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NBA 2019-20 Season Restart DFS Tips (Fantasy Basketball)

Jul 27, 2020

There hasn’t been an NBA DFS slate to navigate since March 11, and in that time span, we’ve witnessed a world of change. Over four months later the NBA is finally ready to resume, isolated to their own bubble in Orlando. If you’re like me (if you’re reading this article you probably are) the excitement that is NBA DFS is a welcome change of pace. But before you dive headfirst back in, here are some things to consider. 

Note: This article is focused on DFS tips for the NBA restart. For a more comprehensive look at the restart, check out the NBA 2019-20 Season Restart Guide.

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The Schedule

The NBA schedule is usually an 82-game grind. The restart, on the other hand,  will be an eight-game sprint to the playoffs. This recalibrated schedule comes with a few features worth mentioning. The schedule itself is pretty straightforward. Games begin on July 30, and every team in the bubble is scheduled to play eight seeding games. Each team plays one set of back-to-back games with the rest of the games being played every other day. 

The fact that each team will play just one back-to-back set is the most DFS-relevant takeaway from the schedule. During a typical regular season, over-worked or injury-prone players tend to see reduced minutes or even sit out one game of a back-to-back, especially since travel is usually involved. There’s no travel in the bubble and each team only has to deal with one back-to-back set, minimizing the impact on key players.

DFS Tip: Back-to-backs don’t carry the same weight that they typically do in the NBA regular season.

Standings and Playoff Seeding

Teams usually rest their studs down the stretch. Eliminated teams take a look at their younger unproven assets while not risking injury to their established stars. The top teams, on the other hand, let their stars rest and recover once their playoff spots are locked in. These approaches, however, don’t translate well to a restart where every team is fighting for playoff seeding.

In fact, since there hasn’t been a full NBA game in over four months, these games could be used as conditioning in preparation for the playoff run. This won’t apply for all teams throughout, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks could theoretically lock up the top seed in the East after two games, but most teams will have something to play for during the majority of the seeding round.

DFS Tip: Don’t expect most studs to get much rest. In fact, they could see increased minutes. It will usually be worth paying up.

The Arenas

All games in the bubble will be played in just three different arenas in Orlando. Instead of traveling across the country to face opponents, teams will barely have to travel across town. The schedule still lists home and away teams, and the league has taken so pretty innovative steps to try and give the “home” teams some notion of having an edge.

They won’t quite be neutral courts, but the homecourt advantage we’ve gotten used to in the NBA is essentially non-existent. 

DFS Tip: Homecourt and physical location, such as playing at altitude in Denver or traveling from the East coast to the West coast, does not need to be considered for NBA DFS in the bubble.

Team Rosters / Player Availablity

Each team in Orlando is allowed to roster 17 players. Given the long layoff, some rosters will look much different than they did in March. We’ll see players returning from injury or even making their NBA debut, like Nuggets rookie Bol Bol. Other players, like John Wall and Kevin Durant, are playing it safe and won’t return this season. Some players who were healthy ended up having surgery when the season was put on hiatus and won’t be returning, like LaMarcus Aldridge. There’s also the option for players to simply opt out if they feel uncomfortable with the COVID-era restart.

You can keep up with all of the roster changes with the 2019-20 NBA Restart Player Tracker

These rosters will be set by the time the restart tips off on July 30, but they could change at any moment. On top of the usual injury risks, we now have to deal with the possibility of a player contracting COVID-19 and becoming instantly unavailable. To their credit, the league has taken as many steps as possible to keep COVID-19 out of the bubble. Some of the precautions that are meant to keep everybody safe could actually be what causes players to miss games. Players that aren’t following the safety protocols, like Richaun Holmes and Lou Williams leaving the bubble to pick up food, are subject to a ten-day quarantine. If a player misses their daily test, as Kristaps Porzingis and Paul Millsap have already, they’ll be forced to quarantine until they test negative. 

DFS Tip: Knowing player availability is always critical in NBA DFS. COVID-19 and the NBA safety precautions add more layers to monitor.

Late Swap

This is easily the most important DFS feature to understand for the NBA restart. If you’re a regular Draft Kings player, you’re probably already versed in the late swap feature. On the other hand, FanDuel regulars haven’t had the luxury of using the late swap option until now.

Since there are only three venues in play, games will be staggered across a typical day. Without a late swap feature, you’d be stuck locking in your entire lineup as early as 1:00 PM EST if you wanted to maximize your player pool. With chaotic injury updates and lineup changes likely amplified in the bubble, lineups locking so early would presumably lose players at an even higher rate than usual. This is why the late swap feature will be so vital. 

Simply put, players aren’t locked in until their game tips off. If you’re rostering a player in a later game on the slate, and he gets ruled out last minute, you aren’t stuck taking that goose egg. Late swap allows you to replace any player in your lineup before tipoff of their game. You can also use it to adjust your lineups any way you see fit, as news breaks throughout the day and night. This isn’t anything new for DK players, but it’s crucial for the FD regulars to understand.

DFS Tip: Start with what you believe is the optimal lineup early in the day, but monitor the news and use late swap to continually enhance your lineup throughout the slate of games.

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Aaron Larson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Aaron, check out his archive and follow him @aalarson.

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