2016 Daily Fantasy Basketball Preview With Sleepers, Team Breakdowns and More
The 2016-17 NBA preseason is well underway, which naturally means the countdown has officially begun for the return of daily fantasy basketball. DFS NBA gamers actually have the ability to participate in daily fantasy basketball preseason games throughout October, but our energy may be best utilized preparing for another intense (and fun!) daily fantasy basketball regular season.
There is always a lot to consider with each new NBA season, from new rookies to trades to head coaching changes, rosters and the way teams play can change dramatically. You’re always going to want to consider these things, as well as team pace, offensive and defensive rankings and individual position matchups.
The key things to consider each night in DFS NBA are:
- Player Usage
- Offense vs. Defense
- Individual Matchup
In that same breath, you also don’t want to pass up amazing value on any given daily slate just because a guy is going up against a good defense or will be matched up specifically with a good defender. Unless, of course, that defender’s name happens to be Kawhi Leonard. To that, we say “no thanks!”.
A run through all 30 NBA teams is probably a good idea to familiarize yourself with what to expect for the new year. Let’s dive in:
This is an interesting team with Jeff Teague and Al Horford gone and it remains to be seen how they operate. Schroder takes over full-time at the point, which gives the Hawks a boost offensively but doesn’t necessarily make them better. He will be, however, a fun DFS play when the price is right. Just know that he can be pretty inefficient and is more of a score-first point guard.
How Howard fits into this team is a big question. If he’s at full strength, he could be a huge part of the offense and early on this year be a pretty big steal, depending on how the top DFS sites end up pricing him.
Kyle Korver’s role could also change. He can still shoot lights out and will always be pretty cheap, but he got benched late last year and is another year older. If his play continues to decline, his role could be in doubt.
Paul Millsap is the guy this offense will flow through and he’s probably their only truly “elite” DFS option. He has such a versatile skill-set and can really crush it even when he’s not getting actual buckets. Being a top option and also being able to get his hands in a little bit of everything makes him an amazing value. When he’s under $9k, you need to be all over him.
Dwight Howard and Dennis Schroder will probably start off the daily fantasy basketball season as solid values, but the real guy that could be interesting is Kent Bazemore. Baze turned into a very good two-way wing last year and he’s made a strong case for a much bigger offensive role.
When injuries or rest occurs, you’ll want to target Jarrett Jack and Mike Scott the most. They both can score, while Jack can run the offense and get dimes and Scott can rebound.
Overall, the Hawks move the ball well and generally can put points on the board. After finishing tied for 8th in pace last year, they might be a little quicker with Schroder running the show. Naturally, that makes for a fun DFS target.
This is obviously not a star-studded team after ripping up their team in recent years and trading away Thaddeus Young last year, but it most certainly could be a fun spot to find DFS NBA value to start the 2016-17 season.
Lin and Booker are the obvious spots to find value, as Lin has been solid as a starter before and now he’ll get to run the show full-time with little to no competition behind him. The same goes for Booker, as he was often a monster off the bench in Washington and Utah and he could be in line for some huge games as the main power forward.
The real sleeper here is Bogdanovic, who has to assume a big scoring role considering he’s by far the best shooter on this team. That should also draw him some tough matchups, but the guy got it done at the Rio Olympics this summer and looks ready to take his NBA game to the next level.
While the Nets offer value, Brook Lopez is their only actual stud. He can easily be a 20 and 10 guy; it just depends on his health and how consistent he can be. When the price is right, you’ll need to jump on him.
Brooklyn’s bench is probably one to avoid when it comes to spot-starts. However, it’s possible Vasquez, Foye and maybe Scola can be of use in the right situation if they end up starting at some point.
The only issue is the Nets aren’t good and they tend to get destroyed fairly often. Perhaps adding some veterans will make them more competitive. Adding Lin and getting Bojan involved more could help their pace, too (tied for 20th last year), but this still is going to be a shaky situation on a daily basis.
Boston is a fine young team that runs the floor well, can score the ball and willingly defends. They’re also well-coached and rarely put in bad positions where they can’t succeed. Because of that, they’re a good team to target on pretty much any slate and regardless of matchup.
Individually, Thomas and Horford are going to be their best DFS options. It remains to be determined precisely how Horford fits into this offense, but they did not have a reliable inside presence on either end and now they do. Horford reaching for something like 14 and 8 seems reasonable. Thomas is just a flat out baller who can get 20 and 10 on any given night.
Bradley and Crowder can chip in and be useful daily fantasy basketball options when the situation is right. They need to be a good price and make sense, though, because they’re both incredibly inconsistent.
Amir Johnson can blow up from time to time, but his minutes and production aren’t reliable. You’ll normally want to steer clear of him.
That probably goes for Boston’s bench, although Olynyk and Smart can have nice outings under the right circumstances. Rookie Jaylen Brown’s role will be fun to follow. If he ends up starting, he could provide nice value.
Charlotte has really turned things around in the past couple of years and their only big losses were Jeremy Lin and Al Jefferson. Jefferson was regressing and Lin can be replaced, though, so they should be fine.
Jefferson does leave behind a shaky center situation, however, one in which you won’t want to dabble in too often. Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky don’t appear ready to start full-time, while Roy Hibbert is a walking DFS corpse.
The moneymakers in Charlotte are Walker and Batum. Walker can drop 20 and 10 on anyone at any time and Batum can hit three’s and rack up defensive stats. Depending on their price, they are usually going to be solid targets on most slates. Just keep in mind they’re both pretty erratic, so some really tough outings are to be expected.
MKG is back again from injury, a fact in which is impossible to know if it will keep up. He is a defensive ace and usually cheap, though, so if his jumper is working this year, he could be a fun value to start the year.
Lamb, Sessions, Belinelli and even The Tank are all worthwhile GPP dives if they get spot-starts, as well.
Rondo revived his daily fantasy basketball value in Sac-town last year, so he’s a viable play once we see how he works in this Bulls offense. I’d rather test out Wade over him early on, as Wade can actually shoot and will make free throws. Rondo can’t and won’t.
Butler is the top DFS fiend here, even with the new additions; ESPECIALLY with the new additions. He can do it all and should be the leading scorer more often than not.
I’m not sure what the Bulls will do down low, but they need shooting, so Mirotic probably has to start and play a lot. That makes him a big breakout candidate. Lopez isn’t elite, but he defends, rebounds and can get easy buckets. He didn’t play enough in New York and that should probably change with him now in Chicago.
The Bulls have a pretty deep bench. I don’t trust Jerian Grant at all, though, and expect rookie Denzel Valentine to eventually work a lot as the backup point guard. He is insanely versatile and looks quite NBA-ready.
Dougie Buckets and Taj Gibson can chip in right now and both can be used in GPPs depending on the situation. Bobby Portis probably needs a spot-start to be worth using, but he’s quite talented and is a double-double threat when the minutes are there.
Overall, the Bulls lack shooting, but Fred Hoiberg’s group should be faster and a little more explosive than they were a year ago. Rondo brings over the league’s #1 pace from the Kings, so that should help quite a bit.
It’s business as usual for the Cavs, who are going to give you elite production from their Big 3. You will just need to pick which nights to use Love, Irving and King James.
J.R. Smith isn’t actually officially back with Cleveland but that should change soon. He’ll start and launch his fair share of shots, which helps him be a solid NBA DFS value about half the time you use him.
Tristan Thompson needs to be had at a good price to pay off. No more Timofey Mozgov probably locks him into a pretty big role, but he needs to get a ton of rebounds to make sense most nights.
Cleveland’s bench has thinned out a bit, but Kay Felder is a quick rookie who can really score the ball. Shumpert, Dunleavy and Frye all can shoot, too, so when the Cavs rest guys they could warrant a look.
Dallas is still going to be a very fun daily fantasy basketball unit. Dirk can still put up points and get boards and is usually pretty cheap, D-Will still has some huge nights and Wes Matthews should be much better after a full year of work following a torn Achilles.
The question marks are the Golden State Warriors cast offs, Barnes and Bogut. Bogut could be a fun cheap play at times in NBA DFS, but he seems to always be hurt and if the Mavs are smart, they’ll limit his minutes. It’s Barnes who could be tons of fun, as his role will increase exponentially compared to what he was used to doing in California most nights.
Generally you’ll want shares of Barnes, Dirk and D-Will when the Mavs play, but all five of these guys get the green light to start the year.
The bench is pretty strong, too, with Barea being able to score the ball, Curry giving them another explosive scorer who can even run the point and Powell being able to play both the four and five. How much these guys play is anyone’s guess, but whenever they get spot-starts they’ll be highly owned commodities.
Denver already experimented with pairing Nurkic and Jokic in the starting lineup and that’d be pretty darn fun. If they don’t continue that, however, Faried could start again. He’s not a reliable scorer and the Nuggets mess with his minutes, but he does rebound and generally produces if he the run is there.
Nurkic could be a beast, so while he’s now just GPP fodder, he’s a name to watch for the Nuggets.
As you can see, this team is super stacked with talent, but outside of maybe the top seven guys, you won’t have much luck figuring out who to use. Mudiay and Gallo are the only sure things, as they’re serious offensive weapons and will see tons of minutes and shots. Mudiay is not a good shooter at all but it doesn’t seem like anyone in Denver really cares.
Harris might be stuck in some type of rotation with rookie Jamal Murray and bench scorer, Will Barton. Basically one of these guys needs to be out of the rotation to trust the others. Wilson Chandler returns from a hip surgery that kept him out last year, but his role is quite unclear.
As a whole, the Nuggets were actually pretty competitive last year and boast tons of upside. They were just 13th in pace a year ago, though, so expect that to climb a bit.
Detroit is one of the slower teams in the league (20th last year) when it comes to pace, and they’re also not always the most efficient. You can still get massive DFS performances out of all of their starters, but most of them tend to be a little erratic.
Of that main group, Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond are your elite plays, with Drums winning by a landslide. Drummond can be foul prone and is awful from the charity stripe, but few NBA players can do the 20 and 20 like he can.
Jackson is very erratic and not a good shooter, but he can blow up for big games due to a knack for scoring and high assist numbers. You can safely expect something close to his 18.8 and 6.2 of a year ago.
We start to get into trouble when we roll with KCP, Marcus Morris and Tobias Harris. Harris can actually be quite strong most nights, but anticipating anything more than a 15-6-2 line in this crowded lineup is probably wishful thinking. KCP and Morris are going to be cheaper and less reliable, but both can have blow up games. Morris might be the better play due to his rebounding on most nights.
The Pistons don’t have a very deep bench and most of it you want no part of. Smith can score and dish dimes, but he’s a bad shooter and won’t see enough run to be a reliable DFS option most nights. He and Stanley Johnson will need injuries or rest to find a nice starting role. When that happens, they’ll be cheap DFS options worth targeting.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors should be as good as ever from a team perspective this season, but the addition of Kevin Durant makes it less likely that Curry, Thompson or Durant go nuts on a nightly basis. Instead, this team just gets more spread out and paying up for these guys actually becomes a little dangerous. It will be fun when they hit big, however.
Pachulia may end up being a rotational guy at center, so he’s not nearly as reliable. He’s a defensive force and a double-double waiting to happen, but he broke down last year and has competition behind him.
The rest of Golden State’s bench is deep and balanced, but only Iggy and West really stand out as fun GPP tries in the event they get an enhanced role. The same could be said for Shaun Livingston on the nights Curry gets rested, but the presence of Dray, Klay and KD probably nullify any added value.
Patrick McCaw is actually a very interesting rookie due to his two-way style of play. It’s tough to see him carving out a defined role right away, however.
Overall, we’re still going to want to use the Warriors during the 2016-17 daily fantasy basketball season. They were #2 in pace and #1 in offensive efficiency last year, and with KD added to the mix, well, yikes.
Mike D’Antoni takes over an already gifted Rockets offense that certainly will never defend, but should be a lot more fluid and even more potent. The departure of big man Dwight Howard is a catch-22, as it opens the offense up more than ever, but also robs the Rockets of some rebounding and interior defense.
That will give Clint Capela and Nene Hilario something to fight about in a center position that might end up being a rotation all year. Capela has the shot-blocking edge and overall upside, but he needs real run to take him seriously.
Trevor Ariza could get more open looks this year and obviously can get you defensive stats, but extra bodies on offense could mean an overall hit. He was always an erratic option, anyways, so you’ll be playing with fire, regardless.
Eric Gordon is also inconsistent and never seems to stay healthy, but if he’s 100% he could fit in nicely thanks to his top shelf outside jumper and ability to run an offense. He could be an immense value early in the year.
Ryan Anderson finally gets an offense that is going to cater to his strengths, as he’s going to have open three’s for days. He’s also one of the biggest Rockets out there, so he should get some rebounds, as well. He could have a career year…
Except it’s really James Harden’s show, and we knew that already. Harden was already about as elite as it gets, but with the move to point guard full-time and Dwight Howard done clogging his lanes, he could deliver his best numbers yet. Needless to say, he’ll be worth paying up for in daily fantasy basketball leagues.
Beverley, Brewer and Hilario will all be needed off the bench. They all defend and are glue guys. That being said, Bev holds the most value as he can get defensive stats, dimes and open three’s.
Second-year man Sam Dekker isn’t in the rotation yet, but he has a versatile game and D’Antoni could eventually find a spot for him for small ball lineups. He can hit the outside shot and penetrate, so he’s a guy to monitor for a very fast Rockets offense.
Indiana is another team welcoming big changes, as Nate McMillan takes over for the fired Frank Vogel. The idea is for McMillan to piece together a more potent offense. That could be difficult given his teams normally don’t excel offensively, but he certainly has the pieces to try with trades for Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young giving the Pacers a ton of offensive upside.
This is still Paul George’s show, but the fresh faces do make you wonder if he’ll dominate quite as much as we’re used to seeing. Starting out, we’ll trust him, but hopefully he’s not over-priced right away. Last year he was often a disgusting value and we loved every minute of it.
Monta Ellis does not really fit this team at all, as Teague brings in another guy who loves to handle the rock, make plays and attack the rim. Teague and George both doing that make Ellis the odd guy out. Still, he can score with the best of them and he can run the offense in a pinch, so here’s to hoping it all works out.
Turner could be ready for a breakout season in year two, after showing some serious upside as a scorer and shot-blocker as a rookie. He looks ready to start, but time will tell how much guys like Al Jefferson and Lavoy Allen will eat into his workload. Thaddeus Young’s presence might at least keep Turner from going nuts as much offensively, too.
Indy has a pretty decent bench, with Stuckey and Miles standing out as the biggest GPP tries whenever they get spot-starts. Big Al is probably in full blown regression mode, but anytime he gets a start he’ll be worth a look in daily NBA leagues, as well.
Los Angeles Clippers
CP3, Griffin and DJ continue to be what make the Clippers go, and nothing much has changed in Lob City. If anything, a healthy Griffin makes the Clippers better again and his constant evolution could make him a threat to be even better this year. If he’s under-priced to start the year, you’re going to want to be all over him.
Redick is always a GPP consideration and will continue to start and see around 30 minutes, but he doesn’t do much else other than score. You’ll want to target him at his cheapest and/or when one of the other main starters rests.
The biggest problem in L.A. is their small forward situation. Jeff Green was a failure and moved on to Orlando, but they still don’t have an answer. Moute is not the fix, while Wesley Johnson and Paul Pierce aren’t reliable, either. Maybe they can swing a trade at some point, but right now this position is holding them back and is absolutely one to avoid.
The Clippers lost some good bench guys, but they got some solid ones back by bringing in Felton, Bass and Speights. All three score the ball fairly well and will be worth a GPP flier in the event their roles ever increase.
Los Angeles Lakers
Luke Walton takes over a really bad Lakers team that finally shed the walking corpse of Kobe Bryant and will try to officially rebuild for the future. They already have four amazing building blocks on the roster in Russell, Randle, Clarkson and rookie Brandon Ingram.
Ingram should be held back at first as he gets stronger and adapts to the game, so consider him off limits until he figures things out. The others are all in play for NBA DFS right now, as DLo has ice in his veins, Clarkson can pretty much do it all and Randle is a very gifted, nimble big man.
If the Lakers are smart, all three of these guys play a ton and do their best to carry this team. That should make them fun DFS tries most night, but when they face elite teams you may not want to go Laker heavy.
The addition of guys like Deng and Mozzy are eyebrow raisers, but I suppose a team that is looking to rebuild probably wants some good veteran leadership. Hopefully they offer that, while their roles to start actually do put them on the NBA DFS map. I just don’t necessarily trust them, as they’ve both been erratic contributors for years now.
You can quickly move past Jose Calderon, who is totally done and hopefully doesn’t soak up many minutes for this young team. Lou Williams, Larry Nance and Yi could all offer a little something, though. It just depends on their run and how often they get to prove themselves. Starting out, you can give this bench the big FADE.
Overall, things are looking up for the Lakers, but Walton still needs to figure out how to run this team and this group still has a lot of learning to do. They will still be bad most nights, but it could still lead to some sold DFS goodness from their main three players.
Memphis looked to be quickly eroding last year, but they did well to keep Mike Conley in town and then upgraded at small forward by signing Chandler Parsons. Trouble is, they still have a weak starting five, Parsons is a constant injury risk and their bench is still lackluster.
Conley, ZBO, Parsons and Gasol are the only guys you can touch here most nights, but the Memphis offense is slow (tied for 25th in pace last year) and it simply doesn’t produce at a high level (21st in OFF EFF). Of that group, only Conley and Gasol feel truly reliable most nights, but you can pick your spots with all four.
Tony Allen is still a good defender, but he can’t shoot and is aging fast. He shouldn’t see more than 20 minutes per game (keyword shouldn’t) and ultimately is hopefully replaced by someone else in the starting lineup.
Rookie guard Wade Baldwin is versatile and talented, but it’s unclear how much he’ll be used right away. He’s the only guy to get excited about on the Memphis bench, as talented bigs like Green and Wright probably need an injury to be seriously relevant.
Miami is being hit hard with change this year, as Chris Bosh (blood clots) isn’t coming back and Dwyane Wade (Bulls) is gone. That’s a lot of scoring that needs to be picked up, yet there isn’t a true star remaining on this roster.
Goran Dragic is naturally going to shoot and handle the ball more, which has to boost his DFS stock. Hassan Whiteside should also get more touches down low, but he was a total beast, regardless. These are the two Heat guys to target and feel remotely good about, but the lack of star power and Miami’s generally slow pace (25th last year) can be scary for NBA DFS purposes.
Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow are going to be fun to watch eventually. Winslow can attack the rim and defends very well, while Richardson is already one of the best young shooters in the game. Together they’re a complete player, but they both have flaws and have a lot to learn. They’re GPP fodder, but certainly not yet reliable.
Derrick Williams might not even start. He’ll be splitting time with guys like McRoberts, Johnson, Babbitt and maybe others. The four spot is one to shy away from in Miami, unless something concrete formulates there.
Tyler Johnson and Dion Waiters are nice combo guards that can score and run the offense a bit, which could make them quality GPP options when Dragic sits games out or gets hurt.
Overall, this is still a slow-paced team that now lacks serious star power. Early on, we’d really only target Dragic and Whiteside, if anyone.
Minnesota could be a ton of fun this year. They are obviously stocked full of talent and there is no reason to believe the monster that is KAT will take a step back. He’ll be a fun target on a nightly basis.
As talented as the Wolves are, it’s tough to deny they’re also quite crowded. Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins figure to have the leg up with starting roles, but all three can have their bouts with inconsistency and there are two very talented players in Dunn and Muhammad just chomping at the bit behind them.
That could make them tough to read early on in daily fantasy basketball, but Rubio isn’t a tough fade most nights just because he can’t shoot worth a lick. Wiggins is typically safe and due to his ability to defend, new head coach Tom Thibodeau should keep him on the floor all night. Thibs is notorious for running his key players into the ground, too, so minutes for the starters should never be an issue.
The only problem is going to be adjusting on the fly if Dunn or Muhammad earn bigger roles.
The other guy to look at is Dieng, who can rebound and block shots really well, and looks to be a lock for the power forward spot. He seems like a solid bet most nights, as he doesn’t need to rely on scoring to provide a solid impact. Just make sure the price is right.
Overall, Minnesota should see their 19th ranked pace climb a bit and the presence of Thibs should be great news for their efficiency and starter minutes. All of that makes them a fun team to target in NBA DFS.
The Milwaukee Bucks were handed a gut punch just a few weeks ago, when they learned star sharpshooter Khris Middleton (hamstring) would miss most (if not all) of the regular season. That loss is massive, as the Bucks already sorely needed shooting and he was by far their top shooter and scorer.
While that’s brutal, that’s only going to add DFS value to guys like Antetokounmpo and Parker. Both guys were heating up in daily fantasy basketball before the end of last year and should see a ton of opportunities this year.
The addition of Delly could balance things out at the point, as he can both defend and hit open shots. He’s a tough guy to trust for daily fantasy basketball, however.
Shooting guard looks to be a disaster in Milwaukee. Rashad Vaughn can score but he’s unproven and Malcolm Brogdon hasn’t yet taken over the position, either. It’s very possible neither of them end up carving out a big role this year. That being said, they’re worth monitoring.
Greg Monroe should get traded, but as long as he’s with the Bucks, he’ll be asked to score a lot off the bench. With Middleton down, he’s at worst Milwaukee’s third best offensive option right now.
Teletovic and Beasley both can fire up shots and score pretty easily, so if they’re asked to do more, they’ll be worth a look. The guy we’ll really want to keep tabs on is talented rookie, Thon Maker, however. He has amazing size, range and versatility and seems to have a limitless ceiling. We’ll see where that gets him during his rookie season.
Milwaukee will hope to improve a sluggish defense and also figure out how to generate offense during the 2016-17 NBA season, but the loss of Middleton is brutal. You can safely play Giannis and Jabari, but anyone else is a risk on a nightly basis.
New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans endured a brutal year filled with injuries and losses last season, which prompted them to shed two scorers and focus on depth around star big man, Anthony Davis. None of that matters much for The Brow, who (provided he’s healthy) should continue his rise up the ranks as one of the top NBA DFS performers.
Brow’s only real issue is he doesn’t always meet value and leaves games with weak injuries. Just remember that when he burns you by leaving a game in the first quarter after getting an elbow to the chest.
There’s actual bad news for the Pellies to start the 2016-17 NBA season, though, as top point guard Jrue Holiday is away from the team while his wife battles cancer and Tyreke Evans isn’t close to returning from a knee issue.
It’s a good thing the Pelicans spent money on depth and drafted stud Oklahoma scorer, Buddy Hield. Hield could be a fun DFS player right away because of that, while guys like Langston Galloway, Tim Frazier and E’Twaun Moore should chip in for some solid guard play.
Good luck figuring out who will produce most nights, however.
Terrence Jones is another addition to keep an eye on, as he could be a total menace off the bench or eventually start next to Davis if the Pelicans shift him to center. For now, he’s a guy to watch in the event Brow gets hurt.
Overall, this is still all about Anthony Davis, who didn’t get better last year, but still averaged 24 points and 10 boards per game. He’ll be the top guy to target and as the rotation gets clearer, you can take shots on some of the New Orleans guards. It should go without saying that once back in the fold and starting, Evans and Holiday would also be top DFS options.
New York Knicks
The Knicks certainly don’t feel like a “super team”, but it’s tough to deny they got a little bit better during the summer. The trade for Derrick Rose gives them a better point guard, Courtney Lee gives them a solid shooter and Joakim Noah (potentially) helps them on the glass, as well as down low defensively.
Carmelo Anthony is still going to get his shots, so you needn’t worry about him. The ticket will be how Rose fits into this offense and just how much Porzingis can improve in just his second NBA season. While we can’t be sure how it will all mesh together, those three guys are obviously the top Knicks to target in daily fantasy basketball leagues, and it’s not close.
Brandon Jennings is probably the only bench player to keep an eye on here, as Rose has an ongoing legal issue and is constantly dinged up. Jennings will see some real action in NYC this year and could be a great GPP play on more than one occasion.
Justin Holiday could also be interesting, as he can fill it up offensively at times. However, his role is unclear and Courtney Lee could hog a good amount of the minutes at the two spot.
Jeff Hornacek taking over should bring a little more continuity to this team, get them moving faster and also hopefully gets them away from the dreaded Triangle. That’s no guarantee, though, so aside from Rose, Melo and Zinger, we’d play it cool with the Knicks early in the year.
Oklahoma City Thunder
This year is all about Russell Westbrook, who was already a machine with Kevin Durant in town. Now that KD is with the Warriors, Westbrook is going to get all of the stats. The triple-double-machine will absolutely be very expensive in daily fantasy basketball for the entire season, but he’ll probably be worth it.
Westbrook surprisingly is not the only guy in OKC to get excited about, however. Kevin Durant leaves behind shooting and scoring (19 shots per game last year), so the Thunder will need to make up for it somehow. A lot of that will come from Westbrook, but Victor Oladipo already blew up during preseason play and both Enes Kanter and Steven Adams are expected to see their offensive roles increase.
The starting five in OKC is mostly fair game, but the small forward position leaves a lot to be desired. No one is even sure if Ilyasova will stick as the starting three, but it’s either him or Singler, Morrow or Roberson. None of these guys are reliable, while Ersan actually has the most offensive upside. It’s a situation to avoid.
The OKC bench isn’t exactly thin, but it’s not impressive. Luckily, Westbrook will be doing most of the scoring, so it might not matter.
The Thunder operated at ramming speed last year (8th best pace in the league) and with no one to slow down Bestbrook, that number could climb.
Frank Vogel comes to Orlando to give the Magic balance, direction and help their defense. Adding guys like Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo don’t hurt, either. Biyombo’s role behind starter Nikola Vucevic is troubling, more so because we can’t know yet how he will impact Vucevic’s DFS output.
Vucevic is probably safe for now, but we wouldn’t overpay to use him to start the 2016-17 NBA season.
The rest of Orlando’s team is wide open. Elfrid Payton still can’t shoot, but he’s got the role and talent to produce a triple-double on any given night. Evan Fournier is an all or nothing points guy, but no more Victor Oladipo makes him a reliable scorer most nights.
Ibaka could be a fine addition and should be in the mix for a double-double with big block outings here and there, but the guy we’re really excited about is Aaron Gordon. He’s flashed immense upside thanks to his blend of size/speed/athleticism and it is starting to sound like Vogel is going to take the training wheels off. That could give way to a huge NBA DFS season for the third-year pro.
Augustin, Hezonja, Green and Biyombo round out a pretty clean bench, but one that won’t pop up with big outings too often. These guys could all be in play in the event they start a game, however.
Overall, things are looking up for the Magic, who have the best coaching they’ve seen in years and actually have the talent to defend at a high level. It may take a while before we really see who to target exclusively for the Magic, but starting out it looks like most of their starting five is fair game.
Just when Philly seems to be turning the corner, they lose star rookie Ben Simmons to a broken foot. It’s especially troubling since they’re just now getting big man Joel Embiid back after his own foot issues robbed him of his first two NBA seasons.
Needless to say, Embiid will be brought along slowly and Simmons could miss a ton of time – if not his entire rookie year. Both guys are for the moment non-DFS material.
Instead, you’ll want to focus on Bayless, Covey and Saric for the most part. Bayless gets a chance to start at the point in Philly, where he could actually thrive as a scorer and distributor. He’s not a big guy and injuries have bogged him down before, but he can shoot/score and could be a fun cheap play to start the year.
Covey racks up defensive stats like crazy and actually should benefit immensely from Simmons missing time. He was a solid DFS option last year and as long as he’s not too expensive, you can gamble on him adding some shots with his rebounds and steals.
Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor will be splitting time and the five spot, but it’s been sounding forever like one or both of these guys is on the way out. Simmons, Embiid and Saric seem like the future of this team, so if the price is right, Noel and Okafor could be gone. For now, Noel offers solid upside if he’s starting, as he can get easy buckets, as well as rebound and block shots. Okafor is useful if the role is there due to his top shelf scoring ability, but he does little else.
Dario Saric is the 76er we covet, though, as he has been a stud overseas and looked great during the Rio Olympics. He’s extremely versatile and a great shooter, too, which should allow him to play both forward spots and rack up points and rebounds.
As you can see, there is optimism in Philly for the first time in a while. That doesn’t mean they’re going to win a ton of games or even provide reliable daily fantasy basketball production, but you can target them more than you’ve been able to in the recent past.
Phoenix was 4th in pace a year ago and with a ton of offensive talent and a former point guard in Earl Watson running the show, you can safely bet on that happening again. Eric Bledsoe returns from injury to take back over the offense and he has the ability to drop 20 and 6 every night.
Bledsoe gets sharpshooter Devin Booker at his side, who was a really fun guy to use late last year in NBA DFS and that will only continue. The kid is only 19, yet he boasts a terrific outside jumper and a versatile skill-set that should allow him to rack up DFS points.
That’s where the fun might sputter a bit in the Suns’ starting lineup, as T.J. Warren is an all or nothing scorer, Jared Dudley needs to get really hot to make sense and Tyson Chandler’s age brings inconsistency.
The Syns could look to the bench to help out quite a bit this year, as Brandon Knight takes over as the team’s 6th man and Alex Len promises to force his way onto the court and the four and five spots. Len has loads of upside and should probably be starting over an aging Chandler, but for now we need to wait for his next opportunity. Knight can probably be treated like a regular starter, as the Suns have raved about his talent in a 6th man role and seem to think he’d headed for a huge year off the bench.
Most nights, we’re just going to lean on the Suns running and gunning, which puts Bledsoe, Booker and Knight in play. Anyone else seems like a risk at the moment.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers shocked just about everyone last year, when Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum rose up to be one of the league’s best backcourts in the wake of big man LaMarcus Aldridge jetting to San Antonio. Those two will again be the lifeblood of the Blazers, who got some help this summer, but failed to add another star to take on a big scoring load.
Portland did bring in the versatile Evan Turner, but he could be rotating at the three spot with Moe Harkless, Allen Crabbe and maybe even Al-Farouq Aminu all year. All of these guys carry DFS value on any given night, but probably need a defined role to be worth paying for.
Mason Plumlee holds down the starting job for now, but he’s also not completely safe with Meyers Leonard and new addition Festus Ezeli waiting to take time on the court away from him.
Per usual, we can bank on Lillard and McCollum to hoist shots and produce most of the offense, but diving elsewhere could be problematic most nights when it comes to the Trail Blazers.
San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio looks the same for the most part this year, except they’ll have to figure out how to move on without Tim Duncan, who retired this summer. Duncan had regressed sharply over the past year, but his presence on both ends could still be missed.
That isn’t what the daily fantasy basketball community will say, of course, as Pau Gasol enters to take on a huge workload at the five spot, while LaMarcus Aldridge assumes the same role that saw him put up a healthy 18 points and 8.5 rebounds per game a year ago.
Those two guys will be worth nightly NBA DFS looks provided their prices don’t get out of control, but Kawhi Leonard remains the top Spurs target. Leonard seems to get better every year, as he’s without a doubt the game’s best on-ball defender and has taken his versatile offensive game to an MVP level.
There isn’t much room for Spurs fantasy options beyond their three obvious studs, but there will still be moments where we’ll find Tony Parker, Danny Green and maybe even Manu Ginobili useful. Those moments will be few and far between, of course, while the Spurs bench can be left alone unless some starters rest.
Going against the top three isn’t suggested for a team that plays slow (25th in pace last year).
It’s the Boogie show in Sacramento more than ever, as Rajon Rondo is gone and Rudy Gay has been trying hard to get a trade out of town. Regardless of what happens with Gay, Cousins is going to get his and everyone knows it. With Cousins getting up to almost 27 points per game last year, he’s again one of the top NBA DFS plays to consider each night.
It’s slim pickings in Sacramento beyond Boogie, but we can still roll with Gay for as long as he’s on the team. Gay was still solid for most of last year and his versatile skill-set makes him a threat to rack up defensive stats, as well as pour n 18-20 points on any given night.
Darren Collison is suspended the first 8 games of the year, but if he keeps the starting gig, he’ll be a fine DFS play most nights. He thrived in that role two years ago, when he put up averages of 16 points and 5.6 dimes per contest.
There is the mild concern that veteran Ty Lawson runs with the starting gig during that suspension, though. Should that happen, we might just want to avoid the Kings’ point guard position, altogether.
The Kings aren’t going to be overly reliable at shooting guard or power forward. They just don’t have consistency at those spots, so you’re better off spending your NBA DFS cash elsewhere. That being said, guys like Kosta Koufos, Omri Casspi, Matt Barnes and Arron Afflalo are the ones to look at for salary relief in the event their roles look sound enough to trust.
Sacramento doesn’t initially look like the best team for NBA DFS glory, but David Joerger comes over from Memphis and could quickly switch up the culture. Depending on what happens with the changes he implements, the Kings could be sneaky early on in 2016-17.
The Toronto Raptors rose up the NBA ranks last year due to a methodical offense and top shelf defense. Both bled into a brutal 29th ranked pace, which means beyond their top scorers, they’re not the best team to confide in for daily fantasy basketball.
Still, Kyle Lowry is one of the best two-way point guards in the league and DeMar DeRozan can fill it up as a scorer with the best of them. Lowry is always the safer play due to his outside shooting and assist numbers, while DMR doesn’t usually do much else other than score.
The only other guy we can actively promote in Toronto is Jonas V, who has the talent (and hopefully now the role) to shoot for a 15 and 10 performance most nights. He’s always been a bit erratic and can be prone to foul trouble, though, so even he makes for a tough third trustworthy option.
Toronto does have good help to round out the starting five, with DeMarre Carroll starting at the three and possibly Jared Sullinger operating as the main power forward. Inconsistency keeps either from being a nightly target, but both can blow up and should be cheap most nights.
The Raptors have a decent bench in terms of real basketball, but all of their guys are woefully volatile. Cory Joseph has one of the best roles off the bench, but he seems to do very little on a regular basis when it comes to the numbers game. Ross is a pure scorer, Patterson just doesn’t do enough and Powell probably needs good run to pan out.
In real life Toronto would be toast without Lowry and DeRozan, and that’s pretty much the scope of things in NBA DFS, as well. Journeying past that boundary can yield ugly results.
The Utah Jazz hope to make the leap from good to great this year, as they upgraded the point guard position by trading for George Hill, get a healthy Dante Exum back and still sport one of the most suffocating defenses in the entire league.
That defense makes them a matchup to avoid most nights when it comes to daily fantasy basketball, as they try to keep things at a slow pace (dead last in pace in 2015-16) and tied for 7th in defensive efficiency.
While their defense and slow pace can be troublesome, it can still produce some solid fantasy results. Of course, it’s really only through the likes of Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors ad Rudy Gobert. All three fill very different roles and as you’d imagine, can be a little unpredictable at times.
The Jazz only feel like a target in plus matchups, ones where Hayward can thrive as a scorer and Favors and Gobert can eat up rebounds and block shots. That doesn’t mean we have to completely forget about Hill or Rodney Hood, but they’re less reliable and in an offense with few opportunities, they represent unnecessary risk.
Naturally, that hurts Utah’s upside from their bench, where they have some talent with Joe Johnson, Alec Burks and Trey Lyles pining for minutes, but just don’t have the system or time to make them all viable. Any of those guys are a decent GPP dive in the right scenario, but most nights they’ll be off limits.
Last, but not least, we have the Wizards, who could be as energetic as ever offensively with Scott Brooks leading the way.
A former point guard, Brooks has produced strong offenses in OKC and knows how to win. Luckily for him, he also has talent to work with, as John Wall and Bradley Beal give him two elite two-way guards and both Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat are nightly double-double threats.
All four of these guys are fair game in daily fantasy basketball, with Wall 100% leading the way and Gortat probably being the second safest option. Markieff seems to flatline too often, while Beal can often go missing when his shot isn’t falling.
Otto Porter has a ton of potential, but it looks like he could be in a fight for his job with Kelly Oubre and maybe even Marcus Thornton. It probably won’t impact things too much, but we should keep an eye on who wins that three spot job and how they perform early in the year.
The bench is strong for the Wiz, who have a scoring guard in Trey Burke behind Wall, a sharpshooter in Thornton and some nice size with the defensive-minded Mahinmi behind Gortat. We don’t need to worry much about Burke or Thornton unless someone gets hurt or rests, but Mahinmi could gradually be a problem for Gortat.
As it stands, Washington was already the 5th fastest offense a year ago and with Brooks they should only be better. That should give Wall a shot at a career year and the rest of the starting lineup a chance to excel, as well.
Eye on Opening Night
Now that we’re run through every single team’s top NBA DFS options, their systems and their key bench players, let’s lend an eye to the first regular season daily fantasy basketball action.
The official start of the 2016-17 NBA season hits us on Tuesday, October 23rd, when a light three-game slate enters the NBA DFS stratosphere. On that slate we get battles between the Knicks/Cavs, Jazz/Blazers and Spurs/Warriors.
We don’t know the salaries for this slate yet, as we’re still weeks away, but we can assume the main Golden State stars will be expensive, as will Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Kevin Love and Damian Lillard.
The value is likely to be found somewhere within the Jazz, Blazers and Knicks. Those are dicey spots to pick your value from, as we’ve already touched on. However, it’s crucial to land at least two elite players from this slate and then make sure your value plays will at least meet value.
One big thing to consider is that Golden State will be stretched out more than they’ve been in the past with Kevin Durant in town. He also should be covered by Kawhi Leonard tightly, which probably allows for either Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson to fire away.
This light three-game slate will be a nice spot to get our feet wet with the new daily fantasy basketball season, but it could also be a trying slate. For more advice closer to the regular season, be sure to keep checking back on our blog.