This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
Well, folks, it's the moment we've all been waiting for! The 2019-20 NBA season finally gets underway Tuesday night, and the slate features a pair of intriguing matchups – Kawhi Leonard is set to make his Clippers debut at home against LeBron's Lakers, while the defending world champion Toronto Raptors open the year at home against a New Orleans squad that will be without its star rookie, Zion Williamson, for the next 6-to-8 weeks.
Now before we get started with Tuesday's value plays, it's important to note some big changes for this season from FanDuel.
Unlike last season, FanDuel will no longer be dropping your lowest score, meaning all nine players will count towards your overall total. This is big for those who often elected to select the lowest-priced players as their ninth man. We'll now have to find some value in every player selected. Luckily for you, I'm up for the challenge.
Out of the two games on the slate, the New Orleans/Toronto game is expected to be the highest-scoring, with the over/under sitting at 231.0, according to FanDuel's Sportsbook. The Raptors are favored by seven at home, though it'll be interesting to see who picks up the scoring slack with Kawhi Leonard out of the picture.
The Lakers/Clippers matchup is also expected to be relatively high scoring – the over/under is set at 226 with the Lakers checking in as 2.5 point favorites. This contest will feature plenty of star power, as Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard are both in line to make their team debuts. It remains to be seen if the Lakers can live up to the hype, but Tuesday will be a good first test.
We're working with a two-game slate to kick off the 2019-20 campaign, but there's still plenty of star power to target.
The DFS community at large will undoubtedly hone in on small forward, considering both LeBron James ($11,400) and Kawhi Leonard ($9,900) sit atop the board. There are also plenty of solid options in the mid-to-lower price ranges, but it may be best to pay up at small forward and aim low elsewhere.
Power forward is a spot that doesn't have a ton of depth behind the top option (Anthony Davis, $12,100), so it may also be worth paying up there as well. If you do go this route, there are plenty of cheap but solid options at point guard, shooting guard and center if you end up spending the big bucks at both forward slots.
Injury Situations to Monitor
Luckily, there isn't a ton of injury news to kick off the season, but the Pelicans did suffer a big blow Monday after learning Zion Williamson will miss the next 6-to-8 weeks with a torn meniscus. In his place, Nicolo Melli appears to be the next man up, though Kenrich Williams is also a candidate to benefit off the bench. It's still unclear how, exactly, the minutes will be redistributed without Zion, but Tuesday's matchup will be a good indication of how New Orleans will operate without the rookie for the next month-and-a-half.
For the Raptors, Patrick McCaw (knee) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (groin) have both been ruled out for the opener. Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet are in line to handle point guard duties, perhaps opening the door for Norman Powell to do damage at shooting guard. Sharpshooting rookie Matt Thomas is also a candidate to factor into the mix at shooting guard off the bench, though it remains to be seen how he'll fare in the NBA after spending the last two seasons playing pro ball in Spain.
After looking at the Lakers' injury report, you'd think we're already halfway through the season. Kyle Kuzma (foot) has officially been ruled out after missing the entire preseason, which will likely allow Jared Dudley to see an uptick in playing time at power forward. Rajon Rondo (calf) is considered questionable, and it doesn't look like his status will be cleared up until closer to tip. If he's ruled out, Quinn Cook should get the nod at point guard and figures to handle a heavy workload along with Alex Caruso. Caruso is dealing with a bruised hip but is expected to take the court for the opener.
Outside of Paul George (shoulders), Rodney McGruder is the one notable injury for the Clippers, and he was officially ruled out late Monday night due to an ankle sprain. With McGruder sidelined, Justin Bibbs and Terance Mann could absorb his minutes, though there might not be many minutes to pick up considering McGruder is near the back end of the rotation.
As mentioned earlier, there are three absolute studs in this slate: LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard. Given the depth and value at the other three positions, I'm rolling with two of the three when constructing my lineup
Davis is the highest-priced player, and for good reason. With limited options at power forward after Davis, it'll be tough for your lineup to succeed without him. I'm also adding Leonard to my lineup because he's more than $1,000 cheaper than James, which allows you to throw in a guy like Pascal Siakam ($8,000) in the other small forward slot and to shop around for value plays elsewhere.
Patrick Beverley, LAC vs. LAL ($5,100): With Rajon Rondo's status up in the air due to a calf issue, Beverley is a solid play here because of both the matchup and his price tag. Listed at just a touch over $5,000, he'll give your lineup plenty of wiggle room when it comes to the big stars, but he'll also provide plenty of bang for your buck with his ability to produce across the board. For this reason alone, he'll be highly owned, especially within a limited slate.
Lou Williams, LAC vs. LAL ($6,200): Williams is reasonably priced for someone who averaged 20 points per contest a season ago, and he also put up solid assist numbers (5.4 APG). At $6,200, you get a proven scorer, and you also have the option of selecting someone like J.J. Redick, who's listed at $4,800, in the other shooting guard spot. There's a big opportunity to go cheap here while still receiving plenty of value.
Dwight Howard, LAL @ LAC ($5,100): I like Howard as a value play Tuesday, as he'll open the campaign healthy and as the expected starter for the Lakers at center. The opposition will have their hands full trying to guard both LeBron James and Anthony Davis, allowing Howard to fly under the radar, especially following a season that was cut short due to injury. While he didn't block many shots in the preseason, Howard finished well at the rim, and his rebounding presence is always an enticing aspect of his game. Howard should fare well against non-floor-spacers in Montrezl Harrell and Ivica Zubac.
Norman Powell, TOR vs. NO ($3,900): With Patrick McCaw (knee) out for Tuesday's opener, Powell could play a key role in the Raptors' offense, just like he did through the last few rounds of last year's postseason. With Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet expected to handle the point guard duties and with Toronto searching for scoring following the departure of Kawhi Leonard, I see an opportunity for Powell to step in and receive plenty of opportunity – whether it's as a starter or off the bench. Listed at $3,900, he'll be hard to pass up if you're looking for a true value play.
J.J. Redick, NO @ TOR ($4,800): You'll notice the amount of value I'm seeing at shooting guard. After Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams, there are a handful of players to go after for an extremely low price. Redick is making his Pelicans debut Tuesday night and figures to be one of the first players off the bench. The veteran guard is always a threat to go off for 20-plus points if he can catch fire from three, making him a low-risk high-reward target for your lineup at $4,800.