Preseason NBA 10/9/17
We actually have a bit of early news today! I am sure plenty will still change between now and lock but it is nice to at least have something to work with. We know that the Sixers are getting a few bodies back in Saric, Fultz and Luwawu-Cabarot while they will be without Holmes, Redick and Covington. The Pacers are resting Stephenson, Oladipo, Sabonis, Thaddeus Young, Myles Turner and Bojan Bogdanvoic while Darren Collison is expected to only play 12 minutes. They are the obvious place to look for value, at least as of now, as they do not have many active bodies and a few of those bodies have barely played any minutes this preseason. Marc Gasol will make his preseason debut for the Grizzlies while Goran Dragic sits once again for the Heat and Seth Curry will not be available for Dallas. Reggie Jackson is available for the Pistons while Andre Drummond and Avery Bradley are out. As always, be sure to tune into the Final Countdown at 5:30 EST with Fast Eddie Fear and myself for up-to-date information before lock.
James Harden takes on the New York Knicks tonight. We have not seen anything on the Rockets’ plans for their starters so, for now, I am operating under the assumption that they will play healthy minutes since D’Antoni has spoken before about needing to get everyone on the same page in the shortened preseason and because last season, when there were plenty of games, Harden still played a boatload of minutes most nights. Harden is a top play at a $9,500 price tag on DraftKings if he is going to play 25-30 minutes.
Yogi Ferrell should benefit from the absence of Seth Curry. Curry’s absence opens up more backcourt minutes and usage and also puts the ball in Ferrell’s hands more often. While Ferrell only averaged 0.71 DraftKings points per minute in about 96 minutes alongside Barnes and Nowitzki without Curry last season, he did have a 23.1 percent usage percentage which suggests his per-minute production likely would be higher over a larger sample. He now obviously has to play alongside Dennis Smith, Jr., which should lower his usage, but it is likely that their minutes will be staggered so Ferrell will still have plenty of ball-handling opportunities. The risk with Ferrell is that, regardless of what players are absent, Rick Carlisle likes to spread minutes out in the preseason. It is very possible that Ferrell still only played 18-20 minutes tonight.
Cory Joseph is the absolute minimum on DraftKings and is in a nice spot tonight as he will come off the bench in the first-half and presumably start at point guard in the second half (that has not been confirmed but Collison is expected to only play 12 minutes so it seems like a reasonable assumption). Also working in Joseph’s favor is that Lance Stephenson is taking the night off so Joseph will not have to worry about Lance hijacking the offense when he is playing with the second unit. It is likely that Joseph is required to contribute much more on the offensive end tonight than we have seen so far this preseason. He is obviously on a different team this season but in 185 minutes without Lowry or DeRozan (the two primary scorers for the Raptors) last season, Joseph had a 27.1 percent usage rate and averaged 0.97 DraftKings points per minute. Playing without any of the Pacers’ starters tonight could result in similar production from Joseph.
C.J. McCollum played about 25 minutes last night and Terry Stotts hinted that McCollum and Lillard could play 30+ tonight on the second leg of a back-to-back. McCollum is always an attractive shooting guard option because he handles the ball with the second unit as well as being the secondary scorer for the Blazers when he is on the floor alongside Lillard. Keep an eye on news from Portland throughout the day but, if we can pencil McCollum in for close to 30 minutes, he is one of the top point-per-dollar values on the slate.
Josh Richardson has extra value again tonight with Goran Dragic on the bench. Dragic’s absence means that Richardson will have more ball-handling duties. He also has been seeing extended minutes this preseason, including 29 on Saturday when he scored 19 points with 4 assists, 2 rebounds, 4 steals and a block. Fortunately, there was only one game on Saturday so hopefully Richardson will go somewhat overlooked tonight since he was not on a main NBA slate for that game. He is an incredibly strong play on FanDuel as well, where blocks and steals are worth more.
Jayson Tatum should see a massive usage boost and plenty of minutes tonight as news just broke that the rookie will be playing without Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford or Marcus Morris. Tatum has been productive in his playing time so far this season and he has a nice matchup against the Sixers as well, especially with Robert Covington inactive. Tatum will be popular as the Celtics’ news broke about 6 hours before lock but he is a top play at a very reasonable price tag as the offense should run through him in a fast-paced game against a weak defensive unit.
Dion Waiters is likely to go a bit overlooked at the same price point as Tatum but he is also a very strong play. Waiters had a usage rate just north of 30 percent without Goran Dragic on the floor last season and averaged 1.02 DraftKings points per minute. We should expect him to be productive without Dragic again tonight.
Aaron Gordon has been very productive this preseason and that continued in his last game as he scored 19 points with 6 rebounds in only 21 minutes of play. He has a nice matchup against the Mavericks tonight, especially if Dirk Nowitzki is back in the lineup as Gordon will benefit from a lack of rim protection without Mejri or Withey on the floor with him. The concern with Gordon is the lack of minutes that Frank Vogel has given any of his starters this preseason, but Gordon is capable of paying off a $6,300 price tag in only 22-25 minutes of play.
T.J. Leaf will get the start for the Pacers tonight without Thaddeus Young or Donatas Sabonis. Leaf has seen minutes in the low-mid twenties off the bench and he should get plenty of run tonight with the Pacers resting so many bodies. Leaf is a talented player and is capable of providing plenty of scoring. He should see a sizable boost in usage as all of the high-usage players take the night off. Leaf is a strong option in any format.
Hassan Whiteside averaged 1.25 DraftKings points per minute without Dragic on the floor last season and he is in a nice spot tonight against the Hornets. Whiteside has had mixed results against Dwight Howard in the past, but he has shown that he is capable of reaching a high ceiling which is really all that we care about for tournaments. Whiteside’s minutes have fluctuated throughout the preseason but he did play 26 minutes on Saturday against the Magic. If he sees 24-26 in this one he could put up another 40+ fantasy points.
Rudy Gobert is a risky play if we do not get news on Quin Snyder’s intentions since the Jazz are on the front end of a back-to-back but he has massive upside. As I mentioned before the last Utah game, Snyder gives his starters plenty of run in most preseason games but sometimes limits them to 16-18 minutes. It would not be surprising to see him do that on one end of a back-to-back, but if I had to guess I would guess he does it tomorrow against an international team. We just saw Gobert have success against this Phoenix team and there is no reason to expect anything different tonight as long as he gets the minutes. It is a prime rebounding matchup for him and a great shot-blocking matchup.
Aron Baynes should see plenty of minutes and productivity with Marcus Morris and Al Horford both on the bench today against a Joel Embiid-less Philadelphia frontcourt. The Sixers are also missing Richaun Holmes so Dario Saric will likely see time at the five. Baynes should be able to grab any rebound that he wants to and will add enough on the offensive end that he should be able to blow his near-minimum price tag out of the water.