Preseason NBA Thoughts 10/05/16

We have a three game slate tonight, which is a little bit of a letdown after having nice six game slates each of the last two nights.  It will be extremely important tonight to pay close attention to news released throughout the day because there are only so many options to roster so it is tougher to get away with making mistakes.  The game that will probably have the biggest impact, and you should pay the most attention to throughout the day, is the Raptors and Clippers.  The Raptors sat Sullinger with a foot injury and Carroll for rest in their last game and their availability tonight will impact the other Raptors’ players, especially Siakam and Valanciunas.  The Clippers are on the second night of a back-to-back so it is up in the air what they will do with their starters.  They did not play heavy minutes last night (Paul played 13 and Griffin played 18) but it is still possible that at least one of them gets a rest tonight, since it is the preseason, which would open up a lot of value with guys like Crawford, Rivers and Speights possibly seeing increased minutes.

Point Guard

Toney Douglas- $4,200- CLE vs ORL

Douglas was just signed to a non-guaranteed contract to compete for the backup point guard role vacated by Mo Williams.  He has shown flashes of upside in the past, most recently last season with the Pelicans.  He is a volatile player in general, and especially when his minutes are uncertain, so he is not a recommended cash option tonight.  He is an interested GPP option, however, because it is not difficult to envision a situation where the Cavs limit the minutes of their starters and give some extra run to guys like Douglas who are competing for important bench roles.  DeAndre Liggins is getting the start at point guard for Cleveland, but Douglas is the one to take a GPP shot on tonight.  Be sure to follow Cleveland beat reporters on Twitter to try and get a better idea of the Cavs’ plan for Douglas before lock.

Brandon Knight- $5,500- PHX vs UTA

Knight is trying to get accustomed to his new role as the sixth man for the Suns.  He played 17 minutes in their first preseason game, splitting minutes evenly with Eric Bledsoe.  There are not a lot of point guard options that stand out tonight and Knight is too cheap for his upside- even if he is only getting around 20 minutes of play.  Coming off the bench should play into his favor tonight as he will be on the court against the younger guards for the Jazz instead of the veteran George Hill.  It is not an ideal spot, but there is definitely upside to be had in GPPs- probably at relatively low ownership for a three game slate.

Shooting Guard

Jamal Crawford- $4,200- LAC vs TOR

Crawford played 20 minutes against the Warriors last night and struggled from the field going 0-for-7.  He should get at least 20 minutes again tonight with the possibility of more if the Clippers sit some of their starters.  Crawford is a volume scorer who is capable of scoring a lot of points in a hurry and is priced too low for the minutes he should receive tonight.  He is the top option at shooting guard when price is factored in.

Terrence Ross- $5,200- TOR at LAC

Ross takes a little bit of a hit if Carroll is back in the lineup for the Raptors tonight but, if he isn’t, Ross is in a very nice spot against a Clippers team that struggles to defend the perimeter.  In the first preseason game (with Carroll) he saw 15 minutes of action and managed to get up 9 shots.  In the second game (without Carroll) he saw a boost to 20 minutes and put up 12 shots.  He is similar to Crawford in that he can score quickly, but his price is more accurate than Crawford’s which makes him not quite as strong an option as Crawford is, although he is still very playable in GPPs especially if Carroll misses the game.

Devin Booker- $6,400- PHX vs UTA

Booker has a tough matchup tonight against a Jazz team that is strong defensively but his price is still too low for his ceiling.  He will be one of the focal points of the Phoenix offense this season and that was on display in their first preseason game as he attempted 13 shots in 24 minutes.  Booker is not the best point-per-dollar play at the position but, if you save money elsewhere, he is very likely to score the most raw points.

Small Forward

Demarre Carroll- $4,400- TOR at LAC

If Carroll returns to the court tonight he is the top option at small forward (unless for some reason his minutes are going to be severely limited).  He played 19 minutes in the Raptors’ first preseason game which leads me to believe that his knee is fine and, on days that he dresses, he will see his typical allotment of minutes.  $4,400 is about $500-$1,000 cheaper than he should be if he is going to be allowed to play about 20 minutes against a defensively-challenged Clippers team on the second half of a back-to-back.  Carroll was also involved in the offense in their first game, shooting 9 times in the 19 minutes he was on the floor.

LeBron James- $8,400- CLE vs ORL

LeBron probably will not get a ton of minutes tonight at Orlando, but if he sees 17-20 it will easily be enough for him to be the top scoring option on the slate.  Since small forward is pretty weak tonight, especially if Carroll doesn’t play, there is definitely merit to sacrificing some point-per-dollar value in exchange for locking in the very high floor that LeBron always provides.  Be sure to keep an eye on beat writers for an accurate projection of how many minutes he is expected to play before gametime.

Power Forward

Channing Frye- $4,400- CLE vs ORL

Frye is in a nice spot tonight against the Magic.  He should see a decent amount of time on the floor, assuming the Cavs limit the minutes of the starters since it is a preseason game on the road.  The Magic have been using Vucevic and Biyombo at the same time and they will both struggle to defend the perimeter which benefits Frye.  He is a very solid GPP option at power forward because you don’t need a ton of points at his salary for him not to hurt you, and there is definite upside if he gets hot from deep.

Trey Lyles- $5,000- UTA at PHO

Lyles is the best power forward play tonight in any format and it is not particularly close- at least as of right now.  Derrick Favors is not playing tonight which should lead to increased minutes for Lyles in an uptempo matchup that suits him.  In Utah’s last game, with Favors playing 24 minutes, Lyles still saw 21.  Unless it is reported otherwise, Lyles should probably see at least 25 tonight without Favors.  At $5,000, in a matchup where Lyles should thrive, he is as close to a must play in any format as there is.

Centers

Nikola Vucevic- $6,500- ORL at CLE

Vucevic played 23 minutes in his first preseason game and should see similar playing time tonight.  He is a very productive point-per-minute player and 23 minutes is plenty of time for him to pay off his $6,500 salary.  The Magic have been using him and Biyombo on the floor at the same time.  If Vucevic is matched up with Kevin Love it could hurt his rebounding numbers a little bit, as Love is an excellent rebounder combined with competing for boards with Biyombo, but there isn’t really a reason to expect the Cavs starters to play a lot of minutes and Vucevic’s price is just too cheap to ignore given his offensive upside at a weak position on a short slate.

Mo Speights- $4,200- LAC vs TOR

Speights showed last night that he can contribute a lot of fantasy points in a hurry.  He is always capable of disappearing but, at almost the minimum price, he makes for a very nice play tonight.  He saw 17 minutes last night, which is plenty for him to pay off his inexpensive salary.  There is also the possibility that he will see a few extra minutes tonight as DeAndre Jordan played 22 minutes last night and seems like a candidate for a little bit of a break on the second night of a back-to-back set.  If you don’t pay up for Vucevic, Speights is the best value center on the board.