Hey NBA aficionados! I am putting together a new column for the 2nd half of the 2021 - 2022 NBA regular season which I am calling the Happy Hour / Lunch Hour article. For those on the East Coast, you will most likely see this article published by 3 PM ET which is right when you are about to get off from work and grab a drink at your local watering hole. Hopefully reading this article while you get your slight buzz on will give you something to ponder when there is still about 3 hours left before the lock deadline for the main slate. As for the West Coast folks, you will most likely be on your lunch break when this piece is posted to my blog around 12 PM PT. What better way to spend your lunch hour than to mess around with some lineups using the analysis I discuss!
First off, it would make sense to share a Google spreadsheet displaying the outputs to my model. Just click on the link below.
Secondly, it would also make sense to view the top 5 optimal lineups using my model. Check them out!
FYI, my model's outputs is technically for FanDuel (FD) but can also be used for DraftKings (DK) since the scoring is comparable.
Now, let's break the slate down by position and I will offer some narratives.
PG: Luka Doncic and Jalen Green
Cracking 60 points on FD is never easy. Doncic has done that 8 out of his last 10 games. His former teammate Kristaps Porzingis left the game early on 1/29 due to injury which is when Doncic's insane DFS run started. Coincidence? I think not! Now that Porzingis is with Washington, this is strictly the Doncic show in Dallas. The matchup is not great but who cares. Someone of Doncic's talent level is pretty much matchup proof. Plus it's probably better that the game will be close since it means more minutes for Doncic. I am still perplexed with his low ownership but that is good for you!
As for Green, we need some salary savings. He has been incredibly consistent with cracking 20 FD points in his last 6 games. Plus the matchup is very soft with two of the worst NBA teams doing at it tonight. While other starters on Houston tend to get higher usage and more field goal attempts, Green is not far behind them. After all, Houston invested a very high pick in him last year and with the season pretty much over for Houston (they should be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs in the next couple of weeks), what else does Houston have to play for besides giving the future of the team a hard look. I expect Green to get higher usage in the next few weeks starting with tonight.
SG: James Harden and Malik Monk
You can probably sense a theme here. Grab a high priced player and one with value. Harden comes with risk. He hasn't played a game in over 3 weeks and he is playing for a new team. However, everyone has had at least a week off from NBA so whatever rust Harden has tonight will be similar to what other players will experience. And Harden has changed teams quite frequently. Philadelphia will now be his 3rd team in the last 14 months. When Harden joined Brooklyn at this time last year, he simply messed around and got a triple double (quick, which rap reference is that?) in his debut. Kevin Durant also benefited tremendously scoring 42 points that night. Something tells me that Harden and Joel Embiid are ready to take the east by storm by forming one of the most dynamic duos the NBA has never seen in quite some time. I truly feel the three headed monster in Brooklyn was never going to work with huge egos and constant injuries or issues with Durant and Kyrie Irving. Sometimes less is more and some teams do just fine with two superstars instead of three.
Monk is someone who should get good run with Anthony Davis out for a while. Of course LeBron James and Russell Westbrook will get tons of usage but Westbrook has played well below expectations for this entire season, even when James and/or Davis are out. What helps Monk is that both Westbrook and James are prolific ball distributors so I am confident that Monk will be given the ball often in open space. We just need him to hit his shots and he should given the Clippers floudering defense. The usage bump to Monk is nothing to scoff at when Davis is off the floor.
SF: Cameron Johnson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (KCP)
Johnson played very well last night when he was thrust into the starting role with Chris Paul out for sometime and no Cameron Payne. Not often will get you a starter earning 30+ minutes for a championship contender at a salary below $5,000 on FD. It won't be long before his price hovers above $6,000 so take the savings when you can.
KCP is a tough nut to crack but I like his minutes and usage since Beal was declared out for the season. His price is right and may not rise at all this season given his inconsistency. However, if you pick your spots with KCP, he can reward you very nicely with a 7 or 8x night. Tonight could be one of those nights. The Spurs defense is mediocre at best and they play at a very fast pace. While Kyle Kuzma will be the main guy for Washington, KCP won't be far behind getting somewhere between 10 - 12 field goal attempts and plenty of counting stats.
PF: Bojan Bogdanovic and Jae Crowder
You can tell by now that I am focusing on starters who will get plenty of minutes on playoff contenders. With just a few weeks left until the NBA playoffs begin, those in contention are going to give their starters plenty of run until playoff spots/ positioning is all settled. Bogdanovic is much like KCP. His price won't change much and he is not terribly consistent. However, if you want to roster the studs and not take a huge risk with a player at minimum salary (unless late injury news prompts us to do so), you will need to pay up a bit for the starters on good team. A sub-20 night from Bogdanovic can kill us but I think he is plenty capable of a 25+ point night after having a week off to rest. If he pushes 30 or 35 points, count your lucky stars!
Similar to Johnson, Crowder also benefited with Paul's recent injury. Of course Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges shined last night but there is still plenty of usage to go around with Paul's absence. All we are asking from Crowder is to give us at 5x value. For his last 7 games, Crowder is averaging 28.6 FD points per game and has not dipped below 20 FD points in any of those games. That is remarkable consistency and he should see the court for somewhere between 25 - 30 minutes with decent usage. Again, we are rostering starters on playoff quality teams tonight with exception to Green.
C: Joel Embiid
What better way to end this column than with the best center in the NBA. OK, Jokic is very good too but I think Embiid has so much untapped potential. Now he gets the sidekick he has been coveting. The Ben Simmons saga is over and let's usher in the Harden era to Philly. Embiid is a very unselfish player so I can see a very strong correlation with both him and Harden. Minnesota should be quite tired having played last night so Embiid can feast. Much like Doncic, Embiid is very capable of cracking 60 FD points on any given night. He has 3 games of 60 or more FD points in his last 4 games and has cracked 50 FD points in 13 of the last 14 games. Embiid had more than 70 FD points in three of those games.
If we do the math, we are banking on 70+ FD point games from Doncic and Embiid. Maybe a 60 FD point game from Harden. Then close to 30 FD points each from the other 6 players. That adds up to 360 - 380 total points which should get you over the cash line on FD. You can run something similar on DK but I would probably leave out Embiid or Harden. You will want Doncic in there given his recent hot streak.
Good luck and I will post final lineups about 30 minutes before lock.