Preseason NBA Thoughts 10/11/16

There are four games on the slate tonight including one game with a total over 200 (Portland at Los Angeles) and a game featuring Russell Westbrook.  Deciding how to handle Westbrook will be the key to profiting on today’s slate. There is some value available already with news that the Sixers are likely to be very shorthanded tonight.  Since it is preseason NBA, there will almost definitely be more value opening up throughout the day.  Obviously value is important every day, but with Westbrook on the slate and people dying to play him it is really important to evaluate the value plays today.  So far today, I think that most of the value options that people will be turning to have limited ceilings.  This makes me very excited to play GPPs and fade Westbrook because I think combinations of two players in the $7,000 price range will outscore combinations of Westbrook and $4,500 players very often tonight.  Westbrook is more viable in cash since he has a high raw point floor (even though he probably won’t give you great point per dollar production), plus you don’t want to lose all of your cash games because you decide to take a stand against the best player on the slate.

Note:  DraftKings positions and pricing are used for this article.

Point Guard

Goran Dragic- $5,800- MIA vs BKN

DraftKings has done a really good job of pricing players lately, but Dragic is still too cheap.  He played 27 minutes in his last game and has an increased role in the offense with Deng, Bosh and Wade not on the floor.  He attempted 13 shots in his last game and that should continue.  Dion Waiters is also questionable for tonight’s game and, if he misses it, Dragic could see a small bump in minutes and/or usage.  He is someone who tends to go overlooked by the masses because it doesn’t feel as good to click his name as a lot of other point guard options, but he is a very strong play tonight.

Sergio Rodriguez- $4,300- PHI at MEM

I expected Rodriguez to see heavy minutes as the backup point guard to T.J. McConnell this preseason and that finally happened last game when he played 27 minutes and took 14 shots.  He had only played 19 minutes in the game before that (which even went to double overtime) so he is risky, but he has a very nice ceiling for his price if he sees 25+ minutes tonight.  The Sixers are expected to be without a lot of players so it is likely that Rodriguez sees a lot of court time tonight.

DeAngelo Russell- $7,200- LAL vs POR

Russell went nuts in his last game, scoring 33 actual points in 32 minutes.  Even if we do not expect a repeat of that, he still has a very nice floor and ceiling in what should be an uptempo game against Portland.  He has played 24, 25 and 32 minutes in his three games so far this preseason and attempted 14, 8, and 19 shots.  He is a great GPP pivot off of Westbrook that allows you to save $3,300 and a strong cash option given his playing time and usage in the highest scoring game on the slate.

Jeremy Lin- $6,200- BRK at MIA

Lin is a GPP option only tonight, but he does have some upside.  He did not play in the Nets’ last game so he should be well rested.  His minutes are still a concern as he only played 17 minutes in his last game and the Nets have been using a very deep rotation and spreading minutes out evenly.  He is appealing in GPPs though because Brook Lopez is sitting tonight.  Lin and Lopez are the two primary scorers in the Nets lineup so Lin should see increased usage when he is on the floor.  If he sees around 22 minutes instead of 17, and is aggressive, he could score a lot of fantasy points at low ownership.  Definitely avoid him in cash, however, as his minutes are very uncertain.

Shooting Guard

Victor Oladipo- $7,500- OKC at DAL

In two games against teams from Europe, Oladipo has played 30 minutes and 33 minutes and attempted 8 and 24 shots.  If he continues to play huge minutes and be aggressive on offense, his price is way too cheap even though he is one of the most expensive options on the slate tonight.  It is likely that Oladipo sees a decrease in minutes tonight since it is a road again against an NBA team but, if he plays around 25 minutes, he should still produce a very solid fantasy line.

Tyler Johnson- $4,700- MIA vs BKN

Johnson played 21 minutes in his last game and could be the beneficiary of Dion Waiters being inactive.  Johnson has some value if Waiters plays but, if he is inactive, his value skyrockets.  The Heat want Johnson to get some time at point guard so his minutes are pretty safe since he plays multiple positions.  If Waiters is not playing, he should see an uptick in minutes and usage that would make him a great play in any format.  If Waiters plays, Johnson should only be considered in GPPs because his minutes and usage will be a lot more uncertain.

C.J. McCollum- $6,800- POR at LAL

McCollum is the best cash option at shooting guard tonight and is also a strong GPP option.  He has played 22 minutes in each of his games this preseason, which is not a ton of minutes for his price, but he has attempted 19 shots and 14 shots in those games.  He has been very aggressive on offense which translates into a nice floor and a high ceiling.  McCollum can safely be rostered in any format.

Small Forward

Jerami Grant- $5,200- PHI at MEM

Grant is the top option at small forward today and it is not particularly close.  The Sixers are expected to be without Saric, Okafor and Noel, and Embiid is expected to be limited to 12-15 minutes.  This means that Richaun Holmes will see a ton of minutes at power forward and center, and Grant will most likely see time at power forward.  Grant has been given the green light to shoot more after impressing Coach Brown in camp.  It did not translate to a great scoring night in his last game, but he attempted 13 shots and he can have a monster game tonight if a few more of those shots drop, since he is not scoring dependent and will also pile up stats in other categories.

Power Forward

Richaun Holmes- $5,400- PHI at MEM

Holmes’ price keeps increasing which is perfectly fine with me.  People keep fading him and the increase in price makes it likely that those same people will not roster him today because “he is overpriced”.  Holmes should play around 30 minutes tonight with all of the Sixers’ inactives and he is a very productive player when he is on the court.  There are a lot of “value” forwards tonight who should see 20-23 minutes but do not offer the point-per-minute production that Holmes does.  Spending a little extra money to roster Holmes instead of one of those inferior options is a great way to make a lot of money tonight.

Julius Randle- $6,400- LAL vs POR

Forward is not very exciting tonight and, since people will probably make mistakes by taking cheap forwards with low ceilings, spending up for forwards with high ceilings is a really good idea.  Randle is inconsistent, but can explode at any time and has a great opportunity to do so tonight in an uptempo game where there should be a lot of rebounding opportunities, as well as chances for him to showcase his athleticism on the offensive end.  He played 21 and 19 minutes in his first two games, but played 28 in his last game and it would be surprising to see him drop back below 25 minutes as the Lakers look to get their young star ready for the regular season.

Centers

Hassan Whiteside- $8,000- MIA vs BKN

Whiteside has been incredibly productive so far this preseason and has also been seeing a healthy allotment of minutes.  Tonight he faces a Brooklyn team that will be without Brook Lopez and will be using an assortment of power forwards to fill in at the center position.  Justin Hamilton is the only player in the Brooklyn frontcourt that can match up with Whiteside’s size (which makes Hamilton my favorite play out of those Nets).  Everyone else in the Nets’ frontcourt is 6’9 or shorter, compared to Whiteside who is 7’0.  Whiteside should have a good game even if Hamilton is on the court with him all game and his outlook only gets better when we assume that Hamilton won’t play enough minutes to shadow Whiteside all game.  Roster Whiteside in all games with confidence.

Enes Kanter- $7,000- OKC at DAL

Keep an eye on the status of Steven Adams, as he could cut into Kanter’s minutes depending on his minutes limit if he returns tonight.  Kanter has played 28 and 33 minutes in Oklahoma City’s first two games and has attempted 12 shots and 20 shots in those games.  He has been extremely aggressive offensively and provides very nice upside tonight.  Whiteside is the better option of the two (especially if Adams is back), but rostering them together is a very strong play and Kanter is also a nice pivot off of Whiteside in GPPs if you decide to only roster one center.  Kanter, like Oladipo, is also a strong leverage play against Russell Westbrook if you fade Westbrook.