The Celtics allow putbacks at the seventh highest rate of any team and allow the ninth most rebounds to opposing centers so Andre Drummond should be primed for a monster performance tonight. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s NBA contests.
Isaiah Thomas, Celtics, $16,000 – All season long, the Pistons have been beat like a drum by opposing PGs as Reggie Jackson’s defense has clearly regressed. To this point, the Pistons rank 26th in defensive efficiency against PGs and they allow the ninth most points per game (PPG) to the position (23.6). Additionally, the Pistons as a whole allow the sixth most points per possession (PPP) on isolation plays and Isaiah Thomas averages the 28th most isolation plays per game of any player in the league, slightly behind the likes of Jeff Teague (2.6) and Kevin Durant (2.6). In a 1,031 minute sample size, Thomas averages 1.35 fantasy points per minute (FPPM) without Avery Bradley on the floor and the team’s starting SG continues to sit out with an Achilles issue. This may be the last game in which Bradley sits so the Thomas usage boost can only be taken advantage of one last time. Thomas has only faced the Pistons once this season without Bradley and he dropped 41 points (PTS) and 57.5 fantasy points in just 37 minutes. Even if he does not erupt quite like that again, the matchup suggests he should be quite productive so consider Thomas a building block on this slate.
Kyle Lowry, Raptors, $15,000 – The league leader in minutes per game (MPG) is always a safe bet because time on the court equals production. Literally no one else plays more minutes than he does so a slow start can always be turned around when 30 minutes are still on the horizon after the first quarter. So far this season, the Trail Blazers rank in the top half of defensive efficiency against the PG position but Damian Lillard is not a great individual defender. In fact, Lillard ranks last amongst all players on the team (min. 200 minutes) in defensive box plus/minus (DBPM) and second to last in defensive rating (DRtg). The team’s other PG, C.J. McCollum, ranks second to last in DBPM and is tied with Lillard in second to last in DRtg. Basically, there is no reason to worry about the individual matchups regardless of who is on the court. All of this explains why Lowry has managed at least 45 fantasy points in each of his three meetings against the Trail Blazers since the beginning of last season and there is no reason to believe he should not dominate once again. UPDATE: Kyle Lowry is listed as questionable. If he were to sit, Cory Joseph would emerge as a prime value and DeMar DeRozan would once again enjoy a sizeable uptick in usage.
Mike Conley, Grizzlies, $14,700 – The absolute best possible matchup a PG could ask for is a date with the Nuggets. Not only do they rank dead last in defensive efficiency versus the position but they play at the fifth fastest pace and allow the third most PPG (111.8). For Mike Conley’s sake, the fact that the Nuggets allow the fourth highest defended field goal percentage from beyond the arc is comforting as well. Although he has been cold over the course of his last two games, Conley had topped 33 fantasy points in five consecutive games prior to the recent slump. Conley has not exactly exploded in any of his previous games against the Nuggets but Jameer Nelson starting now should help. Nelson quite literally is one of the worst defenders in the entire league, and Conley has played 32-plus minutes in seven of his last eight games, so he has plenty of time to take advantage. Despite the price spike, Conley is in a fantastic spot tonight.
Andre Drummond, Pistons, $14,300 – One of the stone cold locks of the night is Andre Drummond against the Celtics. Overall the Celtics have solidified their defense against opposing frontcourts this season but they are still losing the rebounding battle. Opposing Cs specifically have grabbed the ninth most rebounds per game (RPG) against the Celtics and the 11th most offensive RPG. Strangely, despite ranking outside the top 10 in offensive rebounds allowed to Cs, the Celtics allow putbacks at the seventh highest rate and that is a perfect way for Drummond to rack up fantasy points quickly. All of these factors clearly explain why Drummond has excelled in this matchup and the results are unsurprising: 42.25, 50.75 and 69 fantasy points respectively in the three previous games this season. Drummond has grabbed at least 17 rebounds in all three of the previous matchups and there is no reason why he cannot reach a similar total in round four.
Jusuf Nurkic, Trail Blazers, $11,200 – Welcome to the Trail Blazers, Jusuf Nurkic. As two games as the team’s starting C, Nurkic has averaged 27.9 MPG, 12.5 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 3.0 assists per game (APG), 3.0 steals per game (SPG) and 1.5 blocks per game (BPG). Other than the steals, all of these numbers seem pretty much sustainable in his new, extended role on a team that badly needed a true C. Thus far, the Raptors rank 10th in defensive efficiency versus opposing Cs but Jonas Valanciunas is not a great defender by any metric and Nurkic is worth using due to price alone. Even if Nurkic just reaches his averages sans all his steals, he would be at just about 3.0x value (2.92x to be exact). If Nurkic does continue to rack up the defensive stats, he could absolutely crush value for the second consecutive game.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Hornets, $10,200 – The absence of Cody Zeller has coincided with an uptick in efficiency for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and those occurrences are no coincidence. Frank Kaminsky plays further away from the basket than Zeller and is an inferior rebounder (according to rebounding percentage). Meanwhile, Kidd-Gilchrist crashes the boards at a superior percentage to either so it makes sense he would have more success playing alongside the worse rebounding C. On Sunday, Kaminsky will be dealing with DeAndre Jordan while Kidd-Gilchrist will be working on boxing out the likes of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Paul Pierce and/or other guards playing out of position. In these individual matchups, the advantage goes to Kidd-Gilchrist who has topped 31 fantasy points in three consecutive games heading into this one. Go ahead and start him.