The NBA season is finally here and I would like to welcome everyone to my first DraftKings NBA picks of the 2018-2019 season. Tonight, we only get two games to attack. This season, DraftKings has decided to bring back late swap into their normal salary NBA contests. Some people are for this and some are against it, but in my opinion, this is excellent news for us players. Nothing is worse than spending all day doing research and building lineups, to then having your night be completely ruined when you find out a player you rostered is out and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s one of the most discouraging things in DFS and yes, I understand that having late swap makes playing DraftKings NBA more complicated and time consuming, but it put’s your money’s fate in your control, instead of possibly losing everything because a coach or team doesn’t want to reveal their injuries until right before tip off.
What I have learned to do and what I recommend to all my readers, is following The Fantasy Labs NBA account. They are the most up to date service out there for injuries, starting lineups, coaches notes, etc. As soon as some injury news breaks, they will be one of the first accounts on Twitter to tweet out the information. I guarantee it. So, instead of sitting there all night and looking at your phone, watching for news, simply go follow their account and set it up so you get notifications to your phone every time this account tweets.
You will always have the information as soon as possible and it will put you in the best position to make lineup changes throughout The NBA season. With that out of the way, I just want to say I am extremely excited for this season. I had a very profitable season in NBA DFS last year and I look forward to giving you guys content all season. So, good luck and be sure to follow all of the injury news tonight and as always, if any of these picks help you win or if you need any advice, let me know on Twitter. @Hunta512.
SF/PF: Kevin Durant: (9,000)
Excluding The Playoffs, this is the cheapest Durant has been on DraftKings since last December. At an extremely reasonable $9,000, he needs to score 45 DK points to reach five times value, which is easily obtainable for the reigning Finals MVP. (48.5 DK PPG in 2017) Furthermore, he scored 45+ DK points 70% of the time during the final month of last year’s regular season.
With Demarcus Cousins (Achilles) not ready, Durant’s usage should be almost identical to his past two years as Warrior. (29.1%) Lastly, he has done just fine vs this OKC defense in the past, averaging 44.6 DK PPG in the four matchups from last season and they will still be without their best wing defender, Andre Roberson. (knee) Don’t overthink this one and attack KD and Steph Curry (below), while their salaries are depressed.
SF/PF: Paul George: (8,000)
This is a very modest price tag for PG13 without Russell Westbrook in the lineup. (knee) In the two full games Westbrook sat last season, George dominated with a massive 40.1% usage rate. (15% increase) He scored 51.6 DK PPG in these two contests, which was a notable 7.0 DK point jump from his season average. This extremely high usage put him at 1.5 DK PPM. There are blowout concerns, playing against The Warriors at home (GSW -12.5), but I think he still plays a minimum of 30 minutes, unless this game gets really out of hand.
With a tentative projection of 32 minutes (36.6 MPG last season), George should crush value and score 45+ DK points vs this Warriors club he averaged 41.3 DK PPG in four instances in 2017. (Russ played in all of those games) George and Dennis Schroder (below) are vastly underpriced for the roles they should have tonight, and I think both are building blocks in all formats.
PG/SG: Dennis Schroder: (6,300)
Schroder is a must have value play with Westbrook out (knee), regardless of the big spread they are facing tonight vs The Warriors. He will start at point and even though this is first game with the team, we can expect strong rates from him as a starter. Last year with The Hawks, Schroder led the team in both usage (30.8%) and assist percentage (35.3%), helping him to score 32.6 DK PPG and 1.05 DK PPM. George will lead this team sans Westbrook, but Schroder shouldn’t be far behind, and he should see usage and assist rates over 25%.
Even as a road underdog, Schroder should play at least 30 minutes, with 40 minute upside, if The Thunder can keep this game competitive. 30 minutes is easily enough time for Schroder to get five times value in this up tempo matchup (GSW 6th and ATL 10th in pace last season), that he flourished in last season. (39 DK PPG) He will be the chalk play of this small slate, but the value and upside he presents is too good to ignore.
C: Damian Jones: (3,000)
Jones will start at center for The Warriors, until Cousins is able to return. The three year player out Vanderbilt hasn’t played much these past few years, but he looked solid in the preseason as a starter, averaging 9.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.2 steals, and 0.8 blocks in 18 minutes a game. If you do the math, this is right around 1.0 DK PPM.
He won’t play extended minutes, but Jones should see 20-25 MPG to start the year. Steve Adams (back) is a tough matchup, but I think Jones should be able to salvage 15-20 DK points in this role, which is all we can expect from a player this cheap. No other starting player tonight is this cheap and to fit in multiple studs, Jones is a necessary punt for this opening night slate.
C: Joel Embiid: (8,800) Just like the other high end options, Embiid is too cheap for how productive of a player he was last season. In 71 total games he averaged 45.9 DK PPG. Plus, he always took his game up a notch vs The Celtics, scoring 48.6 DK PPG in eight tilts, which is a score that would put him at 5.5 times value at this current price. I prefer having most of my exposure to The Warriors vs Thunder (221 O/U game total, 10.5 points higher than Celtics vs Sixers, who both were in the top three in defensive efficiency last year), but Embiid and his opposing big man Al Horford (below), are just downright miss priced.
PG/SG: Steph Curry: (8,600) Averaged 47.3 DK PPG in The Oralce last year and this matchup is much softer with Schroder starting for Westbrook. In Schroder’s time with The Hawks, Atlanta always ranked as one of the best matchups for opposing PGs. The last two years, PGs have seen a 1.37 DK point +/- in this spot. He should manage close to fives value, even in only around 30 minutes of work, with a ceiling around 50, if The Thunder keep up with The Dubs.
PF/C: Al Horford: (6,100) Horford’s usage will drop with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back in the starting five, but the rest of his rates and defensive stats should maintain. He averaged 34.6 DK PPG at home last season and he was great vs The Sixers, with 36.1 DK PPG. The Celtics need his defense to try to contain Embiid and with this game having a small spread (BOS -4.5), Horford should log right around 35 minutes.
PG/SG: Marcus Smart: (4,400) Smart was consistently priced over $5,000 in 2017 and at this price, he only needs 22 DK points to meet value, which seems like a rather easy task vs The Sixers, who he averaged 25.5 DK points vs last year. I understand that Irving missed some of these games, but Smart should still garner multiple defensive stats vs this Sixers team, that averaged the most TOs per game last season. Hayward’s return will eventually hurt some Celtics’ players like Smart, but he is going to be restricted to only around 25 MPG to start the year. This keeps Smart in a 25-30 minute role off the bench, which is plenty of time for him to fill up the stat sheet.
SF/PF: Jerami Grant: (4,300) Grant should end up logging more minutes than starting PF Patrick Patterson. He averaged 20.1 MPG last season, compared to Patterson’s 15.1. With Adams hurting (back, I expected him to play), Grant should be used as a big in smaller lineups and I am expecting 25+ minutes of work for him. He scored 0.85 DK PPM in 2017 and 20-25 DK points is a reasonable projection for him, even as a bench player. I like this price for Grant and I think he should come with a lower ownership for this type of slate.