It honestly feels like the NBA season just finished. Now, I understand that sentiment is actually a testament to the league’s enduring ability to stay relevant during the summer. I mean, how crazy is it that Summer League actually feels like required viewing for basketball fans? Plus, between the draft, free agency and preseason, the sport is rarely out of the spotlight all that much to begin with.
However, the real reason I could swear the 2018-19 campaign ended yesterday is the Toronto Raptors hoisted the Larry O’Brien Trophy when it was all said and done. My Toronto Raptors. Tomorrow evening, a banner will be unfurled at Scotiabank Arena and Kyle Lowry ($6,800) will have a championship ring. I’m getting all warm and fuzzy just thinking about it.
This isn’t about me, though. Well, not completely. It’s about a two-game featured slate on DraftKings. It’s about basketball being back. It’s about finding some value and making some money playing DFS. Let’s get back into it.
StudJrue Holiday, NO at TOR, $7,900 – It’s possible Holiday was going to be most people’s No. 1 point guard target prior to Zion Williamson’s injury, but now he’s essentially unavoidable. The correlation between season-long and DFS doesn’t always matter and pricing is a little wonky with such a small slate, but Holiday’s a fringe first-round pick with a price tag below $8K. That’s pretty tempting all by itself. His case only gets stronger when you consider the numbers he put up without a second ball-dominant player on the floor last year. In the 2,057 possessions Holiday played without Anthony Davis, the veteran averaged 1.28 DKFP per minute and operated at a 28.2% usage rate. Add in the fact New Orleans played at an NBA-high pace of 106.4 possession per 48 minutes after the All-Star break, and you’re left with quite the tantalizing combination of factors.
ValueFred VanVleet, TOR vs. NO, $4,800 – We don’t yet know if VanVleet will be starting next to the aforementioned Lowry on opening night, but that designation means little in the grand scheme of things. If Raptors coach Nick Nurse has been clear about anything so far in October, it’s he generally is unenthused with the back-half of his bench. Heck, in Toronto’s final preseason game against Brooklyn on Friday, Nurse didn’t use an eighth man until near the end of the second quarter. It’s simply clear VanVleet is going to play and play a lot with the loss of Danny Green. That’s good news for his fantasy prospects. In the 23 regular season games the Wichita State product saw 30-plus minutes last year, he averaged 14.9 points and 5.3 assists. He also might still have some baby swag from the NBA Finals. At least, you can’t rule out the possibility.
Other Option: Nickeil Alexander-Walker ($3,400)
StudLou Williams, LAC vs. LAL, $6,500 – While the Clippers’ roster has undergone some serious turnover since the end of last season, I’d anticipate seeing a very similar version of Williams. The soon-to-be 33-year-old has registered a usage rate below 27.0% in only one campaign dating back to 2014-15, a span of time in which he’s played with many different players across four separate teams. His game is the constant in a sea of variables. With Paul George sidelined, it would make a lot of sense for Doc Rivers to stagger Williams’ minutes with Kawhi Leonard’s ($9,600), making sure Los Angeles always has at least one dynamic scorer on the court at all times. If that indeed happens, Williams should have little trouble bringing back value.
ValueAvery Bradley, LAL at LAC, $4,100 – It’s hard to project just how a crowded Lakers backcourt will shake out. Heck, Frank Vogel was unwilling to say who three of his five starters would be as recently as two days ago, but, if I had to guess, I’d assume Bradley comes into Tuesday night as Los Angeles’ starting two-guard. His usage rate won’t be anything special playing next to the likes of LeBron James ($9,900) and Anthony Davis ($10,200), yet, at a relative barren position, there’s some safety in Bradley. It’s also promising his long dormant offensive game showed signs of life in a late stint with Memphis in 2018-19, a stretch where Bradley scored 16.1 points per night on 46.1% shooting.
Other Option: Landry Shamet ($4,200)
StudKawhi Leonard, LAC vs. LAL, $9,600 – I think there’s a couple of reasons to favor Leonard over James on this slate. While James did average more DKFP per regular season contest last year, Leonard will be playing without George, where as James will be paired with Davis. You don’t have to come too far down the narrative street rabbit hole with me, but I truly believe James will be trying to facilitate and elevate his Space Jam 2 co-star Tuesday evening, who will be making his Lakers debut at Staples Center. Conversely, Leonard will be tasked with carrying much more of the Clippers’ offensive weight. We basically are splitting hairs here, as each is incredibly viable; however, James also will have to deal with Leonard on the defensive end of the floor. Plus, you know, Leonard averaged 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds with the Raptors in 2018-19. He’s pretty good.
ValueOG Anunoby, TOR vs. NO, $3,900 – Much like his teammate VanVleet, the main selling point for Anunoby is his floor. Toronto lost a considerable amount of wing depth in the offseason, and the third-year forward is almost the only trustworthy option Nurse has at small forward without getting considerably smaller with the likes of Norman Powell ($4,000). That’s not to suggest there isn’t some upside with the Indiana product, however. As showcased in an 18-point performance in Friday’s dress rehearsal against the Nets, Anunoby stands to gain from being in a lineup with veteran offensive creators like Lowry, VanVleet and Marc Gasol ($5,500). He’s going to get back-cut looks and he’s going to get open 3-pointers. It’s just a matter of converting the opportunities. With the Lakers, Clippers and Pelicans possessing such deep rotations, the Raptors are where you can find some defined minutes from low-priced pieces.
Other Option: Brandon Ingram ($5,800)
StudAnthony Davis, LAL at LAC, $10,200 – The highest-priced player on the slate is definitely deserving of that honor. In what was one of the stranger individual seasons in recent memory, Davis’ per game numbers suffered in a fluctuating role, yet his per 36 minutes statistics were breathtaking. Davis averaged career-high in points (28.3), rebounds (13.1) and assists (4.2), all while maintaining a .597 true shooting percentage and scoring 1.64 DKFP per 60 seconds on the floor. He’s healthy (for now) and motivated. There’s not much more you can ask for.
ValueDerrick Favors, NO at TOR, $5,600 – There’s a few things working against Favors as we head into Tuesday’s tilt with Toronto, but I’m not overly concerned with what was a fairly forgettable preseason and some soreness that kept him off the court last Friday. There’s a pretty simple reason Favors wasn’t scoring in New Orleans’ exhibition contests, and that reason is 6’6 and roughly 290 pounds of basketball skill and athleticism. Well, as previously mentioned, Zion Williamson will be not be active north of the border. Just how great of news is that for Favors? Well, according to Rotoworld’s Michael Gallagher, the veteran played 54 of his 59 preseason minutes with the rookie and mustered a paltry 9.2% usage rate in that span. He’ll have a much larger role in a high-tempo offense in Zion’s absence. That’s good enough for a look on this slate.
Other Option: Serge Ibaka ($5,200)
StudPascal Siakam, TOR vs. NO, $7,600 – I’ve referenced the Pelicans’ pace a couple of different times in this article, and such an element of offensive style isn’t solely a benefit for New Orleans. A quickened tempo also means more possessions for the Raptors, and I can think of few players who thrive more in an up-and-down setting than Siakam. The owner of a new $130 million contract seems ready for the expanded workload he’s sure to have in the absence of Leonard. In fact, in the 1,012 minutes Siakam logged with Leonard sidelined last season, the Cameroonian forward produced 1.19 points per possession on a .615 true shooting rate. Additionally, if Nurse is considering a shortened rotation, Siakam likely will be the man tasked with picking up the extra slack. At least, that’s how it went in 2018-19. Siakam played more than 300 more minutes than any other Raptor and broke the 40-minute plateau five different times. He averaged 27.4 points and 11.4 rebounds in those five games, by the way. Other Option: Montrezl Harrell ($6,100)
ValueDwight Howard, LAL at LAC, $4,500 – Why not? It seems like JaVale McGee ($4,800) is going to get the nod in Vogel’s starting lineup, but it’s not crazy to think Howard could be an offensive focal point off the bench. He’s looked solid in the preseason; he put up 18.0 points and 13.0 rebounds per 36 minutes in nine games with the Wizards last year, and, most importantly, you only need him to stay healthy until the end of the night. McGee is obviously the safer play, yet I’ll be sure to get a piece of Howard’s ceiling somewhere.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) 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.