Benny's Daily Hoops - 10/25
It’s Christmas morning for NBA DFS fans. We have a small three game slate to kick off the season, but it allows us to give you a taste of what you will see all year. I will be writing the early breakdown of the games, usually posted by one or two o’clock EST. We will go over each game discussing the pace and the matchups and any other relevant information that we come across during our research. Remember that injury news is very important in NBA, because everything has a domino effect on minutes and usage. Things change rapidly as players are announced out and we no longer have late swap to give us additional time to mull over the impact. With all that said, let’s take a look at the matchups.
Vegas: Cavs (-9.5), O/U: 204
We might as well start by talking about the defending champs. The Cavaliers roster remained the same coming off a championship season. The one shaky part was the JR Smith contract, which got worked out last week. Everyone is healthy and they should all be active here. The Cavaliers and Knicks were two of the slower paced teams in 2016, but both have been paced way up in the preseason. I am less inclined to think the Cavaliers remain that way this season as most of the preseason was played by bench players. The Knicks do have some changes, most notably at the point guard spot, so I am more inclined to believe their style change is something to consider legit. That makes this a paced up game for the Cavaliers against a team who allowed quite a few points last season despite playing at a slower pace. Derrick Rose is not known as a good defensive point guard, so I think the backcourt defense is actually worse. That means Kyrie Irving should have a soft matchup against Derrick Rose. Both guys are a bit cheaper than some of the high end options like Steph Curry and Damian Lillard, which makes them very appealing and easy to fit on a roster. They could both put up good games for a square price while guarding each other in this one. Both are explosive on the offensive end, but neither guy is known for his defensive prowess.
Another matchup I am looking forward to is LeBron James vs. Carmelo Anthony. These guys have been playing against each other since their high school days at Oak Hill and St.Vincent/St. Mary’s. LeBron is a much better defensive player than Carmelo is, which means he has the softer matchup of the two. Both guys should be productive here, but I much prefer LeBron if I am spending up on only one of them. You do get a discount on Carmelo, but he has a tendency to rebound less and play on the perimeter more often when playing the SF role, and that is where he will see the bulk of his time with Porzingis and Noah on the floor. LeBron can contribute across the board for us and I think he goes off lower owned than we would anticipate with everyone looking towards using the small forwards in the high total game out west.
Kevin Love and Kristpas Porzingis are both guys worth looking at as well. I prefer Porzingis in this matchup as he has a bigger role in his team’s offense than Love and also should contribute more in the blocked shots and rebounding columns. Porzingis has one of the softer matchups on the Knicks and I prefer to use him over Melo where I can. I would rather take the guy guarded by Kevin Love than the one who LeBron is sticking.
At this stage of his career, I am not looking for much out of Joakim Noah. He is still a hard nosed defensive player, which makes this a difficult matchup for Tristan Thompson. I am not really looking at either guy in this game. I also am not looking too hard at JR Smith or Courtney Lee on the other side. Both guys really only contribute in the scoring category and provide little else on the stat sheet to bolster their scores.
Guys like Brandon Jennings, Channing Frye, and Jordan McRae are worth watching in this game, but I would not be looking to roster any of them. We have some much better cheap plays in the last two games if we need to save some money.
Vegas: Blazers (-5), O/U: 193
The Jazz play notoriously slow paced and are very solid on the defensive end. The Portland Trail Blazers are the complete opposite with a high pace, high scoring average, and a lot of points allowed. The pace ticks up the Jazz players in this one and is a negative for the Trail Blazers. The Blazers do have some good matchups though. George Hill is a solid defensive point guard, but he is no match for the offensive talents of Damian Lillard. Lillard should lead the Blazers in scoring again this year, especially with a lack of other options that can put the ball in the hoop. George Hill has a soft matchup against the defensive liability that Lillard is, but he is not a guy I would expect to exploit it and put up a big score.
I do think Rodney Hood could be a sneaky option in this game. With Gordon Hayward out and his backup Alec Burks also out, Hood is going to see more minutes and be asked to carry more of the scoring load. I like him more for cash than I do for tournament upside, but this game does set up perfectly for him.
At the small forward spot we have two cheap players to consider. Mo Harkless should get the start and Joe Johnson will fill in for the injured Hayward. Johnson has looked horrible in the preseason, which is why Joe Ingles has played so much and been ok. I actually prefer Ingles to Johnson, even if JJ gets the start. Harkless will split some minutes with Evan Turner, but is much cheaper around the industry. I am not looking for greatness, but he could return value at the price they are asking for him with a starting role.
The Blazers are weak on the interior with Al-Farouq Aminu and Mason Plumlee/Myers Leonard at center. This spot sets up really nice for the Utah bigs. It looks like Derrick Favors is going to sit out after only getting in limited practices this week with a knee injury. If he misses, Trey Lyles becomes my favorite value play on both major sites. For $3600 on DraftKings and $4000 on FanDuel, I think we get a good game out of him with the increased minutes and usage in a paced up game. I also love his teammate Rudy Gobert. Lyles can be used at the center spot on DK, which is where I rolled him out often to pay up at PG , SF, and PF today. On FanDuel, Lyles makes a nice second PF option and Gobert is the main center I am running out. I have less Gobert on DraftKings, because the price is close to so many better players at SF and PF that it was tough for me to pay up for him over them.
Guys like Dante Exum, Joe Ingles, Evan Turner and Alan Crabbe are all interesting off the bench. I think all of them are cheap with the exception of Turner and all of them are key pieces to the second unit when they are in the game.
Vegas: Warriors (-9), O/U: 212.5
The Spurs were one of the slower paced teams in the league last season. They were 10th in scoring and 30th in points allowed. Defense has always been a cornerstone of that organization’s philosophy and they will need to play some of it today. They face a Golden State team that finished last season with the second fastest pace in the league and the most points per game. They also added this Kevin Durant guy who is a monster upgrade over Harrison Barnes. Due to pace, the Warriors actually gave up a decent amount of points too, so the Spurs team is being paced up here and in a solid spot to return their ceiling games.
Steph Curry has the softest matchup of the expensive Warriors against Tony Parker at the point guard spot. I prefer to pay for Steph over Durant, because Durant will be matched up with Kawhi Leonard, who is one of the league’s best defensive players. Steph and Durant are about the same price here, but the path of least resistance is easily with the point guard in his matchup.
Klay Thompson should benefit from having Steph and Durant on the floor with more open looks. My biggest beef with Klay is that he fails to give us stats in many categories outside of scoring. I like him more on DraftKings with the 3-pt bonus. I do like the young Kyle Anderson as a cheap option guarding him today. Danny Green was injured in the last preseason contest and will miss this game. That makes a near minimum priced Kyle Anderson one of the better price saving plays on the day. I think he is going to be a popular choice and rightly so in a paced up game where he is expected to see minutes for a cheap price.
I know everyone is excited about Kevin Durant, but I think this is a game I stay away from him. I’m not expecting him to suck, but I also think it is unreasonable to expect him to smash his ceiling while being guarded by Kawhi. Durant will have his huge games, but I do not think this is going to be one of them. I actually prefer to save some money and go down to Kawhi here. Kawhi has less competition for shots on the offensive end and his team is the one being paced up and seeing more possessions. Kawhi already plays the most minutes per night on this Spurs team and I think he is going to take a step forward now that this is his team with Tim Duncan retired. I expect him to have numbers around the same level as Durant, but prefer Kawhi with the $2000 cheaper price tag.
LaMarcus Aldridge has a tough matchup with Draymond Green. These two should lock horns the whole game and play a ton of minutes. I think the Warriors are going to use the new death lineup often in this one with Dray at the five and Durant sliding to the power forward spot. When they do, the Spurs have to counter by pulling out Pau Gasol and letting Aldridge play the five to matchup with Dray and Kawhi to pay the power forward role to keep him on Durant. This is a big reason why I am not high on either Pau Gasol or Zaza Pachulia this game. I think those two will rotate in and out of the game in about the same patterns so they can matchup with each other. I give Pau a slight advantage on the offensive end, but Zaza is a solid rebounder who will not make it easy on him.
Andre Iguodala and Jonathon Simmons are two guys off the bench who should have a role for their teams. Simmons will spell Kyle Anderson and also likely play a lot of the minutes at the perimeter spot with Manu Ginobili on the second unit. Iguodala is a guy who fills up the stat sheet and his versatility allows the Warriors to do a lot of things with their lineup to create matchup problems.