Many people will tell you to ignore preseason statistics when projecting regular season outcomes, but I am not one of these people. I think that, while most preseason statistics are noise, there are definitely a few signals that we can find with proper analysis that will help us to identify trends and project outcomes for the regular season, especially early in the season when we have little to no other data to use. With that said, let’s take a look at each team and see what we can learn from the preseason which may help us to be ahead of the curve as the regular season begins.
I’ll mostly be looking at Usage Rates, Offensive, Defensive, and Net ratings, Pace, and True Shooting Percentages.
Usage Rate refers to the percentage of the team’s possessions an individual player uses on offense. For Daily Fantasy purposes, we’re normally going to be looking for guys that have at least a 20% USG rate, and the higher the better.
Offensive ratings refer to the amount of points scored per 100 possessions for a team or an individual player when they are on the floor. Defensive ratings refer to the amount of points allowed per 100 possessions, and Net ratings are just Offensive ratings minus Defensive ratings. Pace refers to the number of possessions a team or player executes per 48 minutes of court time.
True Shooting Percentage is an aggregate of a player’s field goal percentage on 2 point attempts, 3 points attempts, and their free throw percentage, weighting them equally for the point value of each shot.
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Projected Standings by Season Win Totals
- Golden State Warriors (66.5)
- San Antonio Spurs (57.5)
- Los Angeles Clippers (53.5)
- Utah Jazz (47.5)
- Oklahoma City Thunder (44.5)
- Portland Trail Blazers (44.5)
- Houston Rockets (44)
- Memphis Grizzlies (42.5)
- Minnesota Timberwolves (41.5)
- Dallas Mavericks (39.5)
- New Orleans Pelicans (36.5)
- Denver Nuggets (36.5)
- Sacramento Kings (34)
- Phoenix Suns (28.5)
- Los Angeles Lakers (24.5)
Golden State Warriors – The initial buzz once Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors this off-season was that Klay Thompson would be taking the biggest hit from a fantasy perspective, but I think it’s pretty obvious with what we’ve seen in the preseason that Draymond Green will be sacrificing the most from a fantasy perspective. Draymond posted a 45.5 TS% on a 15.6% USG rate in the preseason, down from 58.7% / 18.6% last season. Draymond’s never been a great shooter, but he did get to handle the ball a lot last year which will naturally lead to more shot attempts and assists. Kevin Durant is obviously going to take precedence here as a ball handler, relegating Draymond to more of a defender and rebounder on the court, and we’ll have to see how that plays out over the season with his psyche. Klay, on the other hand, doesn’t make a lot of hay handling the ball, and what he loses in volume (25% USG in the preseason, down from 26.5%) he will make up in efficiency (67 TS%, up from 59.7%) and I think he’ll still be a great option to start the season. Speaking of efficiency, this Warriors offense has the potential to be one of the most explosive offenses in the history of the NBA, all 5 starters posted an offensive rating between 112 and 120 in the preseason. For reference, the Warriors posted a 112.5 offensive rating last year on their way to breaking the Bulls’ all-time regular season win total record and blowing a 3-1 lead to the Cavs in the Finals. Steph Curry’s Usage rate dropped from 32% to 28.2% in the preseason, Durant’s dipped a bit from 30.5% to 28.3%, but they both increased in efficiency, especially Durant. Durant posted a 70% TS in the preseason after shooting 63.4% last year, and Steph bumped up to 68% TS from 67% last season. I think there will be enough to go around for Steph, Klay, and Durant to all post monster fantasy lines, especially when they’re forced to play in the fourth quarter, which might not be all that often this season. All 5 starters posted an individual net rating of 20-30 with a pace in the 108-110 range. Again, for reference, the Warriors played at a pace of 101.65 last season, and all of these preseason pace numbers will likely regress once the regular season starts. Ian Clark (20% USG, 62.8% TS) and Patrick McCaw (17.2% USG, 61.8% TS) will be guys to look at in obvious blowouts, and I guess Javale McGee (25.5% USG) will be worth monitoring, but I think I’ll need to see that in real NBA games a couple times before thinking of playing him.
San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs signed Pau Gasol this off-season to try and replace the GOAT Tim Duncan, but he will never be replaced, we’ll miss you Tim. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are another year older, and I expect Kawhi Leonard and Lamarcus Aldridge to shoulder the majority of the offensive load this year. It’s tough to put any stock into pre-season numbers for the Spurs, but Kawhi was the clear usage leader at 27.2%, following by Aldridge (23.7%) and Tony Parker (23.1%, up from 21.4% last season). Kawhi also took another jump in efficiency, up to 66.4 TS% from 61.6% last season, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him carry this into the season, he’s an incredibly talented player and we know he’s always working on his craft. Pau’s usage rate will definitely take a hit this season, and we saw that in the pre-season, where he posted a 20.4% USG, down from 24.6% last year. It’s also going to be tough to forecast his minutes to start the season, he’s 36 and we know Coach Popovich, also the GOAT, likes to try to keep his older guys fresh. To start the season, I’ll be looking to roster Kawhi the most, then Lamarcus, and possibly Tony Parker until we see how the rotations shake out for Pop.
Los Angeles Clippers – The main differences heading into this season for the Clippers are the addition of Mo’ Buckets Speights to the second unit (28.8% USG, 58.7 TS% preseason) to replace Jeff Green, and they’re fully healthy heading into this season. Most people think of this as Chris Paul’s team, and it is, but Blake Griffin posts monster usage numbers for this team and he may go a bit overlooked to begin the season after being injured for much of last year. Blake’s usage in the preseason (29.7%) was consistent with what we saw last season (29.2%), and he also saw a pretty big bump in efficiency, up to 61.3 TS% from 54.4% last season. I’m not sure he’ll sustain a TS% over 60, but I’m buying the increase from last season. He also flashed a 3 point shot this preseason, shooting 33.3% on 2.8 attempts per 36 minutes. If he’s able to sustain this, he’s going to be a match-up nightmare. He’ll destroy smaller guys in the post, and bigger guys will either give him the uncovered 3s or get beaten off the dribble. Blake’s 3 point shooting is something I’ll definitely be following very closely to begin the season, and I think he’ll find his way on to my rosters much more often that not. Chris Paul took it pretty easy in the pre-season, but I expect him to ramp it up once the games matter, and he’s another guy I’ll be looking to roster against better teams. You know what you’re getting out of Deandre Jordan, he’s not taking shots outside of lobs and putbacks, he’ll post great efficiency on low volume, but he’s a guy I only look to play against teams that are really weak at the rim, I’d generally prefer to roster guys that will consistently post higher point totals. The main guys to watch on the second unit are Mo’ Buckets, Jamal Crawford, and Austin Rivers, but none of these guys are really any good, so I’d always prefer to play the starters.
Utah Jazz – The Jazz are a really talented team, unfortunately they’re battling injuries to start the season. Gordon Hayward, the team’s best player, is expected to be out for the first month, and Derrick Favors, their second best player, has been battling leg injuries and will either be out or limited to start the season. The Jazz added starting Point Guard George Hill in the off-season, got back-up Point Guard Dante Exum back from injury, and will be looking to get additional contributions from young guns Rodney Hood and Trey Lyles to fill in for the injured Hayward and Favors. Center Rudy Gobert may be the guy to own early in the season, especially if Favors is out. Gobert posted a 23.7% USG rate in the preseason, way up from 14.3% last season, and was much more efficient, posting a 70 TS% after only managing a 58 TS% last season. With no Favors and this kind of usage, Gobert would be locked in to double doubles to begin the season. I’m a big Trey Lyles fan, and if Favors is out, he’ll be a guy I go to for salary relief early and often this year. Lyles posted a 22.4% USG and 57.9 TS% in the pre-season, up from 18.3% and 51.7 TS% last year, and could be in for 30+ minutes a night with his versatility. I’m not quite as high on Rodney Hood as most people, but he should take over a big portion of the offensive load without Hayward, and I can’t ignore the opportunity. Hood posted a 22.6% USG, roughly the same as last season (21.8), and 51.6 TS%, which isn’t great, but he was also dealing with a minor wrist injury, I would expect him to play closer to the 54.2 TS% he achieved last season. The Jazz also added Iso Joe Johnson in the offseason, but he’s not a guy I’m interested in using in Daily Fantasy. Dante Exum (19.1% USG, 50.1 TS%) should get an opportunity to produce with the second unit, if he’s at or near minimum salary on Daily Fantasy sites, I think he’s at least worth a look to start the year. George Hill made a jump to a 21.5% USG in the pre-season after posting a 16% USG rate with the Indiana Pacers last year, and I think this may be a situation we can capitalize on to begin the season. Hill is a solid all-around player and he should be locked into heavy minutes to begin the season. He scored 0.94 Draftkings points per minute in the pre-season on a woeful 45.6 TS%, but after shooting 55.5 TS%, last season, I think he’ll shoot much better in the regular season and get himself up over that 1.0 Draftkings points per minute threshold. He will probably be under-owned in Daily Fantasy to begin the season as most people remember him as being not very productive last year, and I’ll definitely be looking to target him along with Gobert, Lyles, and Rodney Hood to start the season.
Oklahoma City Thunder – The off-season departures of Kevin Durant (30.5% USG) Serge Ibaka (17.6%) and Dion Waiters (17.6%) are leaving a ton of shot opportunities open for both the first and second units in OKC. Most obviously, Russell Westbrook will be a usage monster to begin the season, he (only) posted a 33.7 USG% in the pre-season after playing to a 31.3% last year, and I would expect this to tick up even higher once the games start to count. Everyone will own Russell Westbrook to start the season, and with good reason, he posted a 1.47 Draftkings points per minute in the pre-season, and he may legitimately have a 50 point floor to start the year. However, the guy I’m most excited to roster on this team is Steven Adams. We saw him really explode last year in the playoffs, he was so dominant in the series against the Warriors (that the Thunder were a couple minutes away from winning) that Draymond Green had to intentionally kick him in the groin multiple times to slow him down. Adams achieved a 26.5% USG and 62 TS% this pre-season, compared to his 12.7% USG from last season with the same TS%. Adams has more than doubled his shot attempts, increased his rebound rate by 4% which may hold into the regular season without Durant and Ibaka on the glass, and scored 1.61 Draftkings points per minute in the pre-season. I really doubt he’s going to double in price from last year to start the season, so he’ll be a huge bargain and probably the first guy I’m clicking on any time he’s on the slate until his salary reflects his new role in the offense, and stacking him with Westbrook and then watching them go to work is going to be a lot of fun. Another guy I’m excited to play in this offense is Enes Kanter, 28.1% USG and 65.5 TS% this pre-season after playing to a 23.4% USG and 62.6 TS% last season. He’ll continue to come off the bench, but with back-up guard Cameron Payne injured, Dion Waiters in Miami, and no Durant to stagger with the second unit, he is going to come off the bench chucking shots up in a hurry. The Thunder also deployed the Kanter/Adams lineup frequently in the post-season last year with success, so I’d expect them to continue that this year, and Kanter could legitimately push for 26-28 minutes a game, and he posted 1.36 Draftkings points per minute in the pre-season. Victor Oladipo is also going to be interesting to start the season, I’m not sure his 26% pre-season usage rate will hold once Russell starts to get serious, but I do think Billy Donovan will stagger his minutes and use him as the lead guard with the second unit, and he will probably top his 22.8% USG from last season. I’m not as interested in Oladipo as I am Westbrook, Adams, and Kanter, but he will definitely be in play depending on his price point. Joffrey Lauvergne and Ersan Ilyasova should both be monitored to start the season, they’re both solid talents that could see some opportunity with the second unit.
Portland Trail Blazers – The Trail Blazers are one of my favorite Daily Fantasy teams because they sport a very concentrated usage tree, we know where the shots are going to come from on a nightly basis: Damian Lillard (30% USG) and C.J. McCollum (28.4%). The Blazers brought in Evan Turner (21.8% USG) in the off-season, but I’m not sure how fantasy relevant he’s going to be with the second unit, he just cannot shoot the basketball (42.4 TS%, 51.3% last year), I think Terry Stotts will be looking to use him more as a facilitator to get the ball out of Damian and C.J.’s hands and get them easier shots coming off of screens. This may lower their assist totals, but they should make up for it with increased shot efficiency, and Damian’s already seen a jump up to 62.6 TS% from 56% last season. Meyers Leonard missed a significant part of last season with a shoulder injury, but he’s back and shooting frequently with the second unit (21% USG, 58.9 TS%). Mason Plumlee isn’t a great shooter (54.2 TS%, 56.4% last year), but he does offer versatility at the 5 spot, Stotts uses him as a ball handler a lot and he carried the highest assist percentage on the team in the pre-season, and I could definitely see this continuing. Increased ball handling will normally lead to increased shot attempts, and he did see a small uptick in usage (19.1%, up from 17.3%). He’s a guy I’m not opposed to playing and definitely deserves consideration as he carries triple double upside on a nightly basis. Moe Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu don’t see enough usage with the starting unit to be dependable plays on a nightly basis, but they’re both talented and will produce solid stat lines from time to time. Both scored 0.80 Draftkings points per minute in the pre-season. Allen Crabbe falls into this category as well, pretty talented player, doesn’t have enough bankable usage to consider nightly. Shabazz Napier saw significant usage (28.4%) with solid efficiency (62.4 TS%) in the pre-season, he’s not a guy I’ll be playing out of the gate, but he’s worth keeping an eye on.
Houston Rockets – James Harden, James Harden, and more James Harden. James is my favorite bet to win the MVP this year, currently sitting at +1000. He looks great in the pre-season, didn’t come into camp 20 pounds overweight this year, probably because he wasn’t hanging out with Khloe Kardashian this off-season, so you have to expect big things out of him from the jump. He’ll be playing the Point Guard in Mike D’Antoni’s 7 Seconds or Less offense, as if he needed another excuse to chuck up shots. Harden played to a 29.5% USG in the pre-season which I expect to increase in the regular season after he posted a 32.5% USG last year and scored 1.56 Draftkings points per minute. He’s also increased his efficiency, up to a 65.1 TS% from 60%. Basically, any time he’s playing, you need to find a way to fit him into your lineup. Playing Clint Capela, who averaged 1.26 Draftkings points per minute in the pre-season, should help save some salary and allow you to get Harden in. Capela’s minutes are worth monitoring with Nene and Montrezl Harrell lurking on the bench, but he posted a 21.5% USG, up from 16% last year. He’s a terrible shooter but has the luxury of being the recipient of plenty of easy looks (57.8 TS%) because Harden sees so much defensive attention. Ryan Anderson (22% USG, 54.7 TS%) and Eric Gordon (22.3 USG%, 60 TS%) will be secondary options for the Rockets, and Trevor Ariza (14.5% USG, 45 TS%) will have to prove to me he’s not completely washed before I consider him. The Rockets played with the 4th highest pace in the pre-season at 104.5, and I definitely expect them to remain in the top 5 during the regular season. More surprisingly, they posted the second highest net rating at 11.6 behind only the Warriors, but I can’t see them holding teams to under a 100 defensive rating when the games begin to count. With this combination of Pace, Offensive efficiency, and possible defensive inefficiency, their games will be ones to target to start the season.
Memphis Grizzlies – The Grizzlies are a very interesting case this year under new Head Coach David Fizdale. Fizdale is aiming to flip the Grizzlies from a slow-paced team that doesn’t shoot the 3 to a modern pace and space offense, and Memphis certainly did just that in the pre-season where they posted a 103.14 pace and attempted 29.2 3 pointers per game, 9th and 6th in the league, respectively. Most notably, Marc Gasol shot 40% on 4.78 3 Point Attempts per 36 minutes, Mike Conley shot 60% on 4.93 3PA/36, Jamychal Green shot 33% on 3.03 3PA/36, Troy Williams shot 42% on 4.54 3PA/36, Wayne Selden shot 36% on 9.68 3PA/36, and Zach Randolph shot 29% on 5.76 3PA/36. I think I’m the most interested in rostering Mike Conley from this team, he didn’t see a big jump in usage (24.2%, up from 23.1%) in the pre-season, but I think he could take another jump in the regular season, especially if Marc Gasol is limited by his foot injury at all. Conley did see a large jump in TS% (64%, up from 54%) mostly because of his success with the 3 point shot. No one ever rosters Conley, so getting on him early in the season could pay some big dividends. Gasol saw a big usage jump in the pre-season, up 3% to 27%, but it was reported today that his minutes will be held in check to start the season. He could still be a viable play, but his minutes will need to be monitored closely. If he’s seriously limited, Jamychal Green and Zach Randolph figure to see the biggest increase in fantasy production. Randolph will most likely be fantasy relevant either way after posting a 29.4% USG while coming off the bench during the pre-season. It’s clear the second unit offense will revolve around him, and he should get plenty of run with the starters as well. Until Chandler Parsons makes his way back from off-season knee surgery, there will be plenty of wing minutes up for grabs, keep an eye on Wayne Selden and Troy Williams.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Everyone’s favorite League Pass team with good reason, the young Timberwolves are projected at 41.5 wins, just outside the playoff picture in the Western Conference, but I expect them to outperform these projections and make their way into the playoffs. Karl-Anthony Towns is already one of the 10 best players in the NBA and he’s 20 years old. KAT’s pre-season numbers have to get you excited roster him: 27.7% USG, up from 24.7%. 61.3 TS%, up from 59%, and 1.41 Draftkings points per minute. New Head Coach Tom Thibodeau’s track record of leaning on his studs for heavy minutes also bodes well for his fantasy production once the regular season starts. All 5 Timberwolves starters posted an offensive rating in the 115 range in the pre-season, Pace in the 102-103 range, and a defensive rating between 91 and 98. With the supreme athletic talent this unit possesses and Coach Thibodeau’s reputation as a terrific defensive coach, I may shy away from rostering players against the Timberwolves to start the season. Gorgui Dieng shared the court with KAT for 125 of the 142 minutes (88%) during the pre-season, and was able to score 1 Draftkings point per minute, I think we can fire him up with confidence to start the season assuming his price point is still in the 5k range. I’m also looking forward to rostering Zach Lavine, who saw a 2% USG increase to 25.3% and maintained his 54 TS%. Ricky Rubio dropped from 17.6% USG to 14% in the pre-season, and he was already a guy I didn’t look to roster often because of the lack of shot attempts and efficiency. Ricky can still fill the stat sheet without scoring (1.05 DK PPM despite the 14% USG) so he always deserves consideration, but there have also been rumblings that may lose minutes to Kris Dunn and eventually be traded, so I won’t really be looking to roster him too much to begin the season. Nemanja Bjelica (22% USG, up from 12.7%) and Shabazz Muhammad (29% USG, up from 22%) are the offensive options for the second unit and may see minutes with the starters as well. If their price points are low enough, they’ll definitely be attractive options, and I think we may have to begin projecting this team to blow out far inferior teams, in which case they’ll see extra minutes and usage.
Dallas Mavericks – I don’t really want to say much about this team. Dirk Nowitzki is a Hall of Fame player and he can still shoot, but the guy can barely move, and as much as I like to roster guys that can shoot like Dirk, basic mobility is also a requirement to make my Daily Fantasy rosters. New Small Forward Harrison Barnes’ shooting woes are well documented, I feel gross even talking about him, but I’m not interested in his 36.3 TS% regardless of how many minutes he plays or shots he attempts. Deron Williams and Wes Matthews will probably be in consideration in cake matchups, but any competent defensive team will shut this offense down. The most attractive starter is probably Andrew Bogut, he posted just over 1 Draftkings point per minute in the pre-season despite a paltry 14.6% USG rate because of his ability to rack up defensive statistics, rebounds, and assists because he’s used quite a bit as a facilitator. I worry about Bogut’s minutes in blowouts, which this team may be facing regularly. In these situations, I’ll be looking to roster Seth Curry (26% USG), Justin Anderson (22% USG), and Dwight Powell (19.3% USG). If Deron Williams, or maybe when Deron Williams, misses time, J.J. Barea will immediately become a great option in the starting unit, but I’m not sure what kind of usage he will see with the second unit, the Mavs second unit will definitely be one to monitor closely as they should provide value throughout the season.
New Orleans Pelicans – Absolute Usage mammoth Anthony Davis is the play every time he takes the court to start the year after posting a light 40.7% USG rate, highest in the league in the pre-season, after playing to a 29.6% USG last year. With Jrue Holiday out to tend to his wife’s recovery from neurosurgery and both Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson off to Houston to shoot wide open jumpshots courtesy of James Harden, there is literally no one else on this team that’s going to score the ball consistently. Brow posted 1.40 Draftkings points per minute in the pre-season, and he should be playing 36+ minutes every night in an effort to try and drag this team to victory. Terrence Jones is another interesting option for the Pels, I’ve always been a fan of his talent, but he’s struggled to stay healthy and on the court. Luckily, we don’t need to worry about that much in Daily Fantasy, and he looks healthy at the moment, playing 26 minutes per game and yielding a 28% USG, 54.7 TS% in the pre-season. Tim Frazier will start year at Point Guard, he had a minuscule 13.5% USG in the pre-season, but he was able to post 0.95 Draftkings points per minute in his 80 minutes alongside Davis. Frazier should see all the minutes he can handle, and will definitely be a play under 5k. E’Twaun Moore (21.2% USG, 62.1 TS%) will deserve consideration as well, he should get plenty of open looks as defenses focus their attention on Davis, and he was able to score 0.91 Draftkings points per minute in 68 minutes with Davis in the pre-season. Solomon Hill and Dante Cunningham should split time at the 3 and 4, I prefer Solomon from a volume aspect, he should see the majority of the time at 3 alongside Davis, but neither of them are great fantasy options. Alexis Ajinca and Omer Asik are guys I’m not really considering as fantasy options either. The Pelicans were the worst defensive team in the pre-season, and they also played at a pace over 103, fire up guys playing against them with confidence.
Denver Nuggets – Jusuf Nurkic led the Nuggets with a 25% USG rate this pre-season, scoring 1.32 Draftkings points per minute in his 164 minutes. The concern with Nurkic is the volume of minutes he’ll see, but he lost about 30 pounds over the off-season, and Head Coach Mike Malone has shown a willingness to play him next to Nikola Jokic, at least to start the season. Speaking of Jokic, he maintained his 20% usage rate playing mostly with Nurkic in the pre-season, he may take a small hit in fantasy production, but both of the big men will be playable. I slightly prefer Nurkic, but pricing may determine which of these guys is the best play from night to night. Until Gary Harris returns from injury, Emmanuel Mudiay (24.6% USG), Will Barton (22% USG), and Jamal Murray (24% USG) should rotate at the 2 guard spots. Jameer Nelson is on the roster as well, but not a guy I’m looking to play at all. Jamal Murray’s usage may come down in a bit in the regular season, but I think he’s immediately a legitimate fantasy option, and may have the inside track on the Rookie of the Year given the number of minutes he should see. I would expect Danilo Gallinari (20.5% pre-season USG, 22.8% last year) to still be this team’s top offensive option, but the progression of his supporting cast may limit his volume. Either way increased efficiency should keep his fantasy production solid, he posted a 82.6 TS% in the pre-season, a monstrous leap from the 58.2% he shot last year. Wilson Chandler played well in the pre-season (22% USG, 64.5 TS%) and is a guy to keep on the radar. I’m not sure he’ll see enough playing time off the bench to be a factor, but any time Gallinari isn’t in the lineup, he makes for a strong play.
Sacramento Kings – Demarcus “Boogie” Cousins is the only real option on this team for me to begin the season, and he continued his fantasy dominance in the pre-season (33% USG, 71.3% TS). Darren Collison is set to miss the first 8 games due to suspension, and the Kings are expected to use Ty Lawson and Garrett Temple to man the point. Neither of these guys are factors in fantasy. I don’t even understand how Ty Lawson is still in the league, there’s no way he’s a replacement level player at this point, not to mention his off the court troubles. The Kings are crowded on the wing after adding Matt barnes this off-season, and they will probably trade Rudy Gay as soon as humanly possible, and I don’t blame them. Rudy’s from Baltimore and I like to root for my home-town guys, but man, he has been so, so bad at basketball in recent memory. However, he may carry some fantasy value to start the season if they try to showcase him for trade, but he’s not a guy I ever feel comfortable playing. The Kings also have Omri Casspi coming off the bench, I’m just not interested in playing anyone on this team outside of Boogie and Collison once he returns unless a trend becomes obvious to start the season.
Phoenix Suns – The Suns are definitely in a rebuilding year, they should be looking to trade Tyson Chandler and Brandon Knight as soon as possible, and we may see some serious fantasy value open up if they are able to move these guys. Devin Booker played to a monstrous 29.7% usage rate in the pre-season, well up from the 23% he saw last year. I’m not sure this will continue, Eric Bledsoe posted a 19.7% in the pre-season, I’d expect him to be a bit more aggressive in the regular season, he was at 27.3% last year before injury, but that was before Booker’s breakout. Wouldn’t be surprised to see them both settle into the 24-25% range and be fantasy viable on a nightly basis, the Suns played to the highest pace in the league in the pre-season at 107.5. Brandon Knight should also be fantasy relevant as the main scorer off the bench, he posted a 23.8% USG rate in the pre-season, and that may climb in the regular season towards the 26.3% he posted last year. The Suns have also shown a willingness to play Booker at the 3, so lineups with Bledsoe, Knight, and Booker are definitely something we could see this season, upping the minutes projection for all 3. Tyson Chandler is starting for this team at Center, but I’m not sure how long that lasts, whether he departs due to trade or injury. Alex Len would step in to start if he was out, but the guy I really want to get a look at in their front court is Marquese Chriss. Chriss posted a 21.5% USG rate, 52 TS%, and 0.97 Draftkings points per minute as a 19 year old rookie in the pre-season. He showed legitimate shooting range and ability to protect the rim, and he’s a terrific athlete, I think this kid is a star in the making. T.J. Warren should start the season at SF as P.J. Tucker works back from off-season surgery, and Tucker is another guy the Suns should be looking to trade, he’s a solid, veteran wing that could really help a contender. Warren has shown flashes at times as a legitimate scorer, but sharing the court with Bledsoe and Booker probably won’t help his fantasy production. Jared Dudley will start for the Suns at the 4, and I really like his game in general, he can definitely shoot the 3, and he makes up for his lack of athleticism with great awareness and anticipation on both sides of the court. With that said, I really hope he loses time to Marquese Chriss this year, I just want to see the kid get on the court in real NBA games. I don’t anticipate anyone in the Suns’ front court having fantasy value to start the season, but if Tyson is healthy, I think he could be in play in Daily Fantasy as they try to showcase him as a trade chip. If he’s not healthy, Alex Len will probably have value, but he hasn’t really progressed like a Center with his skill set should’ve, so I’m leaving the backdoor open for a Rookie of the Year campaign for Marquese Chriss if they can get him on the floor enough.
Los Angeles Lakers – I’m pretty interested in the Lakers this year, at least for Daily Fantasy purposes. Kobe went out with maybe the greatest final performance of all time and left a monstrous 31.9% USG hole for this team. They also managed to finally get rid of Byron Scott and bring in new coach Luke Walton, who should bring a lot of same offensive concepts the Warriors used to be so successful into the fold. They obviously don’t have the same kind of talent the Warriors do, but there’s undeniable fantasy upside lying untapped in this team. D’Angelo Russell is the obvious play any time we can safely project the Lakers for offensive success, playing to a 27.7% USG and 57 TS% in the pre-season, well up from his 24% USG / 50.7 TS% last year. I’ll be a bit concerned with rostering DAR against elite defensive teams because he should see a lot of defensive attention and be forced into poor shots and decisions. Regardless of match-up, he’ll make for a better play on Draftkings than Fanduel because of the likelihood for high turnover totals. Jordan Clarkson (24% USG, 54 TS%) should be the number two offensive option on this team, with Julius Randle (20% USG, 50 TS%) rounding out the top 3. Lou Williams (22.5% USG, 53.6 TS%) should be fantasy relevant as well, Luol Deng (20% USG, 43.4 TS%) didn’t show well in the pre-season, but should be relevant. Brandon Ingram flashed a bit in the pre-season, we’re probably at least a year away from him being relevant, but I like his talent level for when he does start to get the opportunity. Larry Nance is a guy I’m interested in coming into the season, I really like his skill set, and I’m hoping he gets the opportunity to display it, it’s not like Timofey Mozgov should really be playing actual minutes in the NBA right now. Nance put up 0.98 Draftkings points per minute in the pre-season, if he could work himself into ~25 minutes each game, he’d be a guy I’d like to use for salary relief. This team will be an auto-target any time they play, they may be the worst team in the league on defense, and they starters have played at around a 105 pace in the pre-season, so there should be plenty of fantasy opportunity for their opponents.
My Projected Western Conference Standings:
- Golden State
- San Antonio
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Oklahoma City
- New Orleans
- Los Angeles Lakers
My Projected Finals Matchup:
Cavaliers over the Warriors in 7. Ultimately, I think the Cavaliers are better suited to play the more physical style of basketball we see in the playoffs, but it’s so hard to pick against the juggernaut that is the Warriors.
My Projected MVP Results:
1. James Harden
2. Russell Westbrook
3. Kevin Durant
4. Stephen Curry
5. Karl-Anthony Towns
My Projected Rookie of the Year Results:
1. Joel Embiid
2. Jamal Murray
3. Buddy Hield
4. Jaylen Brown
5. Marquese Chriss
My Projected Coach of the Year Results:
1. Steve Kerr
2. Gregg Popovich
3. Brad Stevens
My Projected Most Improved Player Results:
- Karl-Anthony Towns
- Giannis Antetokounmpo
- Devin Booker
My Projected Defensive Player of the Year Results:
- Kawhi Leonard
- Karl-Anthony Towns
- Draymond Green