NBA Analysis for February 12, 2020

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Main Slate

Vegas Lines ?

(Today’s Update in Parenthesis)

233 – ATL 117.5  – CLE 115.5  

206 – ORL 106.75 – DET 99.25 

228.5 – NY 115.5 – WAS 113 

 – MIL (-1.5) – IND  

 – TOR (-2.5) – BK  

235.5 – MEM 120 – POR 115.5  

226.5 – MIN 117 – CHA 109.5 

 – DAL (-6.5) – SAC  

217 – UTA 110.75 – MIA 106.25 

 – PHX (-7.5) – GS  

 – LAL (-1) – DEN 

Advantage Spots  ?

Hawks at Cavs

This is the last real slate before the week-long layoff of the all-star break. We have 11 games here, which is too big in my opinion (there’s more luck and more crazy outliers). Still, after this we have a barely-slate with only two games and then nothing. So let’s play a bunch of lineups tonight to combat the luck factor and bask in the last big batch of basketball we’ll see for more than a week. And, even though this is the first game of the night, it is going to be one of the best for sure. 

I’m not kidding when I say I am going to have an insane amount of this game relative to the field. The Cavs can’t defend PGs at all – they are the worst in the game in terms of DvP to both PGs and SGs. On top of that both Garland and Sexton are 2 of the worst individual defenders in the NBA. That means Trae Young is going to be one of my highest owned plays of the day. I hope enough people load up on the other expensive dudes and he slides under the radar, though I won’t hold my breath about that. Honestly, though, Love has been underperforming defensively, Drummond was a defensive ghost on Detroit. So feel free to load up here. No one is priced high enough – so, apart from Young, I’d still have serious exposure to Collins and some moderate GPP exposure to the secondary players/backups like Teague, Reddish, and Dedmon.

On the other side, the Hawks are one of only 2 teams that allow more fantasy points a game to opposing teams than the Cavs. The Cavs are 3rd with 237.8, the Wizards are 2nd with 239.8, and the Hawks are first, allowing opposing teams to rack up 241.1 DKP a game in total. Philly, for comparison’s sake, is the best in this metric – they allow 211.5 DKP a game. So, yes, the difference is significant, even compared to the league average of 226.4. Also, as you know, the Hawks are an absolute Lock Spot against SF. Unfortunately, that SF is Cedi Osman, who is pretty far down the usage tree. I have no problem taking some GPP shots at him in a punt fashion, but I think the smarter move is to go up to Collin Sexton who should still enjoy how awful the Hawks are against the wing, but has the highest usage on the team (for now). 

I think the higher owned players will be their two offensive studs – Kevin Love and Andre Drummond. While the matchup isn’t as good as a matchup on the Wing, Atlanta is also absolutely terrible against Bigs as well, so I have no problem loading up here. Again, my hope is they go under the radar so I can take advantage of the field looking elsewhere. We have to see the Drummond minutes forecast to cement him in, but, as of now, he’s an incredibly strong play. One thing we will have to pay attention to is the status of Love, who is questionable. If he sits out, I will be fine taking a load of Larry Nance instead (especially at his price)

I know that I spent a lot of time on this game but, really, I think it’s that fantastic. I’ll be a lot more tempered for most of the other games due to the size of the slate. If you are the type of player who locks one dude in and builds around them, you could do a lot worse than Trae Young as a starting point. If you are the type of player who loves to play a game stack, there are very few games every close to the offensive potential this game has.

Aaron Gordon

Gordon has been playing really well lately and, in this matchup, he’s the Magic player I will be targeting the most (if anyone). I mean, let’s face it – this is clearly one of the worst games of the night, and we should expect one of the lowest point totals from it. Still, Detroit has been really awful against PFs all season and, with Markieff Morris back in the fold, we can expect them to stay near the bottom. I don’t mind taking a chance on Vucevic given his upside, but Gordon is going to be my favorite play given the pricing.

Lock Spot – PGs Against Washington – Elfrid Payton

I expect Julius Randle to be relatively popular today as well, and he should be. Washington, as I noted before, allows the 2nd most DKP/G to opponents. They are awful up and down the court defensively and that is supported by any metric you look at. There are two places the Wizards are especially awful, though – Centers (whose benefit would be split between Randle, Mitchell Robinson, and Taj Gibson) and Point Guards (where the Wizards increase scoring by 13%, 3s by 16%, rebounds by 5%, assists by 6%, steals by 7%, blocks by 6%, and FG% by 8%). Those numbers are pretty much off the charts and, when you break it down, I would say that is the worst in the NBA, just edging out Portland. So gimme Elf Payton at a price high enough that people should avoid him. Like with CLE/ATL, this game could get ugly and the Knicks could especially have some high value performances. Payton showed you 60 DKP upside the other day. Don’t forget that or ignore it in a matchup against this Wizards team.

Wizards PG/PFs

The Knicks are surprisingly stout against SG/SF and Cs. They are, however, really bad against PGs and PFs. They increase scoring by 8%, 3s by 17%, assists by 3% and FG% by 5% to PGs and, against PFs, they increase scoring by 9%, 3s by 20% and FG% by an insane 10%. All of this lines up with what we know – Elf Payton and Randle are both awful defenders. So, while I’m sure plenty of people will take a bunch of Brad Beal (which I understand), I am going to prioritize having some Ish Smith and Shabazz Napier as well as Davis Bertans and Rui Hachimura. I wish there were people here that got 30+ minutes guaranteed at the positions, but I will take what I can get there, especially at those prices in this matchup.

Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton

Congrats to Giannis on the birth of his new child! All the love and blessings go to him and his whole family. In terms of DFS, this creates a massive opportunity for us to get some dudes that produce at an incredible rate at still-too-cheap a price. That means Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe. I know Indy is a fantastic defense that is tough to do anything against. However, Middleton, in the last 3 games Giannis has missed, has put up 76.5, 51.75, and 57.75 DKP. I will take him for 8800 if we can count on 50 DKP and, given the usage this team sees without Giannis, I think we can. Bledsoe in those 3 games, by the way, got you 60, 36.5, and 52.5 DKP. I have no problem betting heavily on both of them, including both of them in the same lineup. Even if you only play one lineup. With Ilyasova’s price up to almost 5k, I am going to come in well under the field, as I expect him to still be very chalky.

Domantas Sabonis

This is one of those times you are going to be taking advantage of an absence that dramatically changes things. Most people that automate their lineups will not account for the drastic downgrade in defense the Bucks will provide with Ersan Ilyasova playing instead of Giannis. Giannis is one of the best rated defenders in the league and Ersan is… not, to be kind. Because of this, most people that play tonight will be severely underrating the prospects and projections of Domantas Sabonis, who will have a much easier time against the Bucks than he otherwise would have. Bonus: he can take advantage of the Lock Spot against Centers that Milwaukee has, where they increase value by the most for Centers – increasing scoring by 18%, 3s by 62%, rebounds by 3% and assists by 19%. While some folks will boost Myles Turner, I think a lot of this advantage will go to Sabonis and I’m gonna love him here. 

Kyle Lowry

As I always do, I will start out by pointing out that Pascal Siakam is a good play no matter what here, but, should Serge Ibaka be unable to play, he would get a sizable boost as he would line up at Center. Really, the status of Ibaka is going to make a huge deal, seeing as how awful the Nets are against Centers. If Ibaka plays, you have to have a bunch of exposure (while still having some exposure to Siakam and Boucher). If Ibaka is out, you have to go pretty heavy on both Siakam and Boucher. 

However, the real place you want to attack the Nets is at PG. They are pretty decent against SG/SF/PF, but they are 3rd worst against PG in my estimation. This is based on the value numbers – they increase scoring by 18% as well as 3s by 18%, rebounds by 2% and FG% by 2%. While he may not get as many rebound/assists, I think we can go over the field on a Kyle Lowry who is only 7900 and coming off 62.5 and 57.75 DKP performances in 2 of his last 3 games.

Brooklyn Nets

While I don’t think the Nets are going to put up one of the highest team totals today, I do believe pretty strongly that everyone on this team is still underpriced for all the usage that Kyrie’s absence distributes to everyone else. Spencer Dinwiddie has gotten just about 50 DKP the last 2 games and he’s only 7800. Caris LeVert had a 51.25 DKP performance a couple games back, plus he’s finally playing 33 minutes a game, increasing his upside dramatically. I also love both Centers, though I am worried about the time split. Still – Deandre Jordan is 5500 and has gotten 40.25 and 40 DKP in his last 2 games, while Jarrett Allen should be too expensive on DK at 5200 but, if you can get him elsewhere at a better relative price, I would take a GPP stab on his upside. Lastly, while they come with more risk, Joe Harris and Taurean Prince are both under 5k and could easily get 30 DKP today if their shots fall. Like I said, no one on this team’s price raised enough for Kyrie’s absence, and I want to take advantage of that.

Lock Spot – PGs Against Portland – Ja Morant

As I have now referenced two other times in this analysis, Portland is the 2nd worst team against PGs in the NBA. They increase scoring by 13%, 3s by 21%, rebounds by 2%, and assists by 6%. This sets up incredibly well for a Ja Morant coming off a 62.5 DKP performance. A couple weeks ago, I said it looked like Ja Morant is turning the corner on that rookie year discomfort you see amongst a lot of future stars (look at Trae Young). While Portland is also horrific against Bigs, opening the door for you to load up on Jonas Valanciunas, Jaren Jackson, and Brandon Clarke (which I suggest you do as well), my favorite play here has to be Ja Morant. I imagine he’ll be one of the highest owned players I have tonight.

CJ McCollum

When it comes to DvP, Memphis allows the 2nd most fantasy points per game to opposing SGs. While the value numbers aren’t nearly as stark, the Grizzlies still still cede the 7th most value to the position, including boosting scoring by 5% and 3s by 7%, 2 marks that should look to benefit McCollum tremendously. If you want to go anywhere else on Portland (and I suggest you do), I would start with Trevor Ariza, as the Grizzlies are pretty much league average against PG/PF/C and only really weak against the wing players. He is still way underpriced at 4500. Otherwise Dame Lillard should never be out of your player pool, even if you don’t wind up with him in any lineups. The same can be said for Hassan Whiteside. I just think the production will come from elsewhere tonight, and it will be hard for Lillard and Whiteside to exceed value by enough on such a large slate.

Lock Spot – Centers Against Charlotte – Karl-Anthony Towns

Charlotte was the very first Lock Spot I talked about back the first week of the season, when I saw who would be manning that position and realized the production they’d allow. Nothing has changed. They are still the worst team in the NBA against Centers, allowing 55.3 DKP to the position every game, despite being one of the slowest teams and, otherwise, being relatively decent (they are great against PGs and not that good against PFs, but not nearly as bad as against Cs). This adds to me wanting KAT, since this should wind up pulling production off of usage-monster D’Angelo Russell and place it in the hands of KAT instead. The Hornets increase scoring by 3%, rebounds by 10%, assists by 5%, steals by 6%, blocks by 20%, and FG% by 4% to Centers. I’ll take that all day, especially with people ignoring KAT for the shiny new toys.

Devonte’ Graham

This is another case of getting ahead of the automated lineup builders that don’t properly adjust their stats. That is particularly useful this time of year, when trades completely change the look of so many teams. One of those is Minnesota. Not that they were a fearsome team against PGs but now they will be playing an absolutely god awful defender in Russell and a rookie in McLaughlin at the position and they are going to be plummeting down the PG rankings before too long. I am going to take Graham here, in order to get ahead of the curve. The fact he is only 7400 and coming off two consecutive games of 46.75 and 50.5 DKP is just icing on the cake. Even better – he should go completely under the radar as a mid-priced play on such a large slate.

Devin Booker

This is another play I expect to go under the radar. I think this is a big mistake, though. He is someone that could get you 5x value just in raw points. The Warriors are absolutely pathetic defensively (except for Dray Green), especially against guards. They may have gotten worse with the addition of Andrew Wiggins. While I have no problem taking some shares of Oubre and Rubio, regardless of if Ayton plays or not, the real usage play here is Booker and, in what should be a quicker, high-scoring game, I think Booker is underpriced and will go underowned.

Marquese Chriss

I am going to be attack the Suns with Centers a lot over the next few weeks. Today, especially, it sets up really well for Chriss who is only 5900 despite taking over the starters role for GS (and playing close to 30 minutes a game). He is either going to match up with DeAndre Ayton, who is one of the worst defenders in the game when he’s healthy, much less when he’s hobbled by injury or he will get the pleasure of facing Cheick Diallo. Either way, I know he will be overlooked tonight, but I am going to be a big fan of slotting him in, despite the inherent risks that go with playing him at all.

Lakers at Denver

This is going to be another game that should provide some fantastic production for us. We should see a relatively high-scoring game and, better yet, we should see that production condensed in the hands of very few people. Regardless of how solid both defenses are, I think it’s pretty clear that LeBron and Anthony Davis are the 2 amazing plays on the Lakers. While I normally recommend going under the field on both of these guys, I think that this is a game of massive significance for both teams, and I expect almost all of the production on LA to come down to these 2 guys. Anyone else on the Lakers comes with massive risk, though none of them are more expensive than Kuzma (4800) and Rondo (4500) so, if you do want to take that chance in an MME situation, I have no problem taking a chance on the one other Laker player that has a good game. 

On the other side, with Barton, Porter, and Plumlee out, we have seen a ton of the usage stay in the hands of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. Again, with how significant this game may be for seeding at the end of the year, I don’t expect much to change today regardless of how solid the Lakers D is. I don’t have faith in anyone else’s minutes or production, though I will have limited exposure to MIllsap and Harris.

Caution Spots  ⬇️

Detroit Pistons

Like I said, this is going to be one of the worst games of the night. I have no problem taking a flier on Derrick Rose or Reggie Jackson but, really, I expect them to eat into each other’s production and, really, I don’t expect any of them to do that great. No one is prohibitively expensive so I’m not calling for a full fade here, but there’s just no one that stands out on a 11 game slate (barring some breaking injury news later on).

Dallas Mavericks vs Sacramento Kings

With Luka Doncic poised to return, we are going to have some issues here. First, the Kings have been a surprisingly good defense so far this season (and playing at a slow pace). Then, Luka Doncic will be coming back off an ankle injury, meaning he wasn’t able to maintain his conditioning and we should expect some minutes limit. That means he won’t play enough minutes to give him anything but deep GPP interest. It also means that all of the other players, who’ve seen their prices rise over the last few games as they saw Doncic’s massive usage distributed through the team, are just too high-priced. So thanks but no thanks. Not on this big a slate. 

On the other side, we are seeing the Kings face a Dallas D that is above average against every position themselves. While I don’t mind, again, some fleeting GPP exposure to the more expensive players with upside – Fox, Hield, and Bjelica – I am going to keep that exposure limited. I just think this is going to be a slog of a game – low scoring and slow. While I would force some plays if this was a 5 game slate, on an 11, I will look to load up elsewhere if I’m playing a single lineup. 

Heat vs Jazz

With Jimmy Butler back in the fold for Miami, I expect this game to be another one of those low-scoring, slow games. I wouldn’t be shocked if this game has a hard time getting to 200 total points, meaning it’ll be hard for anyone to get to the 7x or 8x you may need to win a tournament on an 11 game slate like this. So, like I will say, don’t eliminate players like Butler and Gobert and Bam and Mitchell from your player pool, just don’t be upset if your exposure to them is negligible when it all comes down to it, or if you don’t even consider them when building a single lineup. This game would become even worse for fantasy purposes if Mike Conley winds up sitting, as the Jazz replace him with a defensive-minded playing, reducing the chances of this game having anything worth taking even more.