NBA Key Plays 2/21/20

THE CORE

1) C.J. McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers

FanDuel: $6,900, SG DraftKings: $6,600, PG/SG Yahoo: $26, SG FantasyDraft: $12,200, G

Apparently the All Star Break extended a few extra days to those in charge of pricing, as there is no reason that McCollum shouldn’t have been bumped up much higher than this. For those that are just getting back into the swing of things in terms of news, Damian Lillard has been ruled out for the next several games due to the groin injury he suffered towards the end of their last game.

The thing is though, that game was on February 12th! News came out immediately the next day that he would be missing 1-2 weeks. Why is McCollum priced like this??

Anyways, on to the analysis. I will try to be as brief as possible here, as there is overwhelming evidence that McCollum is the best play on the slate. Let’s start with his numbers on the season, so we can refer back to them where necessary:

35.7 minutes per game, 25.7% usage rate, 16.7% assist rate, 0.95 FD / 0.98 DK points per minute

Dame missed two games earlier in the year. How did McCollum fare in those?

November 19th at New Orleans: 35 minutes, 27.8% usage rate, 24.5% assist rate, 42.3 FD / 42 DK points

November 21st at Milwaukee: 38.5 minutes, 35% usage rate, 39.9% assist rate, 65.2 FD / 68 DK points

Not enough for you? Ok, let’s go back to the one game Dame missed last season that McCollum played in:

January 26th (2019) vs. Atlanta: 37 minutes, 33.2% usage rate, 46.1% assist rate, 55 FD / 61.5 DK points

Are you still unsure!? (you probably aren’t but this allows me to list a few more things)

If we take Lillard OFF in CourtIQ, we have a 496-minute sample of McCollum being a 1.14 FD / 1.18 DK points per minute player. The usage rate is way up; the assist rate is way up. Just like we saw in those box scores that I listed above.

And to put the proverbial icing on the proverbial cake, this is the best game environment on the slate. It currently has a 236 o/u (currently the highest depending on where CLE/WAS lands), and the Trail Blazers are only slight underdogs. With these two teams clawing to get up to that 8th seed in the West, I wouldn’t be surprised if McCollum plays all 48 minutes tonight. And even though I say that facetiously, 40+ is well within the range of outcomes.

(Tournament pivot: On FD, I think paying up higher than McCollum is the way to go in tournaments, as I see the chalky roster construction being McCollum paired with one of the appealing mid tier options like Smart, Oladipo, Beasley, etc. I’d happily go to the very top of the pricing spectrum with Bradley Beal for $9,200 against the Cavs. Two of the three worst defensive teams in the league facing off against each other…hooray! In fact, Beal is very much in play as the tournament pivot on DK ($9,400) as well. If you are looking for someone in the same price range as McCollum on that site though, I’d like to point out Jrue Holiday, Kyle Lowry, and Devin Booker. All of those guys are priced higher than McCollum, up above $7,000. And all of those guys can get you 50+ DK points with ease. There are certainly no shortage of options if you are looking to get away from McCollum chalk.)

MIGHT AS WELL TAG SOME OTHER BLAZERS TOO

The first two guys that jump out immediately are Hassan Whiteside and Carmelo Anthony on FanDuel. Whiteside is $8,500 on FD and $9,200 on DK. Melo is $4,900 on FD and $5,300 on DK. Remember, FD has a $60,000 salary cap, while DK has a $50,000 salary cap. Whenever you come across guys that are much cheaper on FD compared to DK, it should immediately pique your interest.

Does that mean they are still good cash game plays though? It sure does.

That CourtIQ link from above shows that Whiteside’s usage rate goes down a bit with Dame off of the court, which ultimately results in a slight dip in his per-minute production as well. We are only looking at essentially 100 minutes of sample though, so I can’t exactly say I am buying that. Even if you want to be conservative here and say Whiteside is exactly what he is in that sample (1.37 FD points per minute), he is still underpriced for mid-30s minutes. I am personally expecting well above 1.40 FD points per minute tonight out of him (remember, the matchup is favorable tonight), which means he easily gets a LineupHQ tag for me on FD (and Yahoo as well).

As for Melo, the sample is much bigger for him (340 minutes) without Dame on the court. We see him bump up to 0.92 FD points per minute (which is +0.08) thanks to a hefty increase in usage. That leaves him far too cheap on FD for low to mid 30s minutes, which means he gets a tag as well on FD.

While those two guys are absolutely in the cash game conversation on DK, they are not going to be priorities for me due to their price tags being at least closer to appropriate. The one other Blazer who will get a tag for me on DK is going to be Anfernee Simons, assuming he draws the start.

In the first game Dame missed this season, Simons did draw the start and played 36 minutes. In the second game (a game Whiteside also missed), however, Gary Trent drew the start, leaving Simons at only 17.5 minutes.

In 571 minutes with Dame off of the court, Simons is at 0.81 DK points per minute. If you bring McCollum ON, he only ticks down slightly to 0.79 DK points per minute. As we are currently projecting him to start, we have him slotted for a 34-minute projection. Even if you want to put him slightly lower than that to bake in some risk, he would still clearly be too cheap at just a $3,500 price tag. As such, he gets a tag for me on DK and FDRFT.

Even though FDRFT doesn’t have late swap, I still think he is worth the risk there in cash games (if we don’t get starting lineup news) due to how thinned out the Blazers backcourt is. Their list of guards is McCollum, Simons, and Trent. That’s it; that’s the list. The guy is going to have to play regardless, even if he doesn’t get the starting nod.

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