The NBA is back to its old tricks as we look at another 13-game mega slate following yesterday’s tiny three-gamer. Yesterday’s short-slate was filled with injury news and player availability questions and unfortunately all but two teams are playing again tonight, the exceptions being Boston and the Lakers, so I wouldn’t be surprised if many of those players end up getting some rest on the second leg of their back-to-backs. Looking at the board, there are several games carrying totals under 210 which should be avoided unless you can get in very inexpensively and three games carrying totals north of 220 where I’ll be focusing my investment tonight. Specifically the games between Utah and Minnesota, Orlando and Sacramento, and Brooklyn and Houston all set up to provide ample scoring opportunity and are games I want to build my portfolio around. I really like attacking the Blue Chips on these nights because the large player pool generally keeps prices down and while several players can find their way into the top-10 on nights like this, only a small handful have top-three upside and their discounted prices are too good to pass up
Stephen Curry | PG | Golden State Warriors
Jock MKT Projection – 45.39 (8th)
Max IPO Bid -$10.75
Break-Even Rank – 10.5
The fact that Steph Curry’s projected IPO price currently sits under $10 is insanity to me. His average IPO on the year is $13.24 and Curry has produced an average 83% ROI in games where his price comes in under $11.00. I can certainly understand how some of the ups and downs of Curry’s play recently can impact his fair market value, but this is a bridge too far. Over his last 10 games, Curry has had three games where he scored under his current projection; back-to-back games against Phoenix where he put up 35.23 and 16.25 as well as a game against Toronto where he finished at 24.5. Removing those three games, Curry is averaging 51.25 fantasy points and has six finishes inside the top 10. I don’t think those games were flukey necessarily, Phoenix and Toronto are simply two of the best perimeter defenses in the league. Tonight Curry gets to square off against a Portland team that is fairly average, allowing opposing PG to score about 48 fantasy points per game, but weak in the areas where Curry is strong; allowing PGs to score nearly three 3’s and nine assists per game. Given the dearth of talent on the board and the swings in Curry’s production of late, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him settle into the $9 range when IPO closes, but want to bid aggressively with Curry being a major priority tonight.
Scottie Barnes | SF |Toronto Raptors
Jock MKT Projection – 35.05 (37th)
Max IPO Bid -$5.70
Break-Even Rank – 29.57
I know I just finished saying this game is one of the ones to avoid but hear me out. First and foremost, Scottie Barnes is simply too cheap tonight. His average IPO price has averaged $7.31 over his last five games and on four of those five slates he’s come in over $8.00. Now we’re likely to get him for under $5.50 and you expect me to just look away because of a low game total? What is particularly unique about the decision to play Barnes is not that just that he’s in far-and-away the best matchup for power forwards tonight but the specifics of how the Thunder are allowing 52.9 fantasy points per game to the position. It is the defensive stats that are buoying that output as the OKC is allowing the most rebounds and blocks as well as the 10th most steals to power forwards on the season. In a game projected to be one of the lowest-scoring on the board, I love getting exposure against a team that is just hemorrhaging defensive production like OKC is. While this certainly won’t be Barnes’ highest scoring night of the year, I expect him to stay very effective from the field (where he’s shot 51.4% over his last six games) and avoid the -0.5 ding for missed shots. I’m willing to drop a high bid on Barnes but would not be surprised at all if we see him settle in under $5.00 tonight.
Jaren Jackson Jr.
Jock MKT Projection – 31.77 (47th)
Max IPO Bid -$3.95
Break-Even Rank – 42.5
We’re running it back with Jaren Jackson Jr. again! If you read this piece last week you know we were able to turn a nifty 79% profit when we acquired him for $6.72 and he finished eighth on the slate. Unfortunately, JJJ has been on a bit of a skid since then, finishing with less than 23 points in each of his last two games, but I think that should only work to drive down his asking price on tonight’s slate. The story of this recent lack of production is really one of scoring. Jackson is seeing almost identical minutes and usage since Ja Morant has been lost to injury but in games where he can score effectively he is finishing north of 40 fantasy points whereas his cooler shooting nights lead to those down performances on Jock MKT. Tonight against the Mavericks he gets the team that is allowing the second-most points to opposing centers at 25.41 to go along with plenty of opportunity on the boards where they allow nearly 18 rebounds per game. If an ailing Kristaps Porzingis gets the night off after playing 31 minutes just last night, JJJ gets an ever greater boost to his advantage as he’ll see more of an under-sized Dorian Finney-Smith and Maxi Kleber who struggles mightily on the boards. I’m bidding around $4.00 to acquire JJJ tonight but I’m completely expecting to see his recent performances keep him closer to $3.50 and that is music to my ears.