The wait is finally over. Alex here, and I want to welcome you to my first DraftKings NBA post of the season. Just like last season, my picks will include one high end player I like over $7,000, and three value plays I like under $6,000. The 2018 NBA season opens with a small slate of only two games, but two very interesting games. Now, I know if you’re like me you are beyond excited that NBA DFS is back, but with only two games on tap tonight, I would be cautious with how much money you put on line, especially with a full 11 game slate to take advantage of tomorrow. Even with only two games, be sure to be watching all the news outlets to see if there are any surprise lineup changes or if anyone is inactive. @Hunta512.
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PG: Steph Curry: (8,800) Simply put, Curry is underpriced for tonight’s matchup vs The Rockets. Last season, he averaged 47.7 DK points a game vs Houston, and this matchup got better this offseason, with The Rockets trading their best perimeter defender, Patrick Beverly, to The Clippers in the Chris Paul deal. Paul is still a good defender at his age, but he was just recently dealing with a bruised knee, and I don’t think he is anything that will slow down Curry in this opening night game at The Oracle. Currently this game has the highest O/U game total of the slate at 230 points.
Last season, in the 14 home games Curry played in that had an O/U game total of at least 225 points, he averaged 47.27 DK points a game. The 9.5 point spread in favor of The Dubs is a slight concern, but I think Curry should still return five times value even if he only plays around 30 minutes, with tremendous upside if this game is competitive throughout. Even at a higher price, Curry rates as one of the best values in my model, and is someone I will be building around for this small two game slate.
SF/PF: Jae Crowder: (4,300) The former Celtic has officially been named The Cavs starting PF to start the season. This is a very smart move on The Cavs’ part, as Crowder is a very strong defender who can defend multiple positions, taking a very big burden off LeBron James’ shoulders. This move especially makes sense vs this Celtics team that will also be running out a small lineup, with rookie Jayson Tatum starting at PF. With a starting a role, in a game that will be mostly played with small ball lineups on both sides, Crowder should log 30-35 minutes against his former team.
Last season in Boston, Crowder was a solid fantasy producer, averaging 1.1 DK points per minute, and with 30+ minutes, and a possible bump in his rebound rate as a PF, he should produce 25+ DK points. Also, it isn’t talked about much with bigger story lines in this game, but Crowder will absolutely be out to prove to The Celtics wrong. Last season he had multiple comments about feeling “disrespected” when Celtics fans wanted Gordon Hayward to come to Boston, and I’m sure he has been looking forward to this game ever since being traded. At only $4,300, he is a very strong value for this two game slate, especially with his SF/PF eligibility.
C: Al Horford: (6,000) I don’t know if DraftKings thinks this new look Celtics team will hurt Horford statistically, but there is no way he should be this cheap. Horford was priced over $7,000 for most of the playoffs last season and in his last five games he has played at least 30 minutes, he averaged 31.75 DK points a game, which would be a great 5.3x return at his salary for opening night. As I stated above, The Celtics will be starting the year with a smaller lineup than last season, with Horford starting at the five spot. It’s hard to guess what everyone’s usage will be on this Celtics team, but from the way he played this preseason, Horford should still see close to a 20% usage rate this year.
Plus, with Amir Johnson gone to The Sixers, and Horford sliding to center, he should naturally see more rebound opportunities. It’s a small sample size, but in the two full games Johnson was out last season, Horford averaged 36.8 DK points a game. Furthermore, Kevin Love, who will be starting at center for The Cavs, is a very weak defender, and Horford should be able to have his way with Love in the post. We aren’t going to see Horford this cheap for much longer and he is a value that should be attacked on Tuesday night.
C: Clint Capela: (5,600) With veteran back up center Nene coming off a serious thigh injury that ended his season during the playoffs, Capela should be in line to soak up a few extra minutes to start the year as The Rockets slowly work Nene back. During the preseason, Capela played very well, averaging 13 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in 26.8 minutes a game. He will always produce if he sees the playing time, as he averaged 1.1 DK points per minute last season.
The matchup doesn’t look ideal at a first glance, as The Warriors gave up the fifth fewest DK points to centers last year, but Capela handled this matchup with no problems last season, averaging 30.5 DK points vs this same Warriors team that didn’t make any major moves to their front court during the offseason. He is always a threat to get in foul trouble (4.2 per 36 minutes), but if Coach D’Antoni lets him approach 30 minutes, Capela should score close to 30 DK points, with nice upside if he can pick up a double double. I do prefer Horford at a similar price, but I think Capela is someone to have exposure to if you are making multiple GPP lineups tonight.
Also Consider: Marcus Smart (looked terrific in the preseason and should play a bigger role as The Celtics’ best wing defender with Avery Bradley out of town. In the 27 full games Bradley missed last season, Smart averaged 27 DK points in 32.7 minutes), Trevor Ariza (really nice price for him), Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Derick Rose, Terry Rozier (Should be very low owned), Andre Iguodola (Igu has officially been ruled out with a back injury), and Aaron Baynes.