Daily Fantasy Basketball: 10 Players to Watch in NBA Restart (2020)
The NBA has started accepting teams into Disney World in Orlando, and there are more player updates day by day. Some players are joining their squads later, and others have entirely opted out of the 22-team scheduled restart for eight regular-season games.
With all the moves, quite a few players will replace someone in the starting lineup or step into a critical bench role. Let’s take a look at 10 players to keep an eye on during the restart and select in daily fantasy. All stats were obtained via RotoGrinders and Pro-Basketball-Reference. All fantasy points are DraftKings league averages.
Kyle Lowry (TOR)
The Raptors are one of the league’s most exciting teams entering this postseason. They’ve dealt with injuries to nearly every core player this year while enduring the loss of Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. Nick Nurse is a front-runner for Coach of the Year, and Kyle Lowry has been his rock all season long. The Raptors’ nine-player rotation is all back for the bubble, making this the first time they’ve been 100-percent healthy since the start of the regular season.
Some players admitted it’ll be a little weird, and I’d expect a few games before we see pure chemistry among teammates, but the Raptors’ 46-18 record speaks for itself. Three games ahead of Boston as the East’s two seed, Toronto is playing for seeding purposes. This motivation provides safety in selecting Lowry in DFS.
On the season, Lowry is fourth on the team in usage rate (23%) and averaging the most points per game (19.7) since 2016-17. At 33 years old, he’s leading the team in minutes (36.6) and assists per game (7.7) and has been lethal attacking the rim. Lowry leads the team with 4.9 free-throws made on 5.7 attempts per game (86.1%), scoring 24.9% of his points from the charity stripe and 25% of his points in the paint. The fact that he’s playing the most minutes while owning the fourth-highest usage means he’s conserving his energy and involving his teammates throughout the game.
Lowry is going to be one of the safest point guards picks (and likely a decent value) throughout the regular season.
Goran Dragic (MIA)
The Miami Heat arrived in Orlando to prepare for the NBA’s restart without two key players, center Bam Adebayo and point guard Kendrick Nunn. Whether the two had positive COVID tests or personal issues remain unknown, but Dragic will undoubtedly be a beneficiary of Nunn’s absence. Surprisingly, Nunn started 62 games for the Heat. Dragic started only one but saw action in 54 total.
The 33-year-old has been to the postseason three times and provides a veteran presence to the Heat, something they’ve lacked. Despite coming off the bench, Dragic is averaging Miami’s third-most points per game (16.1) and is tied for second-most assists (5.1) with Adebayo. Dragic is due for an uptick in scoring and assists with both Adebayo and Nunn being in the top five in both categories.
|Player||PPG (Rank)||APG (Rank)||MPG (Rank)||USAGE % (Rank)|
|Bam Adebayo||16.2 (2nd)||5.1 (T-2nd)||34.4 (1st)||21.3 (5th)|
|Kendrick Nunn||15.6 (4th)||3.4 (5th)||29.4 (5th)||24.1 (3rd)|
|Goran Dragic||16.1 (3rd)||5.1 (T-2nd)||28.4 (7th)||25.6 (1st)|
Adebayo and Nunn are expected to eventually join the team. Dragic will probably be a cheaper DFS choice to Nunn, but not for long. The league restart will be Nunn’s first playoff series and Adebayo’s second after playing in the Heat’s 2017-18 first-round loss to the 76ers. Dragic is worth a late stash paired with a more expensive guard such as Russell Westbrook or James Harden versus Dallas or Portland, for example.
Dejounte Murray (SA)
Murray was amid a career year and consecutive healthy seasons for the Spurs. The 23-year-old played 81 games last season, averaging 22.2 fantasy points per game. In 58 games this season, he’s up to 27.9 with a 4.5-minute increase. Murray is averaging 1.12 fantasy points per minute, and he leads the Spurs with 1.16 fantasy points per game without LaMarcus Aldridge on the floor.
With a 22.1% usage rate, Murray’s production should see a slight jump, especially if DeMar DeRozan sees a minute restriction. The Spurs are four games away from the eighth seed and are facing an uphill road that likely will leave them on the outside looking in for the postseason. Before the season paused, Murray was posting 10.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.7 steals per game in just 25 minutes.
If DeRozan sits once the Spurs are eliminated, Murray is a must-play. Derrick White and Jakob Poeltl (more on his below) are a few other players worth DFS selections with Aldridge out, but Murray is second-fiddle to DeRozan in San Antonio.
Aaron Holiday (IND)
Victor Oladipo announced he will not join the team in Orlando, so the Pacers will turn to Holiday as their new starting shooting guard. Holiday started 26 games for Indiana before the league went on hiatus, and he’s the best option they have now that Oladipo and Jeremy Lamb are out.
Holiday is averaging 9.4 points and 3.3 assists per game and 0.80 fantasy points per minute on the season. His brother, Justin, said he plans to join the team, potentially adding a sense of motivation and positivity for Aaron entering the lineup again. Aaron has averaged 23.6 minutes per game on a 20.6% usage rate, which isn’t far behind Miami’s Adebayo as a comparison.
A minutes increase moving to the starting lineup will surpass his 23.6 average, and so should his production. With Malcolm Brogdon already recovering from COVID-19 and ready to join the team, the two will be the starting guards moving forward. If Brogdon misses time, the younger Holiday will be the guy. His fantasy points per minute increased to 0.92 without Brogdon, compared to 0.68 with him over 103 minutes played together. Aaron Holiday will be a very cheap DFS option, so keep an eye on him.
Caris LeVert (BKN)
Spencer Dinwiddie, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, and Taurean Prince will all not play in Orlando, making LeVert the Nets’ primary scoring option. They signed Jamal Crawford and Michael Beasley to add depth, veteran experience, and honestly, as much scoring as possible to fill the void.
LeVert was having his best season yet, recording 17.7 points, 4.1 rebounds (both career highs), and 4.1 assists, resulting in his best DFS season to date. He’s averaging a career-best 30.2 fantasy points per game and 1.04 fantasy points per minute. Although his 27.7% usage rate was already impressive, his numbers are due to skyrocket.
LeVert will be expensive, but he’s going to be the Nets’ top option moving forward. Before the season ended, he scored at least 20 points in three straight and four of five games, including his career-high 51 points in Boston. We could see more scoring bursts from LeVert until the Nets figure out their rotation and postseason lineup as the likely seventh or eighth seed in the East.
Brandon Ingram (NO)
A contender for NBA’s Most Improved Player, Ingram was one of the NBA’s most exciting scorers all season. Pre-Zion Williamson, Ingram averaged 25.6 points (12th in the NBA), 6.7 rebounds, and 4.4 assists in 39 games. After Jan. 22, his numbers slightly declined to 21.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.2 assists over the next 17.
Ingram was a premier DFS option, averaging 40.1 fantasy points per game and 1.22 fantasy points per minute. He still recorded 33.3 minutes per game with a higher usage rate (25.9%) than Williamson (25.4%) over the last two months of the season. The Pelicans are back fully healthy, so we could see Ingram average his 21-5-4 line once again with Williamson remaining in the lineup, which only makes Ingram a cheaper DFS option.
The Pelicans are going to put it all on the line to make the postseason. And with Ingram fighting for Most Improved Player, you can expect his 100% early on. Ingram averaged mostly identical road-home splits during the season but shot an increased 50.1% from the field and 42.5% from three away from New Orleans. He and Williamson will serve as a one-two punch and both warrant playing in all formats.
Zion Williamson (NO)
The No. 1 overall pick only played 19 games, but what a sample size it was. The Pelicans led the league with 120.1 points per game once he stepped into the lineup, and he was second in league with 17.3 points in the paint per game, trailing only Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 17.5.
Williamson led the team in usage rate from Jan. 22 onward (28.9%) while tallying 1.24 fantasy points per minute. On the season, he posted 23.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per contest, shooting 58.9% from the field and 46.2% from three-point range. During the hiatus, Williamson put on weight and muscle. As you can see in the Pelicans’ post, he looks shredded.
Built for this ? pic.twitter.com/xdB0OMex35
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) July 2, 2020
The Pelicans watched his minutes and yet allowed Williamson to play 29.7 per game in hopes of claiming a playoff berth. Fortunately, they made the 22-team cut and have a shot, just 3.5 games back of the Grizzlies. Williamson should see an uptick in minutes for the season’s final eight games and will be a must-play most days.
Robert Covington (HOU)
An excellent acquisition for Houston, Covington is averaging 29.2 fantasy points per game and 0.97 fantasy points per minute this season. The Rockets rank seventh with 115.7 points per game since acquiring Covington, going 8-6 during that stretch. Covington scored double-digit points 10 times and 20 points three times.
He’s attempting an impressive eight three-pointers per game and making 2.8. Houston is averaging an NBA-most 15.9 three-pointers made and 45.7 three-point attempts per game since Covington’s arrival. He’s playing a vital role at power forward, making a severely undersized duo with P.J. Tucker playing center.
Covington was averaging 12.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, 1.3 assists, and 1.0 steals per game with the Rockets. He posted three or more combined blocks and steals in 13 of 14 games and recorded two double-doubles as a constant three-and-D. His value may be underestimated to start the season, but look for Covington to get the Rockets going with his hustle.
Rui Hachimura (WAS)
The last team to make the bubble in the Eastern Conference, Washington needs a miracle to make the postseason without three key players. Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans planned to skip the restart. At the same time, center Thomas Bryant tested positive for COVID. As of right now, rookie Rui Hachimura is the top interior scoring option.
Without Beal, Bertans, and Bryant, Hachimura is the Wizards’ returning leading scorer (13.4) and rebounder (6.0). Hachimura averaged 25.2 fantasy points per game on the season and 0.85 fantasy points per minute in his 41-game rookie campaign. Beal and Bertans took up 17.1 of their 33.1 three-point attempts per game (51.6%), so Hachimura 1.8 attempts are sure to increase.
Washington, as a whole, will need players to increase their scoring, and Hachimura can do it in a variety of ways. It’ll be interesting to see where his DFS price is to start, but he will be one of the few centers seeing an immediate increase in opportunity on a team playing from 5.5 games back.
Jakob Poeltl (SA)
The Spurs are likely going to miss the postseason for the first time since 1998-99. The team acknowledged the youngsters will take on the race to eight seed in the West. Forward LaMarcus Aldridge announced he’s out for the season, and without him, Poeltl’s workload will increase.
When Poeltl is on the floor without Aldridge, he’s averaging 1.13 fantasy points per minute on a low 13.3% usage rate to 0.70 points and an 8.8% usage rate with him. On the season, Poeltl is averaging 1.17 fantasy points per minute, and he’s fully recovered from shoulder surgery after using the layoff to refuel for the starting role.
The Spurs signed Tyler Zeller for depth, but that shouldn’t impact Poeltl’s 19.3 fantasy points per game over 16.6 minutes. He and Trey Lyles (20.2 MPG) could see a significant jump in playing time as the starting power forward and center. Poeltl is averaging a 61.9% field-goal percentage on just 3.8 attempts per game. Once he gets more opportunities, he’ll be an undervalued streamer versus weaker interior squads and could win you some money off a double-double in a few games.
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