10 Definitely Interesting, Possibly Helpful NBA Notes for March 20th
This NBA season, I’ll work to uncover some interesting bits of information that might shed some light on players from that day’s slate of NBA games. This is not a picks column, nor is it a “fun facts” article – it’s something in between.
I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it helps you think about today’s NBA plays in a new way as you build your DFS lineups. Here are 10 NBA notes for Monday, March 20th.
1. After I wrote in Saturday’s “10 Notes” that James Harden had put up more 40-point triple-doubles this season than Michael Jordan had put up in his entire career, Harden responded with yet another 40-point triple-double against the Nuggets. With that game, he joins Westbrook and (you guessed it) Michael Jordan (who had two straight such games in April of 1989) as the only players to record two consecutive 40-point triple-doubles. On Monday, it’s the encore presentation of Saturday night’s Rockets/Nuggets matchup. Fitting in both Harden and Russell Westbrook seems like the way to build cash game lineups on Monday, provided there’s enough value to surround them with.
2. We tend to ignore splits with Russell Westbrook, because, let’s be honest, it’s almost never a bad idea to play him; home or road, day or night, against the Suns (against whom he’s scored 70+ FanDuel points three times this year) or against the Jazz (70+ FanDuel points twice), Westbrook has a floor/ceiling combo that is unparalleled by any player in the NBA. But he actually has been much better at home this year:
So it does matter that Westbrook is hosting the Warriors for this encounter. It also matters that he’s chasing Oscar Robertson’s triple-doubles record. He’s unstoppable right now, and he’s reached Clayton Kershaw / David Johnson levels, in that there’s almost no price too steep for him.
3. Not that anyone needs any proof that Westbrook is a usage monster, but sometimes you just run across a stat that’s so interesting you have to share, even if it does nothing more than re-state the obvious. So here it is: Russell Westbrook has played 69 games this season, and his usage has dipped below 30 percent in exactly one game. On December 31st, he posted a season-low usage rate of 23.9 percent; he still triple-doubled in 28 minutes and scored 55 FanDuel points.
4. Will Barton went 1-for-9 from three-point range on Saturday against the Rockets, which was tied for his second-lowest three-point percentage in his career (min. 9 atempts). One game before that, on Thursday against the Clippers, Barton had the best three-point shooting night of his career (min. 10 attempts), going 7-for-10 from beyond the arc. The point is, Barton is being super aggressive right now, and his inefficiency in his last game led to his price decreasing by $800 at FanDuel: he’s $5,800 on Monday, and he was priced at $6,600 in this same matchup a few days ago (unfortunately, DraftKings was a bit sharper, bumping Barton up to a more reasonable $7,300). Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler are both listed as questionable, and Barton’s viability depends on whether one, both, or neither of those Denver wings suit up. If they remain out, it would be wise to forget about his poor shooting performance, take the $800 savings, and hope he’s as eager to throw up threes in this game.
5. Dario Saric’s per-36 marks of 17.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists have only been matched 19 times in NBA history. The last players to do it were DeMarcus Cousins and Blake Griffin in 2010-2011, and before that, you have to go all the way back to Antoine Walker in 1996-97. A few others on the list include Chris Webber, Larry Johnson (aka Grandmama, Karl Malone, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor…in other words, despite the fanfare, Saric’s rookie campaign may even be a bit underrated. And he’s become a bigger part of the 76ers’ offense all the time. Check out the linear progression upward in his monthly usage rates:
Saric be difficult to fit in in a Harden/Westbrook build, which makes him intriguing for tournaments, since including him will automatically lead to a different lineup construction. One more point in his favor: the Magic have been awful against opposing fours since trading Serge Ibaka, ranking 29th in DvP, with only the Lakers giving up more fantasy points per game to the position.
6. The Knicks have allowed 30 games of 20+ points and 10+ rebounds this year; the next-closest team is the Suns, with 24 such games. DeAndre Jordan is rarely an exciting player to click on, but this is the perfect matchup for him to have a huge game. The Knicks allow 11.8 offensive rebounds per game (most in the NBA), 45.9 points in the paint per game (fifth-most in the NBA), and 14.8 second-chance points per game (most in the NBA). He’s been aggressive on the glass lately, grabbing 17 or more rebounds in two straight and three of his last four. And he’s proven he can take it to this year’s Knicks team, scoring 49 FanDuel points in his only meeting with them this year. A fair-and-balanced lineup could be the key to differentiating yourself in tournaments on Monday, and Jordan’s got the upside to make a difference in GPPs.
7. Another outside-the-box center option for Monday is Dwight Howard, who has grabbed 23 and 18 rebounds in two games against the Hornets this year. Weirdly, Howard’s rebounding numbers have decreased in games without Paul Millsap this year (12.9 per game in 59 games with Millsap, 11.8 in four games without him), but there’s a good chance the small sample is influencing those numbers. Howard has seen enough playing time lately, exceeding 30 minutes in each of the past four games, and the Hornets allow 16.05 rebounds per game to opposing centers, which is fifth-most in the NBA. Howard is never a cash game play, and like Jordan, he’s never someone you’re thrilled to click, but the upside is undeniable given the circumstances.
8. Only three players are averaging 20 points and 2.5 three-pointers and shooting over 50 percent from the field since March 3rd: James Harden, Paul George, and Tim Hardaway. Hardaway should be asked to shoulder the scoring burden for Atlanta on Monday, and the matchup sets up perfectly, as the Hawks travel to Charlotte to face a Hornets team that allows 11.3 three-pointers per game, more than any team in the NBA. For context, the Hornets have allowed 778 threes this year; twenty-seven of thirty NBA teams allowed fewer than 778 threes over the entirety of the 2015-16. Per RotoGrinders’ CourtIQ tool, Hardaway, Jr. a 27.2 percent usage rate with Bazemore and Millsap off the floor this season, and he should be firing away from deep in this game. If he gets hot, he could make a difference in tournaments.
9. Having just discussed a few interesting GPP options on the Hawks, it’s time to throw some cold water on their entire offense. So here goes: in 59 games with Paul Millsap in the lineup, the Hawks have an offensive rating of 106.5; in the four games he’s missed, their offensive rating drops to 95.2, which is only about eight points below the Philadelphia 76ers, who own the NBA’s worst offensive rating this year, at 103 points per 100 possessions. In fact, just for fun, let’s find the last team to have an offensive rating of 95.2. Oh, there it is; it’s the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats, whose most frequent starting lineup consisted of (brace yourself) D.J. Augustin, Gerald Henderson, Corey Maggette, Tyrus Thomas, and Bismack Biyombo. I guess that’s why Howard and Hardaway, Jr. are only GPP options.
10. It’s time for some blind résumé! Take a look at the table below, where I list two players’ numbers since March 12th:
|Stat||Player A||Player B|
So, you might have noticed that both players have played solid minutes during this stretch (which is four games for each player). Both are low-usage players, and while Player A has been slightly more productive from a fantasy perspective, Player B has been shooting the lights out.
Player A is Otto Porter, the de facto “I don’t know what to do at small forward, so I guess I’ll click this guy” guy, priced at $6,200 at FanDuel and $6,400 at DraftKings. Player B is Joe Ingles, also a small forward, priced at $4,200 at FanDuel and $5,000 at DraftKings. At FanDuel in particular, Ingles should be a popular pathway to fitting in Harden and Westbrook, and he’s a guy who gives you close to Otto Porter production at a significant savings. If Rodney Hood continues to be out and Ingles draws the start, expect him to be a popular, yet necessary, option for cash games.
Thanks for reading! Stats from this article were pulled from RotoGrinders’ Daily Research Console, StatMuse, Basketball Reference, and NBA.com.
Check back for more “10 Notes” NBA articles throughout the year (typically posted on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays), and feel free to drop a comment below if you want to talk about today’s slate of NBA games.