What’s up y’all? Quick question. Who has two thumbs and is excited that the NBA season will be starting soon? The answer? This guy! Before we get into some plays for tonight’s slate, let me just reiterate that we’re talking about preseason NBA DFS. Hall of Famer point guard Alan Iversen said it best when he said, “We talkin’ about practice. Not a game… Not a game… We talkin’ about practice.” These games mean absolutely nothing when it comes to jockeying for playoff position and draft lottery picks so remember that when taking on the slate. These guys just want to try out rotations, work up a sweat against someone other than their teammates and, most importantly, stay healthy.
While preseason NBA DFS is entertaining on many levels, you must remember that the NBA regular season will be here soon (October 22, 2019). For those of you new to NBA DFS I can’t emphasize this upcoming statement enough. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll want to plan ahead in all aspects and that includes how to allocate your hard-earned bankroll. Don’t go crazy in the NBA preseason. Make sure you have enough bankroll left once the real games start.
Now that I’m off my soapbox, here are a few general tips to remember when constructing your lineups:
-You’ll often hear during the NBA regular season that, “minutes equal money”. Well, the same goes for NBA preseason DFS. The only thing is, minutes are much less predictable during the preseason than they are in the regular season. Some players will get a decent number of minutes. Some players will get a handful minutes. And some players won’t get any minutes at all. Most of the time, starters will get somewhere between 20 to 24 minutes per contest, however, that could depend on the matchup, how close we are to the start of the regular season, etc. Once the preseason starts it’s a good idea to take a look at each team’s rotations to see who will likely start and how many minutes he’ll likely get.
-This next tip is to roster guys who are actually going to play. That might sound silly, but it’s an important one. There will be tons of lineups out there with big name studs in them, only to find out that they are going to fall victim to the dreaded “load management” strategy that often rears its head during the preseason and regular season. You may find yourself rostering guys you’ve never heard of, but if those guys are getting the minutes, there are the guys you want.
-Keep an eye out for rookies who will get the starting nod. Rookies that project to be starters usually play for crappy teams, which means they’ll likely get an opportunity to make an impact immediately. These guys usually start off the preseason and regular season underpriced, so spotting them early can pay huge dividends. Guys who have been traded and can expect an increased role with their new team are also valuable assets early on.
-Keep track of players’ health status’. You often see players with the little MASH unit symbol next to their name, indicating some sort of injury, however, not all injuries are the same. This applies to the NBA regular season as well. There’s a big difference between someone on paternity leave and someone nursing an Achilles strain. Make sure you know what players are dealing with what specific injuries. Some players in the preseason may not have an injury designation but are coming off of an injury. For example, John Collins (ATL) is expected to start for the Atlanta Hawks tonight, however he recently suffered from a strained right hip (returned to practice last Tuesday). While he’s considered to be healthy, the Hawks may choose to take it easy with him during the preseason.
-Don’t worry about spending all of your player’s salary. Would you like an example? On Fanduel tonight, Lonzo Ball, Derrick Rose, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram and Lauri Markkanen are all minimum salary. Obviously, someone is asleep at the wheel. Until they wake up, stick those guys into your lineup and pair them with the other studs. DraftKings pricing is much more respectable, but don’t feel the need to spend every penny.
-Get a Twitter account. This is another one that might sound simple, but you’d be surprised how many players don’t actually have one. DFS Twitter is out of control, so I can certainly understand if someone wants to limit their exposure. That being said, Twitter is your friend, especially when it comes to DFS. This is where you will get information with regards to starters, injuries and all things NBA. Make sure you follow each and every NBA team account, as well as a number of beat writers following each team. (The list of beat writers can fluctuate, so be on the lookout for a list that I’ll provide prior to the season.) One key in DFS is to work smarter, not harder. Twitter helps you do that.
Trae Young (ATL) $8800 on Fanduel/$8000 on DraftKings: Young started off last season rather slowly, however, he ended the season strong. Strong enough to be in the conversation for NBA Rookie of the Year honors. Look for him to pick up right where he left off. Fellow point guard Evan Turner will not play against the Pelicans due to a sore Achilles so there’s a chance Young could see a few more minutes than he normally would.
Bradley Beal (WSH)$8100on Fanduel/ $8300 on DraftKings: It’s been reported that Beal will likely need to step up his ballhandling duties this season, with Washington suffering from a much depleted frontcourt. Once John Wall fell to an achilles injury, Beal turned on “beast mode” and kept it there for most of the season (averaging 25.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.7 blocks). Just imagine what his stat line will look like when he has the ball in his hands more often.
RJ Barrett (NYK)on $6600 Fanduel/ $4900 on DraftKings: Barrett (small forward eligible on Fanduel) is the future of my beloved New York Knicks, well, at least in my humble opinion. He’s young, talented and has a ton of potential. He also falls under the category of “rookies that will get the starting nod immediately”. One word of caution: Tread carefully when rostering New York Knicks players. They could end up playing 30 minutes or end the night with a DNP-CD (did not play-coaches decision)
Kris Dunn (CHI) $5600 on Fanduel/ $4900 on DraftKings: Despite acquiring Tomas Satoransky and drafting point guard Coby White, Chicago Bulls head coach Jim Boylan insists that Dunn will remain the team’s starting point guard. That was back in July, so who knows what he’s thinking right now. I’m generally a member of team “I’ll believe it when I see it”, however, in the preseason I’m willing to hold him at his word.
Ish Smith $4200on Fanduel/ $4000 on DraftKings: As a member of the Detroit Pistons, Smith found himself splitting point guard duties with Reggie Jackson, however, as a member of the depleted Washington Wizards frontcourt, he’ll need to take on a lot of ballhandling duties right away (Isaiah Thomas will miss the first few weeks of the regular season due to a thumb injury). I anticipate that includes tonight’s matchup against the New York Knicks. If he was looking for a soft matchup to get his feet wet with his new team, he found one.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL) $11,500 on Fanduel/ $8700 on DraftKings: Based on tonight’s matchup against the Chicago Bulls, the league’s reigning MVP could fall into the category of “studs who won’t get much playing time”. Antetokounmpo routinely had his “load maintained” last season, due to the simple fact that his services weren’t needed for the entire game. He’s a guy that can light up the stat sheet no matter how many minutes he plays, so you’ll want to consider him at a shallow position tonight, especially if you’re taking the studs and scrubs approach in tournaments.
Zion Williamson (NO) $7500 on Fanduel/ $7100 on DraftKings: Let’s face it, if you don’t know who this guy is by now you might want to sit out the first few slates of NBA preseason games and get up-to-date with “Who’s Who” in the NBA. Williamson (small forward eligible on Fanduel) is the highest touted rookie since Lebron James and could easily find himself being priced up with the likes of Antetokounmpo. Sure, he’ll be the chalkiest option on tonight’s slate, however, he could also break it. I never advocate “falling in love” with a player on any slate, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a “crush” on him.
Rui Hachimura (WSH) $4200 on Fanduel/ on $4800 DraftKings:Do you remember when I said you would end up rostering guys you’ve never heard of? Well unless you’re an NCAA (Gonzaga) follower this is a new name for you. Don’t let that sway you from rostering him. He won the WCC player of the year award in college and will look to start the season off as the Wizards starting power forward. He recently received praise from head coach Scott Brooks who also said that “Hachimura could see time at all three frontcourt spots”. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a lot of playing time to me
Brandon Ingram (NO) $3500on Fanduel (not a typo)/ $5300 on DraftKings: Any New Orleans Pelican not named Zion Williamson will likely come at lower ownership tonight. That’s a shame. I love this team because they are loaded with lots of young talent. Ingram is one of those talented youngsters I’m talking about. Last year’s season was derailed by a blood clot, however, those issues are behind him now. He’s expected to start the season as the team’s starting small forward and has a proven high ceiling. He’s a fine pivot off of Williamson in tournaments for someone to include in a game stack.
De’Andre Hunter (ATL) $5500 on Fanduel/ on DraftKings: Hunter is another rookie worth looking at tonight. He performs well on both ends of the court and has drawn early praise in camp from head coach Lloyd Pierce (as per RotoWire). Pierce said, “We’re going to love DeAndre.” Given a soft, up-tempo matchup and a more than reasonable salary, I think I’m starting to love him already. A number of the Hawks are already banged up. This could give Hunter an opportunity to show his stuff.
Andre Drummond (DET) $9500 on Fanduel/ on DraftKings: When it comes to stud centers on tonight’s slate, Drummond tops the list. He was a walking double-double last season (17.3 points, 15.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.7 blocks). This season we should see more of the same. The only problem with rostering any of the Detroit Pistons tonight is the fact that their entire team is healthy. Every last one of them. They are also extremely deep at each position, making Drummond a tough spend in cash games. You would be hard-pressed to find another center that has his ceiling, even in a preseason game so if you’re spending up at the position you should give him a try.
Mitchell Robinson (NYK) $7900 on Fanduel/ on DraftKings: I firmly believe that Robinson is a stud. All he needs is playing time. One problem. He plays for my beloved New York Knicks. Playing time is a hot commodity on that team and you may get it, like you might not. Robinson is expected to kick off the season as the team’s starting center, however, that is by no means a guarantee that he’ll see extended court time (with the likes of Bobby Portis and Taj Gibson behind him on the depth chart). Rostering Robinson might take a leap of faith but it’s one that could pay off handsomely.
Thomas Bryant (WSH) $7800 on Fanduel/ on DraftKings: Last season, the “free Bryant” movement was in full effect. What happened once he was free? He went “HAM”. I expect Bryant’s well-earned freedom to extend into the preseason and NBA regular season. That bodes well for his chances at success in tonight’s matchup against the New York Knicks.