Panda's Picks 11/17 NBA- Bamboo Brew and a 4-Game Slate Overview
I’m finally back with another blog. I’ve been a bit under the weather so taking the time to do one of these the last couple days has seemed a bit overwhelming with the energy levels I was feeling. Doing better today and wanted to do something for the hardcore NBA’ers who are still playing today while most have their bankroll buried in the NFL this afternoon.
If you have any feedback on how I can make this better please do so in the comments! If you like what you see, go ahead and give me the thumbs up and I wouldn’t be mad if you gave me a follow on Twitter.
Washington ( 108.25 ) @ Orlando ( 114.75 )
PACE: WAS- 6th ORL- 30th
OFF EFF: WAS- 4th ORL- 28th
DEF EFF: WAS- 29th ORL- 5th
REB RATE: WAS- 9 ORL- 25th
23rd in points allowed in the paint
25th in 3P% allowed
23rd in blocks allowed per possession
26th in assists allowed per possesson
Looking at the rankings above you can see we have a game of total opposites. Washington plays fast, with an efficient offense and poor defense. Orlando is slow and stout defensively, while inefficient offensively. Due to the pace increase and Washington’s woes defensively Orlando has an implied total of 14 points more than their season average! That’s built in value, although most of Orlando has seen price increases today, more so due to recent success then the actual match up itself, I believe.
So, it should be no surprise that Washington bleeds fantasy points everywhere, especially to PG’s. The issue here is Markelle Fultz and DJ Augustin are basically in a timeshare capping each others upside. If this slate were any bigger it’d be easy to write them both off, but with four games and the juiciness of the match up, I’m not sure that is wise. All it’d take is a little foul trouble or a gimpy ankle for one of these two to see a boost in minutes and break the slate. These aren’t plays you build around, but if they happen to fit as last pieces in, I wouldn’t be ashamed to click their names. Ultimately I believe between the two DJ has the greater upside, with his ability to get hot from deep, where the Wizards are exploitable.
Evan Fournier is on a mini-heater getting north of 35 fantasy points in three of his last four games, while shooting a lights out 14-23 from deep in that span. If you’re like me at all, you perceive Fournier as a guy who is safe while lacking GPP winning upside and usually avoid him. A tiny hot streak does not change that for me, but the spot is right and if Jonathan Isaac were to be out again he’s certainly in play due to the strength of the match up. If Isaac returns I wouldn’t fault anyone for playing Fournier, but it should impact his production, but he’s still be in play due to the match up. Especially on FD where he’s actually $400 cheaper than on DK.
Aaron Gordon has been at least a fantasy disappoint this season. Those 40-50 fantasy points games are happening much less frequently it seems than in years past. It is early. Yet, maybe match up, or maybe his season break out performance against Philly two games ago has led to a significant price increase. One he really hasn’t earned, but again, as the Wiz opponent theme goes, we have an exploitable match up. We also have a small slate. Anyone who has the upside to get you 50 fantasy points, at a rate that would be seven plus times their salary needs to be considered. If Isaac sits our interest should of course increase.
Let’s get one thing out of the way now, if Isaac sits:
Aminu is still in play. His price increase and some of the potential cheaper options we have elsewhere do not make him a lock and load here. There could still be tons of value on the Pelicans, as we don’t know the status of several of their players as I write this. Also, with Russell out not a single site really bothered to raise the price on anyone for Golden State against one of the most fantasy friendly match ups possible. Absurd.
The thing to keep in mind here is Aminu is now at a price he was at often last season, as a man with a large range of outcomes, showing upside as high as 40 fantasy points with a floor of roughly 10. If we can project him to be highly owned in this spot, a fade and pray or at least very underweight and hope he has a floor game would be my preferred position. Not suggesting that is necessarily the wise stance though. If Isaac returns this is mostly mute and no one is playing Aminu.
If Isaac suits up then we have to look at him, especially as his price has come down on DK, but the block and 3-point upside he has still remains and gets a boost here against Washington.
Nikola Vucevic is most likely the go-to center play today and ultimately his ownership will reflect that. There should be no shortage of cheaper options across the board today that paying up at C and still getting another higher priced player or two will be feasible. Vucevic failing here, outside of a blowout, is highly unlikely. He really is one of the easiest plays today to just plug in and feel good about.
I should mention Terrence Ross, who hasn’t flashed the upside he did at times last year, but he’s certainly also capable of breaking the slate here. A potentially more up and down game, where ORL is supposed to score more than they do on average against a team that has struggled to guard the perimeter. It’s checking a lot of boxes for Ross here. The price is higher than one would like, but no one who plays him would be complaining if he had a 35 fantasy point game here.
The Washington side of things are much harder to dissect. Is Washington able to push the pace, while remaining efficient on offense, turning this game into a high scoring track meet, similar to what happened against the Celtics, or does Orlando control the tempo, while imposing their will on defense keeping them in check?
Ultimately I expect somewhere in the middle, and considering the match ups have little interest in the Wizards. Isaiah Thomas has the best match up on paper, but his usage and production have taken a hit since joining the starting lineup.
Bradley Beal has caught fire going over 60 fantasy points in each of his last two games, while scoring 44 real points each game and shooting well over 60%. With this success has come a price increase that still leaves plenty of upside if you think he can continue. His ownership should be fairly low compared to the other studs creating a nice way to differentiate on such a small slate. Basically, Beal is more of a game theory play then a match up play.
Rui Hachimura has the best on paper match up for the Wizards, as Orlando has struggled against PF’s from a DVP standpoint. In games that have stayed close and he’s stayed out of foul trouble he’s played heavy minutes. The problem is that those two things have been less common than not. If we can project Rui though for 33 to 35 minutes there’s just enough upside here that he’s a viable piece. More so on DK where he’s $800 cheaper.
Thomas Bryant is questionable and if he suits up this one is fairly simple for me. You fade him and Moritz Wagner. If Bryant is out though, we can’t ignore Wagner as much as I’d like to, especially on FD and Yahoo were his price hasn’t adjusted as much. Here’s the thing though, one, it’s a tough spot for him, which is obvious. The 2nd thing is, he’s highly unlikely to shoot 13 of 15 and 4 of 4 from deep. So, due to the cheaper tags on Yahoo and FD, If Bryant were out I wouldn’t advise against exposure there. On DK, assuming he’d gain quite a bit of exposure I think a strategic fade would certainly be in order.
Core Plays: Nikola Vucevic (DK)
Outer Core Plays: Nikola Vucevic (FD)
Mantle Plays: Moritz Wagner (FD/Yahoo only, If Bryant is OUT), Al-Farouq Aminu (If Isaac is out), Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac (DK
Crust Plays: DJ Augustin, Terrence Ross, Bradley Beal, Rui Hachimura, Mortiz Wagner (DK, If Bryant is OUT)
Denver ( 109.75 ) @ Memphis ( 103.25 )
PACE: DEN- 29th MEM- 7th
OFF EFF: DEN- 25th MEM- 25th (yes they’re tied)
DEF EFF: DEN- 6th MEM- 21st
REB RATE: DEN- 16th MEM- 15th
25th in assists allowed per possession
25th in blocks allowed per possession
Denver gets a pace boost here in the leading contender for ugliest game on the slate. Every slate has to have an ugly one. Considering the spot, I don’t have much interest in Memphis, but there’s a couple of plays that I think our worth our time today.
Ja Morant gets probably the best spot for the Grizzlies today. As noted above Denver is 25th in assists allowed per possession. They’re also middle of the pack in DVP allowed, and 19th in defensive efficiency against PG’s. So, essentially what we have is arguably the Grizzlies best and highest usage player in the best spot on paper. He’s especially underpriced on DK and with some of the other guard options on this slate in the last two games he should go relatively underowned here.
The other Grizzly on my radar is Jonas Valancunias. Getting up to 30 minutes last game, minute restrictions are no longer a concern. The Nuggets have been somewhat surprisingly exploitable to centers so far this year. Ranking dead middle of the pack in defensive efficiency to C’s and in the bottom third in DVP there’s at least a chance for him to succeed here. Like Morant, he is much cheaper and playable on DK and even Yahoo then FD, not that I would write him off there. Depending on how many people continue to look for that Jokic upside, he should go under owned here and certainly a viable ownership pivot from Vucevic.
The rest of Memphis seems overpriced for their likely outcome. Jaren Jackson Jr is relatively underpriced on DK for his upside, but those upside games are few and far between. I don’t hate the idea of taking shots on Crowder on FD if multi-entering. The rest is probably best left alone.
Well, Denver gets a pace up spot against a poor defense on a short slate, so of course we’re going to have some interest across the board here.
Jamal Murray is a little too scoring dependant in most situations to use confidently as a point guard. That doesn’t really change here. The main thing Murray has going for him here is this is a great spot and his ownership will most likely be even lower than even Morant. So, there’s clear paths to him succeeding here and doing so at less ownership then basically any guard in GSW/NO and Morant, which if he crushes puts you in nice position if others fail. So, essentially like Beal above I view Murray as more of a game theory or ownership play than anything else here.
Gary Harris gets the primo spot for Denver. Memphis has been generally awful against 2-guards, getting lit up by all who have crossed their path. Of course the issue with Harris is he’s not generally a high upside guy. More floor than ceiling and more cash than GPP. I think if he fits, you can throw him in. This has the makings of a ceiling spot. Again, like mentioned with Murray, the GSW/NO guards carry much more upside to their price.
Barton is questionable and his price has finally risen to where you really have to debate whether his upside is worth it. SF is pretty blah though, especially if Isaac and Ingram are out, so especially on FD were we’re not loaded with options. If multi-entering he’s definitely in play there, but on DK with the multi-positional eligibility I think we can find better upside. If Barton sits, Craig is the longest of dart throws, while Beasley may see a small boost.
Bluntly, DK and FD have gone too far with Millsap’s price. On DK he’s an easy fade unless you want to be different, just to be different. On FD where our options are less he makes a lot of sense as a floor play and just hope he gets 30 and call that a success.
So, Nikola Jokic continues to disappoint. He’s popped off a couple times this season, but generally has been a massive bust from a fantasy perspective. So, the question is, is he worth it? Can he break out here? Is he anything more than an ownership pivot from Vucevic? What I can say is this. Memphis has struggled with C’s. They rank 26th in defensive efficiency to the position. DVP wise they’re also poor against the position ranking 27th ins 3PM to C’s, 27th in rebounds, and 19th in assists. So, doing well is viable. He’s busted in good spots this year though. Personally, I’ll probably play the ownership angle and go overweight on Jokic and match my ownership to Vucevic, and probably on DK build multiple 2 C line ups with both of them, while still fitting in another stud is pretty easy to do.
Core Plays: N/A
Outer Core Plays: N/A
Mantle Plays: Ja Morant, Jonas Valancunias, Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic (DK), Will Barton (FD)
Crust Plays: Jae Crowder (FD), Gary Harris, Monte Morris, Will Barton (DK)
Golden State ( 111.25 ) @ New Orleans ( 116.25 )
PACE: GSW- 2nd NOP- 14th
OFF EFF: GSW- 9th NOP- 21st
DEF EFF: GSW- 28th NOP- 30th
REB RATE: GSW- 24th NOP- 21st
28th in points allowed in the paint
30th in 3P% allowed
__28th in assists allowed per possession_
30th in points allowed in the paint
22nd in 3P% allowed
26th in 3PA allowed
23rd in steals allowed per possession
23rd in assists allowed per possession
Yeah, you can almost play anybody in this game.
As I mentioned previously, no one other than Draymond Green really saw a price increase on any site. D’Angelo Russell being out leaves open a good chunk of minutes and a whole lot of usage. Figuring out who will benefit most and how much actual Warriors exposure to have will be one of the keys to the slate.
First off, I don’t dislike playing Draymond Green here. There will be plenty of opportunities for him to amass peripherals here and put up a strong score. I don’t think though that he will see any kind of significant boost in usage or shot attempts. So, although I will have exposure, he’s not a key piece to me on any level.
Ky Bowman will probably be the chalkiest play on this slate. Everywhere. He probably should be. You already know all the reasons he’s a top play. I’m not going to talk anyone out of playing the minimum priced starting PG for a team facing the worst defensive team in the league against PG’s. If you were looking for a fade angle, he did do poorly overall against Houston when he got 36 minutes. Also I’m not sure if he’s a lock for the 35+ minutes he saw last time he got a chance to start. It would not surprise me if he saw closer to 30, while Burks played more PG this time around. This strictly hunch and also based off Bowman didn’t even check in until there was 2 minutes left in the first half against Boston. It seems like possibly with Dray back, as you might expect they were letting him run the point at times too. Making having a guy like Bowman on the floor not necessarily a necessity.
Alec Burks, should get a ton of burn here between backing up Bowman and playing the off-guard. New Orleans is in the bottom 3rd in 3PM, assists, and steals to SG’s, so he can certainly thrive. Priced fairly this is a smash spot for Burks.
Paschall, Poole and Robinson are similar in that they’re usually priced alike, neither are overly talented yet, more so yet with Poole and Paschall, but they’ll get plenty of volume with minutes and shots here. I would basically consider them interchangeable with Robinson probably having the slightly higher ceiling, then Pachall, then Poole.
New Orleans has been pretty stout against C’s so far this season. The timeshare Willie Cauley-Stein has with Chriss and Spellman in the front court and return of Draymond, really limits all of them. The spot is good enough for any of them to succeed, but I don’t see any reason to go heavy with any of them.
New Orleans has been decimated.
Frank Jackson- Questionable
JJ Redick- Questionable
I’m going to assume Ingram and Favors are out. The other spots are a guessing game with some big implications. Instead of breaking this all down, which is pointless, it’s easier to just do this…
Jrue Holiday is a high end, top shelf play here no matter what.
If Redick and Jackson miss, Alexander-Walker will see a ton of minutes and is not shy at all. He had a 33% usage rate last game! He’s just way too cheap for his upside across all sites. He definitely has bust ability, but the upside is too much to ignore. E’Twaun Moore is also too cheap if Redick and Jackson miss, having put up 34 fantasy points last night without even having shot that bell that well. Minutes, minutes, volume, volume.
If Redick and Favors miss, we can look at Melli again, and of course Kenrich Williams. Williams actually seems overpriced considering these other options if all these guys sit, but he still has that upside. We can also look at Jaxson Hayes if Favors misses. He’s especially viable if paying down at C on FD and the preferred option there over Len and Jones, who I’ll get to later.
If Favors or Jackson play, they’re both in play. If Ingram plays everyone gets a bump down.
Basically, if all these guys sit, everyone is in play. My plan is to update this blog with my thoughts if we happen to get news before lock. Basically though you can assume that for every guy that plays, you can bump these guys down a notch in their ranking, if that makes sense.
Core Plays: Ky Bowman, Jrue Holiday,
Outer Core Plays: Alec Burks, N.A.W. (If Redick and Jackson are out), Jaxson Hayes (FD, if Favors is out)
Mantle Plays: Draymond Green, Jordan Poole, Eric Paschall, Glen Robinson Jr., Willie Cauley-Stein, Jaxson Hayes (DK), N.A.W. (if Jackson plays), E’Twaun Moore (if Redick and Jackson are out), Nicolo Melli (If Favors is out), Kenrich Williams
Crust Plays: N/A
Atlanta ( 102.25 ) @ LA Lakers ( 115.75 )
PACE: ATL- 13th LAL- 19th
OFF EFF: ATL- 29th LAL- 11th
DEF EFF: ATL- 22nd LAL- 1st
REB RATE: ATL- 19th LAL- 6th
30th in blocks allowed per possession
30th in steals allowed per possession
Atlanta was absolutely slaughtered last night by the Clippers and have to return tonight to the scene of the crime against the Lakers. This makes for a tough situation. The Hawks are playing their last game of a 7 day, 5 game west coast trip. They should be defeated, tired, and ready to get on a plane and just go home. They could feel ashamed, embarrassed, and motivated to salvage the trip with a win on their way out.
Frankly, it’s hard to endorse anyone from Atlanta today. Last games of west coast trips are incredibly difficult. They have a pace down match up against a team ranked 1st in defensive efficiency, with no real DVP spots to exploit. They have been less efficient to SG’s and C’s, but do we really want to play Cam Reddish? On FD you can certainly make a case to play Jones or Len and punt the position, but that seems less viable on DK with there’s discounts on the higher upside C’s.
Trae Young, even in a tough spot maintains his high ceiling, but his floor is much lower here. If the Hawks are going to be competitive Trae will need to shine, so he does make some sense if playing AD or LBJ here. Either way, I’ll most likely be underweight on Trae.
Even on four game slates we need to take stands somewhere. My stand will most likely be a full Hawks fade on DK. On FD I can understand Len and more so Jones, but other than that, I believe there’s several better plays at every position on other teams.
The difference in prices on LeBron James and Anthony Davis from DK to FD always astonish me. Especially with AD who continues to post up mediocre scores compared to his price. As someone who just dabbles with FD, my best advice would be to use your best judgement. If you can build lineups that easily fit them in, then do. If you feel like you need the raw points, then get raw.
On DK, they’re both so affordable, especially AD they have to be in the discussion. Fitting 3 or even 4 studs, depending on how high you go, will be very easy today. LBJ has shown the much higher ceiling, but you do have to pay for it. Having exposure to one or the other is basically a necessary evil, outside of just playing the ownership game. For whatever it’s worth LBJ profiles as the better play, as Atlanta has actually been competent against big man this year, but have struggled with PG’s and forwards.
Outside of the big two, there’s not a ton to love here. Rajon Rondo was cleared to play 20 minutes last game, and only saw 18 and didn’t much. If we get word they’re willing to push him past 20 tonight he is cheap enough to use, especially on FD if you want to double punt with Bowman so you can pay up elsewhere. You could also do the same there, with Alex Caruso who is seeing a steady 20+ minutes nightly.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope doesn’t quite compare to the cheap guard options in GSW/NO, but he does have a little bit of upside and certainly will be lower owned if mult-entering and looking for some ownership pivots.
So, to summarize. I’m considering Vucevic, Bowman, and Holiday as guys to build around. I’ll be mixing and matching other pieces of NO/GSW throughout my line ups. Heaviest on NAW and Burks on the secondary end. Guys like Poole, Robinson, Melli and Moore are too volatile for my tastes to go super heavy on. Instead more in that 25-35% range of exposures and just keep cycling those guys through. Everyone is doing it.
I don’t think it’s a mistake to have 5 or 6 pieces from that game in your line up. More so 5. Less than 3 or 4, your asking for a complete bomb or something else to greatly exceed expectations. Build for that accordingly.
I’m much higher on LBJ and AD, and would consider LBJ a core play, but fear of blowout has me putting him a notch below. If there was a 5th spot between Core and Outer Core, that’s where LBJ would be.
Any exposure to DEN/MEM will likely be one-offed with the pieces I mentioned.
WAS/ORL is super sneaky to stack and if it somehow approaches WAS/BOS levels could upend GSW/NO, so hedging a bit with builds heavier on that game is totally viable if trying to take down a large field GPP.