By: Eric Romoff
The NBA has been bowing to the supremacy of NFL Football on Thanksgiving for several years now, not wanting to compete with the ratings juggernaut and tradition of football after the Thanksgiving meal. This leaves the Association jamming in as many games as possible on the Wednesday before and tonight is no different as we have a 13-gamer on deck in the NBA. Apart from the usual suspects, we don’t have much injury news heading into the slate but I expect player availability to be a theme as we have four teams playing on back-to-backs and several players who are nicked up and might end up getting an extra day’s rest before the Thanksgiving break. Last night we saw just how ugly things can get when defensive and slow-paced teams collide as Miami and Detroit combined for 192 points and bottomed-out several of the top-flight players on the board. With that in mind, tonight I’ll be focusing my investment on the players in games with totals over 217. This leaves us with eight games to build around, including the three in the late window with totals north of 220. As always, the IPO phase presents the greatest values on the board so keep an eye out for players who might be getting overlooked during bidding.
Kevin Durant | SF | Brooklyn Nets
Jock MKT Projection – 42.16 (9th)
Max IPO Bid -$10.35
Break-Even Rank – 11.3
I’m not entirely sure why, but Kevin Durant’s projection is considerably lower than it should be tonight. It’s actually the lowest projection he’s carried all season, despite him coming off a 51-point effort against Cleveland where he finished third on the slate. Durant did have a couple of down performances in the two games preceding that one and the recent emergence of James Harden has been eating into Durant’s scoring of late, but I view 42 points as much more of a floor game than a median for the former MVP. On the year he’s averaging 28.5 points, 7.8 boards and 5.1 assists and has been lights out shooting .558 from the field, .418 from three and .858 from the charity stripe. These stats have combined to leave Durant turning a profit on nine out of 15 games this season and yielding a 58% ROI for his investors on the whole. Blowouts have dragged down Durant’s output a good bit this year but tonight’s game against the Celtics features a 216.5 total and should come down to the wire, giving Durant plenty of opportunity to stuff the stat sheet. His projected IPO price is currently hovering around $7.80 and it would be an absolute dream to lock him in at such a low cost. I’m more than comfortable bidding over $10 for Durant tonight and will be thrilled if he gets overlooked and comes in under that point.
Zach LaVine | SG/SF | Chicago Bulls
Jock MKT Projection – 40.01 (15th)
Max IPO Bid – $7.55
Break-Even Rank – 19.8
There are two thing at play that have me targeting Zach LaVine tonight. He is currently ranked 16th in projected scoring but his estimated IPO price is down to 20th. Jock MKT is usually pretty tight when it comes to these sort of things but when you can identify them the usually offer a pretty safe floor for your portfolio. The other consideration for LaVine is his matchup and the way in which he’s delivered his fantasy points this season. Zach LaVine has delivered over 44 fantasy points on Jock MKT in every game where he’s scored more than 30 real-life points. While his projected IPO price puts him in play as it is, he’ll need to deliver closer to his ceiling if he is to climb the payout list tonight, and his matchup tonight against the Rockets its the perfect place to do it. Houston is currently allowing the second-most fantasy points to wings, by way of giving up the most real-life points and fourth-most threes to the position. This sets up perfectly for Zach LaVine to be the focal point of the Bulls’ offense and flirt with a 30-point night this time out, giving him the upside to land inside the top-10 on Jock MKT. Given just how top-heavy this slate it, I’d be surprised to see his IPO price break the $7.00 mark but if it does it zaps a lot of the appeal of this play for me.
Tobias Harris | SG/SF | Philadelphia 76ers
Jock MKT Projection – 31.74 (49th)
Max IPO Bid – $4.60
Break-Even Rank – 37.2
I love the guys that get filed away as “Penny Stocks” on these huge slates. Tobias Harris has projected to be inside the top-20 in 10 out of 13 Jock MKT slates but, even though his projected scoring is fairly stable, he sits all the way down at 49th on tonight’s 13-gamer. I think part of the consideration here is that Harris did miss the last game against Sacramento due to a hip injury and we’ve seen that red “GTD” flag drag down many players’ IPO price. Based on reporting out of Philadelphia, it sounds like Harris was fairly close to giving it a go in Sacramento so there is reason to be optimistic he plays tonight after getting some rest on Monday. When he is in the lineup, Harris is one of the more consistent players out there; averaging 20.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists and an even .500 shooting from the floor. His opponent in Golden State has surprised many by ratcheting up the defensive efficiency this season but defending forwards is their one weak spot, as they rank inside the top-five against guards and centers but closer to the mid-point in fantasy points allowed to forwards. I like Harris to outperform his projection by five or six or points tonight and bring a return somewhere around 45%