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)!
Four teams are on the second half of a back-to-back tonight (Clippers, Pacers, Wizards and Celtics) and we’ve already seen multiple players ruled out because of it (Russell Westbrook and Kemba Walker highlight the list). The Thunder are also going to be extremely short-handed, with only 10 players available tonight. The overall slate is a beautiful 10-game slate with only two early games and two late games, with five of the ten games carrying blowout potential (my personal threshold is any spread greater than or equal to 7.5 points).
After sitting out Monday’s narrow victory over the Timberwolves with a back injury. Jarrett Allen went predictably nuclear in that contest and would be in line for another start should Drummond not make it back tonight. The Clippers are one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA (compared to the Timberwolves who are second to last and were without Karl Anthony-Towns), meaning we’re likely to see ownership outweigh Allen’s chances to outperform his salary should Drummond miss.
This one carries a little more meaning, in that we’re likely to see Damontas Sabonis shift to center and Doug McDermott enter the starting five at power forward (with TJ Warren still out) should Turner miss. The Bucks are favored by 9.0 points before any news surrounding Turner and we’re liable to see that grow a point or two should he bull ultimately ruled out. Either way, my only interest here is on Sabonis should Turner miss.
Expect LaMelo Ball to enter the starting lineup alongside Devonte Graham should Rozier miss. Both Ball and Graham are priced up to a point where I have little to no interest here.
I currently expect Russell to play, who has already been playing consistently through his ailing quadricep injury. Should he miss, expect the line to move even further in the way of the Spurs (currently 8.5-point favorites).
Adams missed last contest with a calf injury, a contest that saw Jaxson Hayes draw the start and Willy Hernangomez see extended run off the bench. The biggest beneficiary from an absence of Adams would be on the other side in the form of DeAndre Ayton. Adams is one of the better defensive rebounders in the league and above-average rim-defender. Ayton derives majority of his value from his work down low in the paint.
Boston are on the second half of a back-to-back and Kemba is still operating with a hard 30-minute cap to his playing time. I would tentatively expect him to be held to between 26-28 minutes tonight. Priced at $6,500 and expected to come in with 15-20% ownership, he is a prime fade candidate on tonight’s large slate. (UPDATE: Yea, I was waiting for Kemba to be ruled out, was actually shocked that he was in line to play. With Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, and Payton Pritchard all out for tonight, expect Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to absolutely dominate the usage for the Celtics. Also expect Jeff Teague to start and see an uptick in minutes at the one. Sacramento continue to bleed fantasy production to the wings (SG/SF).)
Theo Maledon and Hamidou Diallo are expected to start and play significant minutes for the Thunder tonight with all of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, George Hill and Ty Jerome out. This leaves only Maledon, Diallo and Luguentz Dort to man the back court against the Rockets. All three are expected to carry top five ownership on the slate (50%+ for Diallo, 30-35% for Maledon, and 20-25% for Dort), so how do we leverage off that high ownership? If you’ve followed my roster breakdown series this season, one of the easiest ways of achieving that goal is to stack them up. That three-player stack costs only $13,200 tonight and we’re likely to capture 108 total minutes from the bunch. The average PPM from those three with Hill and SGA off the court? 1.07.
Luka against Trae Young defense at 13-15% ownership? Sometimes we shouldn’t overthink things.
While everyone flocks to DeMar DeRozan, Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson, sign me up for the savings of Poeltl against a Timberwolves team still without Karl Anthony-Towns down low. We’ve seen the rebounding struggles from Minnesota without KAT on the floor, increasing the chances we see a cheap double-double from Poeltl, who should be good for 28-30 minutes tonight with both LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay out.
This is not an ownership leverage play, rather a “Beal is once again the top play on the slate with Russell Westbrook off the court (and his price has come down compared to last week)” play. Beal is averaging a ridiculous 27.8 shot attempts per game this season (10 games) and put up 37 shot attempts (lolz) the last time Westy sat out. There is a very real chance at a blowout here (Miami favored by 9.5 points), but Beal has been playing heavy minutes even in blowouts so far this year, with clear upside for 40+ minutes should the Wizards keep this game within reason. One final thought: Beal’s usage with Westbrook off the court this season sits at a ridiculous 42.8%, leading to 1.81 fantasy points per minute scored. The opposite side of that coin is the possibility of Beal drawing Jimmy Butler defense (one of the best wing defenders in the league). Because of the short-handed nature of the Wizards’ back court, I will likely make a rule of “exactly one of Beal or Ish Smith in every MME lineup.”
Typically, we see a stark drop in ownership on players that enter a slate as questionable. If any of the aforementioned questionable players stick out to you in a vacuum, there is a high level of leverage in including them in your player pool should they indeed be ruled active.