With the return of the NBA marathon — and the first 82-game regular season in years — this daily series is back in action, as well. Each weekday during the regular season we dissect the league through a fantasy basketball lens; seeking to extract value from seemingly small shifts in rotations with a keen eye on identifying meaningful and actionable statistical trends.
Prepared and proactive management is essentially to competing and contending in competitive fantasy hoops formats; thus, we often go beyond the box score in these daily notes. Since we don’t have any games to pore over just yet, it might prove helpful to consider delve into our Draft Kit and consider some final roster tweaks on the doorstep of the new season.
Figuring out how to navigate some injured stars in drafts? Stephania Bell and Andre Snellings detail influential injury situations around the league. I found Eric Moody’s breakdown of surging sophomore talents particularly helpful ahead of the season. Did you get any shares of the Detroit Pistons’ young tandem of Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart? Bey is still a free agent in half of ESPN leagues, while Stewart — a promising blocks and boards force — can be added in roughly a quarter of leagues.
Not sold on some of your picks in the final rounds of a recent hoops draft? Check out Eric Karabell’s collection of statistical specialists to consider. He’s a big fan of the Boston Celtics’ Robert Williams III as a floor-raiser in field goal percentage and as a swat specialist. Finally ready to play big minutes for Boston, it looks like Williams could be a winning mid-round selection.
With most fantasy drafts in the rearview, churning the final roster spots on our teams can prove critical to winning your matchups. Some of the most important waiver wire and free agency additions are made in these early weeks of the season. Each day, we’ll mention which rising players merit your attention.
As a note about the format of this daily content series, we’ll traditionally recap the most relevant and telling statistical performances and trends from each night in the NBA. Today is clearly an exception given it’s the first night of the season, so with that in mind, we can delve into some key questions, injuries, and analytical insights to consider for tonight’s two-game schedule.
Key questions for Tuesday
• Kicking off the NBA season, the Brooklyn Nets return to Milwaukee to face the Bucks, the team that ended their run in the second round of the playoffs. How will Grayson Allen adapt to a starting role with the Bucks? The Duke product just inked a multi-year extension and is likely to start in place of an ailing Donte DiVincenzo to open the season. Allen flirted with fantasy relevance as a starter with Memphis last season and now joins a Bucks roster with very little depth at shooting guard.
• Are the Nets going to be any better on defense this season? The team finished 22nd in defensive rating last season yet actually posted solid postseason rates. The lack of rim protection on the roster could prove costly, and is something to monitor in the early weeks.
• Want to get ahead of the waiver wire in your league? Golden State’s Jordan Poole is rostered in just around a third of ESPN leagues and is going to start in a high-usage role alongside Stephen Curry for the Golden State Warriors. Poole finished the preseason second in the league in points and second on the team in usage rate. It’s not just this recent sample indicating a breakout for Poole, as he averaged 21 PPG in seven starts last season. If you are unsatisfied with one of your final roster spots, get Poole before tonight’s tip.
• Will any player in the Lakers rotation outside of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, or Russell Westbrook prove consistently helpful for fantasy purposes? I’m dubious that you’ll get much from this rotation beyond this trio, but Kendrick Nunn might be the best candidate given his ability to distribute and find his own shot at a reasonably efficient rate.
Injuries of note
• The Nets won’t have Kyrie Irving available this evening, but have a healthy roster heading into the matchup. Milwaukee is without DiVincenzo, Rodney Hood, and Bobby Portis. Preseason standout Jordan Nwora could play a larger role in the rotation with Portis sidelined.
• Golden State’s James Wiseman is recovering from a knee injury, while Klay Thompson is also still on the mend. Rookie Jonathan Kuminga won’t make his debut due to a knee issue.
• The Lakers won’t have exciting young wing Talen Horton-Tucker for the first few weeks of the season and veteran forward Trevor Ariza is also sidelined to open the campaign. This means more run for Nunn and bench scorer Malik Monk.
Analytics advantage for Tuesday
This matchup between the Bucks and Nets claims a lofty point total around 234 on most books. Compare this to a total hovering around 226.5 points for the Warriors and Lakers matchup, and you recognize how this game could provide the pace and points we covet for daily fantasy stacks. There’s also something to be said about identifying these high totals for streaming players in leagues with daily transactions. Rostering Allen, Nwora, or even Carmelo Anthony tonight is a path to maximizing games played during this abbreviated first week of the season.
This new section of the column details top daily fantasy plays and strategies to consider for that day’s schedule.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Brooklyn Nets
Gone are the days of worrying if the Nets will finally give Jarrett Allen minutes over DeAndre Jordan. In fact, both Allen and Jordan are on different rosters, leaving Aldridge as a surprisingly important part of the Nets’ frontcourt. With the Bucks likely to lean on their size advantage, Aldridge could play a sizable role this evening and is found at an affordable rate on all platforms.
Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers
For this first slate of the regular season, it’s fine to be covered in chalk with the human triple-double machine. The Lakers guard could produce nearly seven fantasy points per $1,000 spent on DraftKings, with only James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo rivaling his blend of floor and ceiling from a fantasy perspective.