Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice
Daily Fantasy NBA Basketball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 10/17/18
After a two-game Tuesday warmup, the NBA really kicks it into gear for Wednesday when we get a full slate of action. There are superstars galore plus some other opportunity plays to round out lineups. We've got you covered for FanDuel and DraftKings lineups on the first big night of the season.
Head on over a for your chance to get DFSR PRO, which will give you access to our NBA FanDuel and DraftKings optimizer, our NFL Optimizer, and our new player lab! Get started for free by clicking the button below.
First time with NBA or NFL? Be sure to read our free NBA and NFL Ebooks on building lineups, general strategy and more. We've got you completely covered.
Trey Burke FD - $4900 DK - $5600
Opponent - ATL
Proj Pts FD - 34.57 DK - 35.21
Frank Ntilikina FD - $3800 DK - $4800
Opponent - ATL
Proj Pts FD - 21.94 DK - 22.19
There are a lot of places to spend up on this slate. Point guard doesn’t seem like one of them. The Knicks give us a couple of cheaper options to work with in Burke and Nkitilina who will both draw the start on Wednesday. Emmanuel Mudiay and Courtney Lee have already been ruled out of this game, and the Knicks will go very small with Burke, Nkitilina and Hardaway at the 1-3. It should also leave plenty of backcourt minutes to go around with really only Kevin Knox and Mario Hezonja as viable guard replacements (and neither play the point). We’ve seen big usage out of Burke in the past. With Porzingis off the court, the former was second on the team in usage after Michael Beasley who’s no longer on the team. Burke has also been able to pile on assists if he sees the minutes.
Meanwhile, Ntilikina finally got a chance at quality minutes late in the season and was able to find something of a scoring touch over the last couple of games. It’s not the strongest part of the game (he’s a much better defender) but should be able to grow into the position this season with the Knicks likely headed for the tank. Assume Burke and Ntilikina see the majority (if not all) of the ball-handling duties between them on Wednesday and both have very high floors for their respective prices.
Dennis Smith Jr. FD - $6600 DK - $7000
Opponent - PHO
Proj Pts FD - 32.77 DK - 34.15
You are going to see some Mavs in this bad boy tonight. They draw a fantastic matchup against the Suns who are actually favored in this matchup. Last season Phoenix played the second-fastest pace in the league with the worst defensive efficiency. I don’t suspect a whole lot of changes this year. Sure, they might have a more solidified starting five, but that will include Ryan Anderson and rookie Deandre Ayton. And it looks like we can be bullish on the Mavs from a DFS perspective. I’ll get into some of the reasons in a bit, but the first one is rather simple: they want to win. You don’t bring in DeAndre Jordan and trade up for NBA-ready Doncic without wanting to make a playoff run. And that will mean more minutes concentrated around the starters. I think this DSJ price is based on his 2017-18 minutes and those could be looking at a 10-15% increase if he’s pushing the pace, playing two-man games with Jordan and just scoring in general.
I think you can strongly consider Trae Young right out of the gate. We discussed this on the podcast, but I like his DFS prospects this season and think we see a price increase in the short term.
Also consider Goran Dragic with so many Heat guys banged up right now.
James Harden FD - $11700 DK - $11500
Opponent - NO
Proj Pts FD - 55.41 DK - 57.17
Let’s face it: the Rockets should have been in the Finals last season. We all agree on this right? They ran as bad as humanly possible with the CP3 injury and the 3-pt shooting in Game 7. If we play that series out 1000 times, the Rockets win it more often than not. Right? Right? Harden opens the season in the night’s highest over/under game (228.5) with the highest implied total (118). Last season’s MVP was worth every dollar finishing with a 30/9/5 line in 35 minutes per game. The Chris Paul pairing worked and Harden spent so much time on the ball that he had a hand in nearly every Rockets’ possession. He’ll be asked to roll it back this season after they lost the three-point shooting of Ariza and Anderson in the offseason and replaced with James Ennis and Carmelo Anthony. It remains to be seen how those pieces fit, but there’s no denying that Harden’s role is unchanged. He’ll carry the usage load and is the top big money play on Wednesday’s slate.
Wesley Matthews FD - $4700 DK - $4600
Opponent - PHO
Proj Pts FD - 24.32 DK - 24.75
Luka Doncic FD - $6700 DK - $6700
Opponent - PHO
Proj Pts FD - 32.46 DK - 33.13
Much like I said with Dennis Smith Jr., I think there are going to be a lot of minutes for the Mavs’ starters and there’s for sure some usage (and opportunity) opening up with Harrison Barnes out of the lineup for the first game of the season. Matthews ran around 34 minutes per game last season and should see a similar number this year. He’s reliant on the three-ball and shot 38% from downtown. He should see even better looks this season with the improvements on offense for the Mavs and I think the plan is to play him big minutes at the hybrid 2-3 considering he can rotate between the two positions.
And then there’s Doncic. He flashed the kind of upside we can expect the rookie to bring after falling to third in the draft. During the preseason (I get it’s the preseason, but stay with me here) he played 30 minutes a game and averaged a 15/5/4 line with blocks and steals thrown in there as well. This guy is about as NBA ready as a rookie comes and will slot into big minutes from the get-go. The mid-range price tier is a weird one for a rookie, but Doncic is polished already and gets a fantastic matchup. I don’t mind stacking these two guys together on FanDuel to start the season.
Consider Jeremy Lamb if you think the starting gig in Charlotte yields a lot of minutes. I’m a bit skeptical.
Kawhi Leonard FD - $9600 DK - $8100
Opponent - CLE
Proj Pts FD - 49.99 DK - 48.21
Ooh baby, cool me off because I love Kawhi going into this season. He’ll instantly take over the usage reins in Toronto with the absence of Derozan on a team that’s devoid of much in the way of true scoring (especially among the starters). The Raptors will play at a slower pace, but Kawhi is set to lead the team in a number of different categories and I think we are buying low mostly because he lost a full season last year. He’ll take over about 18 shots per game for the Raptors and is set to contribute assists as well as the defensive stats that he built his early career on. It helps that he gets a cake matchup against the Lebron-less Cavs who will struggle on the offensive end (and could commit a ton of turnovers) and couldn’t play defense even in the slightest last season. Their defensive efficiency ranking was the second-worst in the league even with Lebron. This team is total garbage. I suppose we are worried some about the blowout, but this is for sure a buy low spot on Kawhi.
Will Barton FD - $6900 DK - $6700
Opponent - LAC
Proj Pts FD - 33.99 DK - 34.5
Last year Barton found himself coming off the bench a lot when Wilson Chandler was healthy but will take over the starting small forward role this season. He won’t be challenged on minutes and short of injury, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Nuggets’ starting five rival any other team in terms of minutes spent on the court together. It’s their best chance to make a playoff run and Barton stands to be a big part of that. It’s worth noting, that last season when he started, Barton averaged 37 minutes per game. This isn’t a 1-1 comp because there’s some turnover on the team, but it’s an encouraging sign about his floor on any given night.
Josh Richardson FD - $6300 DK - $6300
Opponent - ORL
Proj Pts FD - 29.9 DK - 29.27
The Heat are without Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Justice Winslow, and James Johnson to start the season. That’s a lot of minutes lost to injury early on and Richardson has proven himself as a Swiss Army Knife in these kinds of situations. He can play a number of different roles and is versatile enough on defense to keep himself on the court through a number of different rotations. It wouldn’t shock me to see him push towards 40 minutes in this matchup simply because the Heat are so thin between the shooting guard and small forward positions.
And then there’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. He enters the season with the full MVP watch going and has a new coach in Mike Budenholzer who should be able to capitalize on ABC’s many gifts. But I am worried about the Bucks’ willingness to run him crazy minutes early.
Blake Griffin FD - $8200 DK - $8200
Opponent - BKN
Proj Pts FD - 43.72 DK - 45.79
From a team perspective, the Blake Griffin trade didn’t work out. The Pistons missed the playoffs, Stan Van Gundy was fired and the now Detroit is left with Griffin for the next few seasons. From a fantasy perspective, that isn’t the worst thing in the world. As a Piston, he averaged 33 minutes per game with 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Considering how thin Detroit is as a team, Griffin stands to see a lot of minutes this season and with Dwayne Casey as the coach, they should definitely improve in scheme. He gets a great matchup against the Nets who played the sixth-fastest pace last season and had a terrible defensive efficiency. They allowed 6% more scoring and 7% more rebounding than league average to opposing power forwards and it sure seems like Blake is coming at a major discount.
Kelly Olynyk FD - $5400 DK - $6100
Opponent - ORL
Proj Pts FD - 33.73 DK - 34.54
I suspect he draws the start for James Johnson on Wednesday and would make for an interesting mid-tier play against the Magic. Orlando was a bottom-third defensive efficiency team last season and made nothing in the way of real improvements to their team besides Bamba in the first. When he started last season, Olynyk averaged 27 minutes per game and an 11 point, six rebound, two assist line. He can seem to be feast or famine in this role and there’s for sure been times when he’s fallen off the map even when given full opportunity. In this matchup, I’m willing to trust Olynyk to pay off the salary.
After these two, it’s a little iffy at power forward (especially on FanDuel without the multi-position eligibility). If Ryan Anderson is in line for major minutes for the Suns then he makes an upside play especially if he returns to some of his previous rebounding numbers.
I’m also interested to see what Kevin Love’s ultimate role is with the new-look (read: terrible) Cavs. If he’s back to his big scoring, double/double ways then we are looking at a real bargain in the $8K range. But this Cavs’ team is so damn bad.
Hassan Whiteside FD - $6900 DK - $7300
Opponent - ORL
Proj Pts FD - 41.42 DK - 41.73
If the preseason is any indication, and sometimes it can be, then Whiteside has some trust from Coach Spo’ along with the front office and could play a lot of minutes for the Heat this season. He was a rebounding dynamo early in the preseason and it follows what we know about his capabilities when healthy. If the Heat are committed to playing him anything like the minutes of his ’16-17 season then a return to the 17 points, 14 rebound line isn’t out of the question. He can also pile up blocks in the right scenario and the Magic have nothing in the way of interior defense. I think Whiteside represents one of the very best points/ $ plays on this entire slate and makes for a way to garner huge upside from the middle salary tier.
Andre Drummond FD - $10200 DK - $9500
Opponent - BKN
Proj Pts FD - 52.38 DK - 53.26
Is Andre Drummond going to shoot threes? I think Andre Drummond is going to shoot threes. After averaging 0.1 three-pointers per game last season, Drummond put up 11 threes in his five preseason games. Sure, he went 0-11 but the willingness to actually try them could be a big step for the big man this season. He seemed to cure his free throw shooting woes last year, going from a 39% FT shooter to a 61% mark last season. That kind of improvement is sort of unheard of. So why couldn’t he take the next step and starting shooting from beyond the arc? The big reason this is important is because every improvement he makes in his game helps him stay on the court longer. He averaged 34 minutes per game last season and could even see an increase this year. He dominated the Nets in some matchups last season and I still see these prices as close to bargains for Drummond on this slate.
You have to strongly consider Nikola Jokic against the Clippers