The month of October is one of the busiest times of the year in DFS sports, and NBA fantasy basketball is one of those as it kicks off a new NBA season. Other sports in action during October include NFL and NCAA football, the National Hockey League and the Major League Baseball postseason. However, basketball fans get to watch the National Basketball Associations 2019-2020 season kick off on October 22nd, 2019.
It seems like a long time since the Toronto Raptors captured the NBA title, but it was really just three and a half short months ago. It was just June 13th, 2019 when the Raptors finished off the Golden State Warriors to win their first NBA title. But a lot has happened since then, which is why it may seem like it’s been so long.
Big Name Changes
It starts with the NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard switching teams. Leonard was due to become a free agent after the season and exercised his option, eventually choosing to leave Toronto for the Los Angeles Clippers. That move alone is expected to change the face of both teams. The Raptors will definitely be a bit weaker because of the loss of Leonard, while the Clippers are now one of the favorites in the Western Conference.
Whether it was through free agency or trades, there was an almost unprecedented amount of big name player movement since the close of last season. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving decided to team up and both sign with the Brooklyn Nets. Durant will most likely miss the upcoming season with an injury, but should be ready to go for the 2020 season. That created a spot at the guard position with the Boston Celtics and they went out and brought in All-Star Kemba Walker to fill Irvings shoes. The Warriors did receive guard D’Angelo Russell from the Nets in the Durant deal who will fill the void due to the injury to Klay Thompson.
In Los Angeles, the Lakers were looking to do something big and did just that. The team traded for one of the games best young players in Anthony Davis to team with Lebron James. The cost wasn’t cheap as the Lakers had to give up Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three future first round draft picks. If Los Angeles is able to provide an adequate supporting cast around them, the Lakers could be a threat in the Western Conference come playoff time.
But the Clippers, in addition to signing Leonard, also worked out a deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder to trade for another perennial All-Star in forward Paul George. Both George and Leonard are considered two of the best defensive players in the NBA and will make things extremely tough on opponents when the playoffs get going.
Other big moves during the offseason included the Philadelphia 76ers signing Al Horford to team up with Joel Embiid, and then moving Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat in a sign and trade deal that brought them guard Josh Richardson in return. The Houston Rockets alo made major news as they decided to deal guard Chris Paul to the Thunder in exchange for guard Russell Westbrook. The Rockets will be teaming up the two former OKC teammates in the hope that it will put them at the top in the West and give them a chance to win an NBA championship. For the Thunder, trading away both George and Westbrook signals the beginning of a rebuild in Oklahoma City.
So now that everyone is caught up on the major off-season moves around the NBA, let’s take a look at where that leaves all 30 teams as we preview the upcoming NBA fantasy season.
Things will most likely be different in the East this year as there are more contenders with a chance to grab an Eastern Conference title and get to the NBA Finals. Last year’s winner, the Raptors, no longer have Leonard and may even look to start a rebuild with key players like Marc Gasol, Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka not getting any younger and on the final year of their contracts. The Boston Celtics will look different after losing both Irving and Al Horford in the offseason. And the 76ers will need to adjust to having two big men as their primary scoring threats, and Ben Simmons will need to make some outside shots with Butler now gone to Miami.
With all of that being said, here are the four teams in the Eastern Conference with the best chance to grab home court advantage in round one of the playoffs this season.
The word is that Joel Embiid has lost some weight and is in much better shape coming into training camp. This will hopefully allow him to be on the court more which is a good thing for Philadelphia. The team also resigned forward Tobias Harris, added Horford and also still have guard Ben Simmons. The addition of Josh Richardson may also prove to be a great under the radar move as the former Heat player is a proven scorer.
Many people believe that the Bucks are already the best team in the East. They may have the league’s best player in Giannis Antetokoumpo, and also feature guard Eric Bledsoe and resigned All-Star forward Kris Middleton. And don’t forget the Lopez brothers. Brook returns after a solid season last year and is now joined by his brother Robin on the Bucks roster. The loss of Malcolm Brogdon will hurt, but the Bucks are still a scary good team.
Yes, the Celtics no longer have Irving and Horford, but given the drama that Kyrie caused on the team, they could be better off. Kemba Walker is a solid pro and will step in smoothly at point guard. In addition, another year of development from both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will definitely provide dividends. And don’t forget about Gordon Hayward. He improved as the season wore on last year and may just return to his All-Star form this year.
There are several teams that could surprise in the East this year and grab one of the top four playoff seeds, but the Pacers are the favorite going into the season. This is a team that plays hard each and every night and is simply tough to beat. Victor Oladipo is their best player and the addition of Brogdon gives them one of the NBA’s best backcourts. Up front, they are strong with both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis providing scoring and rebounding. Don’t be surprised if the Pacers secure one of the top playoff spots in the East.
One thing is for sure, it’s really going to be fun to see how things shake out in the wildly revamped Western Conference. In recent years, everyone tried to catch up to the Golden State Warriors, and that was a tall task. But now, with the departure of Durant, and the injury to Klay Thompson, Western Conference teams feel the time may be now. There are no shortage of contenders either as most of the good teams improved themselves during the summer.
Here are the four teams in the Western Conference with the best chance to grab home court advantage in round one of the playoffs this season.
While many other teams in the West made big moves, the Nuggets were quite content to stand pat with an already solid roster. Their big offseason move was signing guard Jamal Murray to a new contract. But don’t sleep on the Nuggets. Big man Nikola Jokic is one of the best players in the NBA and Murray is rounding into a great player as well. Other important players for Denver include guards Gary Harris and Monte Morris and forwards Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee. And don’t forget about rookie Michael Porter Jr who should be ready to contribute after a missed season last year.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers made the biggest splash in the offseason with the additions of Leonard and George, so many expect them to replace the Warriors in the NBA Finals. But not so fast. The competition will be tough and the Clippers will need others to step up as well. That includes guards Patrick Beverly, Lou Williams and forward Montrezl Harrell. But with Beverly, Leonard and George, Los Angeles will have an incredibly strong defensive team, and come playoff time that could make all the difference.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors took a few hits with the loss of Durant and Thompson, but they are still a force to be reckoned with in the West. The roster still includes Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and new acquisition D’Angelo Russell. And no team is better at integrating role players into their system than Golden State. Think about Kevon Looney and Alfonzo McKinney who are still around. The Warriors also added center Willie Cauley-Stein from the Sacramento Kings to man the center position. Thompson should return at some point this season and could provide the playoff boost they need.
Another team that sort of flew under the radar during the offseason is the Jazz. With bigger names like the Lakers and Rockets out there, not many are expecting the Jazz to be a top four team in the West this year. Most consider them a playoff team, but there are reasons to think they could do much better. Center Rudy Gobert continues to get better and is a solid anchor up front. In the backcourt, Donavan Mitchell is a great scorer and is now joined by veteran point guard Mike Conley who arrived from the Memphis Grizzlies. In addition, Utah added another shooter in forward Bojan Bogdanovic to help space the floor even more. Barring injuries, this is a team that could surprise a lot of people this year.
NBA Fantasy Tidbits
If you happen to be a daily fantasy sports player and you are looking forward to the NBA daily fantasy season to get started, here are a few things you may want to keep in mind for this year.
- With superstar players teaming up this year (James and Davis, Leonard and George, Harden and Westbrook) what impact will that have on their fantasy production?
- Which players off the bench may have the biggest statistical impact on their team? Think about Derrick Rose as the Pistons new energy off the bench or Dennis Schroder piling up points off the Thunder bench.
- Which rookie will be featured the most in the early season? Most times it’s the guards that make the biggest early impact which makes me think of players like Ja Morant, RJ Barrett or even Coby White. Oh, and don’t forget about Zion Williamson either.
DFS players are chomping at the bit to get started and the wait is almost over.
If you are looking to add some competitive edge to your DFS lineups this year, we recommend Draft Dashboard which you can read about here.