November 29, 2013
Daily Fantasy Basketball Bargains

DraftKings Daily NBA Bargains (Friday November 29th)


When putting together your daily fantasy lineup, bargain plays are essential to coming out on top and putting cash in your pocket.

It would be great if we could plug in all of our favorite stars every week, but unless you’re playing with an unlimited budget, that would be pretty much impossible. If you use our weekly bargain plays, though, you’ll be afforded the extra cash to get more fantasy studs in your lineup. Here are the top bargains for Friday, November 29th.

*Prices via DraftKings

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PG: Aaron Brooks vs. Brooklyn ($3,000)


Brooks has been an important piece of the Rockets’ recently, and with Jeremy Lin sidelined up to two weeks, he will be receive a major bump in minutes. Over his past three games, Brooks’ shot has been red-hot, as he’s gone 11-17 from beyond the arc in 22 minutes per game. His price hasn’t been updated to reflect his new spot in the rotation though, making him a major bargain against a struggling Nets’ squad.


SG: Lance Stephenson vs. Washington ($5,700)


Stephenson is one of the most versatile two guards in the NBA, as he’s able to drive to the basket and set up teammates with relative ease. He’s averaging over six rebounds and nearly five assists per game to go along with solid scoring, and that kind of all-around production has led to some giant box scores this season. Stephenson also has a favorable matchup against the Wizards, who are allowing opponents to convert on over 47 percent of their field goals.

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SF: Gordon Hayward vs. Phoenix ($6,900)


Hayward started the season on an absolute tear, but he’s struggled lately through a bout of bad shooting. Hayward’s only shot better than 40 percent from the field once in his last four games, but he’s retained his fantasy value with great assists, steals and blocks numbers. The third-year forward is bound to break out of his shooting slump sooner rather than later, and as long as he’s chipping in other categories he’s still one of the most valuable small forwards in fantasy.  


PF: Terrence Jones vs. Brooklyn ($5,700)


Jones has been a natural fit in the Rockets’ up-tempo offense, and his role as a stretch-four is a valuable one from a fantasy perspective. Over his last seven starts, Jones is averaging 14.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.1 threes per game, making him one of the more complete assets in fantasy. The Nets have been one of the worst defensive team’s in the NBA and will struggle to keep up with the Rockets’ pace, so there should be plenty of opportunities for Jones to get his hands on the basketball.


C:  Andre Drummond vs. LAL ($7,100)


Drummond has transformed himself into one of the most consistent double-double threats in fantasy basketball. He’s recorded at least 10 points and 10 boards in nine of his last ten games, and he’s also provided a plethora of steals and blocks. In redraft formats Drummond’s fantasy value is severely damaged by his free throw deficiencies (22.6 percent), but in daily leagues that’s not a concern.

July 12, 2013
Andrei Kirilenko wants to win

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Andrei Kirilenko has effectively taken a $7 million pay cut to play for the Brooklyn Nets. On June 29th, Kirilenko opted out of his guaranteed $10.2M contract with the Timberwolves in order to become a free agent. Yesterday, he came to terms with the Nets on a reasonable two-year deal for the mid-level exception. 

Before the acquisition, it was believed the Nets would be hamstrung by their inflated cap figures, making any more free agent signings unlikely. Once again Mikhail Prokhorov has thrown caution (and his bankroll) to the wind, in an attempt to stack Brooklyn’s roster.

It’s been an off-season of big trades, headlines, and plenty of attention for the Nets franchise. The team’s move to acquire Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry from the Celtics has been met with equal parts enthusiasm and trepidation in NBA circles, but there’s no denying how big of an asset Kirilenko will be to this Nets team. 

Kirilenko brings a skill-set to the Nets that was sorely lacking from last season’s roster. The 2012 Nets were a talented group but struggled to mesh together as a true team. They had talented offensive players, like Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, but nobody on defense to instill fear in the hearts of opposing scorers. Even the guy they brought in to do the dirty work, Gerald Wallace, failed to live up to expectations.

For all of the talk that Kirilenko is past his prime, last season his points, rebounds, and steals numbers equaled or exceeded his career averages, which means this guy can definitely still play at a high level. Kirilenko is a problem on defense with his ultra-lanky physique and active hands, and he brings a dimension to the defense that was completely missing last year. 

Kirilenko’s skills are impressive, but even more so is his desire to win. That was the team’s true weakness last year; they just didn’t seem like they were all-in at any point. By leaving millions of dollars on the table to come to a competing franchise, Kirilenko has sent a clear message to the rest of his new teammates. Now it’s up to them to listen.

June 21, 2013
Game 7, in a nutshell.

Game 7, in a nutshell.

June 20, 2013
Joey Craword & the NBA Finals

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Joey Crawford should not be officiating this series. How is this not a conflict of interest? For those who don’t know, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan have a beef with Crawford because he has had a pretty serious problem with them.

It all started in 2007 when Crawford called a technical foul on Tim Duncan for laughing on the bench.

It was one of the worst abuses of power by a referee that I’ve ever seen. Duncan wasn’t on the court or addressing Crawford directly so there was no merit for any sort of foul call. For his part in the incident, Crawford was later suspended indefinitely by the NBA.

The rivalry was renewed at a Halloween party a few years ago when Duncan and Parker snapped the above picture of them threatening a Joey Crawford look-alike. Considering the fact that Crawford is a total psycho, he probably didn’t take kindly to the joke.

The NBA Finals should be officiated by the best of the best. It doesn’t make sense that an official who had been previously been suspended for poor judgement would be allowed to call several games in the biggest series of the season.

How is Joey Crawford supposed to call this game without bias, when he knows Duncan and Parker have made jokes involving injuring him? I’m not blaming the players here, though it probably wasn’t the best idea to mock a still active referee who can still call fouls on you.

All of the blame is on the NBA for this one. When Tim Donaghy exposed his fellow dirty officials David Stern stepped in and said it was all lies from a shady, jaded ex-employee. Tim Donaghy might be a criminal, but it doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to connect the dots on this one. Joey Crawford has a clear bias against the Spurs and the NBA is doing nothing to stop it.

June 19, 2013
The best 3-point shooter in NBA history.

The best 3-point shooter in NBA history.

June 12, 2013
Lebron’s problem isn’t his confidence, it’s the Spurs defense

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Game 3 was supposed to be the game that Lebron James re-asserted himself as the best player in the world. Instead of taking control of the series and stealing back home-court, James was reduced to his pre-championship form, and often looked frustrated and out of sorts throughout the game.

Lebron James didn’t choke last night, he’s not suffering from a confidence problem, and he doesn’t need to stop facilitating. In Game 3 James led the Heat with 21 field goal attempts, and had a series-low five assists.

James also had zero free throw attempts. Well, if the best player in world didn’t get to the line once, he must have been passive right? That’s just simply not the case. Kawhi Leonard has done a masterful job of guarding Lebron so far. Paul George is a great defender, but during the Eastern Conference Finals he struggled to stay in front of James, most notably in the finals seconds of Game 1, as he let Lebron right by him for the game-winning layup.

Through three NBA Finals games, not many easy looks have materialized for Lebron. In Game 3, coach Gregg Popovich had Leonard play off James, and dared him to shoot. James took the bait, and missed jump-shot, after jump-shot. What the Spurs refused to allow however, were easy drives to the basket.

If Lebron managed to get by Leonard, the Spurs countered James with another defender in front of him to block the path to the rim. There was simply nowhere to go for Lebron last night, he didn’t settle for outside shots, he was forced to take them.

We have seen this before from James and the media. In the 2011 NBA Finals, Tyson Chandler’s rim protection, and the Mavericks heavy use of the Zone-Defense stopped Lebron from ever getting started. James looked awful in that series, but you also got the sense that Lebron had checked out mentally. He went through long stretches in that series where he refused to touch the ball, especially in the fourth quarter.

I’ve seen none of that from James in these Finals. What I have seen, is a Spurs defense that has a game-plan in place to stop James, and an MVP who needs to make some counter-adjustments of his own.

June 12, 2013
Nets looking for another splashy move, Kidd in sights

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Jason Kidd is close to agreeing to terms with the Nets to become their next Head Coach.

Those familiar with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov should not be shocked by this news. Since he’s taken over the Nets, he has done everything in his power to elevate their status as a franchise. From moving the team to Brooklyn, to aggressively trading for aging stars like Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace, his fingerprints have been all over the Nets recently.

The Nets first season in Brooklyn ended ugly. They were bounced out of the 1st round by a hobbled Bulls team missing Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, and never looked like they were truly in synch. To top it off, the Nets were eliminated in Game 7, in front of their home-crowd, the same crowd that had waited decades for a professional sports team to return to Brooklyn.

It must be difficult for the Nets upper management to admit what’s wrong with their team. The roster is made up of over-priced, over-hyped superstars, that often looked disinterested last year. It’s much easier for the Nets to try to stick a band-aid over the situation, than really address the problem.

Jason Kidd is not going to save the Nets, no coach can. Brooklyn is destined to be a good-but-not great team, and putting a positive story out there like Kidd to the Nets isn’t going to change things.

The Nets are holding on to the image of Jason Kidd as their savior. After all, it was Kidd who led the Nets to back-to-back Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003, with little more help than Kenyon Martin and Kerry Kittles at his side. Kidd was the floor general of those teams. He wasn’t a player who would go out with a killer instinct and score 50 points, but he got the most out of his teammates, and made everyone around him better.

Kidd could turn out to be a fine coach, or even a great one, but to hire him just weeks after he retired as a player, when there are good veteran coaches available out there, just reeks of desperation. If the Nets want to seriously compete for championships, they need to stop making the easy quick-fix moves, and start building this franchise like they should, from the ground up.

June 11, 2013
Heat-Spurs Game 3, Against The Spread

Vegas Line: Spurs -2

The schedule says Game 3, but it might as well say Game 7.  History says that whoever wins tonight will have the decided edge in the rest of the series. Since the NBA adopted the 2-3-2 finals format, 13 series have been tied 1-1. In that span, only one Game Three loser has gone on to win the series.

The Heat are at their best when their backs are against the wall. Since their 2011 NBA Finals loss to the Mavericks, Miami has thrived against adversity. Down 2-1 to the Pacers in 2011, down 3-2 to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, and down 1-0 in the NBA Finals against the Thunder, the Heat found a way to win every time.

The Heat have lost home court advantage to the Spurs, and are staring at three straight games in the raucous AT&T Center. If Miami loses Game 3, they will have to win Games 4 and 5 to stay in the series, in an arena with some of the most frenzied fans in the country.

Miami wants to avoid having to win two-straight road games at all costs. This is a motivated Heat team and possibly the biggest game of the series.

Right now, the Spurs are holding steady as two point favorites. San Antonio may have the home court advantage, but a Miami underdog is too good to pass up. In fact, in 100 games this season, the Heat have been favored to win all but eight.

Besides the historical significance of a Game 3 win, the Heat have just flat-out been the better team so far. Miami has led or tied the Spurs in seven of the first eight quarters of the series, and has had more consistent team production.

Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade and Ray Allen are finally producing again. All three are averaging double figures in points, and Bosh in particular has stepped up his overall game. Through two games, Bosh is averaging 12.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3 steals and one block. Mike Miller is even back in the rotation, draining threes just like last season’s NBA Finals run.

The only consistent offensive players for the Spurs have been Tony Parker and Danny Green. Parker’s heroics in game one included 21 points, 6 assists and an incredible buzzer beater to put San Antonio up for good. Green has been shooting his way into the history books and hitting threes at a ridiculous pace. He has made 66% of his field goals and 64% of his three-point shots so far in the series. The Spurs are going to need Green to keep up this insane pace, just to compete.

Tim Duncan has struggled, hitting just 11 of his first 32 shots, and Manu Ginobili is nowhere to be found. For all of the talk that San Antonio has the more complete team, Miami’s secondary stars and bench players are helping Lebron more than San Antonio’s are helping Parker.

The Heat are the superior team yet find themselves as underdogs in a must-win game. That’s something I just can’t pass up.

 

Pick: Heat +2

 

June 7, 2013
Heat should be optimistic heading into game 2

When the Heat are at their best, they are tenacious defensively, and turn opponents mistakes into easy transition buckets of their own. In Game 1, Miami had more Rebounds, Assists and shot a better percentage from the field than the Spurs, and still lost. For 40 minutes of last night’s game, Miami was able to dictate the pace and score points on the fast break.

Then, the fourth quarter arrived.

All of Miami’s old demons were on fully display last night, as they squandered a late lead, and looked sloppy down the stretch. As Tony Parker took over with 10 fourth quarter points, Miami’s big three shrunk, and combined for just eight points, including zero from Dwyane Wade.

As the third quarter ended, the Heat walked off the court with a three point lead. Exhausted from the effort of leading the team in points, and guarding Tim Duncan and Kawhai Leonard, Lebron James told coach Spoelstra that he needed a break once the 4th quarter started.

Lebron returned to the game with about 9:00 remaining, and instead of putting the game away, he succumbed to his fatigue, which sealed Miami’s fate. The game’s momentum completely shifted, after a pass intended for James deflected off his hands and into the clutches of Tony Parker, who turned the mistake into two free throw shots.

With 7:45 remaining in the game, the Spurs would take a 77-76 lead, and held on tight. Miami would take the lead back for a brief moment, before another Lebron turnover resulted in a fast break layup for Parker, making the game 81-78 with 6:00 to go. From that point on, the Spurs held on to the lead, and didn’t look back.

Lebron James finished the quarter with six points on 2/4 shooting and two turnovers. His mistakes might have been untimely, but they didn’t cost the Heat the game. Miami couldn’t seal the deal because the Spurs turned up their defensive pressure in the fourth quarter, and stopped the Heat from getting anything going on offense.

Miami finished the quarter with five made field goals, and five turnovers.

In the fourth quarter, Chris Andersen had as many field goals as Lebron James, and more than Chris Bosh and D-Wade combined. When it mattered most, the Big 3 couldn’t make a shot if their lives depended on it, and that’s why they lost game one.

After the game, Wade and Lebron attributed their struggles to the fatigue of their seven game series with the Pacers, which was a grueling and physical series.

"Obviously, I thought that we were a little fatigued, honestly, in the fourth quarter, looking around," Wade said after the game. "We looked like a team that came off a seven‑game series. I thought we got some shots we wanted. But we were a little careless at times as well. We turned it over."

Miami edged out the Spurs in almost every statistical category last night, and were in position to put away the game late. The Spurs won’t be as fresh during Game 2 as they were last night, and Miami will get some much deserved rest. It’s going to be far from easy, but Miami should be encouraged by what they were able to do for most of the game last night, they just can’t get gassed in the fourth quarter again.

June 6, 2013
NBA Finals Game 1: Halftime reflections

Score: Heat 52, Spurs 49


So far, so good for Miami in the NBA Finals.

The Spurs opened up the game looking anything but rusty, as they pulled ahead with an early 9-2 lead, but as the first half wore on, Miami started to impose their will. Lebron James is well on his way to another triple double, with 10 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists in just the 1st half.

Besides Lebron’s brilliance, Miami has done a very solid job knocking down their outside shots. Ray Allen got off to a nice start with two three-point shots, and as a team the Heat are 6-15 from beyond the arch.

Who said D-Wade was done? He leads all scorers with 13, and has aggressively looked for his shot early on. He’s not settling for many jumpers, and is attacking the rim like the Wade of old, instead of an old Wade.

Also key early on for Miami has been their bench. Norris Cole, Mike Miller, Ray Allen and Chris Andersen have combined for 19 points, five rebounds and four assists, if their reserve’s can keep up this production, you can bet the Heat will close out the game with a win.

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