Editors note: The Brooklyn Nets have reportedly traded Caris LeVert, Rodions Kurucs, Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince in a three-team deal to acquire James Harden from the Houston Rockets.
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 seven-game slate starting at 7 p.m. ET.
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Luka Doncic got off to a slow start this season, but he has turned it on recently. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus on DraftKings in four straight games, and he’s on pace to post new career highs in usage rate, assist rate, and rebound rate. That’s pretty scary considering he averaged more than 55 DraftKings points per game as a 21-year-old last season.
He should be asked to carry an even larger workload than usual on today’s slate. The Mavericks will be missing some key rotation players due to health and safety protocols, including Josh Richardson, Jalen Brunson, and Dorian Finney-Smith. Doncic has increased his usage rate to 40.6% with Richardson and Brunson off the court this season, which gives him massive upside vs. the Hornets.
The Pelicans have the potential to be thin in the backcourt vs. the Clippers. Lonzo Ball has already been ruled out, while Eric Bledsoe has been downgraded to questionable with an eye injury.
If both players are unable to suit up, Nickeil Alexander-Walker becomes a very intriguing value play at such a minimal salary. He has historically been very active when on the court, and he’s averaged 0.99 DraftKings points per minute in limited playing time this season. He’s currently projected for 23.7 minutes in our NBA Models, and Alexander-Walker has averaged a Plus/Minus of +8.95 on DraftKings with a comparable minute projection (per the Trends tool).
Austin Rivers is currently projected for 33.5 minutes in our NBA Models, which is a ton of playing time considering his $4,500 salary. Players with comparable salaries and minute projections have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +4.19, and Rivers has personally averaged a Plus/Minus of +8.20 in that situation.
It’s been a disappointing start to the season for Damian Lillard, but he’s in an excellent spot tonight vs. the Kings. He owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +2.85, which ranks third at the PG position. He’s also been priced down to $9,200 on FanDuel, and Lillard has historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +1.69 with a comparable salary.
Shooting guard doesn’t stand out as a great position to pay up for tonight, but it’s hard to ignore what C.J. McCollum has done this season. He’s scored at least 39.5 DraftKings points in eight of his past nine games, which makes him one of the most reliable producers in fantasy. The Blazers also stand out as one of the top teams to target given their slate-high implied team total of 120.25 points, and McCollum owns a Bargain Rating of 96% on DraftKings.
Bruce Brown was a surprise addition to the starting lineup for the Nets on Tuesday. Head coach Steve Nash wanted Caris LeVert to come off the bench, and Brown got the nod in his stead. He finished with a season-high 25.9 minutes and responded with 33.0 DraftKings points vs. the Nuggets.
We probably shouldn’t expect a repeat performance tonight vs. the Knicks, but Brown has historically averaged 24.6 DraftKings points per game when he plays at least 25 minutes. That makes him an appealing option at his current price tag.
Gary Trent Jr. is a very cheap way to get exposure to the Blazers on tonight’s slate. He’s priced at the absolute minimum on FanDuel, but he’s still projected for 27.3 minutes in our NBA Models. Historically, min-priced players with comparable minute projections have averaged a Plus/Minus of +5.50 in games with a similar implied team total.
Buddy Hield leads the position with a Bargain Rating of 75% on FanDuel, and he’s scored at least 28.3 FanDuel points in two of his past three games. He’s had a poor start to the season, averaging just 0.79 FanDuel points per minute, but he’s capable of racking up points quickly due to his ability to shoot the 3-ball.
LeBron James is arguably still the best player in the league despite being in his 18th season. His workload has been slightly reduced this year – his average of 32.3 minutes per game would be the lowest mark of his career – but he’s been as effective as ever on a per-minute basis. He’s averaged 1.48 DraftKings points per minute, which is the third-highest mark among today’s players.
Now that his price has come down to $9,600, we can finally start considering him again on DraftKings. As good as he is, it was extremely difficult for LeBron to pay off his elevated salary earlier this season given the dip in playing time.
Cameron Johnson is coming off a disappointing performance in his last outing, which makes this an excellent buy-low opportunity. His playing time was cut short because the game turned into a blowout, but he should return to his normal workload today vs. the Hawks. Johnson has averaged 0.94 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, and he played at least 27.4 minutes in two straight games prior to Monday’s blowout.
The Bucks have played an extremely easy schedule recently, and it seems like they’re double-digit favorites in every game they play. That’s the case again tonight vs. the Pistons, which makes it tough to fully trust any of their players in fantasy. Still, Khris Middleton has scored at least 36.5 FanDuel points in four straight games, and he owns a Bargain Rating of 71% on FanDuel.
Kawhi Leonard hasn’t been as effective as LeBron on a per-minute basis this season, but he’s a slightly better value tonight on FanDuel. He’s -$700 cheaper, which gives him a solid edge in terms of Bargain Rating. He’s also projected for more minutes in our NBA Models, which makes him an interesting pivot.
Kevin Durant has not been limited in any capacity since returning to the Nets lineup two games ago. He’s played at least 35.9 minutes in both contests, and he’s responded with 58.25 and 64.75 DraftKings points. He’s also posted a usage rate of at least 35.8% in both contests, which are his two highest marks of the year.
This game is the second leg of a back-to-back for the Nets, but Durant has already said that he plans to play. As long as he’s active, he should continue to thrive with Kyrie Irving out of the lineup. He’s increased his usage rate by +5.6% with Irving off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.55 DraftKings points per minute.
Kristaps Porzingis is expected to make his season debut for the Mavericks, but he will likely be limited in his first game back. Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell also remain out of the lineup due to health and safety protocols, so that should leave James Johnson with a solid handful of minutes. He’s historically been an excellent fantasy producer given his ability to contribute in every category across the board, and he’s averaged 0.93 DraftKings points per minute this season. Overall, Johnson is projected for 26.2 minutes in our NBA Models, and he’s historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +6.57 with a comparable salary and minute projection.
The Hornets have also struggled against opposing big men this season, giving Johnson an Opponent Plus/Minus of +2.38. He’s one of the top value options on the entire slate.
Brandon Clarke hasn’t been as dominant this season on a per-minute basis as he was last year, but he’s trending in the right direction. He’s posted a usage rate of at least 25.0% in back-to-back games, and those represent his top two usage games of the year. His playing time is also on the rise, and he’s logged at least 28.5 minutes in six straight games. That makes him an appealing option vs. the Timberwolves, who rank 21st in defensive efficiency this season.
Anthony Davis is currently listed as questionable, but he’s a very intriguing buy-low option on DraftKings if he’s able to suit up. He’s been priced down to just $9,000, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 97%, and Davis has historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.86 with a comparable price tag.
Center is another tough position that’s tough to pay up at today. Karl-Anthony Towns is priced in his own tier on FanDuel, but he’s currently listed as questionable. He played 37 minutes Saturday vs. the Spurs before getting the night off Sunday on the second leg of a back-to-back. Towns has averaged 1.39 FanDuel points per minute this season, so he’s underpriced if he’s going to see that much playing time again today. He should also garner minimal ownership on this slate, which makes him very intriguing for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs).
Jusuf Nurkic is questionable for tonight’s matchup vs. the Kings, and Enes Kanter would become one of the best values on the slate if he’s unable to suit up. Kanter started the second half in place of Nurkic in their last game, and he’s ultimately averaged 1.27 DraftKings points per minute this season. He has the ability to gobble up points and rebounds in the paint, and no team has allowed more points in the paint per game than the Kings.
Brook Lopez continues to represent one of the best pure values at the position. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus on FanDuel in five straight games, yet his salary has actually decreased over that time frame. He has another excellent shot to return value today vs. the Pistons given his Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.59.
Mitchell Robinson has posted an average Plus/Minus of +6.30 through his first 10 games on FanDuel, and he leads the position with 10 Pro Trends on today’s slate. His matchup vs. the Nets also results in an Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.43, so he’s an excellent option at just $6,000.