The NBA tipped off with an entertaining two-game Tuesday slate, but the real crazy fantasy basketball fun gets underway this Wednesday with a massive 11-game slate. All 22 teams in action will be taking the floor for the first time in the regular season, and there already are some juicy matchups to check out. The Celtics visit the 76ers in the most compelling Eastern Conference matchup while the Trail Blazers hosting the Nuggets highlights the Western Conference portion of the schedule. There will be plenty of big-name, high-salary stars in action led by Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,000), Joel Embiid ($9,800) and Nikola Jokic ($9,600), but you also will need to find the right value plays to balance out your lineup.
To help you in your search for affordable players that still produce, I’m back for another season of my bargain value picks. Each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, you can find my top four in play for under $4K right here in the DraftKings Playbook. There are always plenty of cheap options early in the season, and here are my first four in play under $4K for the new season:
PF/C BRANDON CLARKE, MEM at MIA, $3,800
The Grizzlies acquired Clarke from the Thunder in a draft-day trade after he was taken No. 21 overall. Clarke immediately made a splash in the Las Vegas Summer League, earning the MVP and first-team honors by averaging 14.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game in just 21.4 minutes per game and an extremely efficient 57% shooting from the floor. He continued his impact in the preseason by shooting 55% from the floor and posting 9.8 points and 9.8 rebounds in 19.8 minutes per game in four preseason contests.
While preseason numbers are unreliable, Clarke’s ability to make an immediate impact on both ends of the court is undeniable. With Jonas Valanciunas (foot) on a strict minutes limit, Clarke should get some good run against Miami in the season opener. He might not be one of the most well-known rookies, but he’s poised to make an immediate splash and be worth this affordable salary.
SG/SF BRUCE BROWN JR., DET at IND, $3,700
The Pistons will be an interesting team to watch come together since their pieces don’t all seem to gel. Especially with Blake Griffin (hamstring, knee) out, Detroit will be searching for offense wherever it can find it against the Pacers, and Brown is one of the team’s best ball-handlers and creators.
Brown is locked into a starting spot due to his defense and also can bring some offensive upside when he gets going. He averaged 6.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 21.4 minutes while starting all five of Detroit’s five preseason games. Coach Dwane Casey has been raving about his offensive game, and he should get a strong chance to show that improvement in the season opener, even though he might not get enough usage to be a nightly option once the Pistons get all their players at full strength.
SG/SF MATISSE THYBULLE, PHI vs. BOS, $3,400
Another rookie traded on draft night, Thybulle joined the 76ers after being selected at No. 20 overall. He has established himself as the first wing off the bench for the Sixers and should provide some nice 3-point potential along with plenty of blocks and steals. His block/steal rate during college and the preseason make him a relatively safe value play if he’s getting 20-plus minutes in the Philadelphia rotation.
Thybulle will make his NBA debut against the team that originally drafted him as he takes on the Celtics. Philadelphia will look to open with a statement win and show its new-look rotation, highlighted by the athletic rookie from Washington.
C BOBAN MARJANOVIC, DAL vs. WAS, $3,200
Is that Boban’s music? If you’re looking for a bargain big man, Marjanovic has made a name for himself by producing great numbers in limited minutes and sometimes popping as an ultra-cheap play. The 7-foot-3 Serbian will be debuting for a new team after signing with the Mavericks this offseason. It’ll be his fourth team in the past five seasons, and he has averaged just under 10 minutes per game through his career, although his per-36 averages are off the charts.
The Mavs have raved about his personality and locker room presence all preseason, and he could be set up for more playing time on Opening Night since Dwight Powell (hamstring) will be out. Marjanovic is expected to be the primary backup to Kristaps Porzinigis ($8,200) in the opener, and we all know what he can do when he gets enough minutes to make an impact.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.