NBA Opening Night has come and gone–sort of. Tonight we have a 10-game slate, which is much more like what we expect night-in and night-out for DraftKings action.
Last night, a few guys came up huge: LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and George Hill were main cogs of my lineup. Unfortunately, so too were Kyle Anderson and Trey Lyles. Let’s take a look at a what we learned in last night’s NBA DFS action.
About Last Night…
In this section, I’ll recap the noteworthy happenings in NBA DFS…with notes.
- The Knicks weren’t good, but we did learn some things. Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, and Derrick Rose (yes, that Derrick Rose) are going to be useful for DFS. We kinda already knew this, but it’s nice to confirm.
- There’s no “chill mode” for LeBron this year. He wants the MVP, and he came out with a strong triple-double. He’s going to be in the conversation with the rest of the studs virtually every night.
- George Hill looks like the primary playmaker for the Jazz with Gordon Hayward out. He tallied six assists yesterday en route to a very impressive game.
- Boris Diaw is the backup to Derrick Favors right now, and he’s still not fantasy relevant when Favors sits. He played 32 minutes to Trey Lyles’ 18, and Lyles was still the more productive play.
- Evan Turner appears to have pretty much the same role that he had in Boston; he’ll see 25-30 minutes on a fluctuating basis.
- Damian Lillard is good. He torched one of the better point guard defenders to the tune of 39 points, six assists, and nine rebounds.
- Kyle Anderson might be bad. I know I said he was the more talented player over Jonathan Simmons, but I’m changing my tune until proven otherwise. Yes, I got burned by him badly, and yes it’s happened more than once. #NeverAgain.
- Warriors Game 1 “Big 4” Shot Distribution: Curry 18, Durant 18, Green 15, Thompson 13.
- Durant turned in a cool 55.5 DraftKings points and wasn’t guarded by Kawhi like I thought he would be. Instead, Kawhi was glued to Klay Thompson instead; something I believe would have changed if the game was closer.
The game of the night is Rockets-Lakers, tipping with the last contests of the night. According to Vegas, it will be worth the wait; the 225.5 over-under in this game is 10 points higher than any other contest on this slate. James Harden is vying to be the first guy locked into lineups, and the Lakers have plenty of nice choices at a variety of price points. The Kings-Suns contest checks in with a 212 total, and the Nets-Celtics tilt is right behind with a 211.5 projection.
Top team totals tonight:
- Rockets (@ LAL): 114.75 implied points
- Celtics (vs BKN): 112.25
- Thunder (@ PHI): 107.75
- Lakers (vs HOU): 107.75
- Suns (vs SAC): 107.25
The age old question looms: to Westbrook or not to Westbrook? Russell is the most expensive guy in the player pool tonight at a whopping $11,500 and plenty of people will want to dive right in on his “F-U season”. While there’s no question he’s a great play, I’m looking towards the guy right under him in price — James Harden — for reasons I’ll get to in the next section.
Even outside of Westbrook, point guard is loaded, as usual. The addition of Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo to the point guard pool helps it boast added star power and old standbys in new situations look a bit underpriced. A few of the value plays I am keeping my eye on are Jeremy Lin, Ty Lawson, and Tim Frazier.
- Russell Westbrook, OKC ($11,500)
- James Harden, HOU ($10,900)
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL ($8,800)
- D’Angelo Russell, LAL ($7,300)
- Mike Conley, MEM ($6,800)
- Jeremy Lin, BKN ($6,000)
- Ty Lawson, SAC ($5,500) – starting for the suspended Darren Collison
- Tim Frazier, NO ($4,800) – starting for Jrue Holiday
- Ish Smith, DET ($4,700) – starting for the injured Reggie Jackson
- Matthew Dellavedova, MIL ($4,000)
As I alluded to in the point guard section, it’s James Harden over Russell Westbrook for me tonight. Why? Since having both isn’t an option, Harden’s shooting guard eligibility makes him easier to fit in with roster construction. There are plenty of lower priced point guard plays that I like, whereas Harden makes far-and-away the best play at shooting guard. He gets to show off his new point guard role in what projects to be the highest scoring game of the night, and he’s the first guy I’m plugging into my lineup.
Since I’m locked into Harden on the high-end side of things, I’m mostly looking at cheaper plays with regards to the rest of the shooting guards. As far as my favorite value, it’s pretty close between Harden’s teammate, Eric Gordon, and Avery Bradley of the Boston Celtics. Both should see ample usage against weak opponents.
- James Harden, HOU ($10,900)
- Zach LaVine, MIN ($5,400)
- Eric Gordon, HOU ($5,000)
- Avery Bradley, BOS ($4,800)
- Lou Williams, LAL ($4,200)
- Matthew Dellavedova, MIL ($4,000)
- Arron Afflalo, SAC ($3,700)
Most of my spending is going to come from the guard positions for this slate, so finding a nice budget-friendly small forward is crucial. A stud like Paul George is underrated in this spot at only $8,700 with the sixth-highest team total, but given I’m building around Harden he’s just not financially viable.
Thankfully, we have a variety of small forwards that look appealing, starting with Rudy Gay at $6,300 and ending with Marcus Morris at $4,600. If I had to pick a favorite right now, it would probably be Luol Deng at only $4,800, though, Will Barton is going to be tough to beat if he sees anywhere near 30 minutes tonight. Ultimately I’m not prioritizing small forward, but rather plugging in my “must-haves” and coming back to the position once I’m better off in other spots.
- Rudy Gay, SAC ($6,300)
- Danilo Gallinari, DEN ($6,200)
- Jae Crowder, BOS ($5,400)
- Robert Covington, PHI ($5,300)
- Luol Deng, LAL ($4,800)
- Will Barton, DEN ($4,600) – if he starts for the injured Gary Harris
- Marcus Morris, DET ($4,600)
- James Ennis, MEM ($3,600)
Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are always on the radar, but tonight it’s all about James Harden and Russell Westbrook, so I won’t be playing either outside of tournaments. Instead, the bargain hunter approach appears to be the be optimal play.
Julius Randle and JaMychal Green are the two options I am most interested in. Randle offers a nice floor with his rebounding prowess, and his upside is rather good with DraftKings offering a bonus for double-doubles. His matchup with Ryan Anderson is one to exploit.
Green is the go-to value on this slate when it comes to power forwards. He is now starting over Zach Randolph, and while that may not translate into a 30-plus minute role, he should see enough time to make good on his $4,100 salary. With Marc Gasol on a minutes restriction and Chandler Parsons out, there will be ample playing time for Green.
- Julius Randle, LAL ($5,900)
- Dirk Nowitzki, DAL ($5,800)
- Thaddeus Young, IND ($5,500)
- Marvin Williams, CHA ($4,700)
- JaMychal Green, MEM ($4,100)
The star I’m looking to pair with James Harden is Hassan Whiteside. He’s under priced compared to other fantasy superstars–and his fantasy points per minute are in line with the likes of Anthony Davis, so the tag applies–and he gets a matchup against Nikola Vucevic he’s fully capable of taking advantage of. I anticipate his role expanding with Dwyane Wade gone and the Heat have committed to a more uptempo style.
If you can’t splurge on center, I’d look towards Whiteside’s opposition, Nikola Vucevic. He’s got stiff competition for rebounds, obviously, but he should be able to grab his fair share while scoring enough to meet value.
Otherwise, there are enough centers with decent price tags and upside to consider, highlighted by Steven Adams/Enes Kanter taking the first crack at replacing some of Kevin Durant’s usage and Jusuf Nurkic against New Orleans.
- Hassan Whiteside, MIA ($8,600)
- Nikola Vucevic, ORL ($6,600)
- Enes Kanter, OKC ($6,100)
- Steven Adams, OKC ($5,800)
- Jusuf Nurkic, DEN ($5,800)
- Gorgui Dieng, MIN ($5,600)
- Greg Monroe, MIL ($5,500)