This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
It's that time of year again! After an exciting two-game slate on opening night, in which the Clippers and Raptors prevailed, the cylinders really start to hum as we head into the second day of the season with a massive, 11-game slate.
Our job this season won't be to spit out a list of players to slot into your lineups. If you want to maximize your profitability on DraftKings, we need to drill deeper than that, and that's what this year's cheat sheet series will give you.
Before we dive into today's slate, I want to make a recommendation regarding game selection. While there are a lot of players out there with solid floors and a good degree of reliability, the number of questionable plays on a slate this large are numerous.
My personal take on early-season NBA DFS play is to focus on cash games and avoid GPP tournaments until the season begins to shake down a little bit. It may not be the most exciting way to go, but think of it as an opportunity to build your bankroll. I understand it's hard to resist taking a flier on a tournament with a significant prize pool, so take a flier on one or two if you want, but I would suggest diversifying your game portfolio with 80% of your spread going to 50/50s, double-ups and head-to-heads.
With so many games available, it's best to start our lineup construction by narrowing our focus to contests where we'll see the most production, Conversely, we also need to identify games that we might want to fade altogether or severely limit our exposure. As is customary, we'll use the DK Sportsbook to give us point spreads and Over/Unders for this evening's games.
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook and are subject to change
GAMES TO TARGET
Kings (-1.5) at Suns – O/U: 234
This game checks the two boxes one should look for when identifying a great game to target: a narrow point spread and a high Over/Under number. This is a solid predictor of a competitive game and a greater source of production. While the game features recognizable stars like Devin Booker ($8,700) and De'Aaron Fox ($7,900), there's a lot of value to be found up and down the rosters.
Nets (-3.5) vs. Timberwolves – O/U: 226.5
It's time for the Kyrie Irving ($8.900) era in Brooklyn, and the new-look Nets look ready to compete. I expect the Nets to be one of the faster-paced teams in the field this year, with Irving driving the tempo. Of course, Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,100) will be heavily-owned and totally in play tonight as the most expensive player on the slate.
GAMES TO FADE
Spurs (-10) vs. Knicks – O/U: 214
When I saw this line I was reminded of Leia's famous "Luke! It's a trap!' line from The Empire Strikes Back, because that's what this game looks like to me. For starters, I don't like the spread. The Spurs looked horrific in the preseason and while exhibition play shouldn't be a metric to rely on, it's enough to give me pause. To add to the mix, we have coach David Fizdale of the Knicks and Gregg Popovich of the Spurs. If you haven't played NBA DFS before, you'll quickly learn that Fizdale and Popovich are the biggest suppliers of DFS heartbreak, as they'll switch up lineups and fiddle with rotations at a head-spinning rate. There's talent to be found here for sure, but I'd use them with caution.
Pacers (-7.5) vs. Pistons – O/U: 210
This game has the lowest Over/Under on the night, and it's arguably going to be the least exciting affair on Wednesday. We'll talk about the Pistons a little later, but the Pacers are a bit of a head-scratcher. They had a good-looking preseason game against the Bulls, but I don't see how they are going to be consistently competitive. Victor Oladipo is out until late-November, at the very earliest, and I'm going to generally avoid the team until he returns. On the flip side, you're going to find low ownership all over this game, but that's more of a GPP concern if you're loading up on that route.
This section will typically deal with a slate's overall strength by position, but on a slate this large, you have a lot of talent to choose from. We do have some significant drop-offs at a few positions, however. I would identify both small forward and power forward as spots where you'll need to spend up on this slate.
The docket is chock-full of decent guards and centers that can be had at a favorable price, and due to the DraftKings scoring system, I'm often in favor of rostering a center at the Utility spot if there are several good options. The forward positions are going to force you to go really high or really cheap, as I see a good deal of risk around DraftKings' $6,250 baseline salary.
Blake Griffin - OUT
Luke Kennard - GTD
Markieff Morris - GTD
Reggie Jackson is also a little banged up, but he's probable to play. As I said, I'm not a fan of this game at all, but we could take advantage of a couple of pivots, especially if Kennard and/or Morris don't play. Compared to other centers, Andre Drummond ($8,400) comes at a reasonable price (for him), and he'll be called upon to pick up the slack in the frontcourt.
On the value end, we should get a good number of rebounds from Thon Maker ($3,800), but he has struggled with his shot of late. I'm not incredibly high on Tony Snell ($3,700) but the opportunity is there for him if Kennard takes a seat tonight, and the same holds true for veteran Derrick Rose ($4,400).
Mitchell Robinson- OUT
Optimal lineup construction depends on a balance of elite and value players, and at the start of the season, it's important to go with more than one or two high-priced guys if you're employing a cash-game strategy. Here's who I would recommend, based on their price and opportunity relative to that amount.
Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN ($10,100) @ BKN
I already identified this game as one worth targeting, and I like it even more when you consider the matchup. Towns has one inch on DeAndre Jordan and he took a big step defensively last season. Jordan and Jarrett Allen will both be in the mix at center for Brooklyn, but they'll both have a hard time containing Minnesota's marquee player.
Bradley Beal, WAS ($8,800) @ DAL
When you're shopping for consistency, you're going to keep jumping on Beal, who is by far the Wizards' best offensive option. He sometimes has trouble getting things going early, but when he's hot he's capable of video-game numbers. It'll be fun to watch Beal take on Luka Doncic ($9,400) and the new-look Mavericks, and while I like Doncic in this game as well, I favor Beal just a tad bit more.
Devin Booker, PHO ($8,700) vs. SAC
Booker also comes from one of my endorsed games, and although his sprained finger is a concern, he's cleared to play and is looking to build on a preseason where he blitzed almost every statistical category. With De'Aaron Fox battling a back problem, the backcourt should be a bit more comfortable for Booker to maneuver.
All of the above-listed players will be chalky on Wednesday, but here are a few other guys that should prove to be popular plays due to their lower price and relative opportunity.
Mike Conley, UTA ($7,500) vs. OKC
It's hard to tell what to expect from the depleted Thunder this season, but there's no question about Conley's potential impact with the Jazz. He's finally in a situation surrounded by elite talent, and although his breakout potential is no secret, he comes at a remarkably reasonable price relative to his potential ceiling. He could easily crush value at this price.
Thomas Bryant, WAS ($6,800) @ DAL
I'm not particularly high on Dallas as a defensive powerhouse, and in the preseason Bryant has given the Wizards hope with some impressive play in the middle. I think he's a double-double guarantee against the Mavs and should be a popular target.
RJ Barrett, NY ($5,900) @ SA
Everyone loves a rookie, despite the statistical data proving that they almost always perform below expectations. There's a lot of excitement surrounding Barrett, and I wouldn't be surprised to see 30% ownership in what could be a lopsided affair against the Spurs.
Jamal Murray, DEN ($6,300) @ POR
I'm expecting astronomical ownership for Murray at this price. He won't stay at this price for long, as I think a huge uptick is in score for the Nuggets and especially Murray, who has borderline-All-Star Potential. To be honest, I'm surprised at this pricing and while it's this low he's going to be massively owned.
Let's dive deep into the barrel now and find guys who go for below the DraftKings median price so you can balance your lineups. I won't be re-mentioning the injury situations, but you can refer back to that section for additional options.
Dejounte Murray, SA ($5,600) vs. NY
Popovich can be unpredictable, but there's no doubt that we'll see plenty of Murray on Wednesday. He's back after missing the season with a torn ACL, but I don't think he'll be completely off the radar. He's been a bright spot in what was a struggling preseason for San Antonio, and he's coming off an impressive 20-point, four-assist outing in his last preseason appearance.
Larry Nance Jr, CLE ($5,000) @ ORL
He's sure to be low-owned and under the radar for the most part on Wednesday, and despite the health of Kevin Love, Nance has proven to be a good source of rebounds in the preseason and will be a consistent presence at the four and under center. His three-position eligibility makes him a versatile option.
Tyler Herro, MIA ($4,800) vs. MEM
Keep an eye on this guy. With Dion Waiters out in Miami, Herro is going to seriously compete for a starting gig, and if Goran Dragic struggles in the early going, Herro's going to be a candidate for 30 minutes of playing time. Although I'm not a fan of the line in this game, I'm anxious to see what Herro could deliver in his first regular-season appearance.
That's it for today. As always, check back at RotoWire before game lock to get up-to-date information for your lineups.