We’re back! Today’s Tuesday NBA slate opens the regular 2019-2020 season with only two games to draw from. All eyes will be on the cross-town LA battle, while the battle in the East between the defending champ Raptors and New Orleans’ No. 1 pick Zion Williamson is diminished by his absence to start the season. In this column, I generally set $6000 as the bargain threshold, and I try to indicate when I think a position is particularly well-suited--or not--to using the cheap plays given the landscape of the particular slate.
Patrick Beverley, LA Clippers ($5100 FD, $5000 DK)
A healthy Beverley is a playable Beverley. He’s actually one of our NBA DFS Toolkit’s top dollar per fantasy point projections tonight. The Lakers are a traditionally friendly PG matchup, and his ability to rack up steals and peripherals usually keep his floor high. When he shoots well, his upside is as good as any guard on the slate tonight.
Rajon Rondo, LA Lakers ($4900 FD, $5100 DK)
Quinn Cook, LA Lakers ($3500 FD, $3300 DK)
Alex Caruso, LA Lakers ($4400 FD, $3300 DK)
Pick a Lakers guard, any Lakers guard. Both Rondo and Caruso are questionable for tonight’s opener, Rondo with a calf injury and Caruso with a pelvic contusion that originally seemed more serious. If everyone is active and Rondo appears fine, he’d be the safest bet. I’m leaning toward Cook seeing more action off the bench than Caruso, but this is a situation to watch as we go through the day. This is the game with the higher scoring potential, so I’m trying to get my bargains here.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, New Orleans Pelicans ($3600 FD, $3400 DK)
One of the risks of playing the tiny opening night slate is falling prey to the Novelty Bias. E.g. using that guy you’ve never used before in the regular season. Alexander-Walker is probably going to be that guy. He’s very, very cheap so even if he only gets 15-16 minutes behind Jrue Holiday, Lonzo Ball and JJ Redick, his preseason efficiency should be able to pay off his salary. He’s a path to the multi-star lineup you’ll want.
JJ Redick, New Orleans Pelicans ($4800 FD, $4900 DK)
Redick has been a bargain play for most of the years I’ve been writing this article, and he’s probably one of the most consistent in terms of paying off a small salary. He’s not as cheap as some guys tonight, but I think you can count on his minutes and production against a weaker Raptors periphery defense. Redick’s range of outcomes is around 20-30 fantasy points.
Small Forward/Power Forwards
Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans ($6300 FD, $5800 DK)
The Pelicans made a smart decision and moved Ingram to the four in the wake of Zion Williamson’s knee injury, and he played the part. Capping a nice preseason with a 16/6/3 line in 25 minutes, Ingram is the most expensive ‘bargain’ here. He lacks the point per dollar upside of some of my other cheap picks, but can fill a tough PF slot on DraftKings.
JaVale McGee, LA Lakers ($5600 FD, $4800 DK)
Dwight Howard, LA Lakers ($5100 FD, $4500 DK)
If you avoid Montrezl Harrell and Marc Gasol (very nearly bargain bin material), I think you’re left with a Lakers center tonight. In terms of choosing between them, I can appreciate the better value of Howard, but it’s always more fun to roster McGee and his crazy efficiency. Howard and McGee were actually fairly similar in limited preseason action (Howard 8/8, McGee 9/7), but for the notable 2.2 blocks per game McGee provided (0.6 BPG for Howard). Howard when healthy is capable of the bigger game (more minutes), so at a lower price point, he’s the smarter cheap center tonight.