NBA Core Plays 1/15/20

THE CORE

1) LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

FanDuel: $10,800, SF DraftKings: $10,400, PG/SF Yahoo: $55, PG FantasyDraft: $18,300, F/C

Starting with LeBron here requires some speculation on my part. But if you read this article, it certainly sounds like AD is closer to doubtful than questionable. Here are some quotes from that article that stood out to me:

“Davis said the pain emerges any time he completes any ‘movement’ drills.”

Ok, well that’s not good. There is quite a lot of ‘movement’ in an NBA game last I checked.

“The Lakers’ medical staff also wants Davis to complete sprinting and contact drills before clearing him. Because of those parameters, it appears more likely Davis will play when the Lakers play the Houston Rockets in Houston on Saturday.”

Doubtful it is then!

And let’s not forget, Rajon Rondo is out for several games now too. So those two guys out means even more usage, assists, and rebounds to go around. You think even more of the workload is going to fall in LeBron’s lap? Obvi.

For the season, LeBron has posted a 31.6% usage rate, 50.1% assist rate, and 12.3% rebound rate, which has led to 1.51 FD / 1.61 DK points per minute. In 258 minutes without AD and Rondo on the court this season, his per-minute production skyrockets to 1.64 FD / 1.71 DK. The drop in assist rate (AD not being out there is going to hurt that a little for obvious reasons) is more than offset by a huge spike in usage.

In that game on Monday without AD and Rondo, LeBron was on pace for his normal 35-36 minutes, but he didn’t see his last rotation due to the massive blowout. The matchup is going to be a slight negative because of how slow Orlando plays, but it is not going to come close to mattering based on his minutes and FPPM rate without AD and Rondo. The King looks like an easy starting point for cash games tonight.

(Tournament pivot: Pivoting over to James Harden at the high-end tonight would make a bunch of sense after he “failed” last night as massive chalk. Yes, Russell Westbrook will be back for tonight’s game, but Harden has put up plenty of monster fantasy performances with Russ active. Look no further than 12 days ago when he gave Philly 74 FD / 81 DK points. Add together the huge slate, Russ being back, and DFS owners feeling letdown last night (I’m assuming?), and I think you have an ideal spot to target Harden aggressively in tournaments.)

2) Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers

FanDuel: $8,500, PG DraftKings: $8,700, PG/SF Yahoo: $40, PG FantasyDraft: $15,900, G

Being able to comfortably fit in Simmons with LeBron (mainly on DK) is going to require some news to break our way (looking at you Denver), but let’s talk about why we like him tonight regardless.

I may or may not have mentioned it here before, but the availability of Joel Embiid doesn’t matter all that much to Simmons from a fantasy perspective. If you look at the splits this season, he averages 41.91 FD points per game in 29 games with Embiid and 41.83 FD points per game in 10 games without Embiid. That is actually quite impressive how close it is! CourtIQ reflects the same thingin a 767-minute sample with Embiid OFF.

What I am mainly interested in here is the matchup and the minutes. In regards to the matchup, this will be a pace-up spot for Philly (20th in pace) against Brooklyn (ninth in pace). The Nets are nothing better than an average defense, and you can easily make the case that they have nowhere to go but down with Kyrie back.

From a micro standpoint, I love using our Defense vs. Archetype tool for players like Simmons that are the epitome of positionless. What we see there is Simmons popping as the best FD value in the tool and the fourth best DK value.

And the minutes, oooooh the minutes. In these last three games without Embiid, how does 38.75, 37 (without the last 2.5 minutes due to garbage time), and 40.5 sound? If you just call him what he has been this season on a per-minute basis (1.18 FD / 1.19 DK) and put him at 38-40 minutes, I think he is too cheap for these price tags. I feel pretty confident that we have/will get the requisite cheap plays to easily plug him in alongside LeBron tonight.

(Tournament pivot: Assuming he plays tonight on the second night of a back-to-back like he said he would, I like pivoting over to Kyrie Irving on the other side of this game. And if you are game-stacking, you’d obviously want to find a way to pair him with Simmons if you can. Uncle Drew torched the Jazz last night for a 60-burger, but my hope is that 10 games on the slate tonight still allows him to fly under the radar a bit. He hasn’t missed a beat since coming back from that shoulder injury, and I’d be wanting to buy low here before it’s too late. He is only $7,900 on both FD and DK, and we are talking about a $9,000+ player here once his price corrects. Please, please, pleeeeease don’t be popular tonight.)

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