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 three-game slate starting at 8 p.m. ET.
The Celtics had a rougher start to the season than expected from an offensive perspective but have started to turn things around recently. They’ve scored at least 114 points in four of their past five games, thanks in part to the work being done by Kyrie Irving. He’s averaging a career-best 6.4 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game, resulting in a whopping 1.43 FanDuel points per minute over the past month. That’s the top mark at the position by a substantial margin.
He’s in a nice spot today vs. the Knicks, who have allowed the fourth-most points per 100 possessions this season. The Celtics’ resulting implied team total of 115.25 is the top mark on the slate. Irving also looks like a nice value on FanDuel, where his $9,000 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 75%.
The Suns remain without Devin Booker and T.J. Warren for today’s contest, which makes them a potential source of value vs. the Portland Trail Blazers. Elie Okobo moved into the starting lineup in their last game and has seen a usage bump of +1.8 with both players off the court this season. He remains affordable at $4,100 on FanDuel and $4,000 on DraftKings.
That said, Okobo was benched in favor of De’Anthony Melton to start the second half, and he provided a major spark to the team’s offense. He posted a Net Rating of +22 when on the court and scored 21 points in just under 23.5 minutes. He’s averaged a stout 1.07 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, and it’s very possible he could see more playing time after his last performance. He might be the more appealing fantasy option.
Ricky Rubio has increased his fantasy production to 1.03 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, and his current $6,400 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 95%. He’s in a decent spot vs. the Rockets, who rank just 23rd in defensive efficiency.
Damian Lillard has the highest ceiling projection at the position in our NBA Models and has one of the best matchups of the day vs. the Suns. They rank 29th in defensive efficiency, giving Lillard an Opponent Plus/Minus of +2.78 on FanDuel. The big concern is if the Suns can do enough to keep this game close: They’ve been blown out in both games without Booker and Warren this season and are currently 13.5-point underdogs vs. the Blazers.
James Harden is the only true mega-stud on today’s slate, which should make him an extremely popular target. He’s coming off a subpar performance in his most recent game, but he had one of the most difficult individual matchups possible against Robert Covington. The Minnesota wing ranks first in Defensive Real Plus/Minus among perimeter players by a significant margin and was ultimately able to limit the Rockets to 12.7 fewer points per 100 possessions when guarding Harden. The Wolves defense has transformed from one of the worst units in the league to one of the best after acquiring Covington, so it’s not all that surprising that Harden wasn’t able to dominate in that matchup.
He’s in a better spot today vs. the Jazz, who have not been nearly as dominant on the defensive end as they were last season. Harden has posted a usage rate of at least 35.6% in each of his past three games despite the return of Chris Paul, which gives him the highest ceiling on the slate by a considerable margin.
The Celtics are one of the deepest teams in the league, which has hurt the stock of Jaylen Brown in his third NBA season. That said, he’s seen a salary decrease of $1,200 on FanDuel since the beginning of the year, which makes him a viable target at just $4,700. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in each of his past four games despite seeing 26 minutes or less in three of them.
Jamal Crawford could be another beneficiary for the shorthanded Suns. He’s seen a usage bump of +4.7% with Booker and Warren off the floor this season and has averaged 0.80 FanDuel points per minute over the past month. He’s projected for only 22.5 minutes in our NBA Models, but he doesn’t need many minutes to potentially pay off his $3,700 salary.
The Knicks’ rotation changes seemingly on a game-to-game basis, but the one constant has been Tim Hardaway Jr. He’s the only member of the team averaging more than 30 minutes per game, and he’s averaged 1.01 DraftKings points per minute on the year. He’s in a tough spot vs. the Celtics, who rank second in the league in defensive efficiency, but his $6,600 salary on DraftKings comes with a Bargain Rating of 95%.
The SF position is pretty thin on today’s slate. Only four players cost more than $4,900 on FanDuel, and none of them are priced above $6,400.
Gordon Hayward is the most-expensive option of the bunch and is coming off a massive 56.8-point FanDuel performance in his last game. That said, that was his biggest performance of the season by a substantial amount, and he failed to crack even 28.0 points in five of his six prior games. His ownership will likely be inflated – especially considering his matchup with the Knicks – which could make him an interesting fade target.
Evan Turner has posted a positive Plus/Minus in each of his past four games and has averaged 0.86 DraftKings points per minute this season. He owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +1.69 vs. the Suns and looks like one of the strongest values of the day across the industry.
If you think the Blazers are going to blow the Suns out – which is definitely reasonable considering what we’ve seen from them in games without Booker and Warren – Nik Stauskas could be an interesting target at just $3,100 on DraftKings. He’s averaged 0.75 DraftKings points per minute and could definitely see some additional playing time if this game turns into a blowout.
Mikal Bridges has had a solid rookie season, although that hasn’t exactly translated into a ton of fantasy success. He’s averaged just 0.62 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, but he has posted a positive Plus/Minus in each of his past two games. He’s a strong target at $4,100 on DraftKings given his Bargain Rating of 95%.
Jayson Tatum has seen a little spike in value recently, scoring at least 33.8 FanDuel points in three of his past four games. He’s increased his fantasy production to 1.00 FanDuel point per minute over the past month, which could make him a nice option at $7,100 vs. the Knicks. His salary has increased by $700 over the past month on FanDuel, but his current price tag still comes with a Bargain Rating of 75%.
Josh Jackson is going to have to do a lot for the Suns if they want to keep this game competitive. He’s led the team in usage in games without Booker and Warren and has played well recently, averaging 1.01 FanDuel points per minute over the past month. He also played 38 minutes in their first game without Booker and Warren, so he has big upside if the Suns can keep this game close.
Richaun Holmes doesn’t play big minutes but is one of the most efficient players on the slate. He’s averaged 1.13 DraftKings points per minute over the past month and owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +1.96 vs. the Blazers. He’s priced at a discount at $4,300 on DraftKings, evidenced by a Bargain Rating of 95%.
Kevin Knox could be an interesting contrarian target on DraftKings. He’s played at least 28 minutes in each of the Knicks’ past two games and should continue to see an increase in playing time as the season progresses. He’s priced at just $4,500 on DraftKings, giving him a Bargain Rating of 97%.
Jusuf Nurkic has the potential to do some major damage today. He’s averaged an elite 1.33 DraftKings points per minute this season and owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.19 vs. the Suns. He leads the position with 10 Pro Trends on DraftKings, and his $7,300 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 99%.
Deandre Ayton was a major disappointment in his last game, which could make this a nice buy-low opportunity. He leads the position with 12 Pro Trends on FanDuel and figures to see more opportunities with Booker and Warren out of the lineup. He has a nice matchup vs. the Blazers, evidenced by an Opponent Plus/Minus of +2.29, and his $6,700 salary on FanDuel comes with a Bargain Rating of 75%.
This seems like a day where you want to pay up at center, especially considering the number of strong value options at most of the other positions. You could play Holmes at center on DraftKings, but Ayton is probably as cheap as you want to go on FanDuel.
Playing two centers together on DraftKings is almost always viable, and it’s definitely an appealing option on today’s slate. In addition to Nurkic, three other top centers look like strong values:
- Rudy Gobert – 99% Bargain Rating
- Clint Capela – 98% Bargain Rating
- Al Horford – 93% Bargain Rating
Gobert has the best matchup of the bunch and owns the best per-minute average over the past month, but he’s also the most expensive. Capela and Horford have each posted a Consistency Rating of at least 90% over the past month, and Capela has averaged a Plus/Minus of +8.99 on DraftKings over his past 10 games.
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 above: James Harden
Photo credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez- USA Today Sports