Mark “Hilow” Garcia
Again, if you’re new to the NBA and haven’t yet checked out the free portion of my course in the Marketplace, I highly recommend you do so first. There I break down the game of NBA, how to think of its players from a DFS perspective, and how those players compare to the NFL. With that understanding, you should have a better time sticking with me here as we discuss Game Theory in the NBA (and I cover Game Theory in the NBA in-depth in a later lesson of my course)!
The final Wednesday of the regular season is upon us. Similar to how we would approach late-season NFL contests, we should be paying particular attention to teams still fighting for playoff ceding and players that can still play a full allotment of minutes on teams not playing for anything. Different than other Wednesdays this season, we only have six total games on the slate this evening, three of which carry large spreads (BOS (-8.0) @ CLE, NO @ DAL (-8.5), and HOU @ LAL (-12.5)) and three of which carry high game totals (WAS @ ATL 240.5, SA @ BKN 232.0, and POR @ UTA 234.5).
Before we jump in, I again want to reiterate how much I love each and every one of you and how much I appreciate the opportunity to jam about one of my true passions. Hopefully this column has helped tweak some portion of your process to become more profitable in the long run. Take the ideas we’ve set forth in this space and expand on them moving forward!
I’ll leave Timelord in this section, but he just got ruled out for tonight. Expect 28-32 minutes for Tristan Thompson against the active Jarrett Allen.
Osman is again listed questionable tonight with a sore ankle. Should he be cleared to play, he is likely to see increased run and additional shot attempts with Darius Garland still out of action. The Cavs are far removed from any playoff contention but have been utilizing extremely tight rotations as they look to develop their youth.
Harden is expected to return tonight to end his five-week absence with a hamstring injury while Kyrie took a Vuc elbow to the face last night and is questionable. If one or both misses, fire up Kevin Durant as a high upside play as the Nets fight for playoff seeding.
Another late morning update here as both Adams and Ingram will join Zion Williamson, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Hart as OUT. We don’t have a ton of data to go off with all five off the court (basically their entire starting lineup), but I’d expect Willy Hernangomez to start and play 30-32 minutes, James Johnson to start and play 28-32 minutes, Naji Marshall to start and play 26-30 minutes, and Eric Beldsoe and Nickeil Alexander-Walker to start in the backcourt and play as many minutes as they can handle should the game remain close. Consider the Pelicans the top value plays on the slate. Very much in the JPA (just play all) range tonight.
Porzingis is looking to return from a lengthy absence with right knee soreness tonight. I’d expect a tight minutes restriction should he return.
The injury woes continue for the Rockets as all of Christian Wood, Daquan Jeffries and Danuel House, Jr. are listed as questionable tonight. Houston is already without six players already ruled out and remain extremely thin, so keep an eye on the statuses of these three heading into the last tip of the night.
Caruso left Tuesday’s game with foot soreness, LeBron James is eyeing a return from a lengthy absence with an ankle injury, and Anthony Davis’ groin tightened up last night. Yes, the Lakers are fighting to avoid the play-in tournament, but we have to question the motivation to push it with Davis and LeBron against the Rockets here. Keep an eye on their status as players in the last game of the night.
With Timelord, Kemba Walker, and Marcus Smart all ruled out tonight, and Jaylen Brown done for the year, people are sure to flock to Jayson Tatum. While Tatum is sure to lead the team in usage by a wide margin, he is not going to take all the shots. Enter Fournier, who has averaged 15.5 shot attempts over the last two games en route to an average of 47.875 fantasy points per game. Fournier has also put up no less than 6x multiplier on his current salary over the last five games. All of this together gives us a nice little leverage spot on the field while also capturing solid cost-considered ceiling and floor. In my eyes the better leverage play is to play Fournier alone as opposed to paired with Tatum because the likeliest scenario where Fournier fails is in a Celtics blowout, in which Tatum is likely to also fail. This idea is in stark contrast to the next spot. Finally, Fournier also gives us the ability to fill the vaunted SF position with a player that has a high floor and ceiling, making him my top overall play on the slate.
The reason the Pels jump to the top of the value list tonight is because they have everything to play for. One loss and they are mathematically eliminated from the playoff picture. So, while they are now 9.5-point dogs and the Rockets are 11.5-point dogs, we can comfortably assume the Pelicans will give full grunt the entire game. The matchup is also softer defensively for the Pelicans as compared to the Rockets. NAW, Eric Bledsoe and Willy Hernangomez all jump out as priority plays for me tonight. All will come with ownership, but the leverage for me is to play 3-5 Pelicans on all rosters to capture the top PPD expectations on the slate and generate a bit of leverage at the same time. As for Houston, Khyri Thomas is the lone priority play, particularly if Jeffries and House can’t go. A good deal of the Thomas ownership will likely be paired with Kelly Olynyk, so the leverage for me is to take a similar approach to the aforementioned Evan Fournier.
Russ with no Beal, with Washington one win away from clinching a playoff berth, against Trae Young and the Hawks? Yea, anything less than 99% ownership is leverage. Because of the value available tonight, he is going to be popular, but this is one of those free squares where you take it and move on, especially on a small slate. The leverage will be massive if pulling the Westy fade, but it just isn’t the best play when considering the marriage of sound DFS strategy and Game Theory.
Collins is simply too cheap in a game against the team allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing frontcourts. His ceiling tonight is legitimately 10x and his ownership is not likely to reflect that.
We haven’t found anything that Hilow can’t do…Honestly, nothing. And the best part, Hilow’s always willing to share his knowledge and wisdom with the OWS Fam.
After reading his courses multiple times, I find it fascinating the way Game Theory is always present. Whether it’s Football, Baseball, Basketball, NBA Top Shots, or Crypto, there is a huge edge in understanding the game theory behind each.
If you can find a couple of hours in your schedule, I highly recommend finding a course that suits your interest and diving in! Below are links to all four of Hilow’s courses.
Pro Tip :: First lesson is always free
📈 Swing Trading to NBA Top Shot
🏀 Transitioning From NFL to NBA