The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
Thursday features a four-game slate starting at 7 p.m. ET.
Tonight’s slate is short on studs, which should make Russell Westbrook a popular option. The fact that he’s played well recently won’t hurt either: He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in seven of his past nine games on DraftKings. He’s posted an average usage rate of 34.0% during that time frame, which is significantly higher than his average through his first 23 games (29.9%). He leads all PGs with 12 Pro Trends on DraftKings, where his $11,300 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 95%.
That said, he does have a tough matchup vs. the San Antonio Spurs, who have somewhat quietly played some of the best basketball in the league recently. They’ve gone 13-4 over their past 17 games, outscoring opponents by an average of 14.2 points per 100 possessions. They’ve also been much improved defensively, allowing just 103.6 points per 100 possessions. Westbrook struggled vs. the Spurs last season, posting an average Plus/Minus of -5.81 on DraftKings over four meetings (per the Trends tool). Westbrook can obviously go off at any time, but there appear to be better options today.
On the other side of the same matchup, the Spurs feature a pair of PGs who have emerged as key contributors this season. Derrick White has been an excellent value over his past 10 games, posting an average Plus/Minus of +7.78 on DraftKings. He’s averaged 0.89 DraftKings points per minute over the past month and is currently projected for 33 minutes in our NBA Models, which makes him one of the better pure values of the day at just $4,900.
Bryn Forbes has been almost as effective as White recently, averaging a Plus/Minus of +7.07 over his past 10 games, and he might be the preferred option at $4,600 on FanDuel. Both players should also get a boost from the absence of Rudy Gay, who will miss his third straight game.
Kyrie Irving remains underpriced at just $8,400 on FanDuel, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 97%. He also has a decent matchup vs. the Miami Heat, evidenced by an Opponent Plus/Minus of +1.53. He’s played limited minutes in two games since returning from an eye injury, but the Celtics have won those games by an average of 24 points. He’ll likely return to his usual workload if today’s game stays competitive.
Reggie Jackson is in one of the best spots of the day vs. the Sacramento Kings, who have played at the second-fastest pace this season. He owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +1.77 on DraftKings, and the Pistons’ implied team total of 109.25 represents a slight increase compared to their season average (107.0).
DeMar DeRozan stands out in his own tier at the SG position on today’s slate. He’s been extremely erratic over his past six games, scoring at least 57.3 FanDuel points in three games and no more than 38.4 in the others. He has seen a team-high usage bump of +3.3% with Gay off the court this season, which does increase his appeal for today’s matchup vs. the Thunder.
That said, he’ll likely draw the elite individual defense of Paul George, which is obviously concerning. George currently ranks first among wing players in Defensive Real Plus-Minus (DRPM), which is a big part of the reason why the Thunder rank first in defensive efficiency this season.
Dion Waiters made his season debut two games ago, and it didn’t take the Heat long to increase his workload. He played 24.5 minutes in his most recent contest, which makes him an intriguing option at just $3,500 on DraftKings. He’s averaged 1.14 DraftKings points per minute since returning from injury, and his current salary results in a Bargain Rating of 97%.
Reggie Bullock could be worth some consideration on FanDuel, where his $4,500 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 81%. He should benefit from the pace-up spot vs. the Kings and is projected for 34 minutes on today’s slate.
Dennis Schroder has seen a huge drop in production over the past month, averaging just 0.75 DraftKings points per minute. That said, his salary has also dropped across the industry, which could make him a nice buy-low option vs. the Spurs. He owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +2.59 on DraftKings, which is the top mark at the position.
Westbrook’s increased usage rate has had a negative effect on Paul George, who has posted a negative Plus/Minus in four of his past six games. That said, it’s hard not to like him today on FanDuel, where his $9,700 salary results in a Bargain Rating of 81%. He also leads all players with 14 Pro Trends, and players with a comparable number of Pro Trends and salaries have historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.42. However, he is expected to be extremely chalky: He’s currently projected for greater than 41% ownership on FanDuel.
Davis Bertans has been one of the biggest beneficiaries with Gay out of the lineup this season, posting an average Plus/Minus of +2.6 on DraftKings. He’s averaged 0.81 DraftKings points per minute this season, so it’s not surprising that he’s been a value when given the chance to play extended minutes. He remains priced at a discount on DraftKings, evidenced by his Bargain Rating of 93%.
Gary Harris missed the Nuggets’ last game and is currently listed as questionable for today’s contest vs. the Clippers. If he’s able to suit up, he looks like an excellent option on FanDuel at just $5,000. The Nuggets’ implied team total of 116.25 ranks first on the slate, and Harris owns a Bargain Rating of 97%.
Josh Richardson has seen a massive price decrease recently on DraftKings, falling from $7,000 two games ago to just $5,800 today. He does have a difficult matchup vs. the Celtics, but targeting players when they’re at their cheapest is a +EV strategy in NBA DFS.
It could be a good day to pay up at the PF position.
That starts with Blake Griffin, who leads all players at the position with 13 Pro Trends on DraftKings. He’s also priced at a discount at $9,200, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 95%. He’s scored at least 48.0 DraftKings points in four of his past five games and is in an excellent spot today vs. the Kings, who have struggled against opposing big men all season.
LaMarcus Aldridge might be an even stronger value at just $7,200. He’s been limited to reduced minutes recently in a string of blowouts but has averaged 1.23 DraftKings points per minute over the past month. He has huge upside in today’s contest if he returns to his normal workload.
Marcus Morris looks like one of the best values of the day on FanDuel regardless of position. He’s priced at just $4,700, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 99%, and he exploded for 34.6 FanDuel points in his last game. He’s averaged 1.01 FanDuel points per minute over the past month, so he doesn’t need a lot of playing time to potentially pay off his current salary.
Three players are tied for the most Pro Trends on FanDuel: Griffin, Aldridge and Paul Millsap. Millsap has seen his playing time slowly increase since returning from injury two weeks ago, culminating with over 30 minutes in his most recent contest. He’s averaged 1.12 FanDuel points per minute over that time frame, which makes him an appealing option at just $6,800 in an excellent matchup vs. the Clippers.
Montrezl Harrell always has appeal for guaranteed prize pools (GPPs) given his ability to pile up fantasy points in a short time frame. He’s coming off a monster performance in his last game and could be a strong target today vs. the Nuggets. He owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +2.68 on DraftKings, where his $6,500 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 98%.
The two highest-priced centers on today’s slate are both in excellent spots.
Nikola Jokic might be the preferred option on FanDuel, where he leads all centers with 12 Pro Trends. He’s been excellent recently, posting an average Plus/Minus of +10.93 over his past 10 games, and he leads the position with an Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.73 vs. the Clippers. He’s arguably the most skilled center in the league, which gives him huge upside in this matchup.
On DraftKings, Andre Drummond looks like the superior option given the difference in salary. He’ll save you $1,400 compared to Jokic, and his $9,100 price tag comes with a Bargain Rating of 93%. He owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.17 vs. the Kings and should be able to do a lot of damage on the glass: Sacramento ranks just 26th in team rebound rate.
It’s definitely possible to stack Jokic and Drummond together on DraftKings, which is an appealing option.
The only downside of stacking Jokic and Drummond is that you’ll miss out on the potential value with Jakob Poeltl. He struggled in a start yesterday but figures to remain more involved with Gay sidelined. He’s currently projected for 24.5 minutes in our NBA Models and has averaged 0.98 DraftKings points per minute this season; that combination would make him a nice value at just $3,600.
Steven Adams is in a brutal spot today vs. the Spurs, resulting in an Opponent Plus/Minus of -1.21 on FanDuel, but he could see a few extra minutes with Nerlens Noel sidelined. The Thunder really don’t have another backup center on their roster, and the Thunder will need some size to combat the Spurs on the interior.
Marcin Gortat has had a bit of a resurrection over his past four games, posting a positive Plus/Minus in each on FanDuel. That includes two games with at least 32.0 FanDuel points, which makes him a really intriguing GPP option at just $3,900 on FanDuel.
After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players. Be sure to stay ahead of your competition with our NBA news feed.
Pictured: Pistons C Andre Drummond
Photo Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports