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 don’t currently have any games postponed due to COVID, but we do have one team with the bare minimum eight players available tonight (OKC). A massive four of nine games have game totals over 229 points with spreads under five points (TOR@WAS, ATL@DAL, IND@BKN, and NO@CHI), meaning 360 points likely won’t come close to shipping GPPs tonight. That said, builds tonight should place a high level of emphasis on ceiling as the scores needed to take down a GPP are likely to approach 400 points. We also have three of the nine games with more than legitimate blowout concerns, with all of LAC@MIN, CLE@DEN, and OKC@LAL checking in with spreads 10 points or more. OKC is the clear place to look for value with six of the top 12 players in expected ownership coming from that one team. That said, a good chunk of OKC players are going to be “good chalk” tonight, so find ways to play the ones you do want to play in different ways than the field (one such way will be covered below).
Anthony Davis is listed as questionable tonight after missing Monday’s game with Achilles tendinitis. Pay close attention to his status because we know where most of his missing usage will go should he miss (LeBron).
Chris Paul missed Monday’s game with a sore hamstring and is currently listed as questionable for tonight. E’Twaun Moore got the start in his place on Monday, playing 40 minutes against the Cavs. Expect primary ball-handling duties to fall to Devin Booker should Paul miss his second consecutive contest.
Expect a majority of the usage out of Minnesota to fall onto Karl Anthony-Towns’ shoulders should Russell miss, who is currently listed as questionable with leg soreness after playing only six minutes on Monday.
Looking to come off an eight-game absence, Beverley is currently listed as questionable for Wednesday. Reggie Jackson has started in his place while he has been out with the team electing to continue to bring Lou Williams off the bench to run the second unit. Lou Williams has led the team in usage while both Paul George and Beverley have been out and is a good bet to continue to do so tonight should Beverley not make it back.
All of Isaiah Roby, Hamidou Diallo, and Luguentz Dort are currently projected to be amongst the highest-owned players on the slate, which makes sense considering the dearth of available back court options for the Thunder. In their last game, the Thunder utilized a miniscule eight-player rotation, which should remain the case tonight with the absence of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the likely return of Isaiah Roby. What should be largely missed from that game is the fact that Bazley and Horford combined for 41 shot attempts (masked by the fact that they made only 13 of those combined attempts). The usage should be fairly concentrated amongst Diallo (who should be forced to play point guard with SGA out), Bazley and Horford, and I expect those three to push 60 shot attempts combined (SGA attempted 25 shots himself on Monday and will now miss this game). Horford would be the player whose minutes are most at risk in a blowout, but the usage while on the court should be elite. With a combined price of only $18,800, the three-player stack of Bazley, Horford and Diallo should be a great way to leverage the likely high ownership. (UPDATE: Thunder are confirmed to have the bare minimum players available tonight (eight))
Zubac continues to come off the bench with Serge Ibaka getting the starts but is outpacing Ibaka from a point per minute standpoint over the last two weeks of play. Against the worst rebounding team in the league (without Karl Anthony-Towns), 15+ rebounds is a good bet for the Clippers’ best rebounder. If he can keep his minutes played in the high twenties, he’s a good bet for a 15+ rebound double-double tonight at a price of only $5,100. Also a high leverage play as most people will concentrate any LAC ownership on Kawhi Leonard and Sweet Lou. (UPDATE: KAT is now expected to play, lowering my interest in Zubac a good deal. Wanted to leave the write-up to show the process.)
Another Wednesday slate, another “Luka vs Trae Young defense” game with Luka coming off a down game (by his standards). It’s been two weeks since Luka’s last triple-double, and if there were any opponent ripe for him to bounce back, it’s the Hawks. At sub 15% ownership he’s a high leverage play with the highest upside on the slate.
A game with a 229.5 total, with two teams that struggle on the defensive side of the ball, with a spread of only 2.5-points should not have all players coming in below 12% projected ownership.
An under-owned center against Brooklyn without Kevin Durant? Sign me up. The starting front court for the Nets tonight will be Joe Harris, Jeff Green and DeAndre Jordan, all of whom are rebound-challenged.
This play revolves a good deal around the status of Chris Paul. While most will only see Paul’s absence as a way to play a cheap E’Twaun Moore, we have to realize Chris Paul is still one of the better on-ball defenders in the league and Donte DiVincenzo will be getting the start at point guard for the Bucks with starting point guard Jrue Holiday ruled out. An easy way to capture a lot of upside (from a usage and minutes perspective) is to play both opposing point guards from this game, for a combined cost of only $9,500 (again, only if Chris Paul misses tonight). My interest in DiVincenzo takes a solid hit should Paul return to the lineup for the Suns.