Preseason NBA 10/2/17

 Point Guards

Lonzo Ball– Ball played 36 minutes in the Lakers’ opener on Saturday against Minnesota and he looked very good other than some shooting struggles.  He filled up the stat sheet in other ways, however, contributing 8 assists, 7 rebounds and 2 steals to go along with his 5 points.  It is unusual to see players eclipse the 30-minute mark in the preseason so it immediately makes Ball one of the most valuable plays on the slate since the Lakers appear eager to see what they have in their first-round pick.  Furthermore, they will be facing a young Denver team that also likes to push the basketball tonight, so there should be even more opportunities for stats on both ends of the floor for Ball.  This game has a Vegas total 12 points higher than the next closest game on the slate and Ball is likely to play more minutes than anyone in this game.

Emmanuel Mudiay– Mudiay is competing with Jamal Murray for the starting point guard job in Denver.  Mudiay came off the bench in the opener but he played a total of 28 minutes- 8 more than Murray- and was 6-of-10 shooting with 19 points and 6 assists.  While we do not know exactly how the rotation will play out tonight, it is safe to say that Mudiay has a substantial amount of minutes locked in which makes him an incredibly valuable play at just $4,900 on DraftKings against a fast-paced Lakers team that struggles defensively.

Shooting Guards

Jamal Murray- Clearly, I am high on players from the Denver-Los Angeles game.  Not only is it likely to be fast-paced without much defense, but there are a lot of talented young players who are competing for playing time and/or the coaching staff just wants to showcase what they can do.  Murray is one of those players.  Murray averaged about 0.85 DraftKings points per minute last season for Denver and he is locked into a useful role this preseason as he competes with Mudiay.  He got the start at point guard in the opener and played 20 minutes.  While that is 8 minutes less than Mudiay, it seems likely that is more of a floor than a ceiling for Murray as there is no reason for the Nuggets not to give him as much of an opportunity as they do Mudiay.

Nicolas Batum- Batum is in play at a pretty weak shooting guard position tonight against the Celtics.  In his first preseason game last season, Batum saw 23 minutes of action as the Hornets ran a pretty deep rotation that saw 10 players play at least 15 minutes.  Still, Batum contributes in enough categories when he is on the floor that he does have some upside if he sees low-mid twenties in minutes again tonight, especially because this Boston team is deep on the wings so there will be ball-handlers for Batum to defend.

Small Forwards

Kyle Kuzma– Kuzma, the Lakers’ other first-round pick this offseason, played 26 minutes off the bench for Los Angeles.  He was aggressive offensively, scoring 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting.  While we obviously cannot expect a 75 percent field goal percentage every night, Kuzma looked explosive offensively and there is no reason for the Lakers not to give him an extended look this preseason to see what they have in their late first-round pick.  As mentioned before, this is the best game to target on the slate and Kuzma makes for a strong play at a reasonable price point.

Kyle Anderson– Anderson is an interesting target tonight in a game that probably will not yield a ton of fantasy goodness.  We know that Anderson is not the most productive player from a fantasy standpoint but there is a chance that he gets plenty of opportunity tonight.  Kawhi Leonard has been ruled out for the preseason and Rudy Gay is working his way back from surgery after tearing his achilles last season.  Jonathan Simmons is now a member of the Orlando Magic.  Gregg Popovich ran a deep rotation in the Spurs preseason opener last season but it would make sense for Anderson to get extended run tonight since Leonard is out, Simmons is gone, Gay is likely limited and Anderson is young enough that Popovich should not be worried about running him into the ground.  He is not a “confident” play since there is no guarantee he produces even if he is given minutes, but there is a chance that he leads this team in minutes which does carry some value.  Davis Bertans is an interesting play for the same reasons.

Power Forwards

Julius Randle got up 14 shots in 22 minutes in the Lakers’ preseason opener and tonight he will face a Denver team that fits his style of play.  Randle is a force when he can play in transition, as he can handle the ball and pick up assists as well as get to the basket, and that is likely to be the case in a fast-paced game tonight.  Randle has plenty of upside at a $6,300 price tag on DraftKings if he sees close to 25 minutes tonight.

Wilson Chandler continues the theme of players from the late game tonight but he is one of my favorites because he struggled in his first game.  He shot just 3-of-8 from the field and finished with 7 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds and a steal.  He played 25 minutes, however, and we know that Chandler is capable of exploding in relatively limited playing time.  He will be playing at small forward and not power forward now that Paul Millsap is in the mix, but the matchup tonight suits him perfectly and it would not be surprising to see a big game out of him at a very nice price tag.

Center

Greg Monroe is one of three bigs that are active for this game for Milwaukee.  Thon Maker, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker are all sidelined, which could open up some minutes for Monroe- who does not need a ton of playing time to pile up fantasy points.  Monroe played 17 minutes in last season’s preseason opener and will be competing with John Henson and Joel Anthony for time at the five tonight.  Jason Kidd used a 13-man rotation in the opener last season, with 11 players playing at least 13 minutes.  This most likely caps Monroe’s minutes even with the absences of those three players, but he is such a productive player on a points-per-minute basis that he is worth a look tonight in tournaments.