I hope you enjoyed the small slate of games yesterday, because the NBA is back with a full 12-game buffet again tonight.
This slate is a bit more challenging as the prices begin to adjust, but there are still some values and plenty of high-priced stars to begin to build your lineups around.
Before we jump into the plays for the day, here’s some of the news you need to know and a few notes from last night:
- Paul George played small forward last night against the Grizzlies. That doesn’t change anyone’s world, but it shows that Frank Vogel is going to shuffle the starting lineup based on the matchup. Those who were scared of a George vs. Zach Randolph matchup, and those like it, need not worry.
- Kyle Korver is out on Friday due to his ankle rehab. There isn’t really anyone I’m thrilled about for the Hawks in his absence, but this is a friendly reminder to double-check your lineups before lock each night.
- Kobe Bryant (illness) missed team shootaround. Kobe is known to play through this kind of thing, but Jordan Clarkson is a very interesting play if The Black Mamba is out.
- Andrew Wiggins is dealing with back spasms, which could explain why he was nonexistent against the Lakers on Wednesday. I love his matchup against the Nuggets, but the injury makes it tough to plug him in until he performs.
- Toney Douglas was signed to take Nate Robinson’s place for the Pelicans. He’s worth monitoring if Jrue Holiday sits in the future, but Ish Smith is the clear backup here now.
- Jarrett Jack (hamstring), Dwight Howard (suspension), Giannis Antetokounmpo (suspension) and Kelly Olynyk (suspension) are set to play tonight after missing their season-openers.
BUILDING BLOCKS – Studs and Must-Have Values to Build Your Core Lineup
Alec Burks, SG, UTA ($4,800): Burks came off the bench for the Jazz in their opener, but he’s still one of their best players. He finished that contest with 18 points and six rebounds, and should have an easy go of things against the 76ers, who have only one defender (Nerlens Noel) that scares anyone. Burks’s price is perfect for his position if you don’t want to pay a premium at shooting guard.
Kevin Durant, SF, OKC ($9,400): Durant will probably be under-owned just about everywhere tonight after predictably struggling with his shot in his first regular-season game back from foot injuries in addition to a matchup with Kawhi Leonard. Tonight, he gets the Orlando Magic, and their best defenders (Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo) are more of a match for the dynamic Russell Westbrook. Durant should see plenty of Evan Fournier, Tobias Harris or Mario Hezonja, which adds to the feeling that this will be his “I’m Back” game. This price is likely one of the lowest we’ll see on Durant all season.
Festus Ezeli, C, GS ($3,100): Another value play that’s been in each and every one of my lineups, Ezeli will get the start with Andrew Bogut (concussion) out for this one. Normally, I’d be afraid of the Warriors going with a small lineup with Draymond Green at the 5, but a date with Dwight Howard may force their hand. Given his price, Ezeli doesn’t need to do much to pay back his salary, and I don’t mind using him in the utility slot if you want to roll with a stud at center tonight.
BARGAINS – Complementary Players Who Look To Have Favorable Pricing
Ricky Rubio, PG, MIN ($7,000): Rubio should have a tougher time against the Nuggets than he did against the Lakers, but he’s still underpriced at $7k. I wouldn’t expect anything near the 28 points he put up in the opener – that was his career-high – but he’s a threat to double-double every night, and should add a few steals against the turnover-prone rookie he’s going up against in Emmanuel Mudiay.
Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, DEN ($5,700): Speaking of the turnover-prone rookie, Mudiay is a fine play despite his penchant for giving the ball to the opposition. The turnovers would be a worry, but Mudiay is the future of the franchise, and has one of the longest leashes in the league at point guard it seems. He dropped 32 DraftKings points against a good defensive team (Houston, albeit without Dwight Howard) in the opener, and he gets a good matchup against a Minnesota squad that struggles on that end of the floor.
Eric Bledsoe, SG, PHX ($7,400): Bledsoe, like the rest of the Phoenix Suns, played miserably in the opener against Dallas. His price dropped $400 as a result, but there’s little reason to doubt him against a Portland team that doesn’t project to be a top team defensively. Look for him to get back on track here.
Gary Harris, SG, DEN ($3,400): Mudiay’s backcourt mate is priced at a bargain despite playing 29 minutes and scoring 26 DraftKings points in his season-opening start. His usage-rate was quite low in the opener – about 10-percent – so any uptick in scoring should increase his value quite a bit. Harris showed he’s versatile, though, racking up five rebounds, five assists, three steals, a block and a three-pointer in addition to his five points against Houston.
Gordon Hayward, SF, UTA ($6,900): Hayward is pretty drastically underpriced and has a phenomenal matchup against the 76ers. He didn’t do much in the opener, but that will correct itself, as he’s easily the best offensive option from both a scoring and facilitating standpoint for the Jazz. He would’ve been in my core lineup if not for Kevin Durant’s pricing and matchup.
Marcus Morris, SF, DET ($5,100): If you want to go cheaper at small forward, Marcus Morris is playing all the minutes he can handle on his new team, and producing nice lines as a result. So far this season, he’s a top five small forward on DraftKings, averaging 30 DraftKings points per game. While that’s more an indictment of the depth of that position (and the small sample size), it shows that Morris is valuable if he’s getting run.
Serge Ibaka, PF, OKC ($5,900): Another underpriced piece of the Oklahoma City starting lineup I like is Ibaka, who played 30+ minutes in the season-opener despite the great depth the Thunder possess. He’s priced way too generously for his role and matchup against the Orlando Magic.
Julius Randle, PF, LAL ($5,200): My love for all things Julius Randle will be a familiar theme in this piece, and he’ll be in each and every one of my lineups until his price commands I stop. For now, he’s a dirt-cheap power forward with double-double potential every night out. His matchup is fairly good against the Kings, even though George Karl is likely to start Willie Cauley-Stein against the Lakers.
Karl-Anthony Towns, C, MIN ($5,900): Towns had a nice debut against a bad Lakers team, netting 14 points and grabbing 12 boards. But the best part was his role, as he played 30 minutes in that contest. Next he will get to take on the Nuggets’ frontcourt which features a tough-but-undersized Kenneth Faried, and a solid-at-best rebounder in Joffery Lauvergne.
Al Jefferson, C, CHA ($6,700): Jefferson got off to a hot start against Miami, scoring 13 points early on. He ended up finishing the game with only 17 points in 22 minutes in the loss, frustrating both Charlotte fans and fantasy owners. When Jefferson plays well, the Hornets are competitive, and the Hawks can struggle on the glass at times. I like Jefferson’s minutes – and overall performance – to bounce back in this one.
LOTTERY TICKETS – High Risk, High Reward Plays
Rajon Rondo, PG, SAC ($5,600): Rondo can’t shoot, but neither can Ricky Rubio and he dropped 28 points on the Lakers, Rondo’s matchup on Friday. Rondo is a fantastic tournament play tonight if he can draw more minutes than Darren Collison.
Trey Burke, PG, UTA ($4,700): Burke did little to nothing against the Pistons in the opener, but he may be one of the best options for the Jazz as they seek offensive production. A matchup with the 76ers could be just what he needs to get going.
Gerald Green, SG, MIA ($3,800): Green seems to have carved out a significant role for the Heat as their sixth man, and he’s priced to sell after scoring 23 DraftKings points in his debut. He’ll go toe-to-toe with J.R. Smith for the best tournament option at shooting guard in this game.
Hassan Whiteside, C, MIA ($6,500): Whiteside only played 20 minutes in the opening contest, but that was due to the Heat going with a smaller lineup with Chris Bosh at center. They’ll need him against LeBron James, Kevin Love and the frontcourt depth of the Cavaliers.
BUYER’S REMORSE – Reasons for Skepticism
Russell Westbrook, PG, OKC ($10,100): As I said earlier, the matchup against the Magic feels like a Kevin Durant game to me. The Magic have Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo to throw at Westbrook, so it simply makes sense for him to defer to Durant here. Of course, it’s Russell Westbrook, so anything could happen, but he’s a tournament-only guy for me.
James Harden, SG, HOU ($10,300): There’s no harm in building your lineup around Harden any night, but with several cheaper options that I like at shooting guard, and Harden being the highest-priced player on the board, I’m off of him tonight.
LeBron James, SF, CLE ($9,700): LeBron is still a freak-of-nature as a basketball player, but something just isn’t right here. With Durant $300 cheaper, I can’t justify paying up for a guy who plans on biding his time until the playoffs, even if it is LeBron James.