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Daily Games

NBA Eastern Conference Preview

by Louis Cangiano
Updated On: December 22, 2020, 9:57 am ET

Boston Celtics 2019-2020 record 48-24

Championship Odds: +1400
Conference Odds: +550

Odds provided by Pointsbet.com

The Celtics have not made many changes to their roster since last season. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Kemba Walker have all returned for the 2020-21 regular season. Enes Kanter has joined the Portland Trail Blazers which will open up more opportunities for Robert Williams, a player that I am eager to monitor this season. Daniel Theis has also returned but I believe Williams will overshadow Theis this season and ultimately take the starting position, not to mention Tristan Thompson is now in Boston. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Celtics handle their depth at center this season. I believe Theis ultimately becomes the odd man out but that remains to be seen. Don’t forget that Gordon Hayward is now in Charlotte. Without Heyward, expect offensive usage to shift towards Brown, Tatum, and Walker (depending on the matchup). I am very excited to invest in this Boston lineup early and often throughout this season. I expect the Celtics to hit the ground running.

Daily Fantasy Notes

We know what we are getting with the Celtics. You’re not getting them at a value because they’re good (maybe the best) and everyone knows it. Without an injury, their starting lineup is typically consistent. I will say this, I am eager to invest in a Celtics game stack early on this season. I am fully expecting most DFS players to overlook the extent of Boston’s usage shift without Heyward. Investing in Brown, Tatum, and Walker/Smart for a full game stack could be very lucrative in their first close game of the season. Boston opens their season against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday, December 23rd. The Bucks have opened as - 3 point favorites but I expect this line to shift in favor of Boston by tip-off. This could very well be a lucrative game stack for DraftKings’ Wednesday night, 13-game slate.

 

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Toronto Raptors 2019-2020 record 53-19

Championship Odds: +2500
Conference Odds: +1000

Odds provided by Pointsbet.com

The Raptors parted ways with Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, replacing the two big men by signing Aron Baynes to a multi-year deal. Baynes has many of the skills that Toronto is now in need of without Ibaka and Gasol. The Raptors have held onto their big three which include: Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, and Fred VanVleet. Toronto’s small forward OG Anunoby has the potential to exceed value in the right matchup. Anunoby should see more opportunities with Ibaka on the Clippers. For someone like Anunoby, you’re going to want to roster him when the stats indicate a defensive advantage. Anunoby’s success starts on the defensive end of the court. OG’s salaries on Yahoo, DraftKings, and FanDuel are cheap and exploitable. Another GPP or “guaranteed prize pool” option on the Raptors is shooting guard Matt Thomas. Thomas has proven to be productive and should see ample time off the bench this season. After the All-Star Break last season, Thomas shot 48.2 % from the field averaging 11.2 minutes per game. Thomas has a limited ceiling but should always be considered as a value play when analyzing the Raptors.

Daily Fantasy Notes

Similar to the Celtics, there are not many surprises here. The production will typically come from Toronto’s big three. AAron Baynes should see some massive nights down the road. His current salary is very reasonable to start the season but this will not last long. Matt Thomas is another player to monitor for value purposes but his upside is limited. With that said, the majority of my exposure to the Raptors this season will primarily include Siakam, VanVleet, and/or Lowry. I am not going to get too cute with these Raptors, there are typically teams with more valuable opportunities, one of which is the New York Knicks who are up next.

 

New York Knicks 2019-2020 record 21-45

Championship Odds: +40000
Conference Odds: +20000

Odds provided by Pointsbet.com

The Knicks made solid additions to their roster this offseason with the acquisitions of Austin Rivers and Nerlens Noel as well as the signing of Alec Burks to a one year, 6 million dollar deal. New York’s leading scorer from 2019 (with 19.5 PPG) Julius Randle will be returning for his 7th NBA season. Obi Toppin, the Knicks 1st round, 8th overall selection from the 2020 NBA Draft is looking very impressive so far this preseason. He’s averaging 25.0 minutes per game while exuding confidence and a high basketball IQ. The combination of Toppin and Randle could be a force to reckon with in the Eastern Conference. Both Power Forward’s are sizable with three-point capabilities and can still drive hard to the basket. Other than Randle, returning Knicks include Elfrid Payton, R.J. Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox, Reggie Bullock, Dennis Smith Jr., and Frank Ntilikina. Don’t be surprised if the Knicks make a run this season!

Daily Fantasy Notes 

Watch out for the Knicks. Preconceived Knicks bias aside, I do like what I’ve seen this preseason. Obi Toppin has looked solid over 102 total minutes of preseason action. Elfrid Payton has slate-breaking potential at an often reasonable salary. Most recently, his best outing was in the Knicks preseason opener. In this game, he totaled 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists to go along with one steal over 27 minutes of play. If Mitchell Robinson can stay out of foul trouble, you’re looking at a center capable of massive upside (consistently) at a valuable salary. What am I getting toward? I’m simply saying that on paper, the Knicks have the talent needed for a playoff run. It’s up to Tom Thibodeau to translate New York’s raw talent into wins. 

Milwaukee Bucks 2019-2020 record 56-17

Championship Odds: +500
Conference Odds: +190

Odds provided by Pointsbet.com

The Bucks are the current favorites to win the 2020 - 2021 NBA Championships at +500. Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, the Bucks have some new additions to their lineup this season including Jrue Holiday, Bobby Portis, and D.J. Augustin. Bryn Forbes and Torrey Craig have joined the Bucks for depth at SG/SF as well. Let’s start with Milwaukee’s big acquisition, Jrue Holiday. Holiday is a huge improvement compared to last year’s point guard, Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe is a solid player, but in my opinion, Holiday is a next-level talent. Jrue has worked on his defense and passing skills over the last two seasons, making him one of the most well-rounded point guards in the NBA. He can drive, spot up, and now distribute and defend! How will this affect the Bucks as a whole? Holiday will look to run the point, creating space and easy baskets for Middleton and Giannis. With that said, I do think Giannis’ overall statistical production will decrease this season. With Holiday running the point, it’s only natural for some of Milwaukee’s offensive usage to shift his way. Does that mean Holiday and Antetokounmpo will have a negative correlation? No, not at all. I’m just saying that Giannis’ ceiling, or “potential upside”, last season might be slightly higher than his projected ceiling(s) for this upcoming season. This is because the Bucks have one more mouth to feed in former Pelican, Jrue Holiday. Brook Lopez is as viable as ever and Robin Lopez is now with the Washington Wizards. With Robin Lopez in D.C., Bobby Portis will take over as the backup PF/C. 

Daily Fantasy Notes

Before investing in Milwaukee, It’s worth the wait to see how the Bucks perform with Jrue Holiday at the point. I am confident that Holiday will succeed in Milwaukee but a part of me believes that there will be a period of time where they need to figure out exactly how Holiday fits in this offense. The Bucks have the talent, I just need to see it before investing heavily in them. You will not get Holiday, Antetokounmpo, or Middleton at value salaries. If you’re paying up for Milwaukee's expensive players, you’re hoping for massive team totals with high correlations.

 

Philadelphia 76ers 2019-2020 record 43-30

Championship Odds: +2000
Conference Odds: +800

Odds provided by Pointsbet.com

The 76ers have acquired Dwight Howard, Danny Green, and Seth Curry this offseason but more importantly Doc Rivers. Green looks to bounce back from a shaky performance in the 2020 NBA Championship. Curry on the other hand is coming into his own nicely. Returning starters for the 76ers include Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, and Ben Simmons. Dwight Howard should get a solid amount of run if Embiid is sidelined or in foul trouble. The 76ers also have Shake Milton returning. Milton has been playing very well this preseason. I expect big things this season from Philly’s backup point guard.

Daily Fantasy Notes

The 76ers often produce very valuable plays. Unlike the Celtics and Raptors, who rely more on their “Big 3”, the 76ers have some well-priced options who carry upside (starting and off the bench). In the right matchups players like Milton, Korkmaz, Curry, Thybulle, Green, Scott, and more all provide valuable upside. Make sure you’re checking confirmed lineups before lock to see the matchup and injuries. NBA DFS starts with value and value starts with changes to the starting lineup. The Rotoworld Optimizer will provide you with updated projections for the ultimate advantage on the field.

 

Chicago Bulls 2019-2020 record 22-43

Championship Odds: +20000
Conference Odds: +9000

Odds provided by Pointsbet.com

Besides the Bulls selecting Patrick Williams with their fourth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Chicago did not make many moves this offseason. Notable returns include Zach LaVine, Coby White, Lauri Markkanen, and Tomas Satoransky. Otto Porter, Denzel Valentine, Lauri Markkanen, and Thaddeus Young are expected to hold down the SF/PF position with Luke Kornet, Daniel Gafford, and Wendell Carter all competing for minutes at center. Coby White is the player that I am most interested in investing in early and often this season. Daily Fantasy wise, at the right price, you can’t go wrong. 

Daily Fantasy Notes

The Bulls have some solid mid-range players (salary-wise) who carry massive upside. Coby White is going to have a great season. He’s coming into his own and is gaining confidence by the day. Tomas Satoransky has now taken a back seat to the 2nd year guard out of North Carolina, Coby White. Otto Porter Jr. and Denzel Valentine are two players always worth a look. Lauri Markkanen is a three-point shooting threat while still averaging 6.3 rebounds per game last season. Lastly, how productive do we expect Patrick Williams to be? The fourth overall pick out of Florida state is believed to be NBA ready and I do see him entering the starting lineup sooner rather than later. The Bulls have tons of potential this season. In a weak Eastern Conference, expect them to make a splash.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers 2019-2020 record 19-46

Championship Odds: +50000
Conference Odds: +20000

Odds provided by Pointsbet.com

The Cleveland Cavaliers are at the bottom of the list with the New York Knicks for worst odds in the league to win the Conference/Championship. Do they deserve to be so low? Probably. That doesn’t mean we can’t benefit from their questionable defense and fast pace play. The Cavs’ have some very talented players starting with their guards in Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. Both are capable offensively but defensively, not so good. In 2019-2020, Cleveland allowed opposing point guards to score an average of 23.5 points per game and opposing shooting guards to score an average of 24.4 points per game. These numbers have Cleveland in the bottom 5% in the NBA. Targeting these guards defensively has always been a successful strategy of mine. At small forward Cleveland has tons of talent. Cedi Osman, Kevin Porter Jr., and talented Rookie Isaac Okoro could all be potential starters. It will be interesting to see how Cleveland spreads out the minutes at this position. Moving onto the bigs, we have Andre Drummond, Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr., and JaVale McGee. While Larry Nance Jr. is more of a power forward, between Drummond and McGee, Cleveland should be good to go holding down the paint. 

Daily Fantasy Notes

The Cavaliers are a great team to invest in as well as target defensively. As I mentioned above, Sexton and Garland have difficulties maintaining production from opposing guards (both SG and PG) allowing an average of 24.0 points over the 2019-2020 season. Cleveland compensates for their poor defense with high pace and solid offense. Andre Drummond is always an option. Drummond averaged 17.7 points to go along with 15.2 rebounds per game last season. Cleveland’s big man is still a formidable force under the basket and worth an elite salary in all fantasy formats. To answer my original question, “Do the Cavs deserve their shockingly long odds to win the conference or Championship?” No, I don’t think they do. If this team can tighten things up defensively, they have a shot to be successful this season. This team has potential. You heard it here first.

 

Brooklyn Nets 2019-2020 record 35-37

Championship Odds: +600
Conference Odds: +275

Odds provided by Pointsbet.com

We’ve all been waiting for the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving show for quite some time now. Will the hype prevail? No, I don’t believe it will. This article is full of controversial takes but I have to stick to what I see. Can the Nets make the Playoffs? Sure, for me the Eastern Conference is wide open after the third-fourth seed. But are they worth 6 to 1 Championship odds? No way! Kyrie and Durant need time to mesh. I have no doubt these two superstars can score. It’s the defensive end that concerns me. With DeAndre Jordan and Jarrett Allen returning I was able to consider the DvP stats (Defense vs. Position) for the center position from last season still valid. The Nets allowed 39.69 fantasy points per game to opposing centers, ranking them 21st in the NBA. Joe Harris and Tyler Johnson are two players I will be monitoring closely. The Nets have talent but they still need proven success. The Nets are not worth their +275 conference odds, +550 to +650 is a more accurate portrayal of their potential. 

Daily Fantasy Notes

The Nets are overpriced considering we do not know how they will look with Kevin Durant as of yet. Yes, we’ve seen some preseason action but to me, that means very little. On Opening Night, before I pay $9,800 on DraftKings for Kevin Durant or $8,500 for Kyrie Irving (much more reasonable but still) I need to know that the Nets can compete with Golden State, who now have a healthy Stephen Curry, Draymond Green as well as newly acquired Kelly Oubre. I need to know that this game will be competitive enough for Durant and Irving to not be on the bench in the fourth quarter. Until I see them consistently defend well and beat a proven team, these Opening Night prices are a tad too high for me. 

 

Atlanta Hawks 2019-2020 record 20-47

Championship Odds: +10000
Conference Odds: +5000

Odds provided by Pointsbet.com

The Atlanta Hawks were involved in a four-team trade this offseason where they received Clint Capela. Capela is underrated if you ask me. Capela has been on the Houston Rockets for his entire six-year career. I believe the change in offenses benefits Capela. Trae Young will be able to distribute the ball nicely to Capela when driving to the basket. In Houston, with Harden at the point, it was tougher for Clint to fully display his talents. I am expecting a career year from Atlanta’s new center. Notable returning starters include John Collins, DeAndre Hunter, and Trae Young. Danilo Gallinari is another addition that I love for this Atlanta team. While John Collins is a very talented offensive player, his defense is lacking. Gallo will be a defensive presence off the bench this season simultaneously capable of massive offensive production. Give me the odds on the Hawks over the Nets for season-long success any day.

Daily Fantasy Notes

The Hawks have a really good chance of exceeding expectations this season. Trae Young is as consistent as it gets and with the addition of Clint Capela, the two should correlate very nicely. Danilo Gallinari is an amazing addition. Look for Gallo to be a viable value play if he is coming off the bench. Lastly, Onyeka Okongwu is the 6th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. The 6’9, 245 lbs power forward out of USC could be a solid value play on occasion but behind Capela, he’s limited for now.

 

Charlotte Hornets 2019-2020 record 23-42

Championship Odds: +40000
Conference Odds: +15000

Odds provided by Pointsbet.com

Yet another “bad” team with horrible odds that I just don’t agree with. NBA future Odds should portray some kind of idea of the potential a given team has. Well in a weak Eastern Conference, some of these lesser teams could have a real shot at making a run. The Charlotte Hornets are another one of these teams. The Hornets have some real talent including Terry Rozier, P.J. Washington, Terry Rozier, Devonte Graham, and Rookie LaMelo Ball. Ball has been playing very well so far this preseason. I expect him to run Charlotte’s second unit with relative ease this season. This kid is seemingly something special. I am very excited for his Rookie season. Gordon Hayward is a Charlotte Hornet this season. He may start the season slightly banged up but I do expect him to be a big part of this offense long term. This Charlotte team has more potential than their futures would indicate. Don’t be surprised if the Hornets make some magic this season.

Daily Fantasy Notes

From the Daily Fantasy perspective, there’s value all over this team. Rozier often exceeds value at midrange salary while carrying a very high ceiling. P.J. Washington typically has a high floor which is crucial for cash game value. Devonte Graham has the opportunity to step his production up in a big way this season. And down low, Cody Zeller is another player with 40+ fantasy point potential. Look out for these Hornets as well. The Eastern Conference is wide open.

 

Detroit Pistons 2019-2020 record 20-46

Championship Odds: +40000
Conference Odds: +15000

Odds provided by Pointsbet.com

At the same season odds as the Hornets, the Pistons are a team that I will not be going to often this season. Their guards aren’t horrible in Derrick Rose, Delon Wright, and Rookie Killian Hayes. This year's 7th overall pick, Hayes will be one of the few Pistons I will be interested in early this season. Hayes has huge potential as well as the potential for ample minutes. Most importantly Hayes will be at low salaries around the industry to start the season. Roster him at these salaries while you can. Jahlil Okafor has joined the Pistons this season along with Mason Plumlee. Both centers will be new to this system with Plumlee coming from Denver and Okafor coming from New Orleans. Blake Griffin is set to lead this team again this season but is now 31 years old. Is this the year where he can’t do it all by himself anymore? Could be. Lastly, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is a three-point threat. He shot 40.4% from beyond the arc attempting 5.1 three’s per game last season.

Daily Fantasy Notes

The Pistons should have a tough go of things this season. Blake Griffin can’t prop up this team like he used to, not to mention he is often overpriced. This should result in some big games for aggressive players like Derrick Rose and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk but overall I foresee Detroit playing from behind more often than not. It comes down to the play of Griffin. If he is up to carry this team, success is possible but if not, this team simply doesn’t have the firepower or defensive ability to keep up with many teams in the Eastern Conference. 

 

Orlando Magic 2019-2020 record 33-40

Championship Odds: +17500
Conference Odds: +8000

Odds provided by Pointsbet.com

The Orlando Magic have most of their team returning this season. Notable additions include Dwayne Bacon, and the 16th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Chuma Okeke. Okeke is a talented, 6’8, 230 lbs power forward out of Auburn University. He averaged 24.4 points and 15 rebounds a game in his final year of college ball. Okeke is also a solid defender averaging 2.6 steals per game through his last season as an Auburn Tiger. I expect Orlando to play a heavy two-man game this season between Markelle Fultz and Nikola Vucevic. Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier become secondary options. For the record, Gordon played much better than Fournier this preseason. I am concerned about Fournier’s current role with this team but we’ll find out shortly.

Daily Fantasy Notes

Nikola Vucevic is as steady as they come. If you can understand his strengths and weaknesses (as well as his opponents’ strengths and weaknesses), his performances become very predictable. He carries a massive upside and can benefit from a variety of stats. Vuc is one of my top players to watch this season as we approach Opening Night. Vuc is still just 30 years old. Markelle Fultz is another player I expect big things from this season. Micheal Carter Wiliams will be breathing down his back but considering last year’s success from Orlando’s two-man game between Fultz and Vucevic, it would be hard to see them sway away from that strategy too much. Orlando starters are typically reasonably priced, especially Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier. Sign me up for exposure to the Magic (in the right matchups) this season.

 

Miami Heat 2019-2020 record 44-29

Championship Odds: +2000
Conference Odds: +800

Odds provided by Pointsbet.com

The Miami Heat are a solid team. You have Jimmy Butler at small forward, Bam Adebayo protecting the rim, and extremely talented guards in Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro, and Kendrick Nunn. Kelly Olynyk has looked great this preseason and should be considered as a value play on any given slate where you believe Bam will not perform due to matchup or foul trouble. Herro has exceeded all expectations. He averaged 13.5 points while shooting 42.8 % from the field. Herro also shot 38.9% from the three-point line. When Butler is out, lock in Herro, it’s as simple as that.

Daily Fantasy Notes

Miami is talented but what’s available in terms of value? Butler is often overpriced, Bam is talented but you’re not getting him for cheap, even Herro is priced through the roof and that’s with Butler completely healthy. If investing in Miami, I’d do it on a night where injury forces someone like Nunn or Olynyk to start resulting in extra usage and minutes. Another value play on Miami could be their second-round pick in this year's NBA Draft KZ Okpala. Okpala is a 6’8 215 lbs, 21-year-old forward out of Stanford. 

 

Washington Wizards 2019-2020 record 25-47

Championship Odds: +12500
Conference Odds: +6000

Odds provided by Pointsbet.com

I was surprised to see the Wizards at such favorable odds to win the Conference. The Washington Wizards O/U for total wins for the regular season is sitting at 32.5 on pointsbet.com. This is 7.5 games higher than last year's total. With only 72 regular-season games being played by each team this season (eight fewer games than the 19-20 season) I was confused and still am. The Wizards now have Russell Westbrook and have let John Wall move onto Houston. With that said, I don’t think one player translates into immediate success, even if that one player is Westbrook. I do think Washington struggles with Westbrook this season in terms of wins and losses. With that said, does Westbrook hit value fantasy-wise? Most nights, yeah sure but a 32.5 O/U for total wins is slightly unrealistic. It’s important to understand which factors benefit a team's overall success and which benefit a player for daily fantasy.

Daily Fantasy Notes

I do think Washington will struggle in terms of wins and losses this season. At the same, I expect Russel Westbrook to perform well individually. The offensive depth on Washington is limited at best. Aside from Westbrook and Beal, very few Wizards can consistently provide production. I expect Rus’ usage to be through the roof. Bradley Beal, Rui Hachimura (OUT for the first three weeks of the season), and Thomas Bryant are your next best offensive options. Is Westbrook going to hit Beal off a screen? Or is Westbrook going to utilize his ability to penetrate the defense to create opportunities for Beal? Too much uncertainty here. 

 

Indiana Pacers 2019-2020 record 45-28

Championship Odds: +10000
Conference Odds: +4000

Odds provided by Pointsbet.com

The Pacers have a healthy Melcom Brogdon, Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis going into the season for the first time in a while. The Pacers will look to use Aaron Holiday and Justin Holiday more this season while giving T.J. Warren his normal workload. This team is filled with veteran talent and experience. Jeremy Lamb and T.J. McConnell perform well in value scenarios and sometimes a punt play like Doug McDermott will pay off. Not a ton of change this season for the Pacers. We should know what to expect from a Pacers team who have a league-high, 13 returning players from last season. 

Daily Fantasy Notes

The Pacers have some trends worth looking into considering they’ve been together for a while now. For example, Myles Turner can rack up steals and blocks in bunches but simultaneously he allows high allowed averages on the defensive end. T.J. Warren, Malcolm Brogdon, and Domantas Sabonis offer you the highest upsides but you won’t be getting these players cheap. The Indiana Pacers are a team worth monitoring. They offer upside, value plays, as well as viable punt plays. 

Louis Cangiano

Louis Cangiano has been an avid DFS player since his freshman year of college at the University of Rhode Island. Now a 3x live finalist, Louis is currently a full-time Daily Fantasy Player, having previously provided content at: DFSArmy, TheQuantEdge, EliteFantasy and SiriusXM Radio, specializing in MLB and NBA GPP plays. You can find Louis on Twitter @JaguarDFS.