Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

James Davis

Daily Fantasy NBA Picks for FanDuel, DraftKings and DraftPot - 11/2/15

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Russell Westbrook - FD 11200 DK 10300
Opponent - HOU FD Proj. Pts - 47 DK Proj. Pts - 48.65
On the 2nd night of a back to back, and the 3rd game in 4 nights, one has to imagine that the Thunder are smart enough to give Durant a little room to catch his breath. An extra minute or three before coming back in, an earlier exit in the third - stuff like that. And the thing is? Our projection system thinks you can probably play Westbrook here even if that isn't the case. Even with Durant playing full minutes, Westbrook has had a ridiculous 40% usage rate through his first 84 minutes on the season. And he's still doing the rest of his God-mode stuff, like wrestling rebounds away from guys twice his size, clogging passing lanes, and so on. Meanwhile, Houston has been an absolute mess in all phases of the game, and a back-court of Harden and Lawson is a lot less intimidating for opposing guards than the Beverley/Harden duo the Rockets featured last season. You're obviously paying up here, put even with that caveat, I think you can justify playing Westbrook in every format.

Mo Williams - FD 5500 DK 5300
Opponent - PHI FD Proj. Pts - 28.2 DK Proj. Pts - 30.46
It's a risk to play Williams when you look at how his minutes have taken a hit in the Cavs' recent two blow-outs, but on a short slate like this, the reward may well be worth it. Williams played 37 minutes in their opener against the Bulls, and while you might not be able to lock him in for 37 a game going forward, it's a much better indicator of how the Cavs plan to use him than the 23 and 26 minute performances since. If you split the difference and give him roughly 30 minutes, he becomes something of a must play against a Philly team that tied for having the 6th highest PACE in the league last season. Williams has had a very respectable 20.5% usage rate this season, and translating that to even partial starter's minutes makes this a nice and relatively off-beat value play.

Damian Lillard - FD 8900 DK 9200
Opponent - MIN FD Proj. Pts - 39.88 DK Proj. Pts - 43.15
Lillard's price continues to climb, but on a slate where there's very little certainty due to big spreads and slow teams, he's going to be a huge play tonight. Lillard's already high usage last season has climbed even higher, jumping from 27 up to 32.3. He's combined a jump in usage with a jump in minutes, and his combination of 32.3% usage and 36.5 minutes a game ranks behind only Russell Westbrook and Steph Curry when it comes to getting a picture of total opportunity on a per game basis. Lillard has also been dealing 8.33 assists per game, further raising both his ceiling and floor. Minnesota allowed 6% more scoring to opposing PGs last season, and Ricky Rubio and his gamble-heavy approach should lead to plenty of opportunities for Lillard to continue to pad his fantasy stats.

Jarrett Jack - FD 6300 DK 6000
Opponent - MIL FD Proj. Pts - 22.47 DK Proj. Pts - 23.16
If you're looking for a slightly cheaper PG play on the day Jack fits the bill for a terrible Nets squad. The terrible part, in some ways, helps him because they have few other offensive options to turn to with the minutes. Jack will take enough shots (averaging about 15 per game in his first two) and the run should be there as I don't think Milwaukee runs the Nets off the floor. Jack is mostly a cash money-saver with a higher floor especially if the game stays close.


Giannis Antetokounmpo - FD 6500 DK 6400
Opponent - BKN FD Proj. Pts - 30.03 DK Proj. Pts - 31.07
Giannis is coming into his own this season, following up the opener's explosive 27/9/2 opener with a lovely 20/9/2 follow-up in a game where the Bucks got blown out by the Raptors. Tonight he'll get his best match-up of the season, going up against the overmatched Joe Johnson, who allowed 6% more scoring and 8% more rebounding to opposing shooting guards last season. Giannis represents basically the worst possible for Johnson with his combination of height and quickness. Love him everywhere.

James Harden - FD 10400 DK 9900
Opponent - OKC FD Proj. Pts - 44.66 DK Proj. Pts - 47.19
The big money play if you don't go with Westbrook, and to be real - we'll probably try to find a way to play both. A lot of daily fantasy basketball owners are going to be discouraged with Harden after a lackluster beginning to the season, but there's a lot to like here as well. We were worried that Harden would lose a lot of usage given that an on-ball point guard (Lawson) had come to town, but that hasn't born out so far. His usage has climbed from 30.5% to 31.6%, so he's getting his looks. Unfortunately, the eye-ball test hasn't been there on the Rockets. They scored just 3 points outside the paint in the 2nd half (hat-tip, @MikeSGallagher), and a lot of that was Harden shooting off-balance 3s early in the shot clock. Still, though, Harden isn't going to shoot 30% on the season, and he'll be the main guy tasked with trying to keep up with the high-flying Thunder in this one. The revenge-game thing is generally stupid, but on a team without a ton of good options right now, it's hard to imagine Harden not getting his looks even if this one does get out of hand.

Danny Green - FD 4100 DK 4500
Opponent - NYK FD Proj. Pts - 22.11 DK Proj. Pts - 25.05
Oy. Green would have been the play of the day in the early slate, amassing better than 20 fantasy points on a near minimum salary in spite of shooting 2/10 from the field. Green highlighted why he makes such an intriguing value play in his game against Boston, putting a little bit of everything together in spite of scoring just 4 points from the field. There's serious blow-out risk against the Knicks, but there's also a serious chance the big Spurs don't play big minutes on the 2nd half of a back to back here. Getting the money in on this slate is looking increasingly weird, and Green lets you escape a pretty bad position on the cheap.

Also considered: J.R. Smith. He had two nice games to start the season, and like Williams, he lost a lot of playing time due to the blow-outs.


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Al-Farouq Aminu - FD 5700 DK 4800
Opponent - MIN FD Proj. Pts - 24.43 DK Proj. Pts - 25.49
Here's the thing about the Blazers - they might wind up losing every game in the West, but this is a game where they might not get killed. Aminu has averaged 13.6 points, 8.33 boards, and 1.33 blocks in his first three games this season. That's more than ample production for the prices you have to pay here. And then there's Minnesota. They played a top ten PACE last season, and allowed 11% more scoring than league average to opposing small forwards last season. Aminu looks like a must play everywhere from where I'm sitting.

Kawhi Leonard - FD 8000 DK 7700
Opponent - NYK FD Proj. Pts - 38.11 DK Proj. Pts - 39.65
It's looking more and more that Kawhi is just going to have a different offensive role this season. His usage was 23.6% last season as opposed to 34.6% this season. While it's a small sample size, it's not like he's had particularly favorable match-ups. He's gone up against Kevin Durant (who's gobbled up opposing 3s from a fantasy perspective), the slow Nets, and defense-first Jae Crowder on the Celtics. Tonight he'll have what amounts to a neutral match-up with the Knicks, who blend the indifferent Carmelo Anthony with an extremely slow pace that winds up leaving them a roughly league average team when it comes to allowing fantasy points to opposing small forwards. I love Kawhi in all formats while his prices don't reflect the usage up.

Trevor Ariza - FD 5500 DK 5600
Opponent - OKC FD Proj. Pts - 23.31 DK Proj. Pts - 26.02
I'm always tempted to call Ariza a high floor play, but in reality, there are always a few stinkers on his resume. Still, it's got to be good for his value that he got left out there for 41 minutes in a 20 points loss on Sunday night. I just get the sense that the Rockets are in early-season panic mode, and the increased run for Ariza should mean a commensurate rise in his stats across the board. Ariza was generally awful on Sunday, shooting just 3/13 (including 3/8 from 3) and not getting to the line at all, but he still wound up being the best points per dollar play at the position by putting up 27.5 FanDuel fantasy points on a slate where the other SFs were absolutely brutal. Ariza is still very affordable, and if his minutes are going to creep back towards last year's huge numbers, he'll be a great value guy until his price gets back up to the ~$6k levels it was when he was playing peak minutes last year.

If Bogut is out, Iguodala wound up getting the lion's share of the big guy's minutes while the Warriors went small.


Kevin Love - FD 7600 DK 7500
Opponent - PHI FD Proj. Pts - 36.14 DK Proj. Pts - 38.63
Love's usage has jumped from 22.5 last year to 26.9 this year, and the results have followed. He's had nights of 54, 38, and 38 fantasy points on DraftKings, making him one of the very best off-beat value plays on each of the nights he's gone out there. Well, tonight he'll have his best match-ups of the season - the fast paced and bad 76ers. Don't get me wrong - Nerlens Noel is a tough defensive presence - but he makes most of his hay against opposing drivers, not chasing guys like Love around the perimeter. The increased pace for this game should make Love a very high upside play, even if the blow-out potential gives him a relatively low floor.

Blake Griffin - FD 10300 DK 9800
Opponent - PHX FD Proj. Pts - 40.05 DK Proj. Pts - 40.67
Blake hasn't missed a beat this season, shooting 20 shots a game and averaging a 32/9/4. Now some of that is going up against the Kings' in 2 of his 3 games and Dirk in the other, but the fast paced Suns aren't much of a downgrade. The Suns played the 3rd fastest pace in the league last season, and while they've upgraded their interior defense with the introduction of Tyson Chandler, that shouldn't stand in the way of Blake getting his. I don't think I like him more than Harden or Westbrook today, but it's an awfully close third.

Serge Ibaka - FD 6900 DK 6200
Opponent - HOU FD Proj. Pts - 30.81 DK Proj. Pts - 32.52
Ibaka had a career outing against the Nuggets, putting up 41+ fantasy points in 3 quarters in a blowout against the Nuggets. Tonight he'll be up against the beat up front court of the Rockets, who've been blown out in all of their games this season. The Rockets have allowed 20 more rebounds than they've gotten this year. While Durant and Westbrook have been on a usage tear early this season, I like Ibaka for the same reason I'm so high on Westbrook tonight - it's just hard to imagine them rolling Durant out for his full minutes on the second half of a back to back. And if they don't Ibaka is going to have to be one of the guys who gets some of those minutes. Houston allowed 4% more scoring and 2% more rebounding than league average against opposing 4s last season, so without Motiejunas and Jones, this should be easy pickin's for Serge.

Also considered: Markieff Morris took 17 shots in each of his first two games, and while didn't do a whole lot with them, that kind of usage is hard to ignore. The Clips' front-court is pretty overrated defensively, and while they could very well get the foul-prone Morris into foul trouble, he makes a highly intriguing option for big tournaments.


Karl-Anthony Towns - FD 6600 DK 6100
Opponent - POR FD Proj. Pts - 37.82 DK Proj. Pts - 38.43
KAT is looking like the runaway favorite rookie of the year, blending a real scoring touch with ridiculous athleticism on the boards and defending the lane. But for our purposes, all we really care about is his production relative to his price. Towns' incredible totals (44 DraftKings points per game in his first 2) are absolutely boosted by playing against two teams that totally lack interior defenders (the Nuggets and Lakers), but that won't really be changing here. Don't get dissuaded by Portland's defensive totals from last season. Meyers Leonard is simply not on the same defensive level that Lopez and Aldridge were last season. It's impossible to forecast KAT's upside here, but this certainly feels like one of the very safest points per dollar plays going on this slate.

Meyers Leonard - FD 4600 DK 4500
Opponent - MIN FD Proj. Pts - 28.19 DK Proj. Pts - 30.62
He's really struggled from the field to start the season. There's talk of some hand issues from a nerve thingy (medical term) suffered in the preseason. Much like Batum's shooting woes related to off shooting hand issue last season, I'm skeptical about playing a guy when there's reason to suspect injury is the cause for lack of production. That being said, the Blazers are still running sets to get him looks from beyond the arc and if he snaps out of this price could look silly in a tournament.


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