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 8 p.m. ET.
Stephen Curry leads the point guard position in projected minutes, raw points, ceiling and floor. Starting power forward Draymond Green has been ruled out with a sprained right toe, and per our injury piece, Curry has averaged a ridiculous 1.75 DraftKings points per minute, combined with a +9.4% usage rate differential, when Draymond has been on the bench this season.
In general, the Warriors-Bucks game is a juicy one to target: It has the highest Vegas total on the slate (240) by more 15 points, and these teams rank dead last in 3-point rate allowed to their opposition. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Steph approach 15 three-pointers attempted, and he’s always in play if that’s the case.
Patrick Beverley leads the position with a massive +7.33 Projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings, where he comes with a 93% Bargain Rating. He’s projected to play more than 30 minutes due to Avery Bradley’s injury — he got an absurd 39 minutes last game with AB out — and he costs just $3,800. Yes, it’s a ridiculous price. Beverly has hit value in seven of his 10 games this year, and he’s a near lock to do so again given his cheap salary. He’s an easy cash-game play.
In between Steph at $10,700 on FanDuel and Beverley at $4,500, there are four intriguing options, all with high ceilings: Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving and Eric Bledsoe.
Of the four, Lillard has the highest ceiling, Paul and Bledsoe have the best price tags vs. their projections and Irving has the best matchup vs. the Phoenix Suns. I personally prefer Paul, especially if Eric Gordon is out again; his opponent, the Thunder, have played at a top-five pace this season, and he’ll no doubt torch whoever the Thunder have at point guard with Westbrook out.
If you want to punt past Beverley, rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander got the starting nod last game sans Bradley and put up 21.1 FanDuel points in 25 minutes of action. At just $3,600 on DraftKings and $4,000 on FanDuel, he’s worth some fliers.
James Harden is the highest-priced SG on FanDuel by a whopping $3,300. He has a low Projected Plus/Minus but still boasts the slate’s highest ceiling and floor by a considerable margin. He’s really struggled this year, posting a -4.23 FanDuel Plus/Minus on 33% Consistency, but there is reason for optimism. The Rockets again lead the NBA in 3-pointers this year, and they’ve garnered the most open 3-point shots in the league. Those will start dropping at some point.
Man, do I hate rostering Klay Thompson in DFS: The guy is the king of scoring 35 real points and 36 fantasy points — he just doesn’t provide any peripheral statistics whatsoever. But it’s hard to deny his shooting upside tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks, whose new defensive scheme is geared toward deterring action away from the rim and thus giving up a lot of 3-pointers. It’s up to you if you want to trust Klay in cash, but he’s always got a GPP-winning night in him.
Dennis Schroder is coming off a 40.4-point FanDuel outing last night against the Cavaliers sans Westbrook, scoring 28 real points in 34 minutes of action. It actually should’ve been a bigger game, but he uncharacteristically didn’t record a single assist. I know, it was against the lowly Cavs, but it’s not like the Rockets have been a defensive juggernaut this year either, ranking 21st in defensive efficiency. With Westbrook out again, he’s a fine play at $7,000 on FanDuel.
Malcolm Brogdon is interesting as a flier at just $4,500 on FanDuel, where he comes with a 75% Bargain Rating. He’s coming off a dud last game against the Blazers but had scored more than 20 fantasy points in each of his four previous games. He’s projected for 29 minutes in what should be a super high-scoring game.
Also, one last note: Make sure to use our Bargain Rating metric in the Models to find where players are the cheapest. For example, Devin Booker is $8,200 on FanDuel but just $7,600 on DraftKings, where he comes with a better 90% Bargain Rating.
There are three SFs priced $10K or higher on FanDuel: Giannis Antetokounmpo ($12,500), Kevin Durant ($10,800) and Paul George ($10,500).
Giannis has the highest projected ceiling, although it isn’t too far above Durant’s. He’s been very up-and-down this year with high highs and low lows, so Durant is likely the better cash-game option. Still, he has triple-double upside on any night and is averaging a robust 1.63 fantasy points per minute — easily the best mark at the position.
Durant is the best value of the group at just $10,800 — him and Giannis are about even in value on DraftKings, for what it’s worth — and has shown a relatively safe floor. I wish he was taking more 3s this year — his 22.0% 3-point rate is far lower than last year’s mark of 33.8% — but that’s a bit nit-picky given the juicy total of this game.
George is the least exciting of the three: Through three games this year without Westbrook, he’s averaging just 38.2 DraftKings points per game. The 31.3% usage in those spots is nice, so he’s worth a dart in tournaments.
There are two guys I think are decently interesting in the $3K range on DraftKings: Phoenix’s Mikal Bridges and Golden State’s Alfonzo McKinnie. Bridges is just $3,500 and currently leads the position in Projected Plus/Minus; he’s seen his minutes go way up recently, playing a career-high 27.4 last game against the Nets. He has a tough matchup against the Celtics, but it’s hard to find a nearly min-priced guy playing that much.
McKinnie is one of my favorite stories of the early NBA season so far — just two years ago he was watching the Warriors on TV while eating 40% off chicken wings and playing in a Mexican basketball league — and he’s been impressive. He’s hit value in three of his past four, notably going for 38.5 DraftKings points a couple games ago against the Bulls. He could be in line for a few extra minutes at the 4 tonight with Green out and is essentially min-price on both sites.
Jerami Grant has quietly hit value in every game this season on DraftKings and is projected to play 30 minutes tonight against the Rockets. He’s only $4,900 on DraftKings (where he has SF/PF dual eligibility) and will likely carry low ownership.
Khris Middleton has historically struggled against the Warriors but is shooting the lights out this year. He’s tied for the most Pro Trends on DraftKings at 13 and is projected for a solid 33.5 minutes.
This position sucks, as usual. Tobias Harris is the highest-priced option on FanDuel at $7,800, but he’s questionable with an illness and didn’t go through shootaround this morning. Let’s just jump straight to the values…
Let’s continue the Clippers theme and discuss Montrezl Harrell. He leads the position — including Harris — with 1.3 FanDuel points per minute on the season and is projected for a solid 26 minutes against a Portland squad that has allowed opponents at the position to exceed expectations by 2.44 points. Harrell is usually a GPP option given his high ceiling, but he should be in the cash-game mix, as well, at just $5,800 on FanDuel.
One more note on Harris and his potential absence: Harrell has averaged 1.41 DraftKings points per minute with Harris on the bench this season, and SG Lou Williams has been up at 1.43. Lou isn’t quite popping in our models yet but is a worthy play certainly if Harris is unable to go. Danilo Gallinari is in the same boat and could see a few more minutes in his absence.
Kevon Looney is popping in our models currently and could see a few extra minutes with Draymond out. He leads the position on FanDuel in Projected Plus/Minus and is incredibly cheap at $3,900. Given that FanDuel drops your lowest player this season, he’s definitely worth consideration at that price in a slightly better role.
Jayson Tatum has had a disappointing start to his sophomore campaign, posting a true-shooting mark of 52.4% after being at 58.6% as a rookie, but … he’s facing the Phoenix Suns, who rank 27th in defensive efficiency and 28th in effective field goal rate allowed.
There are three players on FanDuel all between $7,500 and $8,100 tonight: Jusuf Nurkic ($8,100), Clint Capela ($7,900), Steven Adams ($7,800) and Deandre Ayton ($7,500).
Ayton has the highest Projected Plus/Minus but obviously faces the toughest matchup against the Boston Celtics, who rank first in defensive efficiency this year. Both Nurkic and Adams have massive Opponent Plus/Minus marks, and I think I prefer Adams of the bunch given his likely minutes, matchup and overall play this season. He’s hit value in 78% of his games on the year, and he’s averaged a Thunder-high 1.11 DraftKings points per minute in the three games sans Westbrook.
But the real play at center — the reason we’re all here if we’re being honest — is the Clippers’ Boban Marjanovic. The dude got into foul trouble last game against the Timberwolves, only went 17 minutes, and still beat value by 5.55 points on FanDuel. He’s projected for 22 minutes tonight and dominates the position with 1.53 fantasy points per minute on the year. He’s posted a 25.9% usage rate in 38 minutes this year without Harris.
If you want a true punt play at the position, look at the Warriors’ Jordan Bell, who is $3,500 on FanDuel and leads the position in Projected Plus/Minus. We currently have him at more than 20 minutes of projected playing time with Draymond out, and while he may not score a ton, he has peripheral stat upside. If you want to load up on the other positions with guys like Steph, Giannis and KD, you could do worse than Bell.
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: Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo
Photo credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports