With the NBA bubble in full swing, and seemingly going without incident, we can focus on the actual on-court product, and that’s awfully refreshing under the circumstances.
The season is far enough along that there is a solid statistical profile for players and teams but there have also been some changes in player usage and roles since teams landed in the bubble. That all goes into the calculations to determine just how productive players will be in a given game.
Here are some angles to consider on Monkey Knife Fight for Thursday’s five-game NBA schedule:
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De’Aaron Fox MORE THAN 23.5 POINTS
Although Fox has averaged 20.8 points per game this season, he does have 26.7 points per game in three games inside the bubble and is facing a New Orleans squad that is allowing the fourth-highest points against (116.7) per game in the league and Fox’s speed should allow him to get to the rim against the Pelicans.
Brandon Ingram LESS THAN 23.5 POINTS
While Ingram is putting up 24.1 points per game this season – the most productive season of his career – and the Kings are a bit below average defensively, in terms of points allowed, he has had some trouble since the restart, averaging 20.3 points per game on 42.6% shooting in Orlando.
MORE OR LESS
Devin Booker LESS THAN 26.5 POINTS
Averaging 26.3 points per game this season, Booker has been lighting it up inside the bubble, averaging 30.7 points per game in three Orlando contests. He does, however, face a tough matchup in a Pacers squad, a team which ranks fourth in the Association with 107.5 points allowed per game.
T.J. Warren MORE THAN 25.5 POINTS
Warren is averaging 19.7 points per game this season but he’s been a different performer inside the bubble, dropping 52, 34, and 32 points while shooting better than 65% in three games. Might as well continue to ride that hot hand, especially against a Phoenix team that ranks 21st with 113.9 points allowed per game.
MORE OR LESS
Luka Doncic LESS THAN 29.5 POINTS
Doncic is scoring 29.0 points per game this season, including 34.0 points per game in the Orlando bubble. Going against the Clippers is not an easy matchup, though. Even though they have allowed 112.1 points per game, ranking 12th, they do have the option to put Kawhi Leonard on the opposition’s best wing player. So, the threat of the Klaw makes a big scoring performance a little less likely.
Kawhi Leonard LESS THAN 26.5 POINTS
This number is walking a very fine line. Leonard is averaging 26.8 points per game this season, including 26.3 per game in three bubble games. Dallas is a middling defensive squad, ranking 16th with 111.0 points per game allowed, and that might just be good enough.
Paul George -0.5 three-pointers vs. Tim Hardaway Jr.
Over the course of the season, George is averaging 3.3 three-pointers per game, compared to 2.9 per game for Hardaway, so a close match-up given the half that goes to the underdog, but George has made 15 threes in three Orlando bubble games compared to eight for Hardaway. The recent surge from George gives him the edge.
Kristaps Porzingis -1.5 rebounds vs. Ivica Zubac
Coming off a game in which he grabbed a dozen rebounds, Zubac is a lively underdog in this category but the advantage goes to Porzingis, who typically plays substantially more on a night-to-night basis (31 minutes per game for Porzingis to 18 per game Zubac) which leads to Porzingis averaging 9.5 boards per game compared to 7.2 per game for Zubac.
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Damian Lillard MORE THAN 26.5 POINTS
Denver is a quality defensive team and Lillard is coming off a rough 6-for-19 shooting performance that left him with 21 points against Houston. But, he is still going to be the focal point of the Blazers’ offense and has averaged 28.8 points per game this season, scoring at least 27 in 35 of 61 contests.
Nikola Jokic LESS THAN 23.5 POINTS
With Jamal Murray out, there are more looks for Jokic in the Nuggets’ offense and he had gone six straight games with fewer than 20 points before dropping 30 and 25 in the past two games. Portland’s defensive record (115.5 points per game allowed) is not encouraging but they also have a much deeper complement of big men now that Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic are healthy and part of the Trail Blazers rotation.
Michael Porter Jr. -2.5 rebounds vs. Hassan Whiteside
That improved depth among Portland’s bigs has severely cut into Whiteside’s minutes and he has just 16 rebounds in three bubble games. Porter, the precocious rookie, has erupted in the past two games, scoring 65 points and grabbing 27 rebounds, looking every bit like a potential star.
MORE OR LESS
James Harden LESS THAN 30.5 POINTS
Harden is averaging 34.3 points per game this season and the Lakers haven’t been very good inside the bubble, yet the Lakers have also allowed the second-fewest points per game (106.8) in the league this season and Harden has been held in check in the past couple games after scoring 49 in his first game in the bubble.
Anthony Davis MORE THAN 26.5 POINTS
Davis has weirdly scored 14, 42, and nine points in three bubble games, and is averaging 26.3 points per game for the season, but if anyone is capable of taking advantage of Houston’s lack of size in the paint, it would figure to be Davis who can score both inside and out.
LeBron James LESS THAN 9.5 ASSISTS
LeBron is averaging 10.3 assists per game and faces a Rockets team that is not great defensively. At the same time, LeBron has been less of a facilitator lately, with seven straight games of fewer than 10 assists.
LeBron James -0.5 rebounds vs. Russell Westbrook
While LeBron isn’t getting quite as many assists lately, he’s still doing solid work on the boards, with 40 rebounds in four bubble games, compared to Westbrook, who has 20 rebounds in three bubble games. We can be skeptical of LeBron’s playmaking and still expect him to use his superior size to hold a rebounding advantage on Westbrook who, incidentally, is a little banged-up, too.
This article was written by Monkey Knife Fight’s fantasy expert Scott Cullen. The numbers listed in this article are subject to change at any time.
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