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 two-game slate starting at 8 p.m. ET. Instead of the usual positional breakdown, lets go game-by-game instead.
Indiana Pacers at Milwaukee Bucks (-10) — 223.0 total
Pacers (106.5 implied points)
The Pacers are an interesting team on today’s slate. On one hand, their implied team total is drastically lower than the rest of today’s squads. They have a tough matchup vs. the Bucks, who rank first in defensive efficiency this season.
That said, the Pacers are also going to be a bit shorthanded, which does increase their appeal. Domantas Sabonis has been ruled out, joining Victor Oladipo on the sidelines.
Bojan Bogdanovic has dominated in games with both players out of the lineup this season, averaging a Plus/Minus of +12.8 on DraftKings. He’s very reasonably priced at just $6,000 on DraftKings, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 98%. He’s gone for at least 41.5 DraftKings points in two of his past three games, so he provides strong upside at his current salary.
Darren Collison has been a reliable source of production recently. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in nine of his past 10 games and has scored at least 33.25 DraftKings points in each of his past three. His salary has actually decreased by $400 on DraftKings over the past month, making him a strong target.
The injury to Sabonis also creates some value in the frontcourt. Myles Turner and Thaddeus Young dominated the minutes in their last game, with each player seeing at least 36 minutes. Turner responded with 41.75 DraftKings points and Young chipped in 33.5 DraftKings points, and both players have a Bargain Rating of at least 96% on DraftKings.
Wes Matthews might be the player to target if you want some exposure to the Pacers on FanDuel. He’s priced at just $4,700 and has scored at least 20.2 FanDuel points in seven straight games.
The Pacers also have a pair of interesting punt plays in Corey Joseph and Kyle O’Quinn. Joseph is the safer option by a considerable margin. He’s averaged 0.83 DraftKings points per minute over the past month and is currently projected for 22.5 minutes in our NBA Models.
That said, O’Quinn might offer the higher upside. He saw just 11 minutes in their last game but has seen as many as 17.5 with Sabonis out of the lineup. He’s averaged 1.12 DraftKings points per minute this season, so he can do some damage if given the opportunity.
Bucks (116.5 points)
The Bucks’ implied team total ranks second on the slate, but this is still a really difficult matchup for them. The Pacers rank second in defensive efficiency this season, and they also rank just 26th in pace. The result is a pace differential of -4.6 for the Milwaukee players, which is the worst mark on the slate.
Giannis Antetokounmpo will obviously draw the most attention for the Bucks, and he appears to be off of his minute restriction. He’s played at least 32 minutes in each of his past three games, and he’s averaged a ridiculous 1.83 DraftKings points per minute over the past month. He also torched the Pacers for 82.75 DraftKings points in their last meeting, which gives him arguably the highest upside on the slate. He’s a particularly strong target on DraftKings given his Bargain Rating of 97%.
Khris Middleton has been a fantastic value recently, posting an average Plus/Minus of +5.89 over his past 10 games on DraftKings. He’s increased his fantasy production to 1.11 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, and his 11 Pro Trends are tied with Giannis for the most on the team. He’s another strong value on DraftKings, where his $6,300 salary results in a Bargain Rating of 96%.
Eric Bledsoe was limited to just seven DraftKings points in his last meeting with the Pacers, but he’s displayed huge upside recently. He’s scored at 52.25 and 67.0 DraftKings points in two of his past three games, and both of those contests have come with Giannis in the lineup. He has arguably the toughest individual matchup on the team, resulting in an Opponent Plus/Minus of just +0.03, but he has upside at his current salary.
The best matchup on the team belongs to Brook Lopez, who owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +2.18. He’s also averaged a Plus/Minus of +6.50 over his past 10 games on DraftKings and has increased his fantasy production to 0.96 DraftKings points per minute over the past month. He played 34.5 minutes in his last game vs. the Pacers, so he could see a few additional minutes in today’s contest as well.
Malcolm Brogdon is another member of the Bucks who enters this contest in excellent recent form. He hasn’t displayed a ton of upside recently, but he’s scored at least 30.25 DraftKings points in 12 of his past 13 games. That kind of consistency can’t be overlooked in cash games, particularly on DraftKings at just $5,600.
Nikola Mirotic has seen his playing time wane as a member of the Bucks, but he’s made up for it by averaging 1.14 DraftKings points per minute over the past month. He’s a strong midrange option at just $4,800, but he’s expected to be somewhat: He owns an ownership projection of 21-25% on both DraftKings and FanDuel.
Pat Connaughton is a really appealing option in guaranteed prize pools (GPPs) if you’re looking for a true punt. He scored zero fantasy points in 21 minutes in his last game, but he had scored at least 21.5 DraftKings points in each of his four prior contests. This could be the perfect time to buy low on him.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Portland Trail Blazers (-3.5) — 232.5 total
Thunder (114.5 implied points)
The second game on today’s slate is probably the preferred target from a fantasy perspective. Portland has been merely mediocre defensively this season, ranking just 16th in defensive efficiency, so the Thunder technically have the best matchup on today’s slate.
They’re also back at full strength after Paul George returned to the lineup in their last game. He didn’t appear to be limited by his recent shoulder injury and ultimately logged 38 minutes in his first game back. He shot just 8-25 from the field in that contest, but there’s no reason to shy away from him on today’s slate.
The return of George also appeared to help Russell Westbrook, who put up 66.25 DraftKings points in his last contest. He’s seen a bump in usage with George out of the lineup, but the Thunder’s offensive efficiency in those contests was significantly lower. Westbrook has played well in his first three contests vs. the Thunder this season, averaging 61.08 DraftKings points and a +4.68 Plus/Minus (per the Trends tool). He’s the safest option on today’s slate.
Unfortunately, the return of George does put a slight damper on the fantasy stock for the rest of the team. Dennis Schroder in particular should see less minutes with George back in the lineup, and his usage rate went fell to just 16.1% in his last contest. He could be worth some consideration on FanDuel, where his $5,800 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 70%, but he appears slightly overpriced across the industry.
Jerami Grant also saw a slight reduction in playing time in his last game, although he still played a very respectable 33.5 minutes. Unlike Schroder, he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to score fantasy points, so he’s a more viable option with the team back at full strength.
Finally, Steven Adams went through a bit of a slump recently, but he’s appeared to turn things around. He’s scored at least 32.0 DraftKings points in each of his past four games, including at least 37.75 in each of his past three. He’s underpriced at just $5,900 on DraftKings, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 95%.
Trail Blazers (118.0 implied points)
The Blazers implied team total ranks first on the slate, and they’re in a solid pace up spot. The Thunder have played at the third fastest pace this season, while the Blazers rank just 17th. They will likely be the most popular team to target on today’s slate.
Damian Lillard is coming off a disappointing 37.5 DraftKings points in his most recent game, but that was in a brutal matchup vs. the Grizzlies. Today’s matchup vs. the Thunder is much friendlier, resulting in an Opponent Plus/Minus of +1.34 on DraftKings. Lillard has also historically loved facing Westbrook, posting an average Plus/Minus of +3.89 over his past 17 meetings vs. the Thunder. He leads the slate with 14 Pro Trends on DraftKings and is worth legit consideration as the top stud to pay up for.
Jusuf Nurkic has seen a slight reduction in playing time since the arrival of Enes Kanter, but he’s still played at least 28.5 minutes in each of his past two contests. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in each of them and has maintained an elite average of 1.25 DraftKings points per minute over the past month. He has one of the best individual matchups on the slate, owning an Opponent Plus/Minus of +2.03 on DraftKings.
C.J. McCollum obviously won’t get the same love as Lillard today, but he’s been the better pure value recently from a fantasy perspective. He’s averaged a Plus/Minus of +6.52 over his past 10 games, yet his salary has decreased by $1,000 over that time frame. His current $6,100 salary on DraftKings comes with a Bargain Rating of 99%, and McCollum has historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +3.39 with a comparable salary.
The Blazers are also going to be without Evan Turner today for personal reasons, which creates increased value with their role players. Al-Farouq Aminu and Moe Harkless are the top candidates to see a few additional minutes. Harkless in particular has excelled over the past month, averaging 0.95 DraftKings points per minute, which makes him a really appealing value play on today’s slate.
Enes Kanter, Rodney Hood, and Jake Layman could also draw some interest in GPPs. All three players carry much more risk than Aminu and Harkless, but they should carry less ownership as well.
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: Blazers Guard CJ McCollum (3)
Photo Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports