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)!
We’ve got a massive 11-game slate on deck for Wednesday with equally massive GPPs around the industry. We also have three teams on the second half of a back-to-back (Jazz, Clippers and Bulls) and four games with blowout expectations (Jazz -7.5, Pelicans -8.0, Bucks -12.5 and Kings -7.0). If we want to place ourselves in a position to take down GPPs tonight, we’re going to need to create lineups with high leverage through the multitude of ways I covered in my course. There isn’t a ton of news to keep an eye out for prior to the slate kicking off, but as always, follow NBA news all the way through lock to ensure maximum flexibility.
The biggest piece of our “macro slate view” is the lack of value available on the slate. Without giving too much of my course away to protect those that have purchased it, we know there is a heightened urge to force studs into NBA lineups (even more so than NFL), leading to Game Theory roster construction mistakes on slates that lack true value (the ability to hit a certain point total threshold that I talk about in the course). On slates such as this one, the Game Theory answer is to adopt a more balanced approach, which is amplified by the size of the slate!
Paul George sat out last night on the first half of a back-to-back, opening the possibility (probability?) of Kawhi sitting out the second half of the back-to-back tonight. The game total for the Clippers/Warriors game has yet to be released due to the unknowns and the tentative game line is currently listed with the Clippers as five-point favorites (which would likely drop closer to LAC -1.5 should Kawhi be rested). UPDATE: Betting markets have already assumed the Clippers will rest Kawhi, with the Warriors jumping to 1.5-point favorites. Should Kawhi sit, it is likely Luke Kennard enters the starting lineup, as the Clippers seem to prefer Lou Williams off the bench to run the second unit. Paul George sees an insane 35.4% usage this season with Kawhi off the court, and in what should be expected to be a close game throughout, would be a high floor play at SG (high variance position). Bonus thought: The Warriors have the fifth-lowest rebound rate in the league at 47.3%, providing a path for legitimate triple-double upside for George when paired with his high usage without Kawhi.
Both Smart (thumb) and Teague (ankle) missed Monday’s game against Toronto, paving the way for rookie Payton Pritchard to see his first NBA start and 32 minutes on the court (with Kemba Walker still out). If both remain out, expect Pritchard to come in with one of the highest ownerships on the slate priced at only $4,600. A 0.82 PPM player, there is definite credence to a fade at high ownership.
Wood was downgraded midday to questionable with a sore left knee. Houston already rank 29th in the NBA in rebounding rate and would be left with an undersized PJ Tucker (low usage PF) and DeMarcus Cousins (minutes have remained capped) at center should Wood miss. Consider Domantas Sabonis a lock for a double-double, but the biggest boost for Indiana would be to starting center Myles Turner, who has yet to go for a double-double this year. With minutes typically in the 30-32 range, expect a slight bump to his 1.08 PPM he has averaged thus far in the absence of Wood.
Each currently projected for around 10% ownership, there is rather solid leverage by fading both on an 11-game slate. Chicago are currently seven-point road dogs on the second half of a back-to-back, and LaVine played 43 minutes last night while White played 39. All the makings of a reduction in minutes versus what optimizers will be using are present for these two.
No Kings player is currently projected for more than 8% ownership while the Kings currently hold the fourth-highest Vegas implied team total on the slate. Sometimes, it’s what is most obvious that is missed.
Similar story here. This game is a half point behind the highest game total on the slate with the Warriors in a pace-up game (massive 10.4 pace differential between Clippers and Warriors), yet no Warriors player is currently projected for more than 4-6% ownership. My favorite of the bunch is Oubre, Jr., who has struggled with his shot to start the season. Checking in with a solid 22% usage, he is simply underpriced compared to the game environment, matchup, and usage. Once his shot starts falling more consistently, I expect his salary to jump $800-$1000. The time to play him is now, before that happens.
All three will be the “perceived value” chalk on the slate, with very little in the way of value available to us tonight. As we covered in both of my Game Theory courses, this is likely due to the field attacking roster construction from a top-down approach, where studs are identified and forced in, leaving people scrambling to find value to plug in. Let’s go through the key metrics of each of these three:
-Olynyk: 16.7% usage, 0.99 PPM, 27-28 expected minutes, 20% projected ownership
-Kennard: 18.5% usage, 0.76 PPM, 34-36 expected minutes, 25% projected ownership
-Beverley: 13.5% usage, 0.62 PPM, 32-34 expected minutes, 24% projected ownership
For those that read my “Transitioning from NFL to NBA” course, recall (or go look up) the fantasy point total I use as my threshold when identifying value. Now compare that to the projected fantasy output of each of those three. Do any meet my personal “value threshold”?
I try and cover various concepts in the medium available (this article paired with the Game Theory solo pod) in an attempt to teach (as opposed to what most other sites offer, which is just tell you what the best plays are), with the ultimate goal being to help create better DFS players. As such, please don’t consider this article series the “end all, be all” for each slate covered. Instead, look to capture the “why behind the how” and apply it to the rest of the slates throughout the week. Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter @HilowFF if there are specific Game Theory concepts (as they relate to NBA) that you’d like me to cover in the future. Good luck tonight!
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