The wait is finally over. We have made it through the draft, free agency, the NBA Summer League, preseason and the NBA regular season returns Tuesday night. There are two games on tap: a rematch of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, and a Western Conference showdown between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers. The Slate Starter is a daily first look at NBA DFS strategy to get your daily fantasy basketball lineup-building process started before lock tonight. Each day, we will go through some of the best NBA DFS picks, top stacks and optimal lineup construction for DraftKings and FanDuel. Be sure to check our NBA Starting Lineups page, as it will be updated throughout the day as the NBA injury reports are released and breaking news surfaces.
NBA DFS Picks & Optimal Lineup Construction Today | Oct. 19
Kyrie Irving’s absence to start the season is a huge talking point, and it will obviously have a sizable impact on their rotation. Let’s start with the players who should benefit most — James Harden and Kevin Durant.
Harden was the big winner in games without Irving last season. He played in nine regular-season contests without his star running mate, and he increased his usage rate by +6.9%. He also increased his assist rate by +9.3%, resulting in an average of more than 60 DraftKings points per game.
Durant’s usage bump of +2.2% was not nearly as large, and he is also more expensive than Harden on opening night. Harden owns a clear edge in our NBA Projections, making him the preferred target.
After the big two, the rest of the Nets’ rotation is a bit unclear. There are 11 players projected to see the court tonight, but Bruce Brown is the strongest value option at just $3,600 on DraftKings. He also owns a solid Leverage Rating on our NBA Big Board, so he is a strong target for tournaments.
There are not a ton of questions with the Bucks heading into the season. The defending champions are returning most of their core from last year, but they do have some injury concerns on opening night. Bobby Portis, Semi Ojeleye, and Rodney Hood have all been ruled out, while Donte DiVincenzo is still recovering from an ankle injury he suffered last postseason.
That opens up a few minutes with the reserves, and Grayson Allen could be the biggest beneficiary. He played at least 22.5 minutes in each of their final three preseason games, and he averaged 0.77 FanDuel points per minute last year. He is also very affordable at just $3,800 on FanDuel.
Sandro Mamukelashvili is the Bucks’ reserve big man at the moment, so he is also appealing at the minimum on DraftKings.
Golden State Warriors
Klay Thompson and James Wiseman are not ready to make their season debuts on Tuesday, so the Warriors’ rotation should be similar to last season’s.
Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins are the Warriors’ known commodities, but Jordan Poole stands out as arguably their best value. He is priced at just $4,800 on DraftKings and $4,900 on FanDuel, and he was excellent down the stretch last season. He averaged 21.85 FanDuel points over the final three months of the year, and he leads the Warriors’ players from a points-per-dollar perspective in our NBA Projections.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers made a splash move during the offseason, bringing in the much-maligned Russell Westbrook. Westbrook has always been a fantasy superstar, but that has not translated much to wins on the basketball court. It remains to be seen how he will fit alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but he will almost certainly cut into their production.
Davis is expected to be the big loser, and he is an excellent fade candidate on opening night. That is valuable knowledge for DFS, but it could be instrumental in the prop market. The under on Davis’ scoring prop stands out as the most profitable bet using our NBA Player Prop Tool.Thanks for reading to the end of this article! If you appreciate this free content and want to see more of it every day, you can help us out by sharing this article on social media! Looking for more NBA DFS plays tonight and the best NBA DFS tools? We also have DraftKings rankings, Yahoo! NBA rankings and FanDuel rankings for today's slate. View our FanDuel ownership projections, our DraftKings NBA ownership projections and our Yahoo! ownership. Check out our NBA DraftKings rankings for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own NBA FanDuel projections. Our NBA FanDuel projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks.
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