If you’re preparing for a quiet night in this Halloween, you might as well make some money doing it. In fact, there are few things that sound better than scarfing down that ninth candy bar while watching your DraftKings squad run up the score.
So, ignore that doorbell, save yourself a pile of candy and enter DraftKings’ latest contest, the NBA $10K Hot Shot. Before you get started, here are the pertinent details:
FREE NBA Pick’em Fantasy Contest:
– $10,000 in prizes
– FREE with your first deposit of at least $5
– New pick’em format is faster to play
– Simply select your players from each tier
– Limited spots available, so join now
– Starts tonight at 7 PM EST
Below, I broke down some of the best value picks and sleepers for tonight’s lineup, minus a few players to keep things a bit mysterious.
Can you beat me?
PG — Giannis Antetokounmpo — Milwaukee Bucks — $12,500
There’s no reason to get cute with this one: Play Antetokounmpo no matter what. Stop right now and don’t do anything else until the Greek Freak has been plugged into all of your lineups. Antetokounmpo is averaging a gaudy, league-topping 34.7 points to go along with 10.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists and two steals per game. On top of that, the 6-foot-11 wrecking ball has already been touted as a serious candidate for his first-ever MVP award.
Tonight, he’ll take on the Oklahoma City Thunder and, in all likelihood, Paul George. Although George is a fantastic defender, Antetokounmpo has been held under the 30-point mark just once so far this season. If you’re not choosing Antetokounmpo to build your team around, you’ll be starting at a disadvantage.
(Of course, Russell Westbrook is a fine choice here as well, but I’d suggest riding the hottest hand for as long as possible…)
SG — Allen Crabbe — Brooklyn Nets — $4,100
Thanks to a sprained ankle sustained in training camp late last month, the Nets have been extremely careful with Crabbe through the first seven games of the year. This makes the newly acquired sharpshooter a hit-or-miss play in daily fantasy sports and his DraftKings price certainly reflects that. However, when the guard is burning up, there are few shooters that can let it fly as efficiently as Crabbe can. Thankfully, a matchup with the Phoenix Suns may be just what the doctor ordered.
So far, opponents have shot a staggering 43 percent against the Suns from three-point range, above and beyond the highest mark in the NBA. Crabbe is averaging only three rebounds and just over an assist per game, so selecting him comes with the caveat of a potentially low floor. But at just $4,100 for tonight’s contest, Crabbe is my roster’s cheapest selection and faces a salivating opportunity against one of the league’s worst defenses — sign me up.
SF — Bogdan Bogdanovic — Sacramento Kings — $4,300
The Sacramento Kings are just 1-5 and sit in 14th place out in the Western Conference — still, things aren’t all bad as Bogdan Bogdanovic has emerged as an early bright spot. Bogdanovic is technically a rookie but his handful of overseas experience have helped him acclimate fast to the NBA brand of basketball. An ankle injury delayed Bogdanovic’s debut, but he’s played fine since rejoining the team last week. His averages of 12.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and two steals per game won’t get drafters overly excited, but his opportunity definitely should.
The Pacers are currently allowing 112 points per game, the fifth-highest average in the league, and will still be without budding superstar Myles Turner to anchor the defense. Even better, Bogdanovic brought in a haul of four steals during Sunday’s loss to the Washington Wizards — so he’s got the ability to make those DFS point-boosting contributions as well.
PF — Domantas Sabonis — Indiana Pacers — $5,700
With the aforementioned Turner struggling to fully recover from a concussion, Domantas Sabonis has quickly turned into a reliable fantasy option. Sabonis has earned double-doubles in three of his last four games, including his solid line of 22 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and a single three-pointer in the Pacers’ surprise win over San Antonio. The basement-dwelling Kings own a defensive rating of 108, the seventh-worst mark in the league, so there should be plenty of opportunities for Sabonis to go to work once again. With only four games on the schedule tonight, you could do worse than banking on a hungry sophomore that’s averaging 13 points and 10.2 rebounds.
As of publishing, Sabonis is questionable for tonight’s game as he battles an upper respiratory infection — but if he’s good to go, deploy him with confidence.
C — Steven Adams — Oklahoma City Thunder — $5,800
The popular selection at the center position will likely be Andre Drummond, but Adams offers similar production for a cut-rate cost. Everybody’s favorite New Zealander is off to a hot start in 2017-18, largely executing off the attention that must be funneled toward the new three-headed monster of Carmelo Anthony, Westbrook and George. Adams is averaging 14.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and a block per game and will now face a somewhat thin Bucks’ frontcourt. With Greg Monroe out for a few weeks, it’ll fall on Thon Maker and John Henson to contain Adams.
Drummond certainly outranks Adams in a few spots, but the $2,400 difference in cost means that the latter is a plunge worth taking this Tuesday night. Not every player on your roster will be a breakout candidate, but that’s OK — Adams will almost definitely get you somewhere within the range of 30-40 points each game. For those striving for a finish in the money, Adams is worth every dollar.
G — Lonzo Ball — Los Angeles Lakers — $7,000
Lonzo Ball has been a polarizing presence well into his rookie season and that dismal 31.1 percent rate from the floor hasn’t helped to persuade any of his detractors. Still, there’s no denying that Ball has the potential to be a fantasy goldmine every time he steps on the court. He struggled against the defensively-minded Utah Jazz (nine points, four assists on 3-for-10 shooting), but he should bounce back tonight against the Detroit Pistons.
Ball’s baseline averages of 10 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.5 three-pointers per game makes him a no-brainer gamble, even if he doesn’t explode like he did in Phoenix almost two weeks ago. He’ll likely be defended by the hard-nosed Avery Bradley but his intriguing floor and high ceiling are too good to pass up.
As I mentioned earlier, you can’t get all the answers from this cheat sheet and you’ll have to grab the few final pieces on your own. Still, I love nothing more than a little fantasy-friendly trash talk, so feel free to brag on Twitter if you beat me. I’m over at @Ben__Nadeau, so come let me know which players I missed out on and what your favorite type of candy is — Happy Halloween!
Again, when you’re ready to get started, click here to sign up for the NBA $10K Hot Shot.
NBA PM: Losing Beverley Is A Devastating Blow For Clippers
The loss of Patrick Beverley is a major setback for the Clippers, which could be the catalyst for major changes to the team moving forward.
If you ask any average NBA fan to name the ten best point guards in the league, Patrick Beverley’s name probably won’t make the cut. However, based on the injury issues plaguing the Los Angeles Clippers and the early season impact Beverley had on his team, losing him for the season is the functional equivalent of losing a top-ten point guard for the season.
In the 11 games Beverley played in this season, he averaged 12.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.7 steals, while shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc and 40.3 percent from the field. Beverley’s control of the Clippers’ offense and his three-point shooting efficiency were nice surprises for the Clippers early on, but his fearless attitude and aggression on defense were the most important attributes he brought to the team. The Clippers have missed other players recently, including Danilo Gallinari, but the loss of Beverley has been a setback that Los Angeles has been unable to overcome.
“It’s a tough blow for the team, but it’s worse for Patrick,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers told reporters in Atlanta. “We thought it would probably be just meniscus, but it turns out to be a lot more.”
What seemed to be nagging knee soreness turned out to be a serious cartilage injury that required a microfracture procedure. Beverley will miss the rest of the season and his recovery will take roughly nine months. The Clippers had already lost 30-year-old rookie passing sensation Milos Teodosic in the second regular game of the season, whom is still out indefinitely. Los Angeles lost its starting backcourt 11 games into the season and it seems highly unlikely that they can effectively make up for those losses. Austin Rivers and Lou Williams are the veteran guards still available in the backcourt, with rookies Sindarius Thornwell and Jawun Evans offering their support.
Losing Teodosic was a difficult loss, but Beverley had managed well enough without him. With Beverley in the lineup, the Clippers outscored opponents by 4.5 points per 100 possessions this season. Without him, the Clippers have been outscored by 4.3 points per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com/stats.
Now the Clippers face some difficult decisions. Without Beverley and Teodosic, and with Gallinari missing extended time, the Clippers have fallen to 6-11 and are ranked 13th in the Western Conference. Making the postseason was going to be a challenge even without major injuries and now it seems like a daunting task that will require better health and an extended winning streak or two. However, without Beverley, the Clippers need to consider the possibility of moving significant trade assets now to prepare for the future.
Center DeAndre Jordan is now 29 years old and is set to be an unrestricted free agent next season. Teams are reportedly calling the Clippers to gauge whether Jordan would be available via trade. But earlier this season Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank stated that he is working to ensure that Jordan remains a Clipper through his entire career. However, with the Clippers facing such daunting injury issues and having already slipped to the back of the Western Conference, the Clippers may be more willing to listen to offers on players like Jordan and Lou Williams. The Cleveland Cavaliers, who are dealing with their own issues, could benefit substantially from brining on a player like Jordan. While there are no concrete discussions regarding a deal for Jordan or any other Clipper, this is now a team to watch as we get closer and closer to the trade deadline.
Derrick Rose Reportedly Away From Cavaliers, Contemplating Future
Derrick Rose has struggled with injuries since tearing his ACL in the 2012 playoffs. Now it seems as though the multi-year struggle to get and stay healthy is catching up to Rose, who is reportedly away from the Cleveland Cavaliers and is contemplating his future in basketball.
Adrian Wojnarowksi and Dave McMenamin of ESPN reported this story earlier today and stated that “Rose has been non-communicative to multiple people close to him inside and outside of the Cavaliers in recent days, league sources said.”
Rose, who won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award in 2011, has also struggled to adapt his game to the league’s evolving style of play. Rose has failed to shoot better than 30 percent from the three-point line in the last four seasons and his ability to make plays for others consistently has dwindled as well. Rose has primarily been a scorer this season and has at times displayed his unique ability to attack the basket off the dribble effectively. However, his inability to stay healthy, knock down open three-pointers and be an effective playmaker for others have limited his impact in today’s NBA.
There is still a place in the NBA for Rose should he ever find a way to overcome his injury issues. But after years of fighting that battle, it seems as though Rose is unsure how much longer he wants to keep on fighting.
Dunn Thriving With New Opportunity In Chicago
After a disappointing rookie campaign in Minnesota, Kris Dunn is thriving with the Bulls, Spencer Davies writes.
Having met head-to-head in Tuesday night’s game for the first time in their careers, Kris Dunn and Lonzo Ball have some things in common.
Drafted fifth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves, the former college star at Providence struggled to adjust to the professional level. He was finding difficulty putting the ball in the basket. He wasn’t nearly aggressive enough.
Part of this was due to an inconsistent role and a battle with Tyus Jones for the backup spot at point guard behind Ricky Rubio, but aside from that, there were significant shortcomings with his game that made people have their doubts about Dunn’s future in the NBA.
But fortunately for him, it was only one year, and — contrary to how most players are gauged these days — one year does not define who or what a player is or isn’t. Sometimes, it takes time or a change of scenery, and so far this season with the Chicago Bulls, the 23-year-old Dunn is showing flashes.
Despite missing the first four games with a dislocated finger, he hasn’t missed a beat. The discrepancies between now and his rookie season are already very apparent.
For one, Dunn scored in double digits a total of seven times in 78 games with Minnesota. Through just 12 games playing for the Bulls, he’s already registered nine of those performances, including recently eclipsing the 20-point mark for the first time with a career-high 22 against the Charlotte Hornets.
So what can you credit for the improvements? Assertiveness, probably. You score more when you shoot more. Dunn is averaging over triple the number of attempts per game this year with Chicago than with the Timberwolves. To no surprise, the numbers are prettier because of it.
It’s a decently small sample size, but Dunn’s effective field goal percentage (46.5) is more than five points higher than in 2016-17. He’s averaging 15.8 points per 36 minutes, pulling down at least five rebounds per game and averaging close to four assists per game as well.
His development on offense has been something, but the sophomore guard’s impact on the defensive end is something to keep an eye on. Though the Bulls rank in the bottom 10 defensively, there is a bright spot when Dunn is on the floor. As a team with him playing, Chicago allows 103.1 points per 100 possessions. When he’s on the bench, that number balloons to 110, which is the third-highest difference among his teammates.
Diving a little further into it, Dunn is seeing over nine attempts against him per game. Compared to other players that see between nine and 10 tries per game, he places sixth on the list, allowing just 41.1 percent of those to be successful. According to NBA.com, he is one of 35 players in the league who is allowing less than one point per possession on isolation plays. At the same time, this could be because he’s sending his opposition to the line a ton. Among guards, he averages the second-most fouls per game (3.3) behind only Dillon Brooks.
That’ll need to change eventually, but the potential is there. Dunn gambles on some reaches with his long arms and taller frame, which is why he’s getting two steals per game. He also ranks fifth among point guards in Defensive Real Plus-Minus behind his teammate David Nwaba. Strictly as a hounding defender, we’re seeing what he can become down the line.
Since returning, Dunn has the second-best net rating on the team and Chicago is a net -18.5 points per 100 possessions without him. While that’s not particularly encouraging for the team itself, it proves his importance. Again, the small body of work should tell you to take this with a grain of salt, but at the same time, we didn’t ever really see this in year one.
Whether it’s due to a better opportunity and more touches or more self-confidence on his part, Dunn is playing more loose and free, and he’s thriving because of it.
Maybe, just maybe, one season wasn’t enough to judge.
NBA AM: Nicolas Batum Is Helping The Hornets Get Organized
Dwight Howard has predictably struggled with scoring efficiency, but Nicolas Batum’s return is already helping.
With the Charlotte Hornets below .500 and presently out of the playoff picture almost a quarter of the way into the season, it’s not too early to start looking at what has gone wrong. While Dwight Howard has, predictably, been an inefficient contributor on offense, the loss of Nicolas Batum for much of the early season was a major setback. With Batum averaging 13.5 points and 4.5 assists in his first four appearances since his return, can he be the catalyst to help Charlotte turn its season around?
Batum scored 16 with five rebounds and six assists in his first appearance of the season in a loss to the Cavaliers. Hornets coach Steve Clifford said it’s been a struggle to ease Batum back into the rotation due to his eagerness to be on the court.
“When he feels good, I just leave him out there,” said Clifford after Wednesday’s shootaround. “We just have to be careful because the first night, he gets going in the games and he wants to play more.”
Clifford added that Charlotte’s condensed schedule, featuring seven games in 11 days, has complicated efforts to bring Batum along slowly.
“He just needed to play some,” said Clifford. “I think once we get through this stretch he’ll be good. He eats up minutes anyway.”
Batum working his way back into the rotation could help the Hornets address one of the early issues, which has been the incorporation of Howard into the offense. Batum gives Charlotte another proficient pick and roll ball handler in addition to Kemba Walker, and he should help put Howard in better positions to score.
“It’s a lot different being out there with Nic,” said Walker. “He just takes so much pressure off a lot of us. It’s really good to have him back. He just makes the game easy for a lot of us.”
Three Hornets have executed over 20 pick and rolls as the roll man this season. Cody Zeller has scored 1.14 points per 100 possessions on 22 such possessions. Frank Kaminsky has scored 1.15 per 100 on 33 possessions as a roll man. This scoring efficiency for both players ranks just above the league average.
For Howard, in 24 possessions as a roll man, he’s scored .75 per 100, which ranks in the eighth percentile. In other words, Howard ranks in the bottom 10 percent of the league in pick and roll scoring efficiency. Just as Howard was unable to establish a consistent pick and roll partnership in Atlanta last season with point guard Dennis Schroder, Howard’s possessions as a roll man in Charlotte account for only nine percent of his total possessions.
By contrast, Howard has used 95 possessions this season in post isolation, which accounts for more than a third of his total possessions (35 percent). He’s scoring a ghastly .66 per 100 possessions, which ranks in the 15th percentile league-wide. Of the 17 players who have used at least 50 post-up possessions this season, Howard ranks dead last in scoring efficiency.
How Dwight Howard ranks in scoring efficiency among players with at least 70 post up possessions this season: pic.twitter.com/lVYRfkIQhP
— Buddy Grizzard (@BuddyGrizzard) November 22, 2017
Despite these struggles, Clifford said Batum’s re-integration into the lineup has already resulted in more opportunities for Howard, both from direct and indirect assists.
“Since Nic came back now he’s getting the ball a lot more,” said Clifford. “That’s how Nic plays. It’s not only directly from Nic, but Nic will see how he’s playing and touch the ball to somebody else so they can get it to him.”
Clifford sounds relieved to have Batum back in the rotation, almost as if he’s an assistant coach on the floor.
“Certainly [it helps] our efficiency and organization on both ends of the floor,” said Clifford. “It’s the very nature of how he plays.”
With the Hornets just outside the playoff picture in the East, Batum’s return should help stabilize the team in its quest for the postseason. Batum wasn’t available to help ease Howard’s integration in the early part of the season. But now that he’s back, according to Clifford, he’s already been a huge asset to the team’s cohesion.