The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
Tuesday features a seven-game slate starting at 7 p.m. ET.
All the heaviest hitters are playing tonight, and these days that means Luka Doncic is on the slate. Doncic continues to absolutely ball out. He’s averaging 30.6 points, 9.9 rebounds and 9.6 assists a game, basically a 30-point triple-double on the nightly, vaulting himself into the MVP race. He’s been as valuable as any fantasy player, too.
Luka is putting up an absurd 1.81 DraftKings points per minute, and that’s up even higher to 1.89 over the past month. He’s sure to get a lot of attention tonight from Jrue Holiday, but our model rates New Orleans as a healthy +3.55 Opponent Plus/Minus, and that makes Doncic a near must-start at DraftKings, where his $11,300 salary is a veritable bargain. He’s gone over expectations in 10 of 11 games even at his price tag, and he’s got a +7.93 Projected Plus/Minus with a ridiculous 87.5 fantasy point ceiling. Doncic is $12,400 at FanDuel, so he’s a more even-handed option there.
If you want an alternate point guard stud, Damian Lillard looks like a much better bet than Russell Westbrook. Dame has 12 Pro Trends, most of any point guard on the slate, and a top-five Projected Plus/Minus among point guards at both sites tonight.
Our models absolutely love Lonzo Ball tonight. That Pelicans vs. Mavericks game has the highest total on the board, and you may like to go all in on that game. The Pelicans offer value in particular because Kenrich Williams and Derrick Favors are out, so there’s more minutes and usage for their other regulars. Ball is way underpriced right now. He missed two weeks, then averaged around 21 minutes over three games, but jumped to almost 33 minutes Sunday night. Ball fills up the box score, and he’s got a +4.81 Projected Plus/Minus at FanDuel and an even better +7.94 at DraftKings.
With Goran Dragic out, Miami rookie Kendrick Nunn looks like a terrific bargain. Nunn has faded after his hot start, but that’s reflected in his salary now. At $4,800, Nunn is his cheapest since October on FanDuel; he’s got a +6.00 Projected Plus/Minus tonight. He’s a +5.26 at DraftKings, so he’s playable on both sites.
Have you been paying attention to Markelle Fultz? Fultz has exceeded expectations in nine of his last 10 games. His minutes have slowly ticked up, and he’s coming off his best game of the season with 14 points and nine assists. He’s an easy bargain play.
If you’re not playing Doncic, you’ll probably give major consideration to James Harden. Harden has been the talk of the town this week. Harden is scoring 38.9 points a game and just put up 60 points — that’s real life points, not fantasy!! — on only 24 shots in three quarters of a blowout win. Even at a stud price, Harden is exceeding expectations in 70% of his last 10 games, and he was over 80 fantasy points Saturday against the Hawks.
That was Harden’s first monster game in awhile. He’d been at 60 fantasy points or lower in five of his previous six games. That’s an absurdly high bar, but the salary reflects it. Harden will be a tempting play against a porous Spurs defense, but they also give him a -4.5 Pace Differential. Our model is giving Harden a -2.98 Projected Plus/Minus at DraftKings, but he can always win a tournament on his own.
Bradley Beal is a far cry from Harden, but he’s the next stud option at shooting guard and has an 87% Bargain Rating at DraftKings with a +6.08 Projected Plus/Minus. He has a negative Opponent Plus/Minus and Pace Differential but still looks like a strong play if you’re avoiding Harden.
Remember how we want players in that New Orleans-Dallas matchup? Jrue Holiday is a pretty great semi-stud to play. Holiday averages 1.16 fantasy points per minute and has 13 Pro Trends on FanDuel, where he has a +4.37 Projected Plus/Minus in a good matchup. He’ll have his hands full on defense with Doncic but will need to do it all on both ends.
Josh Hart is another Pelicans option. Feel free to throw a couple of these Pels in your lineup. Hart is a guy you want to play at FanDuel, where he’s only $4,700 with a 94% Bargain Rating. He might see the biggest minutes boost with Williams out, and he has a +6.99 Projected Plus/Minus, highest of any player tonight at FanDuel.
If you’re looking for a DraftKings bargain instead, Evan Fournier looks like your guy. Fournier has exceeded expectations in six of his last seven, scoring 25-plus points in five of those games. He benefits from playing Washington’s league-worst defense and tempo, and that gives him a huge +6.80 Projected Plus/Minus.
Our models aren’t exactly fading LeBron James tonight, but he’s not a top recommendation. He’s a much better play at DraftKings, with an 88% Bargain Rating and a salary of ‘just’ $10,200, but the truth is that Bron’s production has been down a bit lately. He’s under expectations in four of his last six, though he’s still averaging over 55 fantasy points a game during that stretch, so he’s not exactly a bust.
LeBron actually has a negative Projected Plus/Minus at FanDuel. He’s above sea level at DraftKings but still not a highly recommended play in a tough matchup against Denver, unless you want to fade Doncic and Harden and give yourself a high leverage play in tournaments.
Tim Hardaway Jr. has found his rhythm of late, scoring 16-plus points in four of his last six. He’s a score-only option, but that means he’s worth riding while his shooting is hot. THJ is still a bargain salary, so he’s a +4.31 Projected Plus/Minus at FanDuel and +6.39 at DraftKings. He doesn’t do much besides score, so that limits his ultimate upside, but he’s a strong value play nonetheless.
Pascal Siakam is a small forward at FanDuel, and he’s a nice option there. Siakam continues his shock MVP campaign. His scoring tends to be up and down, which makes him a more boom-or-bust star play but with big upside when he hits. He’s over a +3.00 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites, though you’ll have to play him at power forward or center at DraftKings.
It’s probably no surprise at this point to find Brandon Ingram as a good option. Ingram has been a stud for the Pelicans, and he’s another of the biggest benefactors with the New Orleans injuries. He’s a good play at FanDuel but an even better one at his $8,100 DraftKings salary, which earns him a +5.40 Projected Plus/Minus there.
Anthony Davis is the last of the four superstars on the board tonight, and he’s probable, so make sure he looks like a full load before putting him into your lineup. Denver has been good defensively, but not against power forwards, so Davis actually has a +2.00 Opponent Plus/Minus. That’s at DraftKings, where Brow is a better play and a recommended option at a +3.96 Projected Plus/Minus and a ceiling of almost 70.
That’s not quite the ceiling of the other top studs tonight, but Davis has exceeded expectations in five of seven games. He’s probably not going to win you a tournament on his own, but he could be part of a winning lineup.
Kawhi Leonard looks like a star to fade … for now. He’s struggled to produce since returning from injury; he’s gone under expectations in five of six games and has yet to hit 50 fantasy points. Our models give him a -1.80 Projected Plus/Minus at FanDuel, but he’s a reasonable play at $8,700 on DraftKings if you like him to bounce back in the late TNT game.
Our models absolutely love Aaron Gordon tonight. The Magic are missing both Nikola Vucevic and Al-Farouq Aminu now, and that should mean a heavy load for AG. Gordon is still working his way back from injury himself, so he comes at a real bargain salary. Gordon has a +5.81 Projected Plus/Minus at FanDuel and +7.22 at DraftKings. He gets a huge +7.9 Pace Differential boost and a matchup against the worst defense in the league in Washington. Our models give him a ceiling near 50 points, so this could be his breakout.
Kristaps Porzingis gives you another bite at that Mavs-Pels apple. Porzingis is a fade at his $8,100 FanDuel salary, but he gets a +3.48 Projected Plus/Minus at DraftKings. He’s a good option to stack with Doncic if you’re going in on Dallas.
Blake Griffin hasn’t really gotten going yet this year, and he’s under expectations in five of his last six games, even with lowered expectations. A matchup in Cleveland could help, so he’s at a +3.09 Projected Plus/Minus at DraftKings and could be a sneaky upside play at a relative bargain price.
The stud options at center aren’t particularly exciting today, unless you’re playing someone with dual eligibility at DraftKings. Otherwise Andre Drummond is probably your best bet. Drummond has a plus matchup against the Cavs but has disappointed with nine of his last 12 games under expectations, and his salary is still pretty steep.
Nikola Jokic barely even belongs in the stud category anymore right now. Jokic still costs stud prices but continues to disappoint, falling short of expectations a miserable 67% of his games this season. His price tag hasn’t decreased enough to be a playable option yet, and a matchup against the Lakers is not exactly the time to bet on him turning things around.
Mo Bamba is by far our favorite center bargain today. Bamba is at 1.04 fantasy points per minute over the past month and getting into a groove lately, and he could see a slight minutes boost with Aminu out. He has an awesome matchup against the Wizards, a +4.70 Opponent Plus/Minus and he’s over a +4.00 Projected Plus/Minus at both sites and a great bargain play.
If you don’t believe in Bamba, you might prefer to play Thomas Bryant against him. Bryant has a +3.56 Projected Plus/Minus at DraftKings, though he gets a negative defense and pace rating against Orlando. You’ll need to decide if Bamba and the Magic can get out to guard Bryant on the perimeter.
Hassan Whiteside is another center with a great matchup. Whiteside has a +2.46 Opponent Plus/Minus against the Clippers and is coming off a monster 10-block night, his best fantasy game of the season. If he adds those blocks to his offensive production, he could see a bigger ceiling than ever.
Photo credit: USAToday Sports
Pictured: Luka Doncic