The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
Wednesday features one-game contests for Game 2 of Nuggets-Blazers (9 p.m. ET on TNT).
If you’re new to single-game formats, be sure to check out the following pieces by Matt LaMarca:
- 5 Tips to Dominate the DraftKings NBA Showdown Format
- How Does the Single-Game NBA Format on FanDuel Differ From DraftKings?
In four games against Portland this season, Nikola Jokic is averaging 28.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 7.8 assists. And in eight postseason games — seven against the Spurs and one against the Blazers — he’s averaging a sick 24.9/11.8/8.8 line.
He’s putting up Westbrook numbers, but unlike Westbrook, his team is actually winning.
Although the zig-zag theory only applies in specific situations, individual performances in the postseason tend to revert to the mean from one game to the next as teams adjust (see: Irving, Kyrie), but in trying to figure out what Portland could do differently … I got nothin’. Matt Moore sums it up well in our Game 2 preview:
If the Blazers put Harkless and Aminu in pick-and-roll coverage vs. Jamal Murray and Jokic, Jokic then just rolls into the post. If they double, that means cutters are open.
Jokic’s Projected Plus/Minus in the Captain slot is the highest on the slate and nearly triple that of Damian Lillard. Lillard’s Plus/Minus projection still qualifies as top-three on the slate and he still belongs in cash lineups — as LaMarca notes in the piece linked up top, one-game formats favor a studs-and-scrubs approach — but Jokic is the better Captain play.
For tournament purposes, note that Jokic’s production has been positively correlated to the rest of Denver’s starting five while Lillard’s production has been negatively correlated to the other four Portland starters
Our NBA Player Models give a slight edge to C.J. McCollum over Jamal Murray even though McCollum is on the road. McCollum’s 38-33.5 advantage in projected minutes is the deciding factor, but if their minutes end up closer than that it would favor Murray; he’s averaging 1.32 fantasy points per minute to McCollum’s 1.24 over the past month.
Portland’s best bet against Jokic may be to have Enes Kanter try to go point-for-point with Jokic and try to lure him into fouls. Kanter poured in 26 in Game 1 and has the fourth-highest projected ceiling after Jokic, Lillard, and McCollum. Also working in Kanter’s favor from a tournament perspective is that his fantasy production has shown a negative correlation with both Lillard (-0.11) and McCollum (-0.34).
Save for Jokic and Lillard, our models have only three players projected with positive Plus/Minuses:
- Zach Collins ($1,000): Has been logging 10-20 minutes a night in the playoffs and has upside for a similar amount of fantasy points given his average of 0.99 fantasy points per minute.
- Monte Morris ($2,200): Has been in the 14-24 minute range this postseason and averages 1.1 FP/Min.
- Mason Plumlee ($4,200): Has the widest range of potential outcomes: He’s played as few as 8 but as many as 24 minutes this postseason and averages 1.33 FP/Min.
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: Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) and Portland Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu (8)
Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports