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NBA DFS is among us in preseason form. In NBA DFS understanding minutes are extremely important and that is especially the case in the preseason. Figuring out which coaches are likely to play their guys will provide a good baseline and the only way to really know is to dig into it. To score fantasy points you need to be on the court that is the bottom line. Once you understand who’s going to play then you can try to determine match-up and other determinants.
Some NBA Coaches can be tough to predict while others are fairly easy though in the preseason it seems as though most are fairly tough and in some cases are unsure of how much they will end up letting their guys play. Information is key in NBA Preseason DFS.
We will be covering a lot of these preseason slates but the larger ones will most likely be covered by some sort of cheat sheet. Since this slate is small we went with some analysis.
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NOTE TO ALL: Be sure to check back for updates we more information comes out.
Orlando Magic vs Detroit Pistons
The Magic have already had a preseason game and their starters played from 15-19 minutes. Maybe they get a tad more today but this is what I would expect at least in the early going.
Mo Bamba played 19 minutes off the bench and you would think that is likely to continue as this is the time for the youngster to get a lot of work. In the 20 minutes Mo Bamba played he accrued seven rebounds, three blocks, a steal, an assist and 18 points on 7/11 shooting (3-5 from free throw line). Expect his high usage to continue in their second game the question is how long will Andre Drummond play tonight as Drummond figures to be a tougher match-up than the Spurs presented.
Isaac played 20 minutes in the first game which is the most of any Magic starter. More importantly Isaac had five rebounds, an assist, a steal, two blocks and five points on 2-7 shooting. Clearly he had a rough shooting day but seven shots is the third most attempts from the starting five.
Other Options: Al-Farooq Aminu, Aaron Gordon, Michael Carter-Williams, Markelle Fultz
Last year was Dwane Casey’s first year as the Pistons head coach and he played Andre Drummond 34 minutes in his first preseason game against the Thunder. With a shortened preseason some teams have decided to play their guys a healthy dose as Casey played some of his key starters good minutes for most of the preseason. However this year Casey has mentioned limiting his starters and getting a good look at the young players to figure out what rotation he will go with this season. Blake Griffin is coming off of a knee surgery and while he is fully cleared the Pistons have said they were going to try be cautious with him during the regular season.
As mentioned above Andre Drummond played 34 minutes last year in the first preseason game. Blake Griffin is coming off of a knee surgery and while he is cleared to play the Pistons are expected to take it easy with him during the regular season. If this true it’s hard to see Blake playing too much in the preseason meaning Drummond could get more court time with him off the court, this could really help his rebounding upside and general usage. It is worth noting that Drummond has had trouble with Vuc at times due to his perimeter play but it’s hard to envision Vuc playing more than 20 minutes after only getting 15 in the first game. We shouldn’t expect 34 after Casey’s limiting starters comment but if we get 23-26 he could do work and anything else is just gravy.
If Blake Griffin is at all limited Morris could see some extra work at power forward tonight. The team signed him in the off-season and if Casey’s plan is to get his guys work again you would have think Morris is likely to pick those minutes up in addition the minutes he was already planning on playing. Morris isn’t exactly a young guy but
Other Options: Reggie Jackson, Derreck Rose, Luke Kennard, Bruce Brown, Thon Maker
New York Knicks vs Washington Wizards
New York Knicks
David Fizdale is known for being a hot hand type of coach meaning during the regular season he is going to play whoever is playing well in that game. That makes for a nightmare when playing his players and trying project minutes but the Knicks have a lot of fantasy relevant players this year. Last year Fizdale played his main guys around 20 minutes in their preseason debut in a game that went to overtime Fizdale just cleared his bench so we are looking for guys who are likely to get usage while on the court. This team is very deep at forward/center so that is going to be a guessing game with guys who have massive fantasy upside, Bobby Portis is out which may help. The Wizards have no size so the bigs are in a good spot just a matter of guessing which ones are likely to see more time.
Elf has a lot of weapons in this lineup. The Knicks decided to go for depth rather than a star when KD and Kyrie snubbed them. Between Julious Randle, Mitch Robinson and Bobby Portis Elf should have plenty of ways to get assists and we know he also a good rebounder for a point guard. It is worth noting that Dennis Smith Jr. will miss the first four preseason games with a strained back so Elf’s only real back-up is Frank Nitty.
RJ Barrett is in the starting lineup and being that he’s a rookie you’d think Fizdale would want to get a good look at him to determine his true role. Fizdale said he gave Knox the starting role to start the season and he felt he should made Knox earn it. Either way for RJ to get a chance to earn it he’s going to have to play in the preseason to demonstrate where he’s at.
Other Options: Julius Randle, Mitch Robinson, Kevin Knox
The Wizards followed a similar pattern to the Knicks last year in their overtime battle electing to play very few over 20 minutes and clearing their bench. The Wizards are already extremely banged up with Isaiah Thomas, Ian Mahimini and Troy Brown Jr. all already out and CJ Miles, Admiral Schofield and Isaac Bonga all questionable. Beal’s usage this year should be massive as usual but he’s going to have to be efficient as he may only get 20 minutes to work with as the Wizards may elect to play their reserves a lot to determine who will make the final roster. Thin teams are usually a cheat code in NBA DFS so this may be a spot we want to grab some players from. Bradley Beal is worth rostering for sure with how thin this team is the only question is how much will they play him knowing they are most likely starting the regular season with some players injured.
The rookie balled out in summer league and while this is a different level the Wizards super thin especially at the forward and center positions. This may cause Hachimura to play extended minutes as the Wizards debut their Japanese rookie. He’s cheap and he’s more likely to get minutes than some of the older guys being that is preseason.
With Isaiah Thomas out Ish Smith is projected to be the starter. That makes Robinson second on the current depth chard assuming he’s ahead of McCrae. Robinson is an un-drafted rookie from Virginia Tech who is a former Wizards season ticket holder. The hometown kid could be looking at healthy dose is playing time as the team decides who they will start the season as the back-up point guard with Thomas expected to be out till at least November.
The Wizards only have two actual centers on their depth chart and the other is Mahimini who is out. Bertans figures to see some time at center as well but the Wizards just have no size. Bryant is young and while the Wizards may only want him to play 20 minutes or so he is the biggest guy on the team and the Knicks have a bunch of bigs who are great on offense and not so great on defense.
Other Options: Bradley Beal, Ish Smith, Davis Bertans, Jordan McCrae
New Orleans vs Atlanta Hawks
New Orleans Pelicans
We get to see the NBA Preseason debut of Zion Williams. Derrick Favors was held out of a scrimmage two days ago due to hamstring tightness so he is day-to-day and doesn’t figure to get a ton of run tonight being that he is a veteran. Both Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball are returning from injuries but both are cleared to play though it’s hard to imagine them getting a ton of work. Last year Gentry did give some of his guys decent minutes but not everyone.
Alexander-Walker is currently listed as the back-up point guard behind Lonzo Ball. With Ball returning from injury expect him to be somewhat limited giving the rookie some extra playing time. Walker could get some work along with Zion as the Pelicans give the youngsters some time on the court.
With all the hype you have to wonder how much Zion Williamson will play. He didn’t play a ton of summer league and two of his teammates Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram are coming off of injuries from last season. You would think the Pelicans would like to see how Zion plays with different sets but Zion is also going to be popular and Kenrich Williams could end-up getting a lot of work if Zion gets limited.
Other Options: Zion Williamson, Jahil Okafor, Jaxon Hayes (Q), Lonzo Ball
The Hawks didn’t play guys very long in their first preseason game last year but this should be a pretty high scoring and fast paced game making the minutes these teams do get a bit more valuable. Kevin Huerter, Evan Turner, Chandler Parsons and Allen Crabbe are all out making the Hawks fairly thin though the coach did say no one will play more than 25 minutes and most will play 15-20. Cam Reddish is going to be limited to 15 minutes and Alex Len is limited 15-20 minutes. Damian Jones is listed as the starter with Len restricted 15-20 minutes but keep in mind be will be playing with Collins who may limit his upside. Alex Len does seem like a risky GPP play that could pay off as he may get second unit usage alone.
The Hawks are pretty banged up already. Evan Turner is listed as the back-up point guard and he is ruled out along with Chandler Parsons and Allen Crabbe. Bembry is now the back-up point guard in addition to being the back-up at forward and even shooting guard. Bembry should get point guard minutes when Trae is off the court and could end up getting a lot of run just due to the lack of depth.
Hunter is the only rookie starting and that was by default. Huerter is out and Reddish is limited to 15 minutes, the only other back-up is Parker who is expected to back up Collins as well and of course Bembry who is also backing up the point guard position. Hunter is a rookie and he’s healthy so he may play a lot as the Hawks get a look and he fills a big injury void for his team.
Other Options: John Collins, Trae Young, Jabari Parker, Damian Jones, Alex Len
Milwaukee Bucks vs Chicago Bulls
The Bucks are fairly deep in terms of reserves. They don’t have as many injuries to deal with as the Wizards and the Hawks. Last year most of the starters played around 20 minutes each. The Bulls were awful defensively last year but they also played pretty slow however this year their coach has talked about playing fast. Bigs were an issue for the Bulls and still should be.
Giannis is going to do what he does and he should get 20 minutes. This is a nut match-up for him to do dirties and with his type of usage he could be a good raw points play even in just 20 minutes. If you have the money he’s certainly a top play especially here against the Bulls. Everyone should get some time just going to be a matter of who is efficient with their time.
Other Options: Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, Ersan Illyasova, Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez
The Bulls are banged up for this one. Wendell Carter, Shaq Harrison and Luke Kornet are all out making the Bulls pretty thin especially with bigs. Zach Lavine is playing through a bruised hand injury so he figures to not see a ton of time and maybe inefficient with the time he does see. Otter Porter is only expected to play in the first half.
Felicio is getting the start and his coach says he’s looked good in practice. With Carter out Felicio will be backed up by rookie Daniel Gafford. Gafford and Felicio should handle a lot of the work tonight though Gafford did have an injury scare with his elbow.