By: Eric Romoff
To serve as a counterbalance to the micro-slate from last night, The Association is offering up a huge 13-game slate for us on Wednesday. Whenever this is the case, I’ve found that there are several middle-of-the-pack players who simply don’t get the attention they deserve and end up with IPO prices that can be exploited. Despite being such a large slate of games, we only find two teams playing on a back-to-back and the game totals are closely compacted with the majority of games ranging from 207-217. The outliers are on both ends of the spectrum with two games carrying 205.5 totals and 4 games sitting north of 222.5, including the crown jewel of the slate: Charlotte at Memphis coming in with an insane 229.5 total. Obviously, I want to get as much exposure to that game as possible, but it’s fair to expect most players will be taking a similar line so everyone playing in that game is likely to carry a heavy premium. The lower-scoring games, however, Indiana vs. Denver and Toronto vs. Boston, typically don’t get as much attention and often feature defensive specialists who can vault up final rankings with a busy night accumulating boards, steals and blocks. Ultimately this large slate gives you a lot of agency to compose your portfolio how you see fit and I’ll be looking mainly for players who won’t get their pre-IPO due but carry the upside to finish inside the top 20 of scorers.
Luka Doncic | PG/SF | Dallas Mavericks
Jock MKT Projection – 42 (13th)
Max IPO Bid -$11.20
Break-Even Ranking – 9.6
I get the sneaking suspicion that as the day goes on we’ll see Luka’s projection creep up and his fair market value follow suit. If it remains as it is he’d be projected to deliver a $9.50 return on an estimated IPO price of $6.88, nearly a 40% profit. Even if we do see the market calibrate a considerable amount, Luka remains one of my favorite plays on the board. He has the skill-set to flirt with a top-three finish on any given night and many of the other names in that mix are facing difficult defensive matchups or squaring off against some of the slowest-paced teams in the league. Luka on the other hand gets to run and gun against a Chicago team that ranks sixth in offensive efficiency in a game that carries a 216 total and a three-point spread. Luka’s season has certainly had its ups and downs but his 42-point projection is a full 2 points below his average for the season and he has already tallied three games north of 50 points thus far. Taking a closer look, it’s Luka’s shooting from behind the arc that is hindering his performance. He is a career 33.3% shooter from distance but is only averaging 29.5% on the season and his down performances came in games where he was 1-7 and 2-10 from three. This is ripe for positive regression and we’ve seen that start to creep in with Luka going 7 for 15 (46.7%) from deep in his last two. I’ll be keeping an eye on how his projection fluctuates throughout the day but ultimately I’m planning on bidding for Luka like the top-10 player we know him to be and will be happy if market forces find his IPO price anywhere near his current FMV.
Domantas Sabonis | PF/C | Indiana Pacers
Jock MKT Projection – 38.45 (26th)
Max IPO Bid -$6.85
Break-Even Ranking – 22.94
Buy the dips, as they say. Domantas Sabonis is the model of the modern NBA big man with his skill around the basket coupled with an ability to shoot effectively enough from range. Unfortunately, he’s been on a bit of a cold snap in the shooting department of late. He’s currently in the midst of a one for 17 streak from deep and despite a couple of hot shooting nights to open the year, has slumped to a woeful .222 average on the season. Much like the instance we explored above with Luka, Sabonis is a far superior shooter in his career and I expect the slump that is driving down his price tag to break in his favor sooner rather than later. He has been plenty on the boards this year, with double-digit rebounds in six of 10 games, and tonight gets the added bonus of facing a Nuggets team that will be without the reigning MVP down low as Jokic serves a suspension for nearly breaking Markieff Morris in half in his last game. This should leave the Denver defense in shambles, giving Sabonis the opportunity for more boards and put-back scoring throughout the game. If Sabonis can break 20 points tonight he has the ability to finish north of 50 fantasy points, as he has three times on the year, and deliver an incredible return on his severely depressed asking price.
Kyle Kuzma |SF/PF | Washington Wizards
Jock MKT Projection – 29.63 (63rd)
Max IPO Bid -$3.10
Break-Even Ranking – 49
This is one of the spots that I’m expecting will go largely overlooked tonight. Both teams are absolutely riddled with injuries, ranking in the bottom third of the league in pace of play, and carry a game total below 210 for their matchup. Taking a closer look, one player really jumps out as the off-the-radar guy to target and that is Kyle Kuzma. He has been one of the primary beneficiaries of a Washington frontcourt that has spent most of the year nursing injury and finds Kuzma getting more minutes at the four. Based on his early-season performance Kuzma has shown many of the attributes that found him as a top draft pick a few years ago and has leaned into the role injury has afforded him, collecting double-digit rebounds in five of 10 games on the year. Working to Kuzma’s benefit tonight is a Cavaliers frontcourt dealing with their own injury woes, which has forced Dean Wade into a starting role he clearly isn’t ready for. Wade has allowed forwards he’s facing to turn in 40-point performances in two of his three games in the starting lineup and simply doesn’t have the physical attributes to keep Kuzma from doing whatever he pleases on the court tonight. His projection lands him in the no-mans-land of payouts where even an average performance will find you upside on your Kuzma shares, but his price tag and the soft matchup he draws tonight give him upside that outweighs the risk.