NBA Summer League DFS: Players to Target for July 6

by Taylor Smith
on July 6, 2018

Minute Read

The daily fantasy sports landscape continues to evolve. After WNBA contests were created for the first time last year, the last week or so has seen the addition of 2 new sports. Tennis has entered the mainstream DFS marketplace for the first time. While there will surely be plenty of edge to be had there, those not wanting to dip into the WNBA waters can get their hoops fix by playing Las Vegas Summer League DFS.

Yes, DraftKings is set to offer NBA summer league contests. The first slate begins on Friday afternoon at 3:00pm ET. There’s no shortage of action, either. The first NBA summer league slate features a whopping 10 games, so you can be sure player ownership will be scattered all over the place.

For those unfamiliar, summer league is quite a bit different from the NBA’s preseason, regular season or postseason. For one, not even the rules are the same. Yes, most of the basic stuff is the same as the real thing, but there are some differences.

Perhaps the most noteworthy is that a player can commit a whopping 10 personal fouls before being disqualified from the game. If you’ve played NBA DFS in the past, you know there’s nothing more frustrating than when one of your players commits 2 quick fouls and is banished to the bench for an extended period of time. Foul trouble can be a quick lineup killer. By upping the limit from 6 to 10, though, foul-outs aren’t often seen in summer league play.

Instead of 4 12-minute quarters, summer league games are comprised of 4 10-minute quarters. These are really the only rule discrepancies that affect us from a DFS perspective.

The lineup positions are the same for summer league as they are for a standard NBA contest. You have to play a point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, center, guard, forward and a utility spot. Some players have multi-position eligibility for maximum flexibility.

So, now that the ugly part is out of the way, let’s get to the fun part. One way to get an edge when it comes to summer league DFS will be to watch the Twitter feeds of both teams and beat reporters. They may not be able to get all information out there before the game, but team accounts and beat reporters are typically pretty decent about letting us know which players will be sitting out due to injury or rest. Obviously, you don’t want to roster a guy that won’t be logging any minutes.

Anyway, let’s go position-by-position to find some worthwhile plays for the first-ever DraftKings NBA summer league slate, shall we?

Point Guard

Based on name recognition, it seems likely that Dennis Smith Jr. will be . He’s the most expensive, but DFS players are going to flock to familiar names in contests like these. We see it every year with both NFL and NBA preseason. While there is certainly merit to playing an established player like DSJ tonight, I think it’s viable to go elsewhere in tournaments in order to differentiate your lineups. Still, Smith does feel fairly safe. Given we have a very small sample size on potential summer league rotations to this point, I think you can play Smith with confidence that he won’t doom your lineups.

Someone like the Clippers’ Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could be worth a look. The former Kentucky guard was a lottery pick that has a way of stuffing the stat sheet. While he doesn’t excel in one particular area, he does several things well. Good rebounding guards typically make for solid DFS targets.

Someone like Markel Brown, who has played in a few different situations around the league for a few years, could have the experience necessary to dominate a competition like this. I also kinda like the potential upside for the Warriors’ Gian Clavell, who was a difference-maker for the Mavs this past preseason. Malik Beasley is another player capable of filling it up.

“Safe” Chalk:

  • Dennis Smith Jr.
  • Malik Monk
  • Collin Sexton

Potential Low-Owned Difference-Makers:

  • Josh Magette
  • Jawun Evans
  • Shaq Harrison
  • Xavier Munford

Shooting Guard

Luka Doncic will garner some ownership thanks to name recognition, but you would do well to fade him today. There’s a good chance he doesn’t play at all considering he hasn’t even been cleared to practice yet. He still needs a letter of clearance to get out of his contract with Real Madrid and he still has to pass a physical for the Mavs. He’s on the summer league roster, but don’t even consider clicking his name here.

Josh Jackson, Malik Beasley, Malik Monk and Caris LeVert are all plenty viable at the shooting guard spot. Sindarius Thornwell, who drew regular rotation minutes for the Clippers as a rookie, is also in play. I’d be wary of Thornwell if for no other reason than he doesn’t contribute in many statistical areas. Cedi Osman, who made the most of his limited chances with the Cavs last season, also makes sense as a player few will actually roster.

Pelicans guard Frank Jackson is a PG/SG play to consider. The former Kansas Jayhawk missed his entire rookie campaign with a foot injury, and the explosive guard is reportedly healthy and ready to roll. Minnesota’s Josh Okogie will be given the chance to solidify a role this season with the departure of Nemanja Bjelica, so look for him to make the most of his chances in summer league.

“Safe” Chalk:

  • Josh Jackson
  • Malik Monk
  • Malik Beasley
  • Caris LeVert

Potential Low-Owned Difference-Makers:

  • Frank Jackson
  • Cedi Osman
  • Small Forward

One name to watch at the small forward spot is the . Derrickson played in all 3 of Golden State’s Sacramento Summer League games and looked good. He logged 14 minutes in the first matchup and finished with 6 points and 3 rebounds. He then exploded on Thursday against the Lakers, scoring a team-high 24 points along with 11 rebounds in 25 minutes. I’d be more comfortable rostering Dickerson if we know beforehand that he’ll be drawing the start, but he’s certainly a name that should be on your radar today.

Jonathan Isaac fared well at summer league last year, so I think the lanky Magic swingman is a viable option here today. He doesn’t come cheap, but he has the combination of scoring, athleticism and rebounding that we like to see from a DFS perspective. He’s cheaper than guys like Jackson and LeVert at this position, and I think he’s your top overall small forward play on the slate.

If you need some savings, Cleveland’s Okaro White is a player that led last year’s Orlando Summer League in scoring. Golden State’s J.P. Tokoto played quite a bit yesterday, so keep an eye on whether he’ll be suiting up tonight. If he does, I’m cool with him as a source of salary relief, too. Wes Iwundu, T.J. Leaf, Dwayne Bacon and Mikal Bridges all look viable, as well.

“Safe” Chalk

  • Jackson
  • LeVert
  • Jonathan Isaac

Potential Low-Owned Difference-Makers:

  • Marcus Derrickson
  • Okaro White
  • P. Tokoto
  • Dwayne Bacon

Power Forward

Dragan Bender and Zhou Qi haven’t had much success in the real NBA yet, but they’re a couple of lanky shooters capable of showing out against lesser competition. In the G League last year, Qi averaged 15.4 points, nearly 9 rebounds and over 3 blocks . His efficiency makes him a strong PF/C option on this slate.

New Orleans’ Cheick Diallo is also intriguing. The former Kentucky big man was a point-per-minute monster when he got playing time last season for New Orleans, and I imagine he will be something of a focal point for the Pels’ summer league squad. If nothing else, his rebounding and shot-blocking give him a decent floor.

Dallas big man Johnathan Motley emerged late in the season as a viable fantasy option, and he’ll be ready to take a leading role on the team’s summer league team. He’ll be the man tasked primarily with defending DeAndre Ayton tonight, and he’ll want to show the rookie that dominating the league isn’t as easy as doing so in college.

“Safe” Chalk:

  • Dragan Bender
  • Zhou Qi
  • Jonathan Isaac

Potential Low-Owned Difference-Makers:

  • Johnathan Motley
  • Cheick Diallo


Phoenix’ DeAndre Ayton is the headliner today, and with good reason. The No. 1 overall pick will be hungry to show that he was the right choice for the Suns. Ayton will be able to bully anybody he wants with that massive 7’1” frame, and it’s tough to imagine anybody on the Mavs’ summer league roster being able to stop him.

Ayton is a gifted offensive player that should have no trouble racking up points and rebounds in this spot. He is one of the most expensive players on the board, but I think you just fork it over. I can’t imagine fading Ayton here in this spot, so he’s my priority spend.

Center is pretty deep, so I think you can play another one with Ayton. Mo Bamba will garner some ownership, but I’d rather take a shot with Jarrett Allen on the other side of that game. Allen was an elite fantasy point-per-minute producer last season with the Nets, and I think he’s going to go a little overlooked. You can play Bamba, but Allen feels like the safer, more established option in that matchup.

Jordan Bell got the night off last night, so if he’s back in the lineup for the Warriors I like him tonight. Henry Ellenson was solid last year in summer league, but he’s not a center I’ll be prioritizing tonight. You can also slide Motley to the center spot if you so choose.

“Safe” Chalk:

  • DeAndre Ayton
  • Mo Bamba

Potential Low-Owned Difference-Makers:

  • Jordan Bell
  • Jarrett Allen
  • Tryggvi Hlinason
  • Johnathan Motley
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