Tag Archives: Kevin Durant

BULLet Points: Merry Christmas! Bulls complete sweep of Thunder

  • The Bulls headed into rockin’ Oklahoma City and delivered a delightful Christmas gift in the form of a 105-96 victory. The Bulls led the entire 48 minutes. After a few demoralizing losses to inferior teams, Fred Hoiberg and co. needed this one.
  • Jimmy Butler was the man from start to finish. He pulled off highlight plays the entire game, with this buzzer beater worth watching a few more times:

  • Butler finished with 23 points, six rebounds, four assists, and four steals. He also did a great job containing Kevin Durant as much as humanly possible, consistently making him work to get his 29 points. Derrick Rose had a moderately encouraging day as well, finishing with 19 points and four rebounds on 7/18 shooting. He struggled to distribute the ball, finishing with just one assist.
  • In the absence of Joakim Noah (shoulder), the rest of the frontcourt stepped up in a big way. Nikola Mirotic started at small forward once again, and it actually worked out very nicely for Fred Hoiberg and the Bulls. Mirotic was a team-high +20 in only 16 minutes, adding seven rebounds and two blocks.
  • Taj Gibson and Pau Gasol were beasts. Gibson had 13 points and 10 boards in 34 minutes while Gasol was everywhere, tallying 21 points, 13 rebounds, and six dimes. The Thunder just don’t have anyone capable of stopping Gasol consistently inside, especially with Steven Adams in foul trouble early on. It was a great game for the duo, and hopefully a sign of more to come. The Bulls badly need more offensive production out of the frontcourt. With Joakim Noah out, the continued scoring of Gasol in particular will be critical.
  • Bobby Portis got another chance to shine with Noah out for a few weeks. His energy and offensive skill set are obviously exciting (the three point stroke!), but Portis is still raw. He has trouble guarding his man and still hasn’t learned the difference between an available shot and a good one. I’m looking forward to him getting more rotation minutes and improving. He had seven points, five rebounds, and three assists in 20 minutes.
  • The problem for the Thunder was a void of scoring from anyone besides Durant and Russell Westbrook, who tallied 26 points along with seven rebounds, eight assists, and six (!) steals. Serge Ibaka struggled mightily to hit anything and aside from Enes Kanter (a legitimately useful 14 and 12), none of Oklahoma City’s secondary options were able to provide a big enough boost.
  • Coming up: the Bulls head to Dallas tomorrow night for a 7:30 matchup with Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks.

BULLet Points: Vintage Rose performance leads to win over Thunder

After getting wrecked by Charlotte on Tuesday night, the Bulls returned to the United Center to host the Oklahoma City Thunder, with both teams entering the night at 3-2.  Given the way Chicago’s defense looked against a paltry Hornets offense on Tuesday, stopping the likes of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook looked to be a difficult task. Surprisingly, Oklahoma City’s offense couldn’t produce enough to overcome an early deficit.

  • In the first half, Chicago capitalized on a poor stretch of shooting from the Thunder to recover from being down 28-25 when the first quarter ended. Jimmy Butler led the Bulls to a 57-50 lead with 21 points at the half. He hit four of his five threes in the game, and he’s drained a scorching 57% of his triples this season.
  • Despite being outscored 23-19 in the third quarter, the Bulls maintained a fairly firm lead even as the game progressed well into the fourth quarter. The Thunder made a late run, but that’s when Derrick Rose finally provided some of the explosiveness he was once known for. It’s been a while since he’s looked as good as he did in the final stretch as he did in this game; Rose made 11/16 shots after missing eight of his first nine. He took charge in a way that he just had not been able to at all so far this season.
  • Rumors that Derrick might be on the way out of Chicago have begun to surface again. Brian Windhorst of ESPN speculated on SportsCenter that the Bulls/Rose breakup has already begun. Whatever you might think, the fact that he’s signed for over $40 million through 2017 will make it a major challenge to move on from him before then.
  • Rose did spend extra time working on his jump shot with Fred Hoiberg prior to Thursday’s game, and his 29 points (12 of which came in the fourth quarter) were critical as he closed out the Thunder. He ended up shooting 12 for 25, so the extra work may have been just what he needed.
  • Thursday’s game provided a glimpse of what the Bulls might be capable of when both Rose and Jimmy Butler are scoring. Butler had 26 points to Rose’s 29. Pau Gasol added a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
  • It was encouraging to see Joakim Noah play as much as he did (a season-high 26 minutes) and contribute seven rebounds and four assists. He stepped up his game for the big stage, and the Bulls were far more successful in his minutes compared to Pau Gasol’s. His role on the team has been in flux so far this year, but in the absence of a strong performance from Nikola Mirotic (just two points and four rebounds), Noah filled in very nicely.
  • Kevin Durant poured in 33 points, but Jimmy Butler made him work for them. Even so, Durant has one of the most effortless-looking jumpers in the NBA. Russell Westbrook struggled late but still put up a 20 point, ten assist, eight rebound line. He wasn’t as active as usual, but the Thunder were playing their fourth game in five nights.
  • After making his debut on Tuesday, Bobby Portis didn’t see any time in Thursday’s game. Granted, it was a close one from start to finish, but I would like to see him get at least a few more minutes on a regular basis. His defense is shaky, but after six games, he has appeared in just one of them. He needs time on the floor.
  • From here, the Bulls will remain at home to face the 2-1 Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday.

Reverse Engineering an NBA FanDuel Winner

If you’re like me, you spend hours on DFS nearly every day. Truthfully, there are countless ways you can build a winning lineup, and even more countless ways you can spend your time researching and digging through stats to build it. One commonly overlooked aspect of building a winning lineup has nothing to do with the day you’re actually building that lineup. I’m talking about really sitting down and taking 10 minutes to look over the previous day’s winner of the GPP you played in. More so, look at the top 10 on the leaderboard of your GPP and analyze each and every pick and try to reverse engineer what that person was thinking and why. How did this person make sense of the market today, and take advantage of weaknesses and strengths. Let’s take a look at February 11th’s 13 game slate so I can give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

First, I’ll show you what I had…

thor1

I won’t spend much time here because I really had a crappy lineup. Somehow it managed to cash in all three of my 50/50s and I made $12 on the night. James Johnson was dubbed the starter again about an hour before tipoff and his salary was rock bottom so I thought I was getting a lot of value there. That was really my first mistake, as I should’ve spent up more there and gone with a mid-tier option like Middleton, Parsons, or Ariza. Truthfully, I got lucky because Johnson was one of the most owned SFs of the night, so it didn’t sink me. The other mistake I made was going for Tyreke and I suppose Asik. That game should’ve played a lot closer, but the Pelicans just did nothing and the pacers were great. It probably made more sense to go with Oladipo or a Lou Williams/Crawford there and take my 30-35 points and upgrade elsewhere.

Now, let’s take a look at the winner of the Wednesday 150K NBA Shot tournament. On a night like Wednesday where there were 13 games, I wouldn’t worry about making contrarian picks, except in the case of James Harden, so I really won’t include much talk about being contrarian in this article.

thor2

Point Guards

This guy went after a lot of players I really like on Wednesday. Barea was an excellent option, especially as Monta Ellis was a GTD. I used him in my DK lineup, but not on FD. There’s really not much analysis that needs to be done here. That pick made a lot of sense. Barea had been playing really well with Rondo out and had a great matchup against the Jazz. The other PG pick is the more unique pick, which helped propel him up the leaderboards. George Hill was owned in just 7.2% of entries, and was certainly on my radar, but it felt riskier, which is why I went Payton who was supposed to see an uptick in usage with Harris out. Anyway, Hill was coming off bad games against San Antonio and Charlotte. Neither are particularly good defensive teams, but before that he had a small stretch of 30+ FP games. The Pelicans were giving up the most FPPG to opposing PGs over their last five games (thanks Russell), and had played in a number of tough games recently giving Hill a reasonable opportunity for another 30+ FP night. On a night where PG scoring was relatively low, Hill was the greatest value.

Ricky-Rubio-nails-crazy-circus-shot.

The strategy of going cheap at PG on Wednesday was really what you needed to do. There was so much value with guys like Rubio, Hill, Parker, Barea, Clarkson, Chalmers and Payton, that you really didn’t need to spend up for a Steph Curry, Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook although you could have done fine with either Curry or Westbrook (more so for Curry). The main lesson you can take away from Wednesday night here is that on large slates the position with the most viable plays is where you need to save your money, as you can get much more overall value out of cheaper guys than the high priced studs.

Shooting Guard

jklein didn’t blow anyone away at the SG spot, but most importantly he faded Harden, Tyreke, Thompson, and Monta (obviously). The Harden and Monta fades were easy, but the Tyreke and Thompson ones were a little harder to make. DeRozan was a quick lock in my lineup and I bet jklein’s. He just plays too big of a role in the Raptor offense for his price of $6,900, and the Wizards were going to be without Beal in a seemingly close game. I was surprised to see him owned at just 13.3% in this GPP. He made another very safe play with Crawford at his second SG spot. The LA/Houston game was a game that I was planning to go after hard (as you can see by my Paul, Barnes, and Smith plays), and jklein had a similar strategy while nabbing Crawford, Ariza, Smith, and Jordan.

Again, on a big slate it can pay to take certainties over wildcards. Crawford at $5200 was almost a lock for 25 FPs, and facing Houston on a back to back left room for upside if Houston fell behind (which they did in the fourth quarter).

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Small Forward

Small Forward was a position where you could’ve gone in a million different directions Wednesday. There were attractive options everywhere and at all tiers of salary. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that the position can be somewhat of a crapshoot at times. Going with the “safe” theme, he took KD at home against the Grizzlies. Not an ideal matchup, but you know in all likelihood Durant will get you a minimum of 40 FPs. It worked out well in his favor as Durant was the top scoring SF on the night, and was only owned in 9.1% of entries. If you’re paying up for Durant, it makes sense to go cheap at the other SF spot, especially with aspirations of getting DeAndre Jordan as your Center. Thus, he went for Ariza in a game that had the highest O/U of the night and a close spread. Smart! Personally I liked Barnes more, and he was the better value but hey, he won.

kevin-durant
Power Forward

Josh Smith was another guy I knew I had to have Wednesday as he had a great matchup against the Blake Griffin-less Clippers and had been on a roll without Dwight Howard around. Super easy pick to make. Going with Sullinger was quite a bit ballsier, but the spread was surprisingly small for that game if I remember correctly (maybe 7.5), and he had been playing really well since he was taken out of the starting lineup for being late for a walkthrough a couple weeks back. Anyone who finished in the top ten Wednesday had Sullinger, West, Josh Smith, or Jason Smith. There was really not much else you could do there with the exception of Dirk.

joshsmithrocketsdebut

That being said, PF was definitely one of the weakest positions Wednesday loaded with a lot of iffy matchups and poor punt options. Instead of paying up for picks like Favors, Millsap, Bosh, or Aldridge, he took Sully, who was sure to be a huge part of the Celtics win if they were going to keep the game close, and it held true. Honestly, the Sullinger pick was probably the riskiest pick outside of maybe George Hill this guy made, but more importantly it allowed him to spend money on guys like Durant and Jordan, who were in much better positions to produce solid numbers in weak position groups.

Center

Finally, the pick you almost had to make to finish high on Wednesday was DeAndre Jordan. I toyed with throwing him in my lineups, but decided against it because I thought the value with Asik was too good to pass up while AD was out, and it was contrarian. Well I was wrong about that, and he went for 59 FPs while only being owned in 17% of entries, which was nearly 8% less than Josh Smith. I partly shied away from Jordan because I thought the market would go really hard on him, and there was a chance of getting in foul trouble against the white hot Harden. The important takeaway from that is don’t bother trying to be contrarian on giant slates. Let the market do its crazy things, and take guys you know will perform at or above expectation (Smith, Jordan, Durant, Barea, Hill, Sullinger).

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Conclusion

Looking at the top entries from Wednesday tells us a few things. First, on big slates like this it’s important to remember to not try to be overly contrarian. Let the market do its crazy things, and just pick who you like to have a nice game. Josh Smith only being owned in 25% of entries is insane. The odds of him going for 5 or 6x value was likely the highest of any PF.

Another thing that’s important, but difficult to do on a big slate, is make sure you’re spending your big money wisely. It was all too easy to fall into a trap of spending big on Curry or Paul Wednesday who had good scenarios for big production, but that would’ve left you with significant holes elsewhere. The PG market was very strong, and he took advantage of that by playing Barea and Hill who were both criminally undervalued by both the market and salary. SG was also very strong with a lot of good mid-tier plays, so he attacked the strength of that spot as well landing two high usage players in DeRozan and Crawford and avoided spending big on Harden, Thompson or Evans, which were all riskier than DeRozan and Crawford. Nothing crazy, but both would keep him in the running to cash a GPP.

Then, he spent big on Durant and snuck a great value play in Ariza into his lineup. Durant was one of the top scorers of the day, and had a very good floor for production Wednesday, which made sense in the always unpredictable SF group. However, there were a number of solid value plays that day, so you could’ve done fine with two of those and spending on Curry instead, but the top four entries all had Durant.

Josh Smith was then an easy decision for a lot of people, but Sullinger was a sneaky good pick. The Hawks had been struggling against PFs, and had played a lot of tough games recently. I don’t love the pick, and would rather have David West, but Sullinger won him this GPP. More importantly though, he avoided falling into a trap of just spending up at a position when you’re not sure who to pick there, and landed two guys in Smith and Sully who play big roles for their respective teams when they’re in the game.

Finally, he went with another safe, but extremely high upside pick in Jordan, who had scored 60 FPs in his previous game without Griffin. Again, an easy pick to make in retrospect, but this is why we’re reverse engineering this lineup and understanding the strategy. To get back to my main point, on big slates it’s important to not make very unusual picks for players with high upside. The market will do that for you, and you’ll be able to take advantage of knowing that and landing a big number of great value plays. However, on smaller slates it makes more sense to go contrarian as you need picks to differentiate yourself from others if there are only four or five games that day.

I hope this analysis proves useful to you, and please don’t hesitate to contact me on twitter (@thoreosnmilk) or by email at thor.akerley@gmail.com for DFS or fantasy sports related questions!

 

Steve’s FanDuel Winner: Christmas Day 12/25/14

Merry Christmas, DRosesandThorns Fans!!

Lineups lock at Noon ET (11 CT) so I wanted to give everyone enough time to see my ideas and formulate their own lineups.  It’s going to be very hectic tomorrow morning with the early Wizards-Knicks so be prepared for a lot of Tweets!

Follow our Twitter accounts at https://twitter.com/Stavster91 or https://twitter.com/DRosesAndThorns

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GPPs (as of 9:45 CT):

THESE LINEUPS ARE RADICALLY DIFFERENT!!

  christmasgpp

There is almost 100% certainty that these lineups will change.  I will do my best to update them as frequently as possible.  But, there are no guarantees!!  Remember, YOU are responsible for your money.

We are only asking for one thing in return for our analysis and hard work..YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT TO THE COMMUNITY!!

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Flawless Predictions for 2014-15 that won’t be wrong at all

Last year’s Big Preview didn’t go so well–probably because I was guzzling #TheReturn kool-aid like a fat guy takes oxygen after a defensive touchdown. But have no fear, readers. This year I’m back, hardened and wise. AKA I won’t be picking the Bulls to win the Finals.

Dramatization of me drinking #TheReturn kool-aid
Dramatization of me drinking #TheReturn kool-aid


Eastern Conference

  1. Chicago Bulls
  2. Cleveland Cavs
  3. Toronto Raptors
  4. Washington Wizards
  5. Charlotte Hornets(!)
  6. Atlanta Hawks
  7. Miami Heat
  8. Detroit Pistons
  9. Brooklyn Nets
  10. New York Knicks
  11. Indiana Pacers
  12. Boston Celtics
  13. Orlando Magic
  14. Milwaukee Bucks
  15. Philadelphia 76ers

Eastern Conference Finals: Cavs over Bulls

Western Conference

  1. San Antonio Spurs
  2. Los Angeles Clippers
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder
  4. Golden State Warriors
  5. Dallas Mavericks
  6. Houston Rockets
  7. Memphis Grizzlies
  8. Portland Trailblazers
  9. Phoenix Suns
  10. New Orleans Pelicans
  11. Denver Nuggets
  12. Los Angeles Lakers
  13. Minnesota Timberwolves
  14. Sacramento Kings
  15. Utah Jazz

Western Conference Finals: Spurs over Clippers

via NY Post
via NY Post

NBA Finals

Spurs over Cavs

I’ve learned my lesson picking against the Spurs. Whatever your argument against this team might be has been invalidated over the last few seasons. Despite holding his stars to around 30 minutes per game and routinely sitting them, Coach Popovich has proven that his rosters go 10-12 deep, even in the playoffs. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker should all be able to contribute as they did last year. Kawhi Leonard is a budding star, and the second youngest Finals MVP ever after Magic Johnson. As for Cleveland, it’s just difficult to imagine any other team in the East taking them down. While Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving’s playoff inexperience (zero combined games) could be a huge factor, I can’t forget LeBron single-handedly shutting Derrick Rose down in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals. Combine an offense that could be historically great with the defensive potential of LeBron guarding the opponent’s best player, and you get a near unbeatable team. However, if any coach and system can take advantage of the flaws that year one in Cleveland expose, it’ll be the Spurs and Pop.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 12.20.37 PM

MVP

  1. LeBron James
  2. Kevin Durant
  3. Steph Curry
  4. Derrick Rose
  5. Blake Griffin

As my friend Spencer explained so very well, it will be nearly impossible for Kevin Durant to win this season’s MVP because of the broken bone in his foot. That makes LeBron a heavy favorite with the added narrative of the prodigal son returning home. Steph Curry makes the list because he is fantastic and the Warriors look to take a step up. The same goes for Blake and the Clippers; a Chris Paul injury would make Griffin a serious contender. As for Rose, the narrative will be overpowering if he returns to form as part of a #1 seed Bulls team. How could I leave him off?

Defensive Player of the Year

  1. Dwight Howard
  2. Serge Ibaka
  3. Joakim Noah
  4. Marc Gasol
  5. Tyson Chandler

I’m stealing my reasoning from last season: “Dwight is the best defensive player on Earth and now that he’s (presumably) healthy again everyone will remember.”

Pumped Taj

Sixth Man of the Year

  1. Taj Gibson
  2. Jamal Crawford
  3. Manu Ginobili
  4. Isaiah Thomas
  5. Draymond Green

Taj deserved to win this award over Crawford last year. But points are usually voted for more than defense, so the same could happen once again.

Coach of the Year

  1. Rick Carlisle
  2. Tom Thibodeau
  3. Mike Budenholzer
  4. Greg Popovich
  5. Doc Rivers

I’m feeling a big season from the Mavericks, and I think Coach Carlisle will (deservedly) get his share of the credit. Thibs, Pops and Doc are perennial candidates while Budenholzer has a chance to make a name for himself with a healthy and talented roster.

Rookie of the Year

  1. Jabari Parker
  2. Nerlens Noel
  3. Andrew Wiggins
  4. Elfrid Payton
  5. Marcus Smart

Last year I didn’t even have Michael Carter-Williams on my roster, but that was a fluky season. Jabari figures to get the most minutes and scoring opportunities, so he’s my favorite. Nerlens should put up big numbers too, but he’s not as much of a scorer so he’s less likely to snag the award. You already know about Andrew Wiggins, and Elfrid Payton is the experts’ dark horse. Normally I would laugh that off, but these are the same people who were whispering about Damian Lillard before his rookie year. Marcus Smart should get plenty of minutes in Boston, especially if (when) Rajon Rondo gets traded.

Stat Champs

  1. Points: Kevin Durant (we’re going by averages)
  2. Assists: Chris Paul
  3. Rebounds: Andre Drummond
  4. Steals: Chris Paul
  5. Blocks: Anthony Davis

PS: this was the category I did the best in last year. Anyway, I hope you guys enjoyed/were engraged by my predictions and I welcome anyone to sound off in the comments or on Facebook/Twitter. The season begins tomorrow on TNT with Dallas @ San Antonio!

 

 

Some quick predictions from Bikshorn:

Baller shot caller
Baller shot caller

Steph Curry will win MVP

LeBron is a fine and noble choice, but I get the sense King James is going to let the other young stars on his team get theirs. Everyone and their grandma knows MJ won six rings but not many people can tell you how many MVPs he won (five). LeBron understands this and I predict he lets his game flow naturally on the Cavs rather than take over for big stretches.

Steph is my choice for a couple of reasons:

1. He is The Man. There is no bonafide second superstar on that team. They go as he goes.

2. His style of play. Bombing threes, breaking ankles and dropping beautiful dimes. Voters watch Sportscenter too.

3. His new coach. People who defend Mark Jackson, do you realize the Warriors were 12th in offensive efficiency last year? I think Kerr, despite his inexperience, will unleash Curry, allowing him to reach heights we’ve never seen from a point guard.

The Clippers will represent the West in the Finals

blake

I’m predicting a monster year from Blake. Last season’s injury to Chris Paul was the ultimate blessing in disguise, giving the former top pick the opportunity to develop as a ball handler and distributor. Darren Collison may have been penciled in as point guard on the lineup card, but Blake was running the show.

Griffin is not content with just adding one new facet to his game. Blake spent the summer refining his jump shot, smoothing out what was one of the least asthetically pleasing things in the NBA. Combine that with his rebounding, post game and the aformentioned handling skills, and you’re looking at a force of nature.

Oh btw Chris Paul is on the Clippers too.

The Cavaliers will represent the East in the Finals

It pains me to write this, but it’s true. The concerns in regards to defending the paint are real, but not real enough that I see anyone in the Eastern Conference winning four out of seven against Cleveland.

The Cavaliers are going to be terrifying on offense. They are the perfect blend of modern NBA philosophy, employing superstars who either a) get to the rim b) shoot threes or c) all of the above. If LeBron can add horse whisperer to his resume and convince Dion Waiters that being Jamal Crawford is super cool, there will be no stopping these guys.

The Cavs will win the NBA Finals

Three superstars > two superstars

The Bulls will annihilate the Pacers on 11/15 and I will enjoy every second of it.

bulls pacers

My girlfriend got us tickets for my birthday and I cannot tell you how excited I am. The Pacers are going to be garbage this year, especially early in the season when George Hill will still think he’s a threat driving to the basket.

I despise the Pacers and everything that they stand for. Being able to witness, in person, the carnage that the Bulls will leave behind at the UC is going to bring me so much joy. This might not be a great game to watch on TV, especially on a Saturday night, but I urge you to watch until the end so that you don’t miss my victory dance. I’m going to put Marlins Kid to shame.