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NBA Switch And Hedge: The Suddenly Dysfunctional Warriors Face The Surging Rockets With Revenge On Their Minds

Chris Spags

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It’s a super short slate tonight with just three games but a few compelling storylines including the ongoing disharmony of Golden State with the slated return of Draymond Green, a potential blowout with Atlanta and Denver, and the Spurs needing to respond in a matchup vs the feisty Clippers after a 20 point dusting at the hands of the Suns last night. There’s no lack of angles tonight despite the lack of games and I’ll do my best to break it all down for you.

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Golden State Warriors (107.8 implied points) at Houston Rockets (110.8 implied points)

-The Warriors’ total is a 13 point drop on their season average while the Rockets’ total is a 7.6 boost on theirs in a game with a bottom of the slate 101.7 adjusted pace

Kevin Durant is the first guy to look at after a wildly disappointing effort against the Hawks which fit the “KD is mentally weak” narrative more than the “Draymond lit a fire in his belly” one and a demotivated Durant is my least favorite Durant. He did get 23+ shots per game in his last two outings though on a 36% usage rate and that much volume is hard to ignore

-The lower owned pivot would be Klay Thompson and I think that does make some sense if he maintains a way-too-low-for-a-three-game-slate 12% ownership as currently projected. The Rockets are mostly limiting opponent damage by slowing their pace to a crawl but they’re still giving up 47.3% from the floor

Draymond Green should be back from suspension for the matchup and he had a hell of a run vs Houston last year with regular season games of 43.25 twice and one 58 fantasy point effort. The pace for Houston has dropped off a cliff this season so I do worry it’s a bit of a different matchup but I would imagine Draymond comes out highly motivated for this one after the swirling winds around the Warriors

Quinn Cook will lose enough playmaking and low effort peripherals with Draymond back that I’m not super interested. He’s currently projected for very low ownership so as a contrarian play I don’t mind it but I’d be more inclined to go away from him after he just had a better game vs the Hawks

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-With Draymond back, all of that Jonas Jerebko, Kevon Looney, and Jordan Bell tier of guys goes back to unusable status. Andre Iguodala would be the one non-star/Quinn Cook guy I’d be willing to play. He’s had back to back games of 31 and 26 minutes and he should be a low ceiling but decent value play

Clint Capela is projected for the highest ownership on the Rockets side and I don’t see a gigantic upside for him here. I’m always a little less into Capela than the field is and would rather try to find a way to get to the more expensive Nikola Jokic but I get the logic here on a slate without a ton of high upside centers at a reasonable price

James Harden looks like my favorite play on this side particularly given that big boost on the team total. He stumbled a little vs Denver with some tough defense but I think a weakened Warriors squad is one he’ll want to take advantage of

-I don’t mind Chris Paul either and I think the disappointment of the conference finals last year and his series-ending injury will be so fresh in his mind that he may come out with some extra fire. Normally I don’t love Paul and Harden in the same lineup but it can make sense here given Paul’s cheap price and some of the narrative bonus

James Ennis had his first really serviceable game as a Rocket last time out and he could be a nice value play if he gets 30 minutes+ of run again, though that is a bit of a risk with Gary Clark in tow. Gerald Green being ruled out again would increase the probability of Ennis getting run

Eric Gordon continues to suck at every turn and his 32.2% shooting this year is one of the worst percentages on the slate. He’s going to turn it around one of these days and with 28% projected ownership I would have some exposure just in case today is the day

 

Atlanta Hawks (104.3 implied points) at Denver Nuggets (117.3 implied points)

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-The Hawks get a 4.7 point decrease on their season average while Denver gets an 8.2 point boost on theirs in this game with a slate high adjusted pace of 104

-The Hawks have a very decent chance of getting smoked but the one weak area for the Nuggets is inside, a place where they allow opponents to get dunks on 7.9% of their field goal attempts and layups on 29.8%, both higher end numbers. That would likely benefit Trae Young and Kent Bazemore a bit, two players on the Hawks most predisposed to take it to the rack with 5.6 attempts inside 5 feet per game for Trae and 4.6 for Baze. Trae’s price always stinks but he might be able to get it going here as the lowest owned piece on the Hawks’ side

Alex Len is questionable with ankle problems and with Dewayne Dedmon out the Hawks could be running low on bodies in one game where you reeeeally don’t want to be low on bigs. I’ve got to assume Len plays and with 30 minutes per game recently, he’s not a bad play if he can avoid foul trouble. Miles Plumlee is also in consideration if Len misses

Omari Spellman could also be in play after a hugely disappointing start vs Golden State just because they need someone with size out there. Alex Poythress took his minutes down the stretch and with a blowout a very real possibility, Poythress is an interesting guy to consider

-I’ve been biased in favor of Taurean Prince for most of this year but the guy is on a run of two very solid games in a row now where his efficiency is starting to round into form. I don’t mind him here and it wouldn’t shock me if this game blows out that he’s the only dude on this side to come close to value

Nikola Jokic is in a really nice spot on the other side with a team who gives up a ton of rebounds, assists, and puts people on the line a ton. I love Jokic tonight and if only 25% of the field has him as currently projected, even better

Jamal Murray and Gary Harris are both in play, as is Paul Millsap in a long-term revenge game. The pace and total here means a boost for everyone getting run and I wouldn’t mind a build that loads up on this side and some combo of Young/Prince/Bazemore to play the lower probability angle that this game stays close

Trey Lyles and Monte Morris are both in play given the likelihood of a blowout and the fact that Morris just keeps snagging more minutes with his productive play. Morris closed the game for the Nuggets last time out over Millsap and he definitely brings something to the table that coach Mike Malone appreciates

-I’m mostly a Never Juancho Hernangomez guy but in a game with some pace where he may see a few open threes or extra easy boards, I get it

 

San Antonio Spurs (106 implied points) at LA Clippers (111 implied points)

-The totals here indicate a 1.7 point drop for San Antonio and a 5.6 point drop for the Clippers in this game with an adjusted pace of 102.5

-This is a back to back for the Spurs after a disappointing blowout at the hands of the Suns (yes, the Suns) last night. The Clippers have held strong defensively, allowing opponents to shoot just 43.5% from the floor this year and that doesn’t give me a ton of confidence in the Spurs turning it around. LaMarcus Aldridge seems more likely to get better looks versus the defensively weaker bigs of LA so he would be the most immune, I’d think

DeMar DeRozan’s price is starting to come back down, mostly because he’s been shooting less efficiently and rebounding/playmaking less. I like him as a player but I’d rather pay that money for other guys tonight and DeRozan at 30% ownership isn’t low owned enough to have contrarian value. Rudy Gay likely back in the lineup isn’t a help either and he also doesn’t seem playable with what seems to be a minutes cap around 22 while he recovers from heel issues

Derrick White continues to see solid inutes and usage but isn’t getting enough to be reliable with the other guys on the floor with the added downside that Pop can pull him at any time. He’s an acceptable play but not a bankable one

Tobias Harris is one of the steadiest plays in the league right now and he sees upwards of 40 minutes of run in competitive games. He may not have the highest ceiling but if he fits salary wise I’m perfectly happy to have him

Danilo Gallinari is off to a cold start this year with 42.1% shooting from the floor. He’ll get better soon but his usage may not be high enough right now to warrant the risk, especially if he’s going to be higher owned than Tobias as we currently project

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been great his last few games but I’m not sure if the blocks and steals will be there for him quite as much vs the Spurs. I’d be more inclined to fade him than play him with his price on the rise but his ownership would be the thing that dictates that fully for me

Patrick Beverley lost some minutes to Lou Williams down the stretch vs the Warriors in a game where offense was necessary and that’s always a risk for Beverley. Pat Bev may come out a little more aggressive today but Lou Will heating up with his insanely high usage rate and stealing minutes is a far more compelling play with upside

-This really does not seem like a Montrezl Harrell matchup to me but he’s been so good that it’s hard to advocate ruling him out. I’m not crazy about him with his price on the rise but he still does have some upside versus a very unathletic Spurs interior who’s giving up a lot of boards. I’m also not ruling out we see a bit of Boban Marjanovic tonight but I can’t see how you’d play him unless we got news he was starting

 

Follow me on Twitter @ChrisSpags and I’ll see you guys again soon for more NBA action!

Chris Spags is the senior director of editorial strategy at Awesemo.com and contributes to the site's NBA, NFL, and MLB coverage as a writer and host of video content. Chris's content background from sites like Guyism, Uproxx, and Barstool Sports allows him to bring a unique spin to the world of daily fantasy sports analysis. Chris writes regular columns with NBA and NFL analysis as well as his inimitable style and his 'Four Corners' videos for basketball, baseball, and football DFS are the primary short form content offering on Awesemo's YouTube channel. You can find him on almost any given night providing analysis right up to slate lock on Awesemo's flagship Live Before Lock livestreams or on Twitter @ChrisSpags. You can contact Chris by emailing [email protected].

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