NBA CORE PLAYS 12/17.19

THE CORE

1) Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets

FanDuel: $8,300, SG DraftKings: $7,500, PG/SG Yahoo: $38, PG FantasyDraft: $13,700, G

All it takes is a certain guy with a unibrow to stay on the sidelines tonight in order for Dinwiddie to slide down the priority list a bit, but he is a guy I am looking to start my cash game builds with should all of these questionable players suit up.

We now have fifteen games that Dinwiddie has taken the reigns of this offense with Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert out injured. What has he done? Only gone on to make himself an All-Star candidate in the East in that short amount of time. Look at these numbers:

(I am guessing they won’t read rate stats on Inside The NBA when making a case for Dinwiddie on the All-Star Team.

Barkley: “What the hell is a usage rate?”

Shaq: “The hell if I know but it looks like you use a lot of drive-thru’s.)

31.2% usage rate, 35.9% assist rate, 56.6% true shooting percentage, 33 minutes per game

And those rates have led to him getting 1.25 FD / 1.29 DK points per minute in that span of games.

Tonight he gets one of our favorite matchups to target. While the Pelicans aren’t quite on the Wizards’ level, they still give up the fantasy points in bunches due to increased possessions (i.e they play at a fast pace) and extreme efficiency on those possessions (i.e. their defense is terrible). They rank 29th in defensive rating, 28th in overall team defensive efficiency, and play at the sixth fastest pace in the league. Those metrics are a main reason why the Nets have a team total tonight (116) that is well above their season average (111.9). And when we bring in the micro matchup, it makes Dinwiddie look even better. The Pelicans rank dead last in defensive efficiency against opposing point guards.

After seeing some decent minutes upside in the early games of this stretch without Kyrie and LeVert, the Nets have been keeping him right around 33-34 minutes in competitive games. Nonetheless, those minutes combined with the aforementioned FPPM rates without Kyrie and LeVert make him extremely appealing at these price tags, especially when you factor in the boost those rates will see since he is facing the Pelicans.

(Tournament pivot: Trae Young sure seems like a good pivot in tournaments taking on the Knicks in MSG. He is $1,700 more than Dinwiddie on FD and $2,400 more on DK. My guess is that the far more expensive price tags and less appealing matchup is going to lead to Dinwiddie checking in with the much higher ownership when it’s all said and done, but that is something we will have to glean from Projected Ownership. Heck, ownership on both of these guys could plummet if Anthony Davis ends up sitting out. Regardless, I would always want some exposure to Trae in tournament formats, and that want would be exacerbated if the ownership number on him is going to be coming in on the low side.)

2) Lonzo Ball, New Orleans Pelicans

FanDuel: $6,000, PG DraftKings: $5,000, PG Yahoo: $19, PG FantasyDraft: $9,900, G

Lonzo is next up in my builds, as we are expecting him to start tonight in place of the injured J.J. Redick.

And getting confirmed in that starting lineup is going to be key for me, because it is really all about the minutes for Lonzo. He has not started the last four games, and the minutes have been:

29.5 23 23 27

He did start the four games before that, and the minutes were:

32.75 (competitive game) 30 (starters pulled the last 3.5 minutes due to blowout) 43.5 (38.5 regulation minutes) 27.5 (Pelican lost by a bazillion; Lonzo didn’t touch the court in the fourth quarter)

So as you can see, we are looking at a drastic difference here between when he starts and when he comes off the bench.

Based on all of the missed games this season by various Pelicans, trying to pinpoint Lonzo’s rates in this scenario feels borderline hopeless. This is the epitome of making an educated guess. The main concern is sharing the court with Jrue a lot, as that hurts his assist rate some. But CourtIQ tells us that Lonzo has been at 0.89 FD / 0.93 DK points per minute in 167 minutes with Jrue ON and Redick OFF, which is essentially what his FPPM rate has been for the season.

The matchup, while not as good as what Dinwiddie is seeing, is still a favorable one. The Nets play fast too (ranked 9th), which is why we see such a high over/under in this game (230). Furthermore, while they aren’t as bad as the Pelicans defensively (only the Wizards are in fact), they are average at best. And on top of that, they really struggle against opposing backcourts, ranking 22nd in defensive efficiency.

So if we put Lonzo at 32 minutes, I think he looks like a great play. My least favorite price tag of the bunch is on FD, and it is likely he gets untagged at some point in the day on that site as news starts to shake up the slate. Until that happens though, he is a priority for me in cash games across the industry.

(Tournament pivot: Elfrid Payton is a great tournament pivot from Lonzo (especially on FD where he is $500 cheaper) and can maybe even be considered for cash games on this slate as it stands now. If you look at his usage rate on the year (20.2%), it gets dragged down by his first four games of the season when they were at 15.7%, 20%, 15.5%, and 9.3%. He then went on to miss 17 games due to injury. The usage has been up since he returned (35.7%, 21.1%, 13.5%, 27.7%, 22.9%, 22.5%), and the new head coach has been closing games with him over Ntilikina. Throw in a matchup against one of the worst defenders in the league, and there is all sorts of profit potential on these price tags tonight for Elf. Plus, it’s almost Christmas time. Elf!!!)

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