It’s finally here! The NBA season is back! I have been waiting for this night for a long time, so let’s not waste anymore time. Let’s get into tonight’s preview!!
As usual, the Point Guard position is extremely deep, even for a slate of only three games. The headliner is Steph Curry ($9,500). The reigning MVP averaged 46.4 DraftKings points per game last season. These two teams are very familiar with each other facing off four times in the regular season last year and then again in the playoffs for a four game GS sweep. Curry was spectacular in every game, averaging 51.09 DraftKings points per game and eclipsing 51 points on five occasions. The Pelicans shouldn’t provide much resistance for Curry. The only concern is this game turning into a blowout and Curry sitting out late in the game. I am willing to take the risk, as Curry is a top notch play.
With Kyrie Irving out to start the year, Mo Williams ($4,900) looks like he will step in and run the point for the Cavaliers. A fair price tag for a guard who should have the ball in his hands a ton in this game. Williams makes for an excellent GPP play as he’s not afraid to shoot the ball and can get hot at any time. It should be interesting to see how things shake out for the Cavs with their big men, but Williams should be locked in for 30+ minutes for the time being.
A trend throughout this piece will be the Pelicans and how shorthanded they are. Here’s the list of players currently injured for New Orleans: Norris Cole, Quincy Pondexter, Tyreke Evans, Luke Babbitt, Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca. On top of that, Jrue Holiday is active but will be on a minutes limit early in the year. That is going to open up a TON of opportunity for Nate Robinson ($3,000). The min-priced guard has shown flashes of brilliance this pre-season evident by scoring 18 against the Magic in 26 minutes last week. The truth is that Robinson will be thrust right in the mix and should see plenty of minutes. He only needs ~15 DraftKings points to pay for himself.
On the same trend, Eric Gordon ($5,200) is going to be asked to shoulder a ton of offense for the Pelicans. He certainly looked up to the challenge, scoring 22 points in 36 minutes in the final preseason game. Gordon is certainly a volatile player, but he saw stretches last season where he was a fantasy point per minute player. If he can obtain that success with his increased minutes early in the season, he’s going to be a no-brainer at SG.
Speaker of no-brainers, I am going to have Kent Bazemore ($3,000) in every single lineup tonight. Bazemore has officially been named the starting SF for the Hawks. Note two things: 1) He’s listed as a SG on DraftKings 2) He’s min-priced. Bazemore averaged 0.71 DraftKings points per minute last season which would be 17.75 points in 25 minutes if he can keep that pace. I think it’s very reasonable for Bazemore to see 25 minutes and if he returns you 17.75 DraftKings points, you’d be thrilled at his price tag. In games that Bazemore played more than 25 minutes last season, he averaged 22.9 DraftKings points.
The Small Forward position is pretty straight forward. It’s Lebron James ($9,800) and everyone else. James should be pretty interesting. I think he’s going to be the least owned of the Big 3 (Curry, Davis, James) tonight. There is a subset of the population that won’t play him simply because they don’t like him. Additionally, it’s no secret that James has been dealing with a back injury which might add some more concern for potential owners. I think these factors make James an outstanding GPP play. All recent reports have James ready to go, without restriction, for tonight. Don’t forget that he is a walking triple-double. He doesn’t need to score 40 (real) points to hit value because he can stuff the stat sheet in so many different ways.
If you’re not spending up for LeBron, Marcus Morris ($4,500) becomes an interesting play. It’s still TBD how the minutes will shake out between Morris and rookie Stanley Johnson ($4,700), but reports indicate that Morris should garner a few more minutes at least early in the season. The hype around Johnson is getting pretty big, so Morris could be a cheaper, less-owned option with just as much upside.
Speaking of stuffing the stat sheet, Anthony Davis ($10,400) is the most expensive player on the slate and for good reason. This guy is on another planet. He can do things that shouldn’t be humanly possible. He is dominant scoring option who can defend the best players in the world. As we’ve talked about, the Pelicans are going to need AD to be all-world. I can’t imagine a possession that doesn’t run through Davis. As long as the Pelicans can keep this game close, Davis has the highest upside on the slate.
The Chicago front-court is really crowded. They have Pau Gasol ($8,000), Nikola Mirotic ($6,400), Taj Gibson ($3,900) and Joakim Noah ($6,000) all fighting for minutes. I am not thrilled to invest in any of them, especially under new head coach Fred Hoiberg. We simple don’t know how the rotation will go until we see it in action. They all make for GPP plays at best, with Mirotic being the most interesting. He can stretch the court and get hot from behind the arc.
Andre Drummond ($8,200) has dominated this preseason averaging a double-double and playing 30+ minutes a game. He should be the biggest beneficiary of Greg Monroe leaving for Milwaukee. Those two used to clog up the court, but it should be the Andre Drummond show from here on out. It’s not a great matchup with the athletic bigs of Atlanta, but Drummond is a big body that can cause some serious havoc to many teams.
Anderson Varejao ($3,400) is a really interesting value play at center. He has looked solid this preseason and you know you will always get max effort from AV which leads to a ton of extra rebounds he has no business getting. It looks like he will come off the bench behind Timofey Mozgov, but it’s no secret that Mozgov has been banged up this preseason. If Varejao can find 20+ minutes in this game, he should be well worth the price.
There it is! Our first NBA preview is in the books. Value across most positions, despite a small slate of three games. Commentary based on DraftKings strategy and scoring.