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 10-game slate starting at 7 p.m. ET.
Russell Westbrook sat out yesterday’s contest vs. the Grizzlies, but he’s expected to be back in the lineup tonight vs. the Blazers. Westbrook has been an excellent fantasy asset when on the court recently, posting an average Plus/Minus of +4.58 over his past 10 games, and he’s coming off 54.2 FanDuel points in his last outing. That said, his price has actually decreased by $1,200 over the past month, and his current $9,200 price tag comes with a Bargain Rating of 81%. Westbrook has crushed with a comparable salary this season, posting an average Plus/Minus of +4.33 (per the Trends tool).
The Bulls have one of the best matchups on the slate vs. the Wizards, who have been a fantasy goldmine for opposing players this season, ranking fourth in pace and dead last in defensive efficiency. The Bulls are implied for 117.25 points, which represents a massive increase compared to their season average (105.7).
Tomas Satoransky stands out in this matchup on FanDuel, where his $4,600 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 99%. He’s currently projected for the most minutes among the Bulls’ PGs in our NBA Models, and he’s also been the best on a per-minute basis over the past month.
Kemba Walker has played reduced minutes since returning to the lineup four games ago, but he may not have that luxury tonight. Jayson Tatum has been ruled out knee injury, and Walker is current projected for 33.5 minutes in our NBA Models. He’s also increased his usage rate by +3.5% with Tatum off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.30 DraftKings points per minute. It’s very possible Walker sees a boost in volume and efficiency today, which makes him very appealing at his reduced salary across the industry.
Ben Simmons has an incredibly juicy matchup vs. the Nets, resulting in an Opponent Plus/Minus of +5.08 on DraftKings. He’s crushed recently, posting an average Plus/Minus of +8.34 over his past 10 games, and he should continue to benefit from the absence of Joel Embiid.
James Harden carried the load last night for the Rockets with Westbrook sidelined. He increased his usage rate to a ridiculous 47.1% and scored 41 points in a 110-121 loss to the Grizzlies. There’s really nothing left to say about Harden at this point, who is quite simply putting together one of the most impressive offensive seasons in the history of the NBA.
He loses some appeal with Westbrook back in the lineup, but Harden has crushed even with Westbrook in the lineup for most of the season. He’s particularly appealing today on FanDuel given his 14 Pro Trends and 95% Bargain Rating.
Markelle Fultz has SG eligibility on DraftKings, which increases his viability on today’s slate. The Magic are going to be without Michael Carter-Williams and D.J. Augustin, which leaves Fultz as the only true PG option available. He’s averaged 0.91 DraftKings points per minute this season, and he could see more than 30 minutes on today’s slate.
Buddy Hield is very affordable at just $5,800 on FanDuel, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 95%. He’s coming off 35.5 FanDuel points over 37.8 minutes in his last contest, and that was in a tough matchup vs. the Magic. Today’s matchup vs. the Mavericks isn’t nearly as daunting, and he should continue to benefit from the absence of Bogdan Bogdanovic, who has been ruled out for the sixth straight game.
Marcus Smart is like a Swiss Army knife, and he’s capable of filling many different roles for the Celtics. With that in mind, don’t be surprised if he draws the start today in place of Tatum. Smart is currently projected for 33.6 minutes in our NBA Models, and he’s increased his usage rate by a team-high +4.1% with Tatum off the court this season.
The Lakers will be without Anthony Davis for the fourth straight contest, which makes LeBron James one of the top options on the slate. He struggled in his last game, scoring just 45.4 FanDuel points, but he was limited to just 32.7 minutes in a blowout win. He should see a few additional minutes if today’s game vs. the Magic stays competitive.
The absence of Davis also means LeBron should be more productive on a per-minute basis. He’s seen a team-high usage bump of +5.0% with Davis off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.56 DraftKings points per minute. His matchup vs. the Magic isn’t ideal — he owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of -1.27 — but LeBron is essentially matchup-proof.
Matisse Thybulle is a pretty limited offensive option, but he’s already one of the best defenders in the league. That makes him an interesting option on FanDuel, where blocks and steals are worth three fantasy points a piece. He’s priced at just $3,700 and he’s coming off 27.8 minutes in his last contest.
Sticking with the 76ers, Tobias Harris has posted a positive Plus/Minus in each of his past five games on FanDuel. That said, his price has barely budged over that span, and its actually decreased by $800 over the past month. His current $6,600 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 88%, and he leads the position with 14 Pro Trends.
Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward should both see a boost in value today with Tatum out of the lineup. Brown has increased his fantasy production to 1.05 DraftKings points per minute with Tatum off the court this season, while Hayward has increased his mark to 0.97 DraftKings points per minute in that situation. Brown stands out as the clear preferred target on FanDuel given his Bargain Rating of 90%, but both players deserve consideration.
The true “studs” at the PF position all carry some question marks.
Domantas Sabonis is questionable. Pascal Siakam is playing reduced minutes, and his return has also limited the playing time for Serge Ibaka. Kristaps Porzingis will likely be on some sort of minute restriction.
With that in mind, saving a little money with Al Horford is a perfectly viable strategy. He’s scored at least 33.0 DraftKings points in each of his past three games, and no one on the team has seen a larger boost in value in games without Embiid this season. Horford increased his usage rate by a team-high +5.0% in those contests, and he’s responded with an average Plus/Minus of +5.01.
Horford is also in a great spot vs. the Nets, who have surrendered big games in bunches to opposing big men. He owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.88, which is one of the top marks at the position.
Lauri Markkanen is listed as probable for today’s contest vs. the Wizards, and he’s fully expected to play. He’s been priced down to a paltry $5,100 on FanDuel, and that’s simply too cheap for a player of his caliber. It results in a Bargain Rating of 99%, and Markkanen has historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +5.83 with a comparable price tag.
It’s much harder to find strong values today on DraftKings, but Carmelo Anthony stands out as an exception. He has been priced up to $6,200 after scoring at least 36.75 DraftKings points in three of his past four games, but that price tag still results in a Bargain Rating of 99%. He has an elite matchup vs. the Rockets, resulting in an Opponent Plus/Minus of +4.40, and he could be a motivated to deliver a big performance after they unceremoniously cut him last season.
Kyle Kuzma should remain in the Lakers’ starting lineup with Davis out of the lineup, and he’s increased his production to 0.94 FanDuel points per minute over the past month. He’s ridiculously underpriced at $4,800 on FanDuel, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 98%.
Should we start to worry about Hassan Whiteside? It’s possible. He played just 24.2 minutes in his last contest despite not being in foul trouble and the game staying competitive for four quarters. Playing time was a major concern for Whiteside was in Miami, so it wouldn’t be unprecedented for him to lose minuets in Portland.
Still, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. He did miss the previous game due to an illness, so it’s possible the coaching staff just wanted to ease him back into action. We currently have him projected for 32.2 minutes in our NBA Models, and he’s going to be needed to combat the size of Clint Capela and protect the rim vs. Harden and Westbrook.
As long as he returns to his usual workload, he’s an awesome target at $8,200 on DraftKings. It results in a Bargain Rating of 96%, and Whiteside has averaged 1.40 DraftKings points per minute over the past month. The matchup vs. the Rockets also results in an Opponent Plus/Minus of +2.91.
Cody Zeller is an interesting value target. His playing time has been pretty volatile recently, but he did play more than 29.6 minutes two games ago. Zeller has averaged 1.04 DraftKings points per minute this season, so he can do some damage if he sees that much playing time. He’s in a nice spot vs. the Nuggets, resulting in an Opponent Plus/Minus of +5.03.
Clint Capela has one of the best matchups on the slate vs. the Blazers. His Opponent Plus/Minus of +6.05 ranks first at the position on FanDuel, where his $7,800 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 88%. His production has been down a bit recently, but he could see an increased workload if P.J. Tucker is unable to suit up.
Pictured: 76ers PF/C Al Horford (42)
Photo credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant-NBAE via Getty Images