The NBA is back, baby! Things got underway with a two-game slate on Tuesday, but we’re back in the full swing of things with an 11-game slate on Wednesday. Let’s break down some of the top studs and values at each position to help you build your DraftKings lineups.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers vs. Sacramento Kings ($10,100) – Lillard is coming off another tremendous season last season. He averaged 28.8 points, 7.5 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game, resulting in an average of 48.25 DraftKings points per game.
He stands out as one of the top studs on Wednesday’s slate. The Blazers own an elite matchup vs. the Kings, who were the worst defensive team in the league last season. Not much is expected to change with the Kings this season, and the Blazers’ implied team total of 118.75 is the top mark on the slate.
Other Options – LaMelo Ball ($7,700), Fred VanVleet ($7,500)
Spencer Dinwiddie, Washington Wizards @ Toronto Raptors ($4,900) – Dinwiddie was limited to just three games last season due to a torn ACL, but he’s primed for a big season with the Wizards. He should serve as the team’s No. 2 option offensively, and Dinwiddie should flourish in that role. He filled a similar role for the Nets in 2019-20 and averaged 20.6 points and 6.8 assists per game.
Dinwiddie played well during the preseason, averaging 1.08 DKFP per minute, and he should see around 30 minutes on opening night. He’s massively underpriced at the moment.
Other Options – Tyrese Maxey ($4,000), De’Anthony Melton ($3,600)
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards @ Toronto Raptors ($9,500) – Beal could be set up for a career year. Russell Westbrook is gone, and Dinwiddie is not going to command nearly the same usage rate on offense. Beal increased his usage rate to a whopping 40.5% with Westbrook off the court last season, resulting in an average of 1.47 DKFP per minute. He finished second in the league in scoring last year, and it’s not hard to envision him leading the league in that department this year.
Other Options – Zach LaVine ($8,700), CJ McCollum ($7,200)
Bones Hyland, Denver Nuggets @ Phoenix Suns ($3,000) – “Bones” was selected with the No. 26 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, and he’s going to play a large role for the Nuggets right out of the gates. He led all rookies in scoring during the preseason, and the Nuggets have an opening at point guard given the injury to Jamal Murray. Hyland averaged 1.07 DKFP per minute during the preseason, so he doesn’t need a ton of playing time to pay off his minimum salary.
Other Options – Jalen Green ($4,200), Jalen Suggs ($4,000)
Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans vs. Philadelphia 76ers ($7,700) – Ingram should be asked to do most of the scoring for the Pelicans on Wednesday. He increased his usage rate by a whopping +10.1% with Zion Williamson off the court last season, resulting in an average of 1.23 DKFP per minute.
Ingram starts the season with a tough matchup vs. the 76ers, but they may not be the same team defensively without Ben Simmons. They allowed an additional +3.1 points per 100 possessions with Simmons off the court last year, which was the highest mark on the team. Ingram is also underpriced on DraftKings.
Other Options – Michael Porter Jr. ($6,400), OG Anunoby ($6,100)
Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies vs. Cleveland Cavaliers ($3,200) – Bane should be asked to play more minutes in his sophomore season, and he averaged a strong 0.99 DKFP per minute during the preseason. He’s dirt-cheap at just $3,200 on DraftKings, making him a nice potential source of savings.
Other Options – Josh Giddey ($3,800), Franz Wagner ($3,000)
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks ($9,400) – Tatum feels a bit expensive compared to some of the other options on opening night, but he would still be worth considering if Jaylen Brown is ruled out. Brown is currently questionable due to COVID-19, and Tatum increased his usage rate by 3.8 percentage points with Brown off the court last season. He averaged 1.37 DKFP per minute in that situation, so he would have some increased upside in that situation.
Other Options – Tobias Harris ($7,600), Jerami Grant ($6,500)
Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies vs. Cleveland Cavaliers ($5,900) – Last season was a bit of a lost season for Jackson. He spent most of the year sidelined with injuries, and he struggled to get going when he returned to the lineup. That said, he looked healthy during the preseason, averaging 1.26 DKFP per minute. Jackson has an elite skill set for a big man given his ability to knock down 3-pointers and block shots. He should see plenty of playing time this season with Jonas Valanciunas now in New Orleans, so this might be the cheapest he’ll be all year.
Other Options – Keldon Johnson ($5,100), Precious Achiuwa ($3,100)
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers @ New Orleans Pelicans ($10,600) – Embiid should be the biggest beneficiary of Simmons’ absence. He posted a ridiculous 43% usage rate with Simmons off the court last season, resulting in an average of more than 1.8 DKFP per minute. That’s an absurd figure.
He shouldn’t face much resistance from the Pelicans on opening night. Their defense wasn’t good to begin with last season, and they allowed an additional +2.0 points per 100 possessions with Williamson off the court.
Other Options – Nikola Jokic ($10,400), Nikola Vucevic ($9,000)
Robert Williams, Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks ($5,100) – Williams was a per-minute monster at times last season, and he should see a boost in playing time to start the season. Tristan Thompson is gone, and Al Horford is currently sidelined due to health and safety protocols. Williams has historically played at least 20 minutes in nine games with a comparable salary, and he averaged more than 32 DKFP in those contests. He should see at least 25 minutes on opening night, so this is a great price tag for Williams.
Other Options – Mo Bamba ($5,700), Evan Mobley ($4,500)
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