Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice
FanDuel NBA Picks and DraftKings NBA picks for 3/3/18
Happy Sunday, daily fantasy basketball lovers! With the NFL in the rearview and MLB still a month away, the NBA has just the NHL to contend with, and you know what that means: a big fat Sunday NBA slate. Actually, we have multiple good slates here. We'll go ahead and break it down slate by slate so you can wrap your mind around the big considerations.
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It doesn't look like anything but the 1pm only slate is carrying the Charlotte/Portland game, so for the purposes of this writing we're going to pretend like that one doesn't exist. FanDuel is offering a 3:30 only slate and a 6pm main slate, so that's what we'll roll with for this article.
So where do we go early?
The Bulls vs. the Hawks
The big news on this slate is the Chicago/Atlanta rematch. Chicago took down the Hawks 168-161 in a game that would go on the DFS Classic channel someday, even if it had exactly zero implications for the actual NBA this year. You had a lot of highly owned players that popped off completely, and you can expect more of the same coming into this one. Let's get into the specifics.
Trae Young FD - $9100 DK - $8900
Opponent - CHI
Proj Pts FD - 44.92 DK - 47.64
Zach LaVine FD - $8400 DK - $8100
Opponent - ATL
Proj Pts FD - 40.71 DK - 41.9
The two highest owned players from the Hawks/Bulls opus were also the two highest scoring, with this duo putting together a combined 149.5 fantasy points on FanDuel. Young was a 54% play, and was a sneakily not so great play through three quarters. Still, it was obvious that he saw something he liked against the Bulls, as he got Dunn fouled out of the game and took 33 shots in the 55 minutes he was on the court. While the totals he put up here aren't sustainable, it's obvious that he was offensive options 1-3 and he will be hugely owned in this tiny slate as well. As for Lavine, it actually gets a little closer. He was solid in regulation (about 40 fantasy point), and then really shot the moon in overtime after Dunn fouled out. Still, he is an excellent cash game option here, and you can expect significant ownership.
Our system actually just sees a glut of value in this game once again. It loves Robin Lopez at his very affordable prices and newly expanded role. It can also go in the direction of Kris Dunn again, even if he underwhelmed somewhat in the last game.
Depending on who starts, you could see huge ownership for players like Kent Bazemore and Deandre Bembry One this is for sure, this game will feature an overwhelming about of the cash game chalk plays today.
The Rockets vs. the Celtics
It's interesting, on this early slate there's a pretty clear inverse correlation between how good a game is for real life basketball purposes and how good it is for DFS purposes. The polar opposite of the Bulls/Hawks game is the Rockets vs. Celtics game.
Clint Capela FD - $7900 DK - $6800
Opponent - BOS
Proj Pts FD - 43.37 DK - 44.36
With no injury news as of this writing, our system likes exactly one member of the Houston Rockets in Clint Capela. Harden might wind up being a necessarily evil because you'll just have money left over after all those cheap Hawks and Bulls plays, but Capela would be a strong play on any slate. He's playing 35+ minute rotations, and the Rockets are sorely lacking in terms of big man depth. I prefer Robin Lopez for cash games right now, but Capela wouldn't be a bad substitute at all. The rest of the Rockets look pretty meh to me. Eric Gordon coming back is a sneaky big deal, and I don't think we see Harden touch the lofty levels he reached in Gordon's absence.
On the Celtics side, our system basically just sees a lot of solid but unspectacular options. Guys like Marcus Morris, Jayson Tatum, and Kyrie Irving are fairly unlikely to kill you, but our system doesn't see them as guys you absolutely need to build around.
This one should be a fun one to watch for other reasons, though!
New York Knicks vs. the Los Angeles Clippers
Two teams that legitimately can not make up their minds. Where to even begin? Shai Gilgeous-Alexander went from starting and playing 20 minutes a game to randomly playing 32 against the Kings, but do you trust it? And if you don't can you really trust the other Clippers' guards?
Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell seem to have relatively secure roles off the bench, but if you're new to running bench guys, you should know that the 5 minute difference in their rotations can be absolutely crippling if you happen to catch the wrong end of it. Our system still thinks both of these guys are the best daily fantasy options on the Clippers against the Knicks, but I'm far from excited about it.
And on the Knicks side? What? Am I supposed to get excited about Henry Ellenson and Mitchell Robinson? I'm not, right? I mean both have demonstrated some interesting upside for big tournaments, but it's hard to imagine recommending them as safe cash game picks for FanDuel and DraftKings at these prices. I could see going with Ellenson if you have to play two power forwards, but man, this game is just one big heaping pile of uncertainty.
To sum up the early slate, I'd say just play as many Bulls and Hawks as you can and then fill in the rest from these other games. Rereading that sentence, and I'm already wondering what could possibly go wrong.
Orlando Magic vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers
What do you do with this Magic team? They have been playing the likes of Isaiah Briscoe and Khem Birch meaningful minutes off the bench, and they have ripped off back to back wins against the Pacers and Warriors. They even beat the Raptors 4 games ago. And they lost to the Knicks inbetween. This team is positively all over the place right now, both in performance and how they allocate their minutes, and that just doesn't make for a very interesting cash game recipe. It's very hard for me to imagine sticking my neck out for any of these guys in cash, and I guess I could see running a random Terrence Ross off the bench in a big tournament or two. It's a real shame, too, what with Cleveland being such a terrible defense and all.
On the Cleveland side things are fuzzy in their own right. Kevin Love will return to the lineup on Sunday, and he'll come and gobble up most of the usage when he's on the court. And he's a staggering $8,000 on FanDuel, which is just more than he can provide for on his 28 minute rotations. Of course, he'll also kill the value of most of the other regular Cavs players, whose prices haven't dropped to reflect Love's presence.
Larry Nance Jr. FD - $5600 DK - $5800
Opponent - ORL
Proj Pts FD - 28.4 DK - 27.6
I will say, though - if Ante Zizic misses Sunday's game I could be a buyer of some Larry Nance stock. He started and played just 25 minutes against the Pistons, but if he starts again and the game stays a little closer we've seen him be an easy $7,000 player. On a short slate with a few bad games (more on those soon, don't worry), Nance could be an interesting answer at a bad position.
But really, that's it. Not a very exciting first game on the main slate.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. the Washington Wizards
I'm sorry, did you think things were going to get much more exciting? It's funny, Vegas gives this game a 239 total - 20 points higher than any other game on this slate - and yet, our system is struggling to find much to get overly excited about here. As we know, daily fantasy value tends to come from new opportunity and great match-ups, and while both of these teams are fine match-ups, there really isn't a lot of extra opportunity to be had. Still, there are a few interesting plays, so let's have a look.
Andrew Wiggins FD - $6500 DK - $5900
Opponent - WAS
Proj Pts FD - 32.36 DK - 32.8
The only T-Wolf (that sounds so nerdy in the singular) our system has its eye on is Andrew Wiggins. We're not letting the two recent bad games get us down, since Wiggins is clearly locked into a 35-37 minute rotation in close games, and this one has a 1.5 point spread. Since returning from his two game absence, Wiggins has provided a steady diet of 5x points per dollar performances, which should be enough to land him in your cash game lineups on a pretty grizzly slate here.
After him, though? We see very little value with the rest of the Timberwolves.
Jeff Green FD - $4800 DK - $4500
Opponent - MIN
Proj Pts FD - 25.57 DK - 26.32
Tomas Satoransky FD - $5500 DK - $4800
Opponent - MIN
Proj Pts FD - 27.64 DK - 27.86
On the Washington side you have what comes down to a question as to the real opportunity of some of these guys. Satoransky seemed to have settled into a 32 minute rotation after returning from his injury, but then he rocked 36 minutes of solid hoops against the Celtics in his last game. Do the Wizards plan to move him back into a bigger role, or was that a one-off based on something they happened to see that day? It's tough to say for sure - but today could be a day to gamble on him. Likewise with Jeff Green. If you think the 32 minutes he played against the Celtics is legit, he's a no-brainer here. If you think he's in line for more like 27 minutes, he's a little bit more risky. We think he's a solid play, and are forecasting him to play the higher end of his minutes, but I could certainly see the case against it.
After these two, I guess people will want to go back to the Bobby Portis well, but I'm just not convinced that they like him that much more than Thomas Bryant or some of their other options. I believe he'll play 28 minutes a game, but foul trouble or a hot hand could push that 5 minutes in either direction. I wouldn't completely rule out playing him in formats that reward safety, but I certainly won't be trying to force him in there, either.
Toronto Raptors vs. the Detroit Pistons
I don't know what you want from me - they don't consult me and ask me how fun a given slate is going to be for DFS purposes before they make the schedule. There are some things to keep an eye on here though.
Marc Gasol FD - $6100 DK - $5600
Opponent - DET
Proj Pts FD - 33.29 DK - 33.18
Gasol got the start Portland in the Raptors' last game, and was excellent - putting up a balanced 44.6 fantasy points and looking every bit in his prime. Ibaka was relegated to full on back-up duties, and Gasol thrived even in a match-up where you wouldn't think they'd really need to lean on him. You'd figure they'd need him much more here, with Siakam squaring off against Blake and Drummond necessitating a real 5 to cover him down low. If Gasol gets the starting nod again, he's a pretty clear cash game lock from my perspective, and I wouldn't think very hard about it at all.
After him, the only other Raptor I'm really into is Kyle Lowry. He played 40 regulation minutes in that Portland game, has played 35+ in each of his last three, and paid better than 5x points per dollar on his current prices in two of those. He just seems like a solid high floor option right now.
Our system seems particularly disgusted with Detroit right now. The best two plays are Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin but neither has even a 4.9x points per dollar multiplier. The Pistons are best avoided unless you find yourself in a positional pinch.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder
This game's daily fantasy relevance comes down to the injury status of two players. Paul George you know about - his absence has caused Westbrook to have DFS ownership north of 85% on back to back games, even if Westbrook has been something of a disappointment. It's also opened up some opportunity for also-rans like Steven Adams, Dennis Schroder, Jerami Grant, and even Terrance Ferguson. I don't think you consider anyone on this team against Memphis if George plays, but if he's out you have to at least consider Westbrook and Schroder in particular.
On the Memphis side, a lot of minutes got opened up during Saturday's game when Justin Holiday left after 3 minutes and didn't return. Delon Wright got the start in the second half, and CJ Miles played 26 minutes as well. Now it's a little tricky since Memphis found themselves in the unlikely position of blowing out the Mavs, but these are the two guys that are most likely to benefit if Holiday sits. You've probably noticed that they wouldn't be filling in for a guy who plays a major role in the offense, but Holiday does play a ton of minutes, and re-appropriating those minutes should mean something.
But man, Memphis could also lose this game by 30 points, so I don't relish the idea of running any Grizzlies out there today.
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- Russell Westbrook: (AP Photo/Jeff Haynes)