by Owen O’Brien (follow Owen on Twitter @0wen0Brien)
Another week of NBA action is in the books and there’s no time like the present to get in on the daily fantasy basketball competition on FanDuel with only two full weeks of the NBA regular season remaining. Before we close the books on last week and move on to face the challenge of the upcoming slate of games, let’s dial up our hindsight and see if we can uncover any helpful insights from what happened over the last seven days. With that in mind and more here’s a look back at the top performers, best values, and biggest busts of the week that was in the NBA starting on Thursday March 27th and ending on Wednesday April 2nd.
Top Performers (Most Fantasy Points Per Game)
All data covers games played between 3/27/2014 – 4/2/2014. Player prices shown are as of 4/3/2014.
1. Chris Paul – LAC, PG ($10,000) – 49.8 fantasy points per game
2. Kevin Durant – OKC, SF ($11,900) – 47.3 fantasy points per game
3. LaMarcus Aldridge – POR, PF ($9,400) – 44.0 fantasy points per game
4. Kenneth Faried – DEN, PF ($7,600) – 43.9 fantasy points per game
5. James Harden – HOU, SG ($9,700) – 43.8 fantasy points per game
6. Kevin Love – MIN, PF ($11,200) – 43.5 fantasy points per game
7. Dirk Nowitzki – DAL, PF ($7,700) – 42.6 fantasy points per game
8. Carmelo Anthony – NYK, PF ($10,000) – 40.5 fantasy points per game
9. Stephen Curry – GSW, PG ($8,900) – 40.2 fantasy points per game
10. Greg Monroe – DET, PF ($7,700) – 39.4 fantasy points per game
Chris Paul managed to dethrone Kevin Durant as the top fantasy scorer this week with a bonanza of production in his four outings to the tune of almost 50 fantasy points per game. Paul’s contributions were boosted by playing without Blake Griffin for more or less two full games after Blake went down with back problems. The Clippers point guard produced an average of 53 fantasy points in those two games, including a 59-point 30-and-12 effort on Saturday against the Rockets. Griffin returned for Los Angeles’ latest game on Wednesday and Paul’s output dipped to 39.9 fantasy points, still a fine night but also a good indicator of the normal scoring distribution to expect when all the Clippers stars are healthy.
After a week that saw the superstars lead the way without a single player priced under $9,100 on the top ten scorer’s list last week, the results this week were a bit more interesting with three players priced between $7,600 and $7,700 making the list, all at power forward. That’s something to keep in mind when you set your FanDuel lineups for upcoming contests as the luxury options priced in the clouds are struggling to consistently outproduce their more reasonably priced peers.
Best Values (Most Fantasy Points Per Game Per $1,000 in Salary)
Only includes players with at least 2 games played over the last week.
1. Ray McCallum – SAC, PG ($4,900) – 34.7 fantasy points per game
2. Marreese Speights – GSW, PF ($3,500) – 23.0 fantasy points per game
3. Jeremy Lamb – OKC, SF ($3,500) – 22.6 fantasy points per game
4. Marcus Morris – PHO, PF ($3,800) – 24.2 fantasy points per game
5. Courtney Lee – MEM, SG ($3,700) – 23.1 fantasy points per game
6. Tristan Thompson – CLE, PF ($5,200) – 32.3 fantasy points per game
7. Miles Plumlee – PHO, C ($3,500) – 20.9 fantasy points per game
8. Omer Asik – HOU, C ($4,600) – 27.1 fantasy points per game
9. Jordan Hill – LAL, PF ($5,200) – 30.3 fantasy points per game
10. Kenneth Faried – DEN, PF ($7,600) – 43.9 fantasy points per game
Ray McCallum has been an absolute bargain stud since replacing the injured Isaiah Thomas as the starting point guard in Sacramento on March 26th, and he only seems to be getting better each time out. Over the span of his four games this week the Kings rookie averaged a completely ridiculous 46 minutes per game and translated that obscene playing time into 34.7 fantasy points per game, up to 38.5 over his last three. The 7.08 fantasy points per thousand dollars in salary offered by McCallum this week was more than half a point better than any other player, and is even more impressive coming from a guy that plays one of the more volatile positions in the game from a fantasy scoring perspective.
There are a lot of names on this week’s value list that I wouldn’t necessarily trust too much going forward, but aside from McCallum as long as he remains the starter, there is a lot of value to be found toward the bottom of this week’s list. Omer Asik has been reliable and occasionally explosive with Dwight Howard sidelined, while Jordan Hill has been an all-or-nothing dynamo for the Lakers whenever Mike D’Antoni feels inclined to play him. And the one guy to keep your eye on most of all is Kenneth Faried, the only player to make both the top scorers and top value list this week.
Biggest Busts (Fewest Fantasy Points Per Game Per $1,000 in Salary)
Only includes players priced at or above $5,500 and with at least 2 games played last week.
1. Anthony Davis – NOR, PF ($11,000) – 19.9 fantasy points per game
2. Amir Johnson – TOR, PF ($5,900) – 10.7 fantasy points per game
3. Kyle Lowry – TOR, PG ($8,900) – 19.2 fantasy points per game
4. Nikola Pekovic – MIN, C ($6,400) – 16.8 fantasy points per game
5. Raymond Felton – NYK, PG ($5,700) – 15.3 fantasy points per game
6. Tony Wroten – PHI, PG ($5,600) – 15.1 fantasy points per game
7. Trey Burke – UTA, PG ($5,500) – 15.1 fantasy points per game
8. Terrence Jones – HOU, PF ($5,900) – 16.7 fantasy points per game
9. Deron Williams – BKN, PG ($7,200) – 21.5 fantasy points per game
10. Blake Griffin – LAC, PF ($9,500) – 28.3 fantasy points per game
Oh, how the mighty have fallen! Anthony Davis has gone from being the leading fantasy scorer in back-to-back weeks and three straight weeks in the top five to being the single biggest bust in the NBA this time around. Of course, it’s hard to blame Davis for the ankle injury and back spasms that caused him to leave two of his last three games within the first ten minutes of action, but that disclaimer does little to soothe the FanDuel users he burned this week. It’s a bit of a sad interruption to an otherwise epic run of fantasy production that has seen Davis score at least 50 fantasy points in nine of the last 11 games that he’s been healthy for, with his scores from the other two games in that stretch still ending up in the high 40’s. With the top-priced stars on FanDuel bouncing hyperbolically from horrible outings to great ones lately, Davis has been a rare dose of consistency for a player in his price range. Keep an eye on the progress of his health, and roll him out with confidence as soon as he’s declared fit to play a full game.
It wasn’t just The Brow that fell from grace this week, it was also Amir Johnson and Blake Griffin, two highly productive power forwards dealing with injuries of their own. Johnson had been a part of the Super Slam winning lineup in two of the last three weeks, but an ankle injury and other lingering issues led him to poor play in his first three games this time around and a microscopic three minutes played in his last game of the week on Wednesday. He’s been great at times this year and a solid value play on FanDuel, but his injuries seem to be mounting to the point that he may not recover in time to be a recommended play again this season. Griffin, on the other hand, should get right back to his customary excellence as long as his back issues don’t flare up again.
Big Winner Spotlight – Darkknight1511 Rises Over the Slam, Turns $25 Into $9,000
Wednesday night on FanDuel is primetime in daily NBA fantasy and the biggest prize in the pool is first place in the $70K Wednesday NBA Slam, a tournament that every FanDuel user should take a serious look at entering each week. Darkknight1511 did just that on April 2nd and put up a score of 357.6 fantasy points, good enough to turn a $25 entry fee into a cool $9,000 in prize money in one night. Here’s a look at the high-scoring team:
Greivis Vasquez ($4,100) took advantage of a major spike in playing time as he started for the injured Kyle Lowry and saw almost 40 minutes of action on Wednesday. Vasquez has been buried on the bench behind superstar guards in Sacramento and Toronto this season, but as recently as last year this guy was averaging nine assists per game for New Orleans, so it’s no surprise to see him capitalize when given the opportunity. Apparently that was the prevailing sentiment as more than 51% of entries in the Slam included the Raptors backup point guard. His eight assists were nice, but even more impressive given his zero turnovers. Vasquez was the second best value in this lineup at 8.24 fantasy points per thousand dollars in salary, and he should continue to be a great option as long as Lowry remains sidelined or limited.
Ray McCallum ($4,900) continued his run of remarkable results described in the top value section above with a career-high 27 points scored as part of a 36.3 fantasy point night against the woeful Lakers defense. McCallum would probably have been super majority owned if Isaiah Thomas was declared out prior to contest start time, but as it was even without confirmation his potential value was too good to pass up for nearly 25% of FanDuel users that entered the Slam on Wednesday. Thomas could return soon, but his quad injury is still lingering to the point that it’s difficult for him to bend his leg. That sounds like something that could give McCallum another start or two, which FanDuel users will want to be sure to be a part of. Even when Thomas returns, it’s difficult to imagine McCallum going back to the sub-20 minutes of playing time he was seeing until a week ago given his impressive returns in the starting lineup.
Paul George ($8,300) is one of the most frustrating stars to evaluate on FanDuel. He’s a great player and very capable of giving you 30+ fantasy points every single night, but he’s priced to need 40+ to hit value and he just doesn’t do that on a regular basis due to the depth of options in Indiana. That said, a night like the 55.1 fantasy points he scored on Wednesday is always a possible outcome when an opposing team actually finds themselves competing with the Pacers. George didn’t quite triple-double, but the 27-13-7 line looks pretty impressive as it is. He did have an appealing matchup against the defensively challenged Detroit Pistons, which was enough to draw the interest of 18.9% of entrants in the Slam. I wouldn’t get too carried away with expectations going forward, but this is also likely not the last big game we’ll see from George in the regular season.
Kenneth Faried ($7,600) embodies his nickname better than any player in the NBA as The Manimal is simply beasting on his opponents these days. He’s averaging 20-and-10 over his last 18 games, and given the strides he’s made on the court this season it’s easy to imagine him continuing to do that for the next five years. His price tag has risen consistently over the season’s second half, but it’s still below the level of value that he offers on a regular basis, particularly when he heats up even more than usual as he did this week. Interestingly only 14.6% of entrants in the Slam selected Faried, a significant number but smaller than I would expect for the only player to make both the top overall scorers and top value list this week. I encourage everyone to jump on the bandwagon and develop a need for Faried, particularly when a favorable matchup comes along.
Jordan Hill ($5,200) seems to come in and out with the tide as his fantasy scores from the last two weeks look like a sine chart with three outings in the 40’s in fantasy points more or less alternating with three outings in the teens. Fortunately it has been somewhat possible to predict which nights will be up or down based on the health of the Lakers other big men like Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman, and whether or not Hill is in the starting lineup. It’s nice to see Hill finally doing something after being drafted by the Knicks in the first round back in 2009 and spending the next four seasons in relative obscurity. His overall numbers this year are the best of his career, and in 25 games as a starter he’s almost averaging a double-double despite seeing an average of just 23 minutes in those games. Only 6.1% of entrants in the Slam were believers on Wednesday, despite the early announcement that Gasol was out and Kaman was questionable. Keep an eye on their health to know if Hill is a recommended play going forward.
In addition to those five standout performers, strong games from DeMar DeRozan ($7,900) and Rudy Gay ($7,700) provided enough production for this lineup to overcome a bust by Brad Beal ($6,300) and a particularly poor effort from DeAndre Jordan ($7,900). Darkknight1511 took down the Slam finishing in first place by the slimmest of margins just 0.2 points ahead of second-place finisher Chitown_frenze, who still walked away with $5,500 in runner-up prize money for his efforts.
Make sure to visit FanDuel to enter the $1.2 Million Daily Fantasy Basketball Championship tournament that runs on Friday, April 4th if you want to take your shot at a truly enormous prize ($120,000 for first place). And don’t forget to keep an eye out for the next NBA Slam tournament coming your way every day through the end of the NBA season for a great chance to win some serious prize money.