NBA | Spotlight: Antetokounmpo, Harden, Durant | 10/23/17

The NBA season has been great to us so far at DFI, and Monday night offers us a fun slate with a star-studded main slate on PlayLine. Unfortunately, the big GPPs on PlayLine are filling more than 24 hours in advance lately, so I reached out to PlayLine to see if they’d make a new GPP for DFI users. They said yes, and you can access that by clicking here. As usual, it’s completely free to join and your winnings are withdrawable right after the contest. I’m glad I found this site as it’s not only a fun sweat to follow this type of game mode but it’s much easier to research in-depth since you only need to worry about a few players rather than the entire field. With that in mind, let’s jump into analyzing the three guys on this slate: Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, and Kevin Durant.

First up we have Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak has been absolutely dominant so far in 2017, justifying his first overall average draft position in season-long fantasy leagues. Coming off a career-high in points (44), Giannis has been scoring at will in every contest this season. His individual matchup is almost irrelevant on any given day as it’s a team effort by the opposing defense to try and slow him down. He’s hardly a guy who plays a specific position on offense, and the way he plays is unlike many other guys. The reason that matters is because it allows you essentially throw out the specific metrics of that team’s defense vs. a specific position and just consider the overall game flow. The Hornets are collectively a pretty solid defense, and we think it makes sense to project Giannis for a moderate scoring game by his 2017 standards. If you want to go contrarian you could project his point total on the lowest end of the following range: 22-32 points.

Here’s a look at how the scoring breaks down for a 3-player 3-stat slate like this:

Ideally you’d like to be within five points, so we think the highest you want to go is 35 as we’re not expecting another 40 point game from Giannis in this contest, and to go any higher than that means you’d completely miss out on any type of bonus if he were to put up 25 points which is still two points more than he averaged last year. He’s an improved player, but don’t expect him to average 38 points a game like he’s done so far. His shooting percentages are unbelievable and this matchup is a good regression spot for him.

Now we need to project his rebounds and assists, and this is an area where he isn’t due for much regression. His averages are right inline with last season’s averages, and if you watch the games you don’t see him getting particularly lucky or unlucky. Projecting him for 7-9 rebounds and 4-6 assists seems like the correct decision.

Moving on to James Harden, his stat lines have been incredibly consistent so far this year. He’s not that consistent of a player, so he provides us with a chance to differentiate ourselves from the crowd. Against Memphis, many people will either project Harden for an average or below average game. You should consider projecting him for an above average game and hope that he can still perform in a slower paced game. If you just want to play it safe, put Harden for a stat line around 26/7/3. If you want to differentiate yourself with a calculated risk, consider projecting him 32/9/6. With Chris Paul out, Harden should be taking over the game if it’s close until the end. The only thing to consider against that tactic is that the field is not particularly sharp on PlayLine right now, so you might not have to go very contrarian. Projecting Harden slightly below his averages to account for the downgraded matchup with Memphis could pan out just fine as it’s possible that most people will just see the name James Harden and project him over 30 points.

The last player on the slate is Kevin Durant, who hasn’t gotten off to a hot start in 2017 as he’s yet to shoot over 50% from the field in any game. His most recent performance culminated in an ejection while arguing in favor of his teammate Stephen Curry whose actions did not deserve to be defended in any way (and I’m a Warriors fan). The upside for Durant is that his shot attempts have gone up every game, and his matchup at Dallas could finally be his breakout game. His rebounding stats have been all over the place so far in just a three game sample, but a reasonable projection for him would be 7-9. His assists usually hover around 3-4 so if you predict him right around there you’ll very likely be spot on or claim a nice bonus. The difficulty with Durant is often predicting his point totals, and in this game we think you should project him on the high end relative to his performances this season. We’d go with a total between 28-35 with a lean to the upper end and hope to capture a nice bonus if he goes over other people’s projections.

Good luck and enjoy the games!

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