Advice for StatHero NBA Team Survivor Picks for January 21

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2021

Advice for StatHero NBA Team Survivor Picks for January 21

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    Anthony Davis and LeBron James lead the Los Angeles Lakers into a high-profile clash against the Milwaukee Bucks.
    Anthony Davis and LeBron James lead the Los Angeles Lakers into a high-profile clash against the Milwaukee Bucks.Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Thursday's three scheduled NBA games are jam-packed with star power. Given the limited action, it's tougher to differentiate one's StatHero lineup from the pack.

    This is a bigger obstacle, however, in traditional DFS contests in which numerous competitors will flock to the same stars. A surprising performance from an unexpected hero can easily make or break a small slate.

    On StatHero, gamers can focus on taking down the house and living to play another day.

    StatHero's team of choice varies by contest, so keep that in mind before joining a new pool. For this article's purposes, they're riding the Utah Jazz in the $5 Trick Shot. Anyone who enters that competition must pick one of the other five teams taking the court.

    Those who beat StatHero's squad advance to the next day. While you can only use an NBA team once throughout a given contest, that shouldn't heavily steer decisions since they run a maximum of seven days.

    With only one squad to beat, there's no need to reinvent the wheel on a relatively quiet Thursday evening. 

Team: Los Angeles Lakers

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    Frank Vogel's Lakers will have had two days off prior to Thursday night's matchup at Milwaukee.
    Frank Vogel's Lakers will have had two days off prior to Thursday night's matchup at Milwaukee.Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press

    Pickings are slim with only three games on the docket. This will likely push gamers to the same two squads. 

    StatHero is backing the Jazz, taking them off the table. It makes little sense to choose their adversary since the New Orleans Pelicans suffered a 118-102 loss to Utah on Tuesday.

    The Golden State Warriors will play a second game in as many nights, which makes them a risky choice. Anyone willing to trust the opposing New York Knicks is braver than this writer.

    That leaves a potential NBA Finals preview between the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks. Given the limited schedule, let's take the easy route and back a juggernaut.

    Milwaukee boasts the NBA's best offensive rating, and using reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in StatHero's MVP slot—where all points double—would put anyone ahead of the curve. Then again, the defending champions possess the Association's top defensive rating.

    As of Wednesday evening, Milwaukee ranks 11th in defensive rating (108.2) and 16th in points allowed per game (110.6). One doesn't need to go far to picture the Eastern Conference titan struggling against a star-studded offense. The Bucks surrendered big games to James Harden (34 points, 12 assists, six rebounds) and Kevin Durant (30 points, nine rebounds, six assists) during Monday's 125-123 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

    Milwaukee will once again try to contain two superstars on a marquee TNT showcase. Don't expect better results. The Lakers lead the NBA with a 10.2-point average margin of victory and are 7-0 on the road.

    Following Monday's two-point loss to the Warriors, they'll have two days of rest and ample motivation to get back in the win column in front of a national audience.

MVP: SF LeBron James

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    LeBron James continues to shine in his 18th NBA season.
    LeBron James continues to shine in his 18th NBA season.Associated Press

    LeBron James and Anthony Davis are both worthy MVP choices. The other will have a place in the lineup, but it's critical to earn double points for the team's top producer.

    The show still runs through James, who carries a team-high 32.0 percent usage rate, as opposed to Davis' 25.4. James is also attempting 2.2 more field goals and 1.0 more free throws per game than Davis. 

    Though 23.7 points per game represent his lowest scoring average since his 2003-04 rookie campaign, James still tops the Lakers' scoring leaderboard. 

    Perhaps the biggest key to using James is his propensity to share. StatHero awards 1.5 points per assist compared to 1.2 per rebound. Although Davis could fill the gap with a few blocks, which earn three points apiece, James has tallied at least five dimes in every game this season.

    The matchup also works in his favor. According to FantasyPros, Milwaukee has given up the fifth-most points (23.3) and fourth-most rebounds (9.1) per game to small forwards this year. Last season, James posted a triple-double in their first meeting and recorded 37 points in their second encounter.

    Antetokounmpo didn't guard Durant or Harden on Monday, so it's unlikely Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer will ask the 2019-20 Defensive Player of the Year to stymie James. And while gamers should always monitor any news before tip-off, the 36-year-old shouldn't succumb to any load management for Los Angeles' third game in seven days.

PF Anthony Davis

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    Anthony Davis could leverage blocks to a huge StatHero point tally.
    Anthony Davis could leverage blocks to a huge StatHero point tally.Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    After much deliberation, Davis also makes the cut.

    No mere sidekick to King James, the Brow is averaging 21.3 points, 9.0 boards, 1.9 blocks and 1.2 steals this season. Steals and blocks are each worth three points on StatHero, so there's an avenue for the 27-year-old to eclipse the upcoming Space Jam 2 star on any given evening.

    However, Davis enters Thursday's game in a bit of a scoring funk, at least for his lofty standards. He's fallen short of 20 points in four straight games, shooting just 11-of-32 over the past two. 

    There's no reason to worry as he compensated with 17 rebounds and seven assists Monday. It's merely another nudge toward James as the MVP. 

    For all their length, Milwaukee lacks a formidable defensive presence in the paint. Davis capitalized last season, scoring 30 and 36 points in their two matchups. Although the Lakers now have more surrounding help, the big man should still get back on track with 20-25 points and plenty of other box-score goodies.

    That improved supporting cast also provides better players to round out a StatHero lineup.

PG Dennis Schroder

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    Dennis Schroder has amplified his overall game with the Lakers.
    Dennis Schroder has amplified his overall game with the Lakers.Associated Press

    The Lakers' best offseason acquisition thus far, Dennis Schroder ranks third on the team (behind James and Davis in all categories) in minutes per game (31.0), points per game (14.8) and usage (22.0 percent). 

    Attempting at least 10 field goals all but once with his new squad, Schroder delivered a season-high 25 points in Monday's loss to Golden State. As he improves elsewhere, the electric guard is less reliant on sustaining that hot shooting hand.

    He's also elevated his game beyond scoring, posting a career-high 4.2 rebounds per game with exactly five in each of his last three contests. The 27-year-old also has 13 steals in his last seven games.

    While the Lakers operate at a tempo below the league average, the Bucks have the NBA's sixth-highest pace of play this season. A quicker, high-scoring game could bode well for Schroder, a swift playmaker clearly trusted to play a key role alongside James and Davis.

    Three-point shooting (32.7 percent) is his biggest area for improvement, but StatHero doesn't award any additional points for long-distance makes.

C Montrezl Harrell

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    Montrezl Harrell is turning interior looks into easy points off the bench.
    Montrezl Harrell is turning interior looks into easy points off the bench.Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    Montrezl Harrell is making every look count.

    The 26-year-old center has taken just nine shots per game off the bench. He's nevertheless averaging 14.0 points on a 63.7 field-goal percentage.

    Harrell has scored 54 points in his last three games while only missing seven of 30 attempts.

    Throw in his 7.4 rebounds per game and he should only need a block or two to reach StatHero's 25.5 projected points. Because of his remarkable efficiency, backers shouldn't worry about him falling significantly shy of that mark, either.

    If siding with Milwaukee, Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis are far less stable on a nightly basis. The same issue would arise when choosing who to support Golden State's Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins.

    The early Sixth Man of the Year candidate is a tremendous fourth option for a Lakers stack. Picking this squad may feel like cheating, but do you really want to get booted betting on the Knicks instead?

               

    Note: All advanced statistics, updated as of Wednesday night, are from NBA.com unless otherwise noted.