NBA Analysis for August 15, 2020

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Single Game Play-In

MEM (9) “at” POR (8) – 230pm


Vegas Total:   233.5 – POR 119.75 – MEM 113.75

Injuries – MEM:    Tyus Jones – DOUBTFUL / Jaren Jackson – OUT / Justise Winslow – OUT

Injuries – POR:   Nassir Little – OUT

Pace – MEM:   6th – 102.8

Pace – POR:   13th – 100.7


  • Memphis needs to win 2 games. Portland needs to win just 1. 
  • Looking at DvR and value added since the restart, Portland has dramatically improved their Center defense, which shouldn’t be surprising with the return of Jusuf Nurkic, taking over for the spotty defense of Hassan Whiteside. Let’s look at a position by position breakdown, though
  • MEM Against PGs: Memphis gave up the 3rd most fantasy points per game to PGs.  I would point out, though, that if you look at value stats, Memphis doesn’t boost points scored to PGs, though they do increase rebounds by 6%, assists by 5%, and steals by a sample-size-fueled 68%. Needless to say that the rookie status of Ja Morant has shown itself the last 2.5 weeks. That leaves Dame Lillard in what may be the best single spot today for any single position. He was already going to be the most popular play at Captain or the MVP spot on FD. It’s kind of hard to argue with him there, though, as I always point out, game theory says to play someone else there in case Dame doesn’t go off this game and you get a big edge over the field. This is obviously much easier if you play multiple lineups. If you play one, it’s gonna be really difficult not to go all in on Dame here, regardless of his price. He’s going to score. He’s going to get a boost to his rebounds and assists and, if Ja keeps throwing the ball away, he could get you 10 DKP just in steals. 
  • POR Against PGs: Since the restart, Portland has been 5th best against PGs. If you look at value, it backs this up as well – they reduce scoring by 9%, rebounds by 5%, assists by less than 1%, and steals by 25%. They do, however, reduce turnover by 11%, which is a significant boost for Ja Morant. And, because Lillard is shooting 250 times a game (slight exaggeration), they increase blocks to PGs by a whopping 53% (which, again, is sample size). Quick Note: For this small number of games, block and steal %s are very crazy due to sample size. So take the fact that they increase or decrease blocks and steals, but don’t give full weight to how large the numbers may be. So, all in all, this looks to be a tough game for Morant. He’s still going to be the star of this team, but things might be easier for some other people. Let’s take a look. 
  • MEM Against SGs: If you go by DvP, Memphis is exactly average against SGs since the restart. If you dive deeper though into the value numbers, the picture isn’t as sunny for Memphis opponents. The defense of Dillon Brooks is solid, and we can see that in the numbers – They reduce scoring by 4%, rebounds by 6%, and blocks by 67%, though they increase assists by 4% and steals by 10%. This doesn’t paint the sunniest picture for CJ McCollum, though I will note that there is nothing that says they aren’t going to put the better defender on Lillard this series (which they should and probably will). This leaves McCollum as the ultimate pivot today. If you have noticed, Lillard and McCollum have a negative correlation in terms of fantasy production. One of them seems to go off every game but, because production is a zero sum game, the other one doesn’t have enough points left over to help us win a tournament. Since the restart, the Blazers have played 8 games. In 7 of those Lillard was the one that took over. In 1 game, though, that honor went to McCollum. If you wanna take the GPP chance today is the 1 game (which is totally worth it, especially if you MME), McCollum is a fantastic pivot (which would also mean fading Lillard).
  • POR Against SGs: Portland is tied for 4th worst against SGs. They increase scoring by 9%, rebounds by 3%, assist by 3%, and blocks by 3%. They decrease steals 9% but that is probably due to the fact that Lillard has been doing everything and it’s hard to get steals if McCollum is just catching and shooting most of the time. With Dillon Brooks at SG, though, I don’t think we can rule out those steals numbers going up. Even if they don’t though, Brooks looks like he’s in an amazing spot today. He showed us 50 DKP upside during the season. He can shoot. He can provide ancillary stats. And I think he’s going to fly under the radar today. I think that’s a huge mistake. 
  • MEM Against SFs: Memphis has been fantastic against SFs so far. If you look at value stats, they reduce everything (except turnovers). This is largely due to Kyle Anderson. He hasn’t been tasked with doing a lot on the offense, but, defensively, he was 6th best this season in DRPM for SFs (if you take out spotty backups). This may look bad for Carmelo Anthony, who generally starts at SF, but, if you look at the way games play out, it is actually really bad for Gary Trent (it’s also objectively bad for CJ McCollum). Most of the game, Carmelo will be manning PF with Lillard/McCollum/Trent playing the guard and wing spots. So this means I will probably be under the field on Gary Trent today, as much as I have liked him so far
  • POR Against SFs: Portland has been middle of the road against SFs. Looking at value numbers, it’s hit or miss as well – they increase scoring by 6% and assists by 3%, but reduce rebounds by 7%, steals by 17%, blocks by 34%, and increase TOs by 17%. This means that, if Kyle Anderson gets hot from behind the line, the Blazers D will feed into that. He could have a great game if he’s hot. If not, he will just get you the normal 20 DKP. I would consider this a bit of a deeper GPP, especially for the price. 
  • MEM Against PFs: Once JJJ got injured, the Grizzlies defense improved. Since the restart, they are tied for 7th best against PFs. Over the last few games, though, they have been 4th best. One thing has remained consistent if you dig into the value numbers – they increase scoring to the position. Since the restart, they increase scoring by 5%, assists by 2%, and steals by 5%, while decreasing rebounds by 13%, blocks by 8%, and increase TOs by a league best 40%. With Carmelo Anthony being someone we rely on for scoring, I don’t really care about these other stats as much as I care about the increased points. Over the last few games they increased scoring by PFs by 13%. I have no problem taking that chance on Carmelo, who will spend a lot of time at the position today. It also gives a boost to Zach Collins, though I’m not sure exactly how many minutes he would get given the matchup. I expect it’ll be more like 22 instead of 32. 
  • POR Against PFs: Before the restart, Bigs Against Portland was a straight Lock. They were the absolute worst against PF/C. With Nurkic back, though, they have shored up their Center D. Against PFs, though, they are still a mess. They were 5th worst against PFs during the restart, increasing scoring by a whopping 19%, which led the NBA. They also reduced TOs by 13% and don’t really affect rebounds. The other stats don’t look too great, but I don’t care about Brandon Clarke’s assists, and he can make his own blocks and steals. Clarke has been spotty and, in terms of fantasy production, largely unreliable. This could be the day he pulls it together and puts up a real fantastic game. You can also give a boost to Anthony Tolliver, who will get the backup minutes here at a cheap price. He’s a terrible producer and a deep GPP play at best, but that’s the idea when you’re playing a massive GPP that encompasses one game only. 
  • MEM Against C: Memphis is middle of the road against Centers when it comes to DvP. The value numbers show the same story – the decrease scoring by 5% and assists by 15%, while increasing rebounds by 2%, steals by 17%, rebounds by 31%, and turnovers by 6%. While I don’t love the scoring decrease, this does line up for a very good Jusuf Nurkic game. They’ve limited him to under 30 minutes a few games recently in order to save him for these games. While this one isn’t a must-win for Nurkic, I wouldn’t be surprised if they play him 33-35 minutes here and treat it that way. I would consider him my 2nd favorite play on the day, regardless of if you want Lillard or McCollum 1st. 
  • POR Against C: People are going to see Jonas Valanciunas dropping 74 DKP last game and people are going to put a ton of ownership on him. But is that wise? Well we know the Bucks are a Lock Spot against Centers – they increase every stat for Centers by a staggering degree. And they weren’t playing their starters/full effort. If we look at Portland, we see a team that has been 7th best against Centers since the restart. However, like with the Bucks, Portland increases one stat in a big way – they increase points scored by 19% (and assists by 4%). They decrease rebounds by 14%, steals and blocks by 16%, and increase turnovers by 14%, though. This makes this what I would consider a hit or miss game for JoVal. I don’t mind taking him at 8600 given the tremendous upside he’s shown. I think there are other, better spots on the Grizzlies where you can save money. Still, if you’re playing GPPs I understand if you like Jo Val enough to put him in the Captain spot. Especially when Carmelo is in there and Portland is playing their smaller lineup, he’s going to be able to eat. And, if they can maintain that increase in scoring, there’s a legit shot he puts up 30 real points and a 2×2 (though that 3×2 last game is probably a once-in-a-long-while thing for him)
  • Bench Players: Hassan Whiteside (5400) is too expensive for me. I don’t expect him to get much more than 13-15 minutes and we should see better options. I would have some exposure to him in MME situations given his PPM upside, but he’s just too much for my one lineup. 
  • Grayson Allen (4800) is still getting the minutes, but has seen his usage go down and get significantly more spotty lately. His last 4 games, he’s had 17.25, 27.5, 23.75, and 10.25 DKP in 24, 34, 29, and 27 minutes respectively. In that last game, despite the Bucks being super weak against 3s and playing 27 minutes, he only put up 2 3s. Still, we have seen that Portland can feed in to 3s and scoring from wing players if they get hot, so Allen is someone to keep in mind for GPPs. I wish he was cheaper, though. 
  • De’Anthony Melton (4200) shouldn’t see too much run here unless there’s some kind of foul trouble. Again, this is a deep GPP/150 lineup play. 
  • Gorgui Dieng (3600) has been seeing minutes since JJJ went down. He can either get you 25 or 10 DKP. I would definitely play him at that price, but I wouldn’t consider him a lock, or trust him wholeheartedly. 
  • Mario Hezonja (2800) is going to see questionable minutes. He can get you 22 minutes or he can get you 11, depending on the matchup. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets 11 here and, even if he gets 22, if he doesn’t produce fantastically. Still, he is only 2800 and, 3 games ago, he put up 28 DKP. That would be 10x. Last game he got 2.75 DKP. That’s less than 1x. So yeah, he’s a deep GPP play, but not one I strongly recommend. Especially against a decent wing D. 
  • I don’t think anyone else gets minutes or deserves mentioning.

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