NBA Situational Projections: Wednesday, February 14th

When I first got into NBA DFS, the phrase I kept hearing was “minutes = money.” The concept is simple enough: A player averages a certain number of points per minute, and if he gets a certain number of minutes, we can expect him to be one of the best point per dollar scorers on the slate. Unfortunately, as we’ve all learned, not all projections are created equal. Every day, I build my own projection set for NBA. Some days, that’s easy. If a team has a neutral matchup and isn’t missing any bodies, a base set of projections works just fine. Other days though, especially as the NBA season rolls along, it gets a lot more complicated.

Wednesday, February 14th

It’s rare that we get a game in which conditions are nearly perfect from a DFS standpoint. On tonight’s 12-game slate though, that’s exactly what we have in the Lakers/Pelicans matchup. When I talk about the DFS conditions being near-perfect, there are a few reasons for this. They’re simple and obvious, but still should be taken note of.

A. The game has a total of 229.5, which is the highest total on the slate and one of the highest totals in the NBA this season.
B. The spread is just Pelicans -5, meaning that a blowout is unlikely.
C. Both teams are running thin rotations due to either trades or injuries.

Everything adds up here. The Lakers finally narrowed their rotation when they traded away Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance. The Pelicans have run a narrow rotation all year, but since DeMarcus Cousins went down with an injury, the minutes for the starters are even more secure.

The Lakers are going to be one of my favorite teams to target on this slate. Not only are they projected to score 112.5 points (the fifth-highest on the slate), but the prices of their main rotation players are between $5,000 and $7,400. Without running the numbers, I know there’s going to be a ton of value to be had there.

Click image to expand

As we can see above via CourtIQ, over the last three months the main beneficiary of Lonzo Ball, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance being off the court is Julius Randle. Both his points per minutes (PPM) and usage goes up slightly. Isaiah Thomas obviously has a very limited sample size with the Lakers, but he’s been about a point per minute player this season and I’m fine assuming that’s what he’ll be with the Lakers as well. As for Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Josh Hart, and Brook Lopez, their numbers with Clarkson, Nance, and Lonzo off the floor are weirdly consistent with their seasonal averages over the last three months. While that’s discouraging, we can still count on an increase in minutes for the Lakers rotation players. Also, we can count on it being a fast-paced, high-scoring game with a team that doesn’t play any defense. I’m going to be giving a 10% bump to the base projections once I put them in LineupHQ due to the game conditions.

Click image to expand

Sometimes you think you know where the numbers are going to take you and end up being completely wrong. That’s the case with the Lakers for me! I expected 4-5 of them to grade out as 5x players, especially with the 10% bonus. Clearly, that’s not what happened here.

Julius Randle is easily the best value on the Lakers today, which is surprising since he’s the most expensive player on the team. Even though doing projections like this doesn’t consider defense vs position or individual defensive matchups, we know the Pelicans have been tortured by big men over the last few weeks. Everything … the numbers, the game environment, and the matchup … points toward Randle having a high floor and high ceiling.

As for the other pieces, Brandon Ingram grades out as an excellent value, though on a 12-game slate you’re going to need more than 5.1x. I would still play Ingram on a few teams, but I won’t be actively targeting him here. I feel the same way about IT2 and KCP. Both are okay plays, but I’m not excited about either player. We know Thomas has upside if he gets hot, and he’s been consistent as well. I think we can expect a minimum of 25 out of him tonight with upside, but he certainly isn’t going to be a core piece for me. The prices on Kuzma, Hart, and Lopez have come up enough that I’m just not comfortable playing any of them. Out of the three, Kuzma is the only one with a lot of upside, but that upside is largely baked into his $6,700 price tag on FanDuel. We can do better, especially on a 12-game slate.

As for the Pelicans, the consensus is to play Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday when Cousins is out. They are the focal points of the offense and have flashed plenty of upside. Nikola Mirotic, at first glance, seems to be priced at a premium. He’s good, but is he $7,000 good? Rajon Rondo seems to have regained his normal minutes, but it’s awfully tough to trust him. E’Twaun Moore has seen his minutes go all over the place as of late, which is awfully frustrating from a DFS-standpoint.

Since Cousins went down, this is what the Pelicans have done:

Click image to expand

This is what the Pelicans players did when DeMarcus Cousins was on the court over the last three months:

Click image to expand

Clearly, the discrepancy is massive. Davis and Holiday get the biggest bumps and I would expect them to project well tonight, especially given the matchup. Again, I’m going to be giving a 10% boost for the game environment.

Click image to expand

As you can see, we have several Pelicans players that pop in our projections. As terrifying as it is, Rajon Rondo projects for the best point-per-dollar number on New Orleans. I gave him 30 minutes, which clearly is just speculation on my part. His minutes could be as low as 15 or as high as 32. If he hits 30 minutes, we can safely expect him to put up a great DFS score for just $6,300 on FanDuel. Even though he has the best point-per-dollar number, my favorite play on the Pelicans is Anthony Davis. He projects for a 5.3x projection on his $11,800 salary, but when a guy is as expensive as Davis a high projection multiplier is worth even more. If Davis hits or exceeds his projection, it’s going to be tough to win without him. Jrue Holiday and E’Twaun Moore also grade out as solid plays. Jrue and his minutes are very safe, and the production is consistent too. He’s seen at least 32 points in nine of his last 10 and 17 of his last 20 games. During the same time frame, he’s eclipsed 48 points in six games. His floor and upside, along with the game environment, make him a spectacular play. As for Moore, your guess is as good as mine is regarding his minutes tonight. If he plays 30 minutes, it’s probably because he got hot from the outside and the coaching staff is riding the hot hand. If he’s cold, he could see the bench for most of the game. This is a situation where I would put Moore in 5-10% of my lineups, but anything more is an unnecessary gamble.

While the Lakers/Pelicans game is clearly a good one to target, it’s important to remember that we can’t just blindly pick players from a game. Giving a reasonable boost to projections is fine in an up-tempo game like this, but picking players just for the sake of picking players is a recipe for disaster.

By using a projection-based system, you can separate the good plays from the bad plays on a given team and give yourself a leg up on people who are just blindly picking players from high total games.

About the Author

Comments

  • Kmasonbx

    Love this new article Eric. Reall appreciate the time it takes and gives me some insight into what a top player is looking at.

  • jakz101

    • 65

      RG Overall Ranking

    • Ranked #50

      RG Tiered Ranking

    • $1M Prize Winner

    • x5

      2015 DraftKings FFWC Finalist

    @Kmasonbx said...

    Love this new article Eric. Reall appreciate the time it takes and gives me some insight into what a top player is looking at.

    Thanks!

  • KillerBrees09

    This is one of my favorite articles. This really takes the analysis a step further than most, and has really helped me with my own projections. Nice work, Eric!

  • Boomtown25

    Crain: Like the article but interested in any chance that you can share a detailed approach on how you build your own projections each day???

  • YAPPYKAPPY

    Great stuff sir I definitely appreciate the info!! You mentioned at the end there about picking players just to pick them is a bad idea(I agree completely). If I am doing one lineup(which I normally do)and were picking players from this game. Lets say two players from this.. looking at the info you have provided Randle and AD?

  • Gillik9486

    @YAPPYKAPPY said...

    Great stuff sir I definitely appreciate the info!! You mentioned at the end there about picking players just to pick them is a bad idea(I agree completely). If I am doing one lineup(which I normally do)and were picking players from this game. Lets say two players from this.. looking at the info you have provided Randle and AD?

    Yes

  • jakz101

    • 65

      RG Overall Ranking

    • Ranked #50

      RG Tiered Ranking

    • $1M Prize Winner

    • x5

      2015 DraftKings FFWC Finalist

    @YAPPYKAPPY said...

    Great stuff sir I definitely appreciate the info!! You mentioned at the end there about picking players just to pick them is a bad idea(I agree completely). If I am doing one lineup(which I normally do)and were picking players from this game. Lets say two players from this.. looking at the info you have provided Randle and AD?

    That’s where I would go, with perhaps Jrue and/or Rondo. That group has the best point per dollar based on the projections and the players absolutely have upside as well.

  • Joe1Coal

    Great article. A+ Information.

  • Bruinsfan79

    Great stuff Eric, as usual some of the best day to day analysis is the stuff you put out. I’ve won many a dollar based on your analysis and information. Thank you for your great work sir.

  • jakz101

    • 65

      RG Overall Ranking

    • Ranked #50

      RG Tiered Ranking

    • $1M Prize Winner

    • x5

      2015 DraftKings FFWC Finalist

    Appreciate the kind words. This is going to be featured on Rotogrinders at least 2 times a week for the rest of the season. Glad you guys are enjoying it! It’s actually a blast to write.

  • huntercost35

    Thanks Crain. Really great stuff, especially on days like today, where I have less time than normal to research. Much appreciated, sir!

  • cubanoshake10

  • X Unread Thread
  • X Thread with New Replies*
  • *Jumps to your first unread reply

New to DFS?

Be sure to click through our links and use our exclusive promo codes to receive the industry's best sign-up bonuses, including free access to our premium content.

RotoGrinders.com is the home of the daily fantasy sports community. Our content, rankings, member blogs, promotions and forum discussion all cater to the players that like to create a new fantasy team every day of the week. Our goal is to help all of our members make more money playing daily fantasy sports!

Disclosures: All RotoGrinders content contributors are active DFS players. Contributor screen names can be found on their respective RotoGrinders profile pages. Contributors reserve the right to use players or strategies not discussed in their content on RotoGrinders.