The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
Wednesday features a nine-game slate starting at 7 p.m. ET.
Russell Westbrook got the night off in the Rockets’ last game, but he’ll be back tonight for a juicy matchup vs. the Warriors. They’ve been dreadful defensively to start the season, and they currently rank dead last in defensive efficiency. The Rockets are implied for 123.25 points, which is the top mark on the slate by a substantial margin. Westbrook has historically dominated when his team is implied for at least 120 points, posting an average Plus/Minus of +11.27 on DraftKings (per the Trends tool). That includes three games as a member of the Rockets, and he’s averaged 59.58 DraftKings points in those contests.
He leads the position with 13 Pro Trends on DraftKings, where his $9,400 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 81%.
The big news of the day is that Kawhi Leonard will get the night off for rest purposes. That should give the rest of the team a bump in value, including Patrick Beverley. He has a nice matchup vs. the Milwaukee Bucks, who have not been the same team defensively this season. They’ve struggled in particular against opposing PGs, giving Beverley an Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.49 on FanDuel.
Jeff Teague is currently questionable with an illness, but he’s in a great spot if he’s able to suit up. The Timberwolves are taking on the Memphis Grizzlies, who rank fifth in pace and 17th in defensive efficiency. His resulting Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.39 is one of the top marks at the position. Teague has averaged 1.06 DraftKings points per minute this season, which makes him an appealing target at just $5,500.
The Warriors will be shorthanded once again today with Draymond Green and D’Angelo Russell both out. Ky Bowman should draw another start as a result. He’s played big minutes in his past two games, and he’s scored at least 34.75 DraftKings points in both. Bowman has averaged 0.83 DraftKings points per minute this season, so he’s capable of taking advantage of increased playing time.
James Harden headlines the SG position, and he’s coming off 68.0 FanDuel points in his last contest. That game was played without Westbrook, so it’s not surprising that he posted a usage rate of 44.0%.
That said, Harden has been a usage monster even with Westbrook in the lineup this season. He posted an average usage rate of 42.6% over his prior five games, and all of those contests were played with the team at full strength. Further, Eric Gordon is out for today’s matchup vs. the Rockets, and he ranks third on the team in usage. Harden should once again dominate the ball.
Harden doesn’t have the same massive ceiling playing with Westbrook this season — his assist and rebound numbers in particular have taken a hit — but he’s still capable of putting up some crazy scoring outputs. He’s shot just 38.1% from the field and 25.3% from 3-point range to start the season, so his fantasy numbers should improve as the season progresses.
Damion Lee is another potential source of value for the Warriors. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in four of his past five games, and he’s coming off 30.5 DraftKings points in his last contest. He has an excellent individual matchup in today’s contest vs. the Rockets, resulting in an Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.32 on DraftKings.
What does Josh Richardson have to do to get some respect on DraftKings? He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in five of his first six games, yet his salary has actually decreased by $1,100 over that time frame. He hasn’t displayed a huge ceiling over those contests — he’s scored a high of 33.0 DraftKings points — but he doesn’t need a huge ceiling at his current price tag.
Lou Williams figures to be the prime beneficiary of Kawhi’s absence. He leads the team with a 35.6% usage rate with Kawhi off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.14 DraftKings points per minute. He’s reasonably priced across the industry and has displayed massive upside when serving as the offensive focal point in the past.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has put together a monster start to his season. He’s posted an average Plus/Minus of +6.50 on DraftKings through his first six games, thanks in part to a ridiculous average of 1.95 DraftKings points per minute. He’s on pace to set new career-highs in usage rate, assist rate and rebound rate, which is scary considering he was the MVP last season.
His matchup vs. the Clippers is tough on paper, resulting in an Opponent Plus/Minus of -0.25 on DraftKings, but it’s a lot less daunting with Kawhi out of the lineup. The Bucks are currently implied for 116.5 points, which is the second-highest mark on the slate.
It’s a tough call between Harden and Giannis for the top stud on the slate, but Giannis arguably has the higher ceiling given his ability to contribute in every category across the board.
Josh Okogie has been a solid producer this season, averaging 0.94 FanDuel points per minute, and he’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in five of his first six games. He was limited to just 22.1 minutes in his last game, but that was likely due to the fact that the Timberwolves lost by 28 points. His salary decreased by $500 on FanDuel over that contest, so this is a nice opportunity to buy low on him.
Glenn Robinson III is playing big minutes for the Warriors right now, and he’s averaged a respectable 0.75 FanDuel points per minute this season. He’s another potential source of value for Golden State in a great matchup vs. the Rockets.
It’s hard to argue against Bruce Brown today vs. the Knicks. The Pistons remain without Derrick Rose, Reggie Jackson and Tim Frazier, so Brown will serve as the team’s starting PG. He’s dominated in that role over the past two games, scoring 39.0 and 41.75 DraftKings points. His salary has increased to $5,300 on DraftKings, but he still has huge upside at that price tag.
It’s a tough day to pay up at PF. Domantas Sabonis and Kristaps Porzingis are the only guys priced above $7,300 on FanDuel, and both guys have huge question marks today. Sabonis might not even play — he’s currently questionable after sitting out his last game — while Porzingis has a brutal -3.52 Opponent Plus/Minus vs. the Magic.
With that in mind, going with someone like Julius Randle instead is a viable option. His price has decreased pretty drastically across the industry, which has been warranted given his lack of production. Still, he’s playing big minutes in games that stay competitive, and Randle was one of the best producers on a per-minute basis at the position last season. He’s someone to consider buying low on.
It will be interesting to see who the Clippers decide to start in place of Kawhi today. Moe Harkless and JaMychal Green are probably the top two candidates, and both are cheap across the industry. Green has been the better producer on a per-minute basis this season, and he stands out on FanDuel at just $4,000, but Harkless might be the superior option at just $3,200 on DraftKings.
Montrezl Harrell is another option to consider for the Clippers. He probably won’t see much of a bump in playing time, but he’s averaged 1.29 DraftKings points per minute with Leonard off the court this season. His $6,200 salary on DraftKings comes with a Bargain Rating of 78%.
T.J. Warren played nearly 41 minutes for the Pacers in their last game, and he has the potential to see a similar workload today. Jeremy Lamb is doubtful with an ankle injury, while Sabonis and Myles Turner are both questionable. It would be hard to pass him up at just $5,800 on DraftKings if all three players are ruled out again.
As usual, there are some strong options to consider at the top of the pricing spectrum at center. Andre Drummond has absolutely feasted on weak opponents this season, and the Knicks appear to qualify as a weak opponent. They’ve actually been pretty good on the glass this season, but Drummond still owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +1.68 on FanDuel. His 11 Pro Trends are tied for the most at the position.
Karl-Anthony Towns will make his return from suspension today, and he’s been unstoppable to start the season. He’s posting career-highs virtually across the board, and his average of 1.87 FanDuel points per minute trails only Giannis’ on today’s slate. He’s in a huge pace-up spot vs. the Grizzlies, and his $10,000 salary on DraftKings comes with a Bargain Rating of 87%.
Last but not least for the Warriors is Willie Cauley-Stein. He’s been awesome when given the chance to play this season, averaging 1.30 FanDuel points per minute, and he has seen an increase in playing time with Green out of the lineup. He’s currently projected for 22 minutes in our NBA Models, which should be enough to make him a strong value at just $5,100 on FanDuel.
If you’re looking to get contrarian at center today, consider paying up for Joel Embiid. He has a brutal matchup vs. the Jazz, but that should result in reduced ownership. He’s been nearly as dominant as Towns this season, averaging 1.86 FanDuel points per minute, so the thought of getting him at low ownership is pretty tempting.
Pictured above: Clippers G Lou Williams (23)
Photo credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports