To say today was a wild slate of NBA DFS would be the understatement of the year (in 2020, that’s saying something). Damian Lillard continued to do silly Damian Lillard things. The Suns improved to 7-0 in Orlando because of course they did. Kyle O’Quinn came a point away from a triple-double because of course he did. And for dessert, in a meaningless game in every sense of the word, the reigning MVP went full Zinedine Zidane on a third-string center.
I’m not sure tomorrow’s four-game slate can top the excitement of today, but there’s money to be won so let’s get to work.
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It’s Not Hard to Harden
One of the many frustrating aspects to late-season NBA DFS is the soft pricing that exists on deep bench players, as sites can’t possibly account for every scrub that goes from getting zero court time in months to playing a full starter’s allotment of minutes. This leads almost exclusively to stars-and-scrubs lineups as long as there are stars to pay up for that are going to get close to their normal run.
Enter James Harden. Russell Westbrook has already been ruled out, and if you want to hear some truly dumb statistics Harden has with him off the floor, here you go: 43.8% usage rate, 1.78 fantasy points per minute and 64.16 DraftKings points per 36 minutes. If that sounds completely nonsensical, that’s because it is. I would pay something astronomical like $14,000 for this kind of production on a slate where there’s guaranteed to be a number of cheap plays to round out your lineup, and he’s only $11,100 on DraftKings and $10,800 on FanDuel.
I am not one to speak in absolutes, but this much is for sure: As long as he plays, I will have 100% James Harden tomorrow.
Careful With O’Quinn
I’d say the Kyle O’Quinn game came out of nowhere, but I’d be lying. If you’ve played NBA DFS long enough, his tenure with the Knicks was chalk-full of chalk-smashing … and busting. Popcorn Machine hasn’t updated with the game flow from Tuesday’s insane outing, but I caught most of that game and know Norvel Pelle, a 1.22 DraftKings points per minute player in his own right, was in foul trouble throughout and finished with an underwhelming 16 minutes.
I’m not saying circumstances would’ve been completely different, as O’Quinn was sublime, but if Joel Embiid were to be ruled out (which I expect) and Al Horford also sits (TBD), it’s not a given for the center minutes to be there for him. Add in Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson returning from rest, unquestionably lowering O’Quinn’s usage and assist rates, and you could be looking at a thinner play than you’d expect from someone coming off of a 9/10/11 stat line.
There is still so much to play out with this one, but the lesson here is to be aware of the moving parts that led to the big game instead of chasing another big game under completely different circumstances.
What Does It All Mean, Bazley
We saw Denver rest a lot of its starters in the second half against the Lakers, so my gut tells me that trend should continue against the Clippers, opening up value on their second unit. Indiana seemingly has the red ‘Q’ next to almost everyone’s name, so we’ll just wait on that news to drop and plan accordingly. So the main piece of value I want to lock-in on right from the get-go is, of all people, Darius Bazley.
Bazley has been something of a revelation with Steven Adams and Nerlens Noel sidelined, averaging 29 minutes and just north of 35 DraftKings points per game in the Thunder’s past three contests. He smashed as Monday’s uber chalk and now we’ve seen his tag inflated to $4,800 on both main sites. Fortunately he’s listed at small forward on FanDuel, a wasteland of a position tomorrow aside from Kawhi Leonard and All-Star Pascal Siakam, so I’d feel better about eating the chalk over there. But on DraftKings, playing Bazley at either the power forward or center positions that could be full of value in the two early games feels dicey to me. After all, we’re only three games removed from back-to-back clunkers by Bazley against the Nuggets and Lakers, averaging 7.6 DraftKings points and 22.5 minutes in those contests.
Hopefully we get news in the morning on the status of Adams and Noel, but even if we don’t, I’m leaning on an underweight position on Bazley. Very excited to check out the Awesemo Boom/Bust tool on this one tomorrow, the best way I’ve found to assess my risk to value plays in the entire industry.
Parting Words for Your Lineups
I plan on rolling with the news to plug in my value pieces throughout the day, then spending up for whatever expensive pieces of the Clippers/Nuggets game I can afford when the dust settles. Oh, and play James Harden.
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