Welcome to the Monday edition of NBA DFS Picks and Pivots, a fantasy basketball column focused on helping you find the best core lineup for this slate of DFS action!
For those of you finding us for the first time, the concept behind NBA DFS Picks and Pivots is to give you a first look at the day’s NBA DFS slate, including our top picks, plays and pivots, using FantasyDraft pricing as a reference, to help you build your best line-up and win big!
Picks and Pivots is not a simple “best plays” column but rather it focuses on slate strategy and roster construction to help give you insight into how I will look to play this slate.
Sunday’s NBA DFS slate had some massive performances as four players went for 60+ fantasy points including a low-owned birthday boy in Anthony Davis (71), Kevin Durant (69), Julius Randle (69) and Taurean Prince (60). Most of the winning teams on this slate had at least two of those four and when you added in that another five players went for 50+ you had the makings of a high scoring slate driven by a handful of core plays.
Picks and Pivots is not a simple “best plays” column but rather it focuses on slate strategy and roster construction to help give you insight into how I will look to play this slate. The goal of this article is to dig through the slate, highlight our top plays and help you identify the best slate strategy across your NBA DFS line-ups.
As always, we will look to update our final lineup thoughts prior to lock on our twitter account @FantasyCPR so make sure to give us a follow for all the late breaking lineup news.
Without further ado, let’s get into today’s slate!
NBA DFS – Where to start on this slate:
I have to be honest, I have loved how the NBA schedule has been for the majority of the season with solid slates every single night which were a far cry from previous seasons where we would alternate massive 10+ game slates with nearly unplayable 3-4 game slates. Unfortunately as we wind down the NBA season, the schedule is headed back towards that scheduling as we have an ugly four game slate tonight followed by an 11 game Tuesday slate and another 4 game slate on Wednesday. It looks like we return to more of the 6-7 game slates next week thankfully but keep the schedule in mind this week as you look to manage your bankroll.
Tonight’s slate may honestly be worse than Saturday which was the first slate I took off entirely all season and I’m tempted to say the same tonight! Of the 8 teams in action tonight – SEVEN of them see a pace decrease with over half the field seeing a significant pace decrease of 2+ possessions. Now add-on the fact that we have a ton of injuries and only one game with a Vegas total as a result and you are looking at a solid night to get working on your NCAA brackets.
Let’s be real though – we are NBA DFS players and its the first day of a work week so we need to have some sort of action tonight and I will still help you break down this slate even if I personally would rather fast forward to baseball season after looking through it.
The Spurs-Rockets game in theory should be a great NBA game with a historically good Rockets team taking on a perennial playoff contender but with LaMarcus Aldridge already ruled out for rest I am worried this game could get out of hand really quickly.
In two previous meetings this season, only Danny Green has been able to top 30 fantasy points in either meeting with the Rockets so there is a question to where the real upside would be with this San Antonio team. The one player you can make the argument for is Pau Gasol who has had some of his biggest games with LMA off the court putting up 44, 50 and 50 fantasy points in three of the six games that Aldridge has missed but it is worth noting he has failed to top 25 fantasy points in the other three games which makes him more of a GPP play than anything on this slate.
James Harden is expected to return tonight which knocks Chris Paul and Eric Gordon back into secondary plays on this slate and honestly I question whether Harden himself is even worth the investment. Harden over his last five games has only gone for over 60 fantasy points one time and has put up “only” 53 and 49 fantasy points in two previous meetings against the Spurs this season.
With other studs on this slate, paying up for Harden may be unnecessary tonight especially if you think this game turns ugly as I do. With this game being played in Houston (where Houston won by 25 over San Antonio earlier this season) and considering that game was played WITH LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, I am not sure how Pau Gasol and his band of misfits is going to keep this one close. Either stack this game or stay away entirely.
NBA DFS – Is there a core build on this slate?
I think the short answer to that question is no – there are simply no elite, heck, I am not even sure if there are any good or neutral game environments to attack here – so this may be a slate where you focus on building a more balanced team across games than looking to build a core around any one game environment.
The one game that is a bit intriguing to me off the bat is the “late night hammer” and believe me I use that with much sarcasm as Miami heads to take on Portland. Over the last 10 games, Portland and Miami are both top 15 in pace which normally would be nothing more than a footnote but on this slate it qualifies as a potential game stacking spot – did I mention how bad this slate is yet?
Over the last two weeks, Damian Lillard ($17K) has been on a tear, sporting a 35.6% usage rate while putting up 1.33 FP/M as Portland clings to the #3 spot in the Western Conference. Over the course of this season Miami has been one of the toughest teams against opposing point guards, surrendering only 38.5 FantasyDraft points per game to opposing PG’s but over the last 10 games that number has spiked to over 51 FPPG which is a near 32% increase in production so paying up for Lillard tonight be give you some sneaky upside in this match-up.
Outside of Lillard I could argue using C.J. McCollum as a pivot off Dame or potentially pairing Dame with Jusuf Nurkic but I do worry about this game going small(er) with Hassan Whiteside out tonight. Last game with Whiteside out, we saw Miami go small which limited Marcin Gortat to only 13 minutes in a blow out so there is some added risk with an already risky Nurkic in this spot.
My guess is Bam Adebayo ($7.4K) becomes the chalk of the day with an expected start at Center tonight but be careful here – in 12 starts this year, Bam has only gone for over 25 fantasy points in four games so there is simply not enough upside here to eat the chalk in my opinion.
The rest of Miami in theory should offer some solid value with Whiteside and Dwyane Wade out tonight but the Heat have become the Brooklyn Nets lately where they play 9 guys 25 minutes each and now you want me to target them aggressively against a top 5 defense? Honestly outside of Lillard, this feels like another game I just do not have a ton of interest in outside of a game stack although I expect the Heat value to become popular tonight which may mean a strategic fade is in order.
NBA DFS – Pivot Plays:
On the surface of it, recommending building around the Bucks-Grizzlies may seem insane considering that it is the slowest pace game of the night but with all four games at slow paces tonight, picking the slowest of four slow-paced games is not as ugly as it would be on a normal NBA DFS slate.
The Bucks are interesting to me for two main reasons – first they are sitting in the #8 spot in the playoff race right now comfortably ahead of the Pistons by 5 games for the last spot in but it is the fact that they sit only 3.5 games out from moving from #8 to #3 in the Eastern Conference that makes every game of critical importance to them right now.
The other thing I love about the Bucks right now is that they are playing a tight rotation which on this slate is maybe one of the more important factors when figure out who to build around. Against the Rockets on Wednesday they played an 8 man rotation where every player played 20-25+ minutes and the core starters all logged 35+ minutes each. Against the Knicks on Friday, it was more of the same as the starting five all played 28+ minutes so there is a bit of stability here in taking a Bucks team that has not played since Friday in a game with critical playoff seeding importance.
Giannis Antetokounmpo ($19K) has over a 31% usage rate the last two weeks while putting up 1.3 FP/M and has gone for 50+ fantasy points in four of his last five games while playing no fewer than 35 minutes in a single contest. Khris Middleton ($12.7K) and Eric Bledsoe ($12.6K) are usually players I focus on when Giannis is out but on this slate I think there is merit to stacking all three of the Bucks starters as each player has been right at a FP/M of production over the last month and are locked into 30+ minutes a night.
The Grizzlies rank 22nd in defense over the last five games as with a cast of new starters on the court and we have seen that in every position except Center, their FP/G for each of the other four positions has increased drastically over their season average.
- PG: 49.7 FPPG over last 5 – a 34% increase on their season long average of 37 FPPG
- SG: 50 FPPG over last 5 – a 21% increase on their season long average of 41 FPPG
- SF: 45.9 FPPG over last 5 – a 28% increase on their season long average of 35.8 FPPG
- PF: 48.5 FPPG over last 5 – a 29% increase on their season long average of 37.8 FPPG
On the Memphis side, I actually love the idea of running it back with Marc Gasol ($13.4K) who after sitting out for rest over the weekend should be back in action for a short-handed Grizzlies squad. Gasol has gone for 35+ fantasy points in each of his last six games and makes for a solid correlation play if you are stacking the Bucks trio of starters tonight.
The Oklahoma City Thunder may seem like a great pivot spot tonight against the Kings but it is worth noting that they are in the midst of a five game stretch in eight days and are on the front end of a back to back where they have to travel from OKC to Atlanta. Steven Adams is questionable to play which could open up a start for Patrick Patterson ($6.4K) as an elite value play but frankly that is where my interest in the Thunder ends.
We just saw this game play out on February 22 where both Russell Westbrook and Paul George went for 50 fantasy points but with the back to back here I am worried about the run they could get if this game gets out of hand. In three games against the Kings this season, Westbrook has gone for 45, 45 and 50 fantasy points – all great scores but certainly not worth his price tag. I almost never fade Westbrook on a short slate and there is obviously merit to building around him here as he has the obvious potential to win you the slate but I personally would rather go more balanced and build around some of the cheaper stars on this slate like Giannis and Dame.
NBA DFS – Slate Overview and Sample Line-Up
Please Note: This is NOT an optimized line-up, it is simply illustrative to show the type of roster build we can have using the logic previously laid out in Picks and Pivots. My actual line-up may differ from the line-up shown here.
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FanDuel NBA DFS – Sample Line-Up:
PG: Damian Lillard ($9,500)
PG: Eric Bledsoe ($7,500)
SG: Khris Middleton ($7,000)
SG: Kobi Simmons ($4,000)
SF: Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,900)
SF: Dillon Brooks ($5,200)
PF: Patrick Patterson ($3,600)
PF: Bam Adebayo ($3,500)
C: Marc Gasol ($7,800)
Slate Overview: This slate is ugly and you are going to have to take some stands but I think there is merit (although it is scary) to fading guys like Westbrook and Harden on a four game slate. With the value at the PF position you can basically afford to go any route you want including building around two studs in Giannis/Dame with a core of solid second tier stars in Bledsoe, Middleton and Gasol. Play light tonight and play smart – the NBA schedule stinks this week and we can keep some of our bankroll for the start of MLB season which is just a few weeks away.
Best of luck in your NBA DFS contests across FantasyDraft and FanDuel and stay tuned to Fantasy CPR for all the latest DFS news and analysis.