The first Sunday of the NBA season brings with it a comfortable seven-game docket, and plenty of options to choose from.
Playing on days where there are a variety of start times – in this case games start from 1 p.m. CT to 8:30 p.m. CT – can be a bit tricky, especially if you want to play in the biggest contests. Many of the big offerings on DraftKings begin with the 5 p.m. CT games, and you can assume that the contests will fill more quickly later in the day as opposed to the early ones.
So, this column will try to focus more on the “core” set of games later in the day – you will notice my building blocks are all from the later matchups – in order to give you more insight into the games you’re likely to play.
That doesn’t mean I’ll skip out on offering advice on values from the early games, but expect this article to be more focused on the later slate. If you have early game questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter: @6thManHoops.
Here are a few notes before we dive in:
- Dwight Howard (rest) and Terrence Jones (eye) are out Sunday, making Clint Capela a very intriguing play. He isn’t a core guy for me today, but he’s fairly close as one of the top values on the board.
- His team doesn’t play today, but DeMarcus Cousins is dealing with an Achilles issue. The injury limited him to 15 minutes last night, and it’ll be worth keeping an eye on moving forward.
- Kyle Korver (ankle) will be back today after sitting out for precautionary reasons to rest his ankle.
As always, make sure to check the news 15-20 minutes before tip-off to ensure you’re up-to-date on the status of your players.
BUILDING BLOCKS – Studs and Must-Have Values to Build Your Core Lineup
Russell Westbrook, PG, OKC ($10,300): I haven’t been on Westbrook this season, but today I’m taking the plunge. Maybe I’m chasing points after his absurd 76 DraftKings point outing against the Magic, but on a slate that lacks a stud I’m dying to build around, I’m plugging in the player with perhaps the highest floor in daily fantasy NBA. Even if he doesn’t meet or exceed his salary value, he should put up 40+ points, which will serve as a fine foundation.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, MIL ($6,100): The Greek Freak came out ultra-aggressive in his first game back from his suspension, and looks poised to make another leap forward towards becoming a superstar. Even if he isn’t ready to enter the elite tier of fantasy basketball, he can contribute in every category imaginable and is underpriced after scoring nearly 45 DraftKings points in his last time out.
Roy Hibbert, C, LAL ($5,400): Hibbert has quietly had a nice pair of games for the Lakers, despite the team being arguably the worst in the league through two contests. The pace of the Lakers-Mavericks game does concern me a bit for the lumbering center, but his ability to put up rebounds, points and blocks in limited minutes makes him the best center value play on Sunday.
Three more studs to consider: James Harden, SG, HOU ($10,000) – Kevin Durant, SF, OKC ($9,600) – Pau Gasol, PF, CHI ($7,600)
BARGAINS – Complementary Players Who Look To Have Favorable Pricing
Goran Dragic, PG, MIA ($6,100): Dragic is more of a risk than players I would usually highlight in this section, but his price is very tempting for a starting point guard playing 30+ minutes per game. A big game is coming, and a date with Ty Lawson and the uptempo Rockets could get “The Dragon” going this season.
Dallas Mavericks PGs: I don’t care which one you play, honestly. The Lakers have given up massive games to both Ricky Rubio and Rajon Rondo, and continue to be the matchup to target when selecting a point guard. Deron Williams is the most exciting if he plays, but any of the Raymond Felton/Devin Harris/J.J. Barea trio is a good shot to pay off their salary here.
Will Barton, SG, DEN ($3,300): I’m high on both Barton and Gary Harris, and both are priced below $4K here. I defer to Barton because he has been better, and is able to contribute in every category across the board, including steals and blocks. He’ll continue to get extra run with Wilson Chandler (hip) out.
Kyle Korver, SG, ATL ($4,700): Korver is about as unexciting of a play as they come, but when he’s shooting well he’s the safest lower priced option at shooting guard most nights. He played well in his last game and is coming off a rest day, so I’m all for using him if you can fit him in.
DeMarre Carroll, SF, TOR ($5,500): I’m always skeptical about the fantasy production of guys changing teams, especially one that promised to be as high priced as Carroll, but so far so good. He’s eclipsed 30 DraftKings points in both games, and is priced as a fantastic value if he can continue to do so in a sneaky fast-paced matchup with the Bucks.
Marvin Williams, PF, CHA ($3,900): Nobody wants to play Williams, but he’s recorded a double-double in two straight games, and is playing over 35 minutes per game. He’ll turn back into a pumpkin at some point sooner or later, but until that happens he’s worth strong consideration.
Clint Capela, PF, HOU ($4,000): Terrence Jones and Dwight Howard are out, so Capela will get extended run. He’s played well in the team’s first two games – 24 DraftKings points per game – and is priced as a bargain when you factor in the enhanced workload.
Serge Ibaka, PF, OKC ($6,200): Ibaka hasn’t played exceptionally offensively so far this year, but a big game is coming. He’s played 30+ minutes in the first two games, and still is a threat to contribute his usual offerings in the defensive categories. The matchup is the biggest factor here as he gets a Denver team that made rookie Karl-Anthony Towns look like the second-coming of Hakeem Olajuwon in their last game.
Nikola Vucevic, C, ORL ($7,700): Vucevic isn’t priced as a value play, but given the other options on the board, he looks mighty valuable. He hasn’t had a big game on the glass – his calling card throughout his career so far – and should have an easier time against a defensively challenged Chicago frontcourt.
LOTTERY TICKETS – High Risk, High Reward Plays
Isaiah Thomas, PG, BOS ($6,800): Thomas is always risky to me because he rarely sees 30+ minutes in a game, however he’s been close this season at 29 per game, and the production speaks for itself. He’s averaging 40 DraftKings points, and is clearly the Celtics’ best player at this point. Boston will need his offense to keep pace with the Spurs, so perhaps he sees even more minutes in this one.
Evan Fournier, SG, ORL ($3,800): Fournier is starting at small forward for Orlando, and though he’s shot poorly, volume made him a 36 DraftKings point scorer last time out. There are enough options at shooting guard and small forward for the Magic to render Fournier obsolete, but if he continues to rake in the minutes he’s an option.
LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, SA ($7,300): Aldridge hasn’t put together a big offensive game for his new club, so you figure that a breakout is coming. Against a weak Celtics frontcourt he could go absolutely bananas, assuming Gregg Popovich turns him loose. I like him as a tournament play.
Hassan Whiteside, C, MIA ($6,500): Whiteside appears here again and potentially for the last time if he puts up a similar performance as he did against the Cavaliers. A double-double and 5+ blocks is nothing to scoff at; I just need to see him do it again.
BUYER’S REMORSE – Reasons for Skepticism
Derrick Rose, PG, CHI ($6,300): So far this year, Rose’s season-high in DraftKings points is 27.75. That won’t cut it for over $6K. Stay away from him until he’s closer to 100 percent recovered from his orbital fracture.
Manu Ginobili, SG, SA ($4,200): I love to “pay down” for shooting guards, and Ginobili’s 26 DraftKings points per game look like the perfect place to do so. His 20 minutes per game strongly disagree.
DeMar DeRozan, SG, TOR ($7,400): DeRozan is playing like an All-Star right now, averaging 24 points on the year(43.8 DraftKings points). I have my doubts that he’ll continue getting to the line 15 times per game while dishing out six assists in each contest, so I expect regression. He isn’t exactly a bad play, but don’t be surprised if he has a “down” game.
Enes Kanter, C, OKC ($6,100): Seeing the matchup with the Nuggets and taking a hard look at Kanter is understandable, but I urge you to look elsewhere. The 15-points, 15-rebound game versus the Spurs will not be the norm, and his 21 minutes per game simply aren’t enough to ensure he can get close that level again.