Daily Fantasy Basketball: 10 Early-Season Usage Rates to Monitor
After a trio of long-awaited NBA nights, every team has now played at least one game.
While one or two games can't tell us everything about a team or player, it can give us an indication of what could come.
As a matter of fact, a few of these players have put up big usage rates in the past. Others were very widely expected to take on more usage in a new year. Others still might be more of a surprise. But, all these players have one thing in common: they control the ball plenty.
What can we forecast for each player this season? And what does that mean for their respective season-long and daily fantasy values?
Look no further for the answers.
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
In his long-awaited NBA debut, "The Process" did not disappoint. He was supposed to play a limit of 20 minutes, but ended up playing 22 due to the close nature of the contest with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Even in that little amount of time, Joel Embiid was a monster, with a usage rate of 47.8%.
When he was on the floor, the offense ran through him. The big man scored 20 points and hoisted a shot once every 1.3 minutes for a total of 17 field goal attempts, which included 1 of 3 from the three-point line. He also added seven rebounds in less than two quarters of play.
Going forward, expect Embiid to put up per-game numbers worthy of a valuable roster spot in season-long leagues. Depending on his price ($4,700 on FanDuel last game) he's worth consideration in cash games, but that's it for now due to his minutes cap.
DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors
We all know about the importance of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan to the Toronto Raptors. On Wednesday night, it was DeRozan who put the team on his back in a big way as Toronto downed Detroit. The Raptors' wing man used 44.8% of his team's possessions while on the court, and amassed 40 points on 17 of 27 shooting (6 of 6 from the free-throw line) in 34.5 minutes.
With how he possessed the ball, it's not much of a surprise that he had six turnovers. But, if you're a Toronto fan you'll probably take that 40 points any given night. The same goes for season-long fantasy owners, who love the efficient shooting, free throws, and points.
DeRozan and company take on the Cleveland Cavaliers in an Eastern Conference Finals rematch tonight. It's not a good spot for DeRozan, especially when you consider the fact that his price jumped $300 since last game. If he sustains this kind of usage, however,
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
After one game against the Denver Nuggets, Anthony Davis' usage stands at 44.5%. What happens when The Brow uses that many possession? In over 40 minutes of play, Davis racked up 50 points on 17 of 34 shooting and 16 of 17 from the charity stripe in 41.2 minutes! He also added 5 assists and 16 boards in the best first game of the season in NBA history.
Some people were wary of Davis and his ongoing injury troubles coming into this season. He slid in fantasy drafts -- which makes him a crazy value pick.
In a nutshell, with some key Pelican players out, Davis is New Orleans' everything. So, get it while the getting's hot. Davis' price for tonight's meeting with the Golden State Warriors is now $600 steeper, but we've seen his ability to pay off any price tag while healthy.
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
DeMarcus Cousins only played 24.7 minutes in the Sacramento Kings' 19-point blowout of the Phoenix Suns a couple nights ago. That being said, Cousins' usage rate of 38.9% is that much more impressive. And, through two games, Boogie has averages of 30.5 points (50% shooting), 11 rebounds and 2 assists in 31 minutes a game.
Unlike Davis, Cousins wasn't underestimated in fantasy drafts this season. He's playing like the number eight overall pick he is. He's shown that he's definitely capable of performing up to his steep DFS price, too. In last night's game against the San Antonio Spurs, Boogie had 58.2 FanDuel points at a cost of $9,800. That's a value of 5.94 points per $1,000.
You should expect nothing less from Cousins as the season rolls on. He had a usage rate of 35.4% a year ago. He faces the Minnesota Timberwolves in tomorrow night's daily fantasy slate.
James Harden, Houston Rockets
James Harden always acted like a point guard. He's had a usage rate north of 31% over the past two seasons as a "shooting guard." Now, he's classified as such and has seen a 5% increase in usage in one game so far. He posted 34 points on 9 of 19 shooting, with 17 assists to 7 turnovers in 37.2 minutes against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Those types of numbers contributed to Harden's 64.1 FanDuel points and a value of 5.72 based on a ridiculous salary of $11,200. So long as he's running point in a Mike D'Antoni offense, he should continue to outplay his hefty price tag.
Tonight, the Houston Rockets travel to Dallas to take on the Mavericks in what should be a high-scoring game. It's surprising that Harden's cost is merely $100 more. He'll be a prime target in all contests, now and throughout the season.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said that he thought Damian Lillard could very well win the MVP this year. Why not? Lillard has a usage of 36.8% through two games. As a result, he's tallied 34 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 35.8 minutes a game. He's shooting a fantastic 54.5% from the field.
With the combination of volume and efficiency Lillard is exhibiting, the sky is the limit for any fantasy purposes. He will continue to be a top 15 asset in fantasy hoops. In daily, he's priced appropriately at an average of $9,000 through two nights of play. His 48.2 FanDuel points per game is over five times value for his salary.
The Trail Blazers are at the Nuggets tomorrow night -- a situation that points to Lillard as a great option to exercise. MVP (and fantasy MVP) is definitely in the cards.
Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
Kawhi Leonard is unalike many of these players in that he's not used to being the primary offensive weapon for this team. His usage of 35.0% is nearly 10% superior to that in the 2015-16 season and nearly 15% more than his career average.
That explains his career-high 35 points against the Warriors, and his career-high season average of 32.5 points across two games. It's not only his scoring that makes fantasy owners happy. Leonard is shooting 50% from the field and 100% from the line and has added 4 assists and 5 steals per game.
It's a new beginning in San Antonio. They have one of the absolute best all-around players in the game. The Spurs will play their home opener Saturday night when they take on the Pelicans. Leonard, with an average of 51.8 FanDuel points, is poised to exceed his salary-expected total (whatever it may be) once again.
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers
Even more so than Leonard and DeRozan, Kevin Love is much more of an eye-opener. Considering the presence of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, no one would expect Love to have a usage rate of 34.7% -- the highest on the team. His 23 points are second on the team to Irving, but Love also grabbed 12 rebounds, dished out 2 assists, and nailed 2 three-balls in a mere 25 minutes.
That says a lot about his usage, but also more about the fact that head coach Tyronn Lue staggered his stars' minutes in game one of the season. This stat sheet-stuffing performance was great for fantasy owners, and it is encouraging to see the jump in usage, but it's bound to regress. It was only 23.4% a year ago.
So, with that in mind, Love isn't likely to blow past 40 FanDuel points tonight against a tough Toronto team. While he might be a good cash play tonight -- and any night really -- he's only a tournament play in very weak matchups.
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
Devin Booker is in an entirely different boat than that of Love. He's in a situation to thrive on usage and minutes. Despite suffering through foul trouble in his first game of 2016-17, Booker showed signs of capitalizing on his opportunity. He played 24.6 minutes due to foul trouble, but the encouraging news is that he still played that many minutes and racked up a usage rate of 34.4%. That rate is 9% more than his fellow guard Eric Bledsoe.
In the time he spent on the court, Booker scored 18 points on 8 of 12 shooting and contributed 3 assists. This is the type of production you'll get form Booker. He'll score and throw in a few assists and rebounds to go with his outstanding shooting from the field and from deep. Don't be fooled by the raw numbers -- he's a key to the Suns and will use a lot of possessions this season as he develops.
The Suns operate at one of the league's highest paces, so while you can, take advantage of a high-usage player in that kind of offense. Tonight is as good a time as any, as the Suns take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in what should be a high-scoring game. At a reduced price of $6,100, Booker's a good bet to exceed or at least meet 30 FanDuel points. His price will rise in no time.
Bojan Bogdanovic, Brooklyn Nets
In a list among stars and budding stars, Bojan Bogdanovic is pretty much a nobody. But, don't tell him that. If the first game was any indication, Bogdanovic is a big part of what Brooklyn's doing this season. He posted a usage of 33.6% and poured in 21 points on 9 of 17 shooting (3 of 8 from three), accompanied by 5 boards.
Not bad, huh? It would be better if he got more minutes, though. He played just over 23 minutes, which makes his usage and numbers unbelievable. In deeper leagues, the Nets guard is probably out there, so it wouldn't be a bad idea to put in a claim and hope he sees more run in coming weeks.
In daily fantasy, Bogdanovic is the definition of a dart throw at this point. His price tag is still only $4,200, but you can't count on him to get the minutes to meet that 21-point expectation. For now, throw him in a tournament if you'd like -- particularly against a fast-paced Indiana team at home this evening. Otherwise, wait to see if he grabs more minutes in the Brooklyn rotation.