Zion's World, Zion's World lalalala lalalala
I am taking a new approach to NBA DFS in 2020. More analytics, less instinct and slightly broader player pools. I remain almost exclusively a single lineup per night player; however, I realize that I have hurt my results by not at least considering every game on the slate. I will continue to cross out games and players, but only after giving that game environment and most likely game script serious consideration. This blog will attempt to capture my thought process and new robust analytical approach to every day’s NBA slate. My natural humor and cynicism can’t be contained, so that will remain a hallmark of my writing. That being said, numbers win the day. Please ping me with any comments you may have on the blog.
Yo, Zion comin’ man…… Never before did I think I would be able to work an Elmo reference and a quote from The Wire into the same blog. However, I did it. You see, today is a special day. It is Zion Williamson coming out party in New Orleans. All the churches are closing. They changed the date of Mardi Gras from later this winter to today. The Pelicans/Spurs game is being moved to the SuperDome. Presidents Obama and Bush II will both be there. Cats and dogs will sit together. ESPN 8 the Ocho is televising the game. You see what I am saying. This could be a very important day for the next 5 years of the NBA. Or, it could be something none of use remember two years from now when Zion becomes Greg Oden Part Deux. I don’t know what is going to happen, but I do know that I am going to play Zion in my FanDuel lineup tonight. I have no idea if he will play 13 minutes (20% chance) or 26 minutes (most likely) or 39 minutes (maybe, just maybe). But, I do know he will produce when on the floor. He already cleaned up against these same Spurs in the preseason. LMA is about 47 years old and doesn’t move well on defense, so Zion will zoom past him, through him and over him for however long Alvin Gentry puts him out there. And don’t forget something about New Orleans and Mr. Gentry. He prefers to run tight rotations and has no problem running his players into the ground, especially when the Pelicans are at home. Given this is an ESPN game and highly anticipated, I can see the Pelicans braintrust (if you can call them that) running Zion out there for 30 minutes+ to show out for the home fans. And if they do that, at $4500 on FanDuel Zion would be a steal. However, since I don’t have a real idea of how much he will play, I am playing two FD lineups tonight. One with Zion in it and one with no Zion. And since I’ll get double the $.25 or so FD Zion bonus for playing the Shot tonight, I can’t lose!
Unfortunately (or fortunately), we have 11 other NBA games this evening. All joking aside, this is a pretty good 12 game slate. 9 of the 12 games have totals above 220 and Vegas thinks 7 of the 12 games stay relatively close. We have the cheat codes in the Wizards (everybody beats ‘em) and the Hawks on the slate, not to mention the defensive-optional Pelicans mentioned previously. The Clippers are crazy shorthanded, the Sixers remain somewhat shorthanded and the Kings have no bigs. Andre Drummond might be suffering from a head injury or yet another Avocado-related issue and Trae Young just popped up as being questionable. This feels like it is going to be another frantic injury news night. So, let’s take a look at the slate as it appears right now and see how we can profit on Zion’s night.
1) The Clippers are seriously shorthanded tonight. Paul George is not quite ready to return from his hamstring injury, so he is out. Pat Beverly hurt his groin last night versus Dallas and thus he is out. And 28 year old Kawhi Leonard remains incapable of playing 36 minutes of basketball two nights in a row, so he is out as well. That leaves Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell and………. some other guys, I guess. With those three players off the floor, Lou W has a 35% usage rate and averages 1.49 fppm and Harrell has a 31% usage rate and averages 1.29 fppm. I am playing these guys everywhere tonight and their prices on FanDuel are amazing ($6.3k and $5.9k, respectively). Oh, did I mention they are playing the up tempo, no defense, no rebounding Hawks (bottom three in the league)? The Clippers will likely score between 110 and 135 points tonight and Lou W and Harrell could conceivably account for 50%-55% of that. Play them. Everywhere.
2) The Sixers are running a tight core of production. Right now, the Sixers are Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Al Horford and Josh Richardson. And that is it. Ben has been playing very well and Tobias has been up and down. The other two have been ok. Tonight the Sixers get a nationally televised game versus the Raptors. This should be a pretty good real life game. And I can see it being a 120-115 Raptors win. In such a scenario, Ben Simmons probably goes off and I love him even at $9k on FD with 50+ point upside.
3) The Lakers are going to crush the Knicks. Total of 222.5 with the Lakers favored by 11.5. This is a 12 game slate and there is no reason to mess around with this game. Cross it off your list.
4) FanDuel hates Donovan Mitchell. Donovan Mitchell is priced at $6.2k on FanDuel tonight. He is playing the Warriors, a team he has torched two times already this year. The Warriors are the second worst team against PGs this year. And since the game is in Oakland, there is at least a small chance the game stays close enough for Mitchell to go crazy. I will eat this chalk and it will taste good.
5) Denver needs some scoring tonight. Denver plays at Houston in a game with a total of 228.5 and Houston favored by 8.5. And the Nuggets will be missing Plumlee, Murray, Millsap and maybe Harris. Heck, even if Harris plays he does nothing. So, who is going to score for the Nuggets? Jokic and Barton carry the highest usage rates with these players off the court. Jokic costs over $10k on FD and no way I am playing him over Harrell today. That leaves Will Barton for me and he tends to excel in up and down games. He only costs $6.5 on FD and I like him tonight.
There are a bunch of other situations to monitor including the Celtics’ rotation with Brown out, Sacramento’s big men with Bagley and Holmes out, Atlanta with Bembry out and Trae questionable and the status of Andre Drummond. Pay attention to breaking news later on and best wishes in your contests tonight.