this contest, but he has indicated that he plans on playing. Davis has averaged 48.2 FanDuel points per game in three matchups vs. the Clippers this season, but that actually represents a Plus/Minus of -2.7. He’ll need to do more than that pay off his current salary across the industry.
LeBron has found more success vs. the Clippers this season, averaging a Plus/Minus of +1.96 on FanDuel. He’s also scored at least 53.9 FanDuel points in each of his past two meetings against them, which makes him the slightly safer target.
Outside of the big two, no one else on the Lakers commands a big salary. Kyle Kuzma is the next most-expensive option, and he’s priced at just $4,700 on FanDuel. That’s a monster drop-off.
With that in mind, don’t be surprised if some of the Lakers role-players find themselves in winning DFS lineups.
The backcourt options in particular intrigue me given the absences of Bradley and Rondo. Danny Green stands out at just $3,500 on DraftKings, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 88%. He’s increased his production to 0.81 DraftKings points per minute with Bradley and Rondo off the court this season, and he’s currently projected for 29.4 minutes in our NBA Models.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is another fine option, and he’s slightly cheaper than Green on FanDuel. He hasn’t been as productive as Green with Bradley and Rondo off the court, but he’s projected for slightly more playing time.
Alex Caruso is the wildcard. He’s a cult favorite in NBA circles, and he should handle the backup PG minutes in Rondo’s absence. He’s priced at the absolute minimum on FanDuel and has been very productive when on the court this season (0.91 FanDuel points per minute).
Kuzma is also very much in play. He might not see the same boost in value as some of the backcourt guys given the Lakers’ current injury situation, but he still carries the highest ceiling projection of the group. He’s also had massive success vs. the Clippers this season, averaging 30.90 FanDuel points over two matchups.