NBA DFS: The Biggest Winners and Losers Heading Into the Restart
Life inside the NBA bubble is underway as players have started reporting to Orlando for the season's resumption. The impending return of the NBA means that NBA DFS is right around the corner, and NBA contests are already back in FanDuel's main lobby.
The return of NBA DFS is going to be super interesting as the NBA heads into the unknown with this whole restart. Specifically, there have been quite a few players opting out due to testing positive for COVID-19 or preferring staying home to be with their families, and that will impact roles for players the rest of the way -- which will be a huge factor in DFS.
This will be different than anything the league has ever seen, and predicting how individual players will fare in their return isn't easy to do. But here we are. Taking what we know so far with who's in and who's out, here are five winners and five losers from a DFS perspective heading into the NBA's restart.
Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets
The Nets signed Jamal Crawford and Michael Beasley to add depth and offensive firepower to their depleted roster. It remains to be seen what kind of impact those two will have, but the Nets should be a fun offense to watch
Caris LeVert should be the primary scorer and offensive engine for this new-look Nets squad after averaging 17.7 points, 4.1 assists, and 4.1 rebounds on the season. He has the highest usage rate of all Nets players without Dinwiddie, Irving, Jordan, and Prince on the floor (36.3%). Without Dinwiddie and Irving, LeVert's usage rate rose to 38.5%, and he averaged 1.39 fantasy points per minute in the split, per NBAWowy.
LeVert should eat.
Jarrett Allen should also get a boost. The big man is averaging 10.6 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks, and he's shooting 64.6% from the field. He is putting up a career high in rebounding rate (38%). Allen has averaged 0.91 FanDuel points per minute this season without Kyrie, Jordan and Dinwiddie on the court, so his outlook is bright for the restart.
Shabazz Napier and Ish Smith, Washington Wizards
With Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans off the floor, Shabazz Napier led the Wizards in usage rate (39.4%) and fantasy points per minute (1.57). Napier will likely be the starting point guard for the remainder of this season, and we should see some variation of Ish Smith and Troy Brown at the two-guard position. Napier and Smith will likely be asked to score and facilitate more.
Smith should have more chemistry with the Wizards, having played 60 games and starting 19 this season, compared to Napier's 15 games and 8 started. Both should be cheap and rewarding DFS options on a Wizards team that ranks sixth in pace, per Hollinger. The Wizards were hot offensively this season with 115.6 points per game, the second-most in the Eastern Conference, and without Beal or Bertans, the scoring has to come from somewhere.
The salaries for Napier and Smith may rise over time, but at the start, I think they'll be really solid value plays.
Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana Pacers
Early in the season Malcolm Brogdon filled in smoothly with Victor Oladipo out with a leg injury. When Oladipo came back, it dinged Brogdon's outlook. Well, Oladipo will not be back for the restart, and Jeremy Lamb will also be sidelined. Despite his previous positive COVID-19 test, Brogdon is ready to go.
Brogdon ranks 27th across the league with a 24.7% usage rate, and his usage rate is a team-high 27.2% when Lamb and Oladipo aren't on the floor. Sans Oladipo, Brogdon averages 1.14 FanDuel points per minute. When sharing the floor with Oladipo, Brogdon's usage rate dipped to 21.8%, and he averaged 0.99 FD points per minute.
Oladipo sitting out is clearly a huge boon for Brogdon's DFS outlook.
Another Pacer who could get a boost down the stretch is Aaron Holiday, who averaged 0.48 FD points per minute with Oladipo on the floor and 0.84 FD points per minutes without Oladipo.
Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers
On the court with LeBron, Markieff Morris (1.11) and Rajon Rondo (0.96) average more fantasy points per minute than Kyle Kuzma (0.84) does, but when Anthony Davis and James are off the court, Kuzma had been a go-to guy -- recording a whopping 31.7% usage rate without the Lakers' superstar duo, compared to a 18.7% mark with them.
The two new signees will help make up for Avery Bradley's departure as he's opted out of the restart, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is expected to fill Bradley's spot as the starting shooting guard. Kuzma is putting up career-low clips in points (12.5), rebounds (4.5), assists (1.3), field goal percentage (43.2%), three-point percentage (29.7%), games played (54) and games started (7) this season.
As Kuzma is expected to remain a bench asset, the signings of Smith and Waiters may take away from Kuzma's production when AD and LeBron are off the floor, which isn't all that often to begin with.
Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors
Pascal Siakam is having another stellar season, racking up career-high marks in points (23.6), rebounds (7.5), and assists (3.6) for the Toronto Raptors. Losing Kawhi Leonard meant Siakam had to take a production leap, and he's done just that, leading Toronto to the second-best record in the East (46-18). The Raptors dealt with injuries to their entire roster pre-break, and this restart with be the first time most of the team's core nine have played together this season.
The return of Serge Ibaka, Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, Norman Powell, and Fred VanVleet -- to name a few -- gives the Raptors a much different lineup than what they dealt with during the season. Add in the fact Siakam reportedly hasn't shot a basketball for about three months, and there's some cause for concern.
It should take Toronto a few games to find a rhythm as a unit, and with the team fully loaded, Siakam's usage may drop a tad.
Mike Conley, Utah Jazz
Mike Conley is expected to miss time -- possibly part of the postseason -- for the birth of his child. With a lot of players opting out because of COVID-19 and protecting their families, Conley could be the next player to stay home. But even when Conley is playing during the restart, his already poor numbers from this season make him an unattractive DFS play.
Overall Conley was putting up his worst average points per game (13.7) since 2011-12 (12.7). His signing with the Jazz last summer was expected to lift the Utah Jazz offensively and defensively. But it hasn't happened quite yet as Conley is recording his worst Player Efficiency Rating since his rookie season (13.78).
Could the absence of Bojan Bogdanovic help? It doesn't look like it.
During the season, Conley averaged 0.88 FanDuel points per minute without Bogdanovic on the floor, compared to 0.89 with Bogdanovic on it. His usage rate also took a similar slight drop without Bogdanovic.
Shake Milton and Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers
Shake Milton became an essential part of the Philadelphia 76ers' offense over the last 20 games of the season, especially with Ben Simmons missing time. Without Simmons on the floor, Milton was averaging a 21.3% usage rate and 1.00 fantasy points per minute. With Simmons back, Milton should be less of a factor.
Milton is, however, expected to remain in the starting lineup beside Simmons. But with Simmons, Embiid, and Tobias Harris on the floor, Milton is averaging just a 17% usage rate, the lowest of the four.
Harris' outlook takes a hit, too. He is averaging fewer FanDuel points per minute (0.72) and real-life points per minute (0.35) than Milton (0.74 and 0.35, respectively) when on the floor with Embiid and Simmons.
It's unclear whether Josh Richardson, Al Horford, or Matisse Thybulle will earn time in the starting lineup, but Milton and Harris do much better when Embiid and Simmons are off the court -- something that doesn't figure to happen nearly as much the rest of the way.