It’s been quite a—boring—ride but we’re almost there, folks. Starting July 30, the NBA will enter a vortex of daily action that will get us back to our couches to indulge as much basketball as we can with games coming left and right. With such a short time between now and the restart (and with the four months we have endured without any NBA hoops around) it makes sense to go through the 22 teams that made it to Disney’s bubble to review what they did during the first months of the 2019-20 season and what we can expect from them going forward. Consider this a primer on who to target, who to avoid, and a know-it-all reviewing exercise of what will be there when NBA DFS contests come back in less than 14 days time.
As has always been the case, I will be using data from both the official NBA website paired with information from DFS contests held on DraftKings through the first months of the season. Every chart uses the same scale (salaries from 3K to 10K except when they don’t fit, fantasy points from 0 to 65) so they can be easily compared between teams to see where each player ranks league-wide.
Regular Season Stats
- Record: 40-24 (.625)
- Offensive Rating: 113.8 (2nd)
- Defensive Rating: 110.2 (15th)
- Net Rating: 3.6 (7th)
Will Houston ever take advantage of ürber-scorer James Harden? Will the Rockets make the most of the Beard-Brodie pairing? Will the “Pocket Rockets” scheme work at all? Too many questions, but also too much quality packed in Houston’s roster. With all of the firepower they’ve had in town this season, the Rockets are still “only” the seventh-best team in net rating in the NBA, although that has mostly been due to their middle-of-the-pack defensive traits. On offense, though, Houston ranks second only behind the Mavs and it makes sense: Harden is averaging more than 34 pops a game with Westbrook dropping 27 himself.
The narrative has always told the story of Harden losing his powers in the playoffs but the months-long hiatus should have helped him rest a bit and enter the bubble stronger than ever. Los Angeles (both the Clippers and the Lakers) will make it a tough climb through the West, but Houston was already fought the Warriors dynasty in the past few years being this close to dethrone them. Will this be the year they finally reach the Finals?
Team Leaders (per game):
- MIN: James Harden (36.7)
- PTS: James Harden (34.4)
- 3PM: James Harden (4.4)
- REB: Russell Westbrook (8.0)
- AST: James Harden (7.4)
- STL: James Harden and Russell Westbrook (1.7)
- BLK: Robert Covington (1.3)
- TOV: James Harden and Russell Westbrook (4.5)
- USG%: James Harden (35.8%)
- DKFP: James Harden (51.3)
- Players Acquired: Luc Mbah a Moute
- Players Lost: Thabo Sefolosha, David Nwaba, Isaiah Hartenstein
They say an image says more than a thousand words... and they might be right. What you see is what you get with the Rockets: Harden, then Westbrook, then an empty valley, and then the rest of Houston’s players. Considering Harden and Westbrook both play more than 35 minutes per game at usage rates over 33% each, it’s reasonable to have a fantasy picture like the one above.
The problem with the distance between these two in terms of fantasy production, though, is that it is very similar while the gap in their prices is wild. Russell Westbrook comes more than $2K cheaper on average and yields just 8 fewer DKFP than Harden. Russ’ ROI (Price/DKFP) is much better than Harden because of that, so even if the latter has a higher ceiling I’d advise going with Russ over James more often than not.
Other than that, Covington comes in third among Rockets in terms of ROI but not even him—Houston’s third option on offense—breaks the 30-DKFP this season. Danuel House Jr. ranks fourth in Houston’s ROI marks but he’s a low maintenance guy not worth putting much money into.