NBA Preseason Thoughts 10/08/16

There are six games on the slate tonight.  The Pacers have already announced that Paul George will not play, so there will definitely be value in that game.  The Sixers announced that Noel did not travel with the team so we can also look to the Sixers frontcourt for value.  The highest Vegas total on the slate is in the Pacers and Bulls game at 202.5 and the lowest is in the Atlanta and San Antonio game at 189.5.  With no games really looking like they should shoot out, I probably will not be stacking any of them and will just look for individual plays from different games.

Note:  The Spurs play tonight and, as of the time of this writing, have not announced who is playing so I will not be recommending anyone from that game because their lineup will affect everything.  Tune in to Final Countdown tonight at 6 EST for takes on that game.  DraftKings positions and pricing are used for this article.

Point Guard

T.J. McConnell- $5,200- PHI at CLE

McConnell’s price is getting a little higher than I am comfortable paying but, if Nik Stauskas is out again, he is still a viable option tonight.  He has been playing a lot of minutes, including 35 in an overtime game against the Wizards a couple of nights ago.  He has attempted 10 or more shots in both of his games so far, which is somewhat unusual for him and suggests that he may be making an effort to score more.  If that is the case, it would raise his floor and his ceiling and make his price tag more appealing.

Michael Carter-Williams- $5,600- MIL vs DAL

Carter- Williams is coming off of the bench for the Bucks this season but that actually plays to his strengths.  He is a ball-dominant point guard so being on the floor with the second unit will allow him to be aggressive and shoot often without having to defer to Antetounmpo and the other starters.  Carter-Williams played heavy minutes in Milwaukee’s last game and he is a GPP option tonight because even if he loses a few minutes he is capable of scoring points in bunches when he is the focal point of the offense- which he will be when he is on the floor.

Ricky Rubio- $5,700- MIN at MIA

Tonight is the first preseason game for Minnesota so there is not much to go on as far as projecting minutes.  If Rubio is going to be allowed to play 20-25 minutes, then he is a strong option tonight at this price.  $5,700 is too cheap for him because he has a high floor due to his ability to rack up assists even when his shot is not falling.  On the nights that his shot actually is falling, he is capable of scoring a ton of fantasy points in a hurry.  Listen for clarity on how long the Timberwolves plan on playing their starters tonight and, if they are going to be allowed to play at least 20 minutes, strongly consider Rubio.

Jeff Teague- $6,500- IND at CHI

Teague is the best point guard play tonight.  He has played 26 minutes in each of his first two games with the Pacers and has been very productive.  In addition, Paul George is sitting out tonight so Teague’s usage should increase.  Most of the Pacers starters are viable options but Teague stands out in particular as close to a must-play.

Shooting Guard

Jimmy Butler- $7,500- CHI vs IND

Butler cost me a lot of money in the last game because he only played 12 minutes after Fred Hoiberg said he would play into the third quarter.  Today, Hoiberg has again said that Butler will play into the third quarter and I will trust him one more time.  Dwyane Wade played 22 minutes last game compared to Butler’s 12, so it would make no sense for Wade to play more than Butler again tonight.  There is a lot of value at shooting guard tonight so Butler is not a must play, especially on sites that don’t have guard or utility positions, but Butler is a strong option if you can afford him.

Joe Harris- $4,100- BKN at NYK

The Nets will probably have a deep rotation of role players tonight that won’t really benefit anyone.  One exception to that is Joe Harris.  Jeremy Lin is out tonight and someone will need to score for the Nets.  Harris attempted 11 shots in 20 minutes in the last game and is a likely option to pick up the scoring slack.  He is a risky option because the Nets rotation is so unclear but he could definitely pay off in GPPs.

Jordan McRae- $4,500- CLE vs PHI

McRae looked great in Cleveland’s opener against the Magic.  Kyrie Irving did not play and the Cavs used McRae next to Kay Felder for a lot of the game.  They have been really impressed with McRae and he should continue to get an opportunity to shine in the preseason.  He is a very good scorer and looked good running the point against Orlando as well.  With Irving back he will probably play off the ball more, but that is where he is the strongest.  When he was on the floor with Felder against Orlando, he handled the ball the most.  It is very possible that he gets time at shooting guard alongside Irving and then moves to point guard when Irving leaves the game, which would be very good for his fantast production.  McRae is a very high upside option tonight that does carry some risk because there is uncertainty about how the Cavs will handle McRae, Felder, Douglas and Liggins along with Kyrie.

Rodney Stuckey- $4,500- IND at CHI

Stuckey is the best shooting guard on the board tonight.  He played 27 minutes last game with 20 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds on 5 of 10 shooting- and that was with Paul George playing 24 minutes.  With George inactive, Stuckey should have an even higher usage rate and easily pay off his $4,500 salary.  In 2014-15, when George missed most of the season, Stuckey’s usage rate without him was 23.8.  Last season, with George healthy, it was 20.5.  Obviously there are other variables, but it makes sense for Stuckey to see a boost tonight.  Lock him in to your lineups in all formats.

Small Forward

Glenn Robinson III- $4,400- IND at CHI

Small forward sucks tonight- at least as of right now.  Robinson was productive in his last game with 17 points and 5 rebounds in 24 minutes.  He will be starting for George tonight and should see at least the same amount of minutes, if not more.  There is nothing wrong with plugging in Robinson at small forward and moving on.

Power Forward

Richaun Holmes- $4,700- PHI at CLE

Nerleans Noel is not traveling to Cleveland and Dario Saric and Joel Embiid have been limited to 18 and 12 minutes respectively.  That leaves a healthy amount of minutes for Holmes which gets even bigger if Okafor also misses this game (he is currently questionable).  Holmes has shown the ability to produce a lot of fantasy points when given an opportunity and the Sixers thin frontcourt provides that opportunity on a night that there isn’t a ton to love at power forward.  Holmes is a solid option tonight and will get even stronger if Okafor misses the game or has a strict minutes limit because he is capable of playing power forward and center.

Kristaps Porzingis- $7,300- NYK vs BKN

Porzingis played 27 minutes in his last game and was very productive.  Power forward is looking pretty weak at the moment so paying up for the player that is likely to score the most points at the position is a viable option even though the price tag is slightly higher than we would like in the preseason.  Porzingis is a very good young player and as long as he will see 25+ minutes tonight he should be able to score enough points to be worth his salary relative to other players at the position.

Centers

Hassan Whiteside- $7,200- MIA vs MIN

Center is another position where I am planning on paying up because I don’t trust the cheaper options.  Whiteside has a high floor and ceiling because of his ability to block shots and grab rebounds.  When he scores points it is just an added bonus.  He has a nice matchup tonight against the Wolves who have guards who like to attack the rim which gives him an opportunity to record an extra block or two.  He should be able to pay off his salary tonight as long as he sees at least the 23 minutes that he saw against the Wizards.

Karl-Anthony Towns- $8,600- MIN at MIA

Towns is expensive but should be well worth the price if he is allowed to play around 25 minutes.  The game is being played in Kansas City which should benefit him because teams tend to play their starters a little more in neutral site games where the fans don’t usually get to see NBA games.  Towns is one of the best centers in the league and should only get better.  Paying down at shooting guard and small forward tonight so that you can afford him is definitely not a bad idea as long as he is going to get minutes.