Last night was fun in daily fantasy basketball, but the first real NBA DFS slate of the year arrives on Wednesday night. I’m still not a huge fan of this new FanDuel product, but I’m still rolling out a team for tonight’s 11-game slate.
There is a lot to consider for this slate. It has 22 teams, some injury concerns and plenty of good/matchups to target or avoid. I’ll discuss a lot of it as I break down my favorite NBA DFS picks for tonight. Let’s get to it:
PG: Goran Dragic – Miami Heat ($6k)
Point guard is not a position I feel pressured into paying up for tonight. Chris Paul heads a perfectly fine group, but there is just too much value here. Bryn Forbes, Patty Mills, Frank Mason and D.J. Augustin are all fine punts if you’re trying to load up with studs, while Dennis Smith Jr. is one guy I’d love to have but can’t quite fit in.
If you must pivot away from The Dragon, DSJ (facing Suns) is the way to go.
I really like Dragic at this price, however. He’s cheap and faces a bad Magic team he torched last year to the tune of 37 fantasy points per game. He gets Augustin as his main defender and with Miami missing a slew of perimeter pieces, he may be in for some extra shots. These Orlando/Miami games somehow tend to be close, too, so overall I think he’s an elite value tonight.
PG: Trae Young – Atlanta Hawks ($6.1k)
The Hawks are a good bet to lose a lot of games this year, but I actually like them quite a bit tonight.
Using Young in his NBA debut is risky, but it could also be amazing. He draws the start from day one and should get heavy run and jack up a lot of shots. He had a nice line in the preseason and has a ton of upside. He’s just way too cheap to get the ball rolling and I have to take a shot here.
Adding to the allure is a date with the Knicks, who do not have great defensive point guards and ranked 22nd in defensive efficiency a year ago. This game also has a strong 215 Total at Sportsbetting.ag, so aside from the worst shooting performance in history going down, Young feels like a fantastic play.
The best part about both of these guys is it’s a big slate and there are a lot of options to consider. Both should be pretty low-owned.
SG: Luka Doncic – Dallas Mavericks ($6.7k)
James Harden headlines a pretty loaded shooting guard group and a matchup with the Pelicans makes him worth targeting. He’s pricey, though, and there’s just so much value here. I’ll start it off with Doncic, who is a solid price and gets the Suns in his pro debut.
Phoenix was terrible on defense last year and while they made some big improvements, I’ll have to see it to believe it. Doncic also benefits from Harrison Barnes being out and Vegas has this game at a solid 215 Total. This is not a bad game to target from either side, so I’ll roll the dice on another rookie looking sharp in their first ever meaningful NBA game.
SG: Tim Hardaway Jr. – New York Knicks ($6.3k)
I love Devin Booker from the other side tonight, but he has some extra bodies on his roster these days and is also returning from a hand issue. I might wait to pull the trigger here and instead kick it back to what could be a shockingly fun showdown between the Hawks and Knicks.
Believe me, it pains me to be rostering Atlanta and New York options, but this projects as a no-defense game with a lot of points. Hardaway should be part of that, as he put up 15.5 actual points per game in two meetings with the Hawks last year and will only see a bigger role with Kristaps Porzingis sidelined to start the year.
The Hawks ranked 8th in pace and both of these defenses were bottom 10 a year ago. I find it likely THJ has a solid scoring game to get the new year going and that makes him a fun value play.
If you need a viable punt, look to Joe Harris ($3.9k). A bunch of Nets players are hurt and Detroit hasn’t been good against guards.
SF: Chandler Parsons – Memphis Grizzlies ($3.5k)
Here’s my big FanDuel punt play. There is no reason not to do one in each lineup, especially if there is a chance they could rival or best another one of your players. Parsons is the bare minimum and helps open up cash, but he’s actually starting and is also healthy for a change.
I’m not expecting much from Parsons, but his matchup with Indiana isn’t bad and he should get some run at the three and four this year. He’s worth a roll of the dice, especially since I really only love two SF options tonight.
If you want to go more mid-range, consider Taurean Prince. I don’t know why, but I get the feeling this Hawks/Knicks game will be en fuego.
SF: Kawhi Leonard – Toronto Raptors ($9.6k)
Giannis Antetokounmpo is easily the top small forward tonight, but why spend $12k when I can get a comparable stud for over $2k less? Nobody knows how good Leonard will be as a member of the Raptors, but he was an elite DFS option in San Antonio and that may not change.
Assuming Leonard is the same guy he’s always been, you have to love his price here. I’d prefer him to be a tad cheaper, but perhaps his price and the presence of The Greek Freak will make him somewhat contrarian.
PF: Blake Griffin – Detroit Pistons ($8.2k)
Anthony Davis is the other big stud to pay up for tonight, but he is very expensive and is notorious for random in-game injuries. He’ll surely wreck, but he wasn’t that amazing against the Rockets last year and there is always blowout potential when Houston is involved, too.
I won’t tell you to not use The Brow, but he isn’t necessary with so much appealing value on this slate. Griffin doesn’t quite have his upside, but he’s still a good bet to chase 40+ fantasy points and against the Nets (who he put up 42 fantasy points against last year) he’s going to offer tantalizing upside.
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge – San Antonio Spurs ($8.2k)
Tobias Harris and Paul Millsap are a bit cheaper and give you pretty reasonable exposure to what could be a lit Clippers/Nuggets battle (230 Total!). I’m sure that game is great, but it should be popular, so for GPPs I might pivot to other games like I’ve been doing.
I don’t normally love rostering Spurs, but Ridge has a pretty good matchup here and will continue to see a ton of shots. San Antonio is basically a two-man show these days and Minnesota does not have a very good defense (22nd in efficiency last year). That, and Ridge was quite good (46.5 fantasy points) in three meetings with them last year.
The Brow could get 70 fantasy points tonight, but Ridge and Blake could both easily get 50. I’ll take the balance over forcing in the stud on this slate.
C: Alex Len – Atlanta Hawks ($5.1k)
I’ll wrap things up with another spare from this Hawks/Knicks game. Len is actually slightly iffy for this one, but he’s expected to play and should get a ton of run with both John Collins and Dewayne Dedmon out with injuries.
The Knicks are not good defensively and Enes Kanter specifically is never a guy to stray away from down low. Len can get into foul trouble, but he’s a great price and has a ton of upside. I think he’s worth the risk here.
Center is positively loaded, of course, so I don’t blame you for paying up tonight if you go that route. Hassan Whiteside ($6.9k) has feasted on Orlando in the past, though, so whether you like Lensanity or not, I don’t think you need to pay big money here tonight.
This is a pure GPP roster. I don’t think you’re going to be able to get away with fading all three of the elite options in cash games tonight, but they are so expensive and they’ll get ownership that I think fading all three has it’s merits on this slate.
If there weren’t a ton of games and options to work with, I’d absolutely force one or two in. However, there is a lot of value to consider tonight and my three priciest options (Blake/Ridge/Kawhi) all have 50+ upside. If those three guys deliver and my value plays work out, this could be a pretty fun night.
Whether you like this lineup as it stands or plan on just using a few of my NBA DFS picks, I hope I help you along in your process in some manner tonight. Good luck and enjoy the games!