The NBA is finally back on Friday night. Well, kind of.
FanDuel and DraftKings are nice enough to push out NBA DFS preseason contests, so while the real stuff is still about a month away, DFS fans can try to win some cash via the hardwood right now.
The first game of the 2018-19 NBA preseason is between the Boston Celtics and Charlotte Hornets and it’s the only one on the schedule on Friday, so you have to roll out a showdown contest at your site of choice. Step one will be to make sure anyone you use is actually active and slated to hit the floor, while step two will be to try to gauge just how much they’ll play.
Data is pretty useless in preseason games, so you’re really just trying to get guys that A) are good and B) will actually play a good amount.
That’s probably largely rookies and backups, but some teams will play key players longer than expected. You’ll also want to pay mind to coaching tendencies and what we saw from previous year’s in the preseason.
There is some good history to work off with Brad Stevens, but this is James Borrego’s first year with Charlotte.
As far as superstars go, the only guy I’m 100% not using is Gordon Hayward. Boston will want to give him more run as the preseason wears on, but there’s just no way they’re driving him into the ground in his very first game back from a devastating ankle/leg injury.
It’s just a one-game slate, so I wouldn’t waste too much time here, both with research and the amount of money you risk and contests you compete in. That being said, here’s my favorite NBA DFS preseason lineup for Friday night at FanDuel:
MVP (x1.5 points): Kyrie Irving – Boston Celtics ($16k)
Obviously things are going to change greatly once we learn starting lineups and catch wind of actual run guys are getting. Until we do, however, I’ll be rostering Kyrie and if you look at last year’s preseason opener, the Celtics split up their minutes pretty evenly. Irving actually logged 19 minutes in that game and had a solid 9-4-3 line.
Irving could push for around 20 minutes again and since not many players are locks to play much more, he’s the top guy on my radar. I won’t be alone there, but a chalky Irving is still one we’ll probably want on this one-game slate.
G: Kemba Walker – Charlotte Hornets ($15.5k)
Walker should play about as much as Irving, but he logged 24 minutes in this same meeting during last year’s preseason opener and dropped a solid 12-3-3 line.
The Celtics normally aren’t a great matchup for opposing NBA DFS options, but this is the preseason and Walker will be in front of his home crowd. I always like to roster elite point guards when they’re facing off against top shelf talent – it brings out the best in them.
Malik Monk got hurt in practice on Thursday, so we could see Walker and maybe Nicolas Batum get a little extra run tonight if he’s out or limited.
F/C: Willy Hernangomez – Charotte Hornets ($8.5k)
You can try to go balanced across the board if you want. There’s plenty of middle of the road options even in this one game to consider.
I want the two studs, however, so I’ll go cheap at the F/C spot and use Hernangomez, who was a per minutes monster (46 fantasy points per 36 minutes) last year. That actually paced the Hornets, so it’s an understatement to say this dude racks up stats when he gets floor time.
It’s the preseason, so he’s an absolute lock for me and honesty, Charlotte would be wise to give him a chance to force his way into a big role this year.
UTIL: Jayson Tatum – Boston Celtics ($13.5k)
I’m not touching Hayward and for me, guys like Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Nicolas Batum and even Al Horford need full games or big minutes for me to feel really good about them.
Tatum is a good value and should be even better than he was during his rookie season last year. Already an adept scorer, Tatum can become a DFS dream if he can start consistently racking up dimes, boards and defensive stats. His athleticism and gamer mentality says he can. I have to have him in this game at this price.
UTIL: Daniel Theis – Boston Celtics ($6.5k)
If you’re not in love with Tatum, feel free to pay up and just pick two balanced options in the two Utility slots. Willy as your lone dive is a fine NBA DFS strategy, but I’ll take a second dive to ensure I get three potentially elite options in Kyrie, Kemba and Jayson.
That leads me to Theis, who isn’t an elite talent but a year ago proved to be an efficient one. That was so much the case that he posted Boston’s fourth best per minutes producer (34.38) over 36 minutes per game.
You always want guy who do a lot with their time on the floor and Theis can score down low, rebound and block shots at a solid rate. It’s preseason, so he’ll get 15-20 minutes and could easily return fantastic value.
If this were a regular season game, I probably wouldn’t use any Hornets at all. It’s the preseason and it’s in Charlotte, though, so you need to keep an open mind here. Also consider that a lot of these guys are going to have similar value and upside just because the minutes are going to be tight.
Minutes are pretty key in NBA DFS if you’re new to the game and they’re probably even more important in a volatile setting like preseason daily fantasy basketball. I know the likes of Irving, Walker and Tatum could play only 20 minutes (or even be held out), but if they’re all playing they’re as good or better than any other option you name in this game.
Willy and Theis are downgrades if you prefer to go balanced, but that pairing should be somewhat contrarian and these guys are per minute monsters. I think that gives me a really fun squad for the first NBA DFS slate of the year. It’s just preseason play, but boy is it awesome to have basketball back.
Good luck no matter what you do with your NBA DFS preseason lineup and enjoy the game!