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: 29-37 (.439)
- Offensive Rating: 112.5 (10th)
- Defensive Rating: 114.1 (27th
- Net Rating: -1.6 (19th)
It’s a shame that we’re entering the bubble and the eight-game seeding stretch of the schedule with Portland sitting 9th in the West trailing Memphis by 3.5 games and tied with New Orleans at that. Don’t get me wrong, but having the Trailblazers in the playoffs sounds much more exciting than watching any of the other rookie-led teams, at least in this the year 2020.
If you remember what happened just barely over a year ago, then you know what Portland is capable of—reaching the conference finals. This season hasn’t been the best for the Blazers, right, but they have also been forced to play most of the regular season without both Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins, needed to sign Carmelo Anthony to cover for injury issues and lack of assets, traded for Trevor Ariza (gone for the bubble), and also lost Rodney Hood. Half of those things should be on the rearview mirror now, and Damian Lillard has stepped up his game this year, which yes, sounds impossible but he still did it.
Here’s to hope Portland finishes as the no. 8 seed or at least at a close-enough distance of it so they make it to the do-or-die play-in between the eighth and ninth-best teams of the conference leading up to the postseason.
Team Leaders (per game)
- MIN: Damian Lillard (36.9)
- PTS: Damian Lillard (28.9)
- 3PM: Damian Lillard (3.9)
- REB: Hassan Whiteside (14.2)
- AST: Damian Lillard (7.8)
- STL: Damian Lillard (1.0)
- BLK: Hassan Whiteside (3.1)
- TOV: Damian Lillard (2.9)
- USG%: Damian Lillard (29.3%)
- DKFP: Damian Lillard (49.8)
- Players Acquired: Zach Collins, Jusuf Nurkic, Jaylen Adams
- Players Lost: Caleb Swanigan, Trevor Ariza, Rodney Hood
For what it’s worth, Portland’s bubble additions clearly outweigh its subtractions. Zach Collins went down just having played in just three games, and Jusuf Nurkic has still to see the court. Jaylen Adams is not a world-beater, sure, but he was the runner-up for MVP of the G League so there’s that. On the other hand, Trevor Ariza and Rodney Hood had good numbers through the first and second halves of the year respectively (the time when they were active and playing in Portland) but they are in theory less important to Portland’s success than the two aforementioned biggies.
Now, getting to the real meat of the Trailblazers, what about Dame Lillard’s 2020 season? Damn, son. Lillard is the most-valuable fantasy asset in DraftKings DFS slate this year in terms of ROI (Price/DKFP). He is not the player averaging the most fantasy points per game (he’s 7th) but for his price, he’s the one dropping the most valuable outcomes. He’s scoring in bunches, stealing rocks, dishing dimes, and hitting treys like a madman. Build. Around. Dame. And thank me later.
If only was it about Lillard, though... Portland has two other players inside the top-10 most valuable fantasy players, those being C.J. McCollum and Hassan Whiteside. You might not like CJ as he’s the clear second banana to Lillard’s go-to man or Whiteside for his seeming lack of effort, but oh boy are they dropping numbers. Other than those three there isn’t much more to like around Portland that we know about before the ball rolls. Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic should be good and impact Whiteside numbers (they should go down a bit) but until we see how things develop and work between those two (or three if you include Hassan) it’ll be hard to tell.