The NBA Player Models are the lifeblood of our NBA product. They house our projections for each player, but that’s just the beginning of what you’ll find inside. You’ll also find our Trends tool and so much more.
Let’s dive into our models, going position-by-position, looking at guys with some of the highest Ceiling Projections, along with players who are standing out as values with our predictive Projected Plus/Minus metric.
Note: Projections and Leverages Scores/Ratings may change throughout the day after this article is posted. Consult the Player Models directly for any updates.
Top Ceiling: Damian Lillard at Los Angeles Clippers – $9,300 DraftKings, $10,100 FanDuel
Now, this is a Damian Lillard price that I can get behind. Lillard saw a $1,000 price decrease on DraftKings, resulting in an 86% Bargain Rating for Monday’s slate. I much prefer him there, rather than FanDuel, where his price remains the same, and there are many other guards that we can get to that are better price-sensitive plays.
With all of the other studs on the slate and decent value to fit them in, Lillard is going to go overlooked at this price on DraftKings. He provides really good leverage and is a fantastic tournament play. In their season opener, Lillard played 40 minutes and produced a double-double on 40 points and 11 assists while also grabbing six rebounds. He went an uncharacteristic 0-9 from the downtown and still had 47 DraftKings points.
Two days ago, Lillard only had 24 minutes due to a blowout. He is well-rested and playing in a primetime spot against at the Los Angeles Clippers. Don’t let the minutes scare you off. He led the league in minutes per game just two years ago. Lillard will play heavy minutes tonight, and he is my favorite tournament play on the slate.
Top Value: George Hill at Indiana Pacers – $3,500 DraftKings, $4,300 FanDuel
Jrue Holiday is doubtful to play tonight due to an ankle injury. Monitor that news to make sure he is unable to go, but that leaves us with more Milwaukee Bucks value. The first place I want to look is Holiday’s direct back-up George Hill, who comes in at a very cheap price tag on both sites tonight.
In the one game Holiday missed this season, the Bucks got behind very early to the Miami Heat, 40-17 after the first quarter. Hill ended the game only playing 21 minutes and had an underwhelming 16 DraftKings points. You can’t predict blowouts, so if we assume this game is competitive, Hill is a great value at this price to fit in the studs on the slate.
Top Ceiling: Bradley Beal at Brooklyn Nets – $9,200 DraftKings, $9,400 FanDuel
The top ceiling shooting guard in our projections is Bradley Beal. Beal missed last game due to an injury, but the Washington Wizards seem very optimistic Beal will be able to go tonight against the Brooklyn Nets. Despite adding Spencer Dinwiddie and Kyle Kuzma this offseason, I believe Beal still has that high ceiling game in him.
In their first game of the season, Beal had 23 points, three rebounds, four assists, and four steals on a 32.9% usage rate. His usage rate was 34.1% last season, and I expect more of the same this season. The offense moves around Beal. This matchup against the Brooklyn Nets is the highest total over/under on the slate at 231. If this game stays competitive, it will be in large part due to a massive Beal game.
I like Beal as a contrarian option for tournaments, especially if you pair him with Kevin Durant or James Harden.
Top Value: Alex Caruso at Toronto Raptors – $4,200 DraftKings, $5,000 FanDuel
The big four on the Chicago Bulls get a lot of love with Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic. However, an unsung hero signing has been combo guard Alex Caruso. Caruso has been fantastic off the bench this season. He does a little bit of everything on the court and is locked into playing 25-30 minutes, and he closes games with the four that I mentioned above.
His usage rate is low, but he makes up for it with the amount of peripherals that he gets. Caruso has averaged three steals and one block per game. Those points add up on DraftKings and FanDuel pretty quickly. The more he plays, the more I think he will look to increase his usage rate. He had a usage rate of 14.8% last season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Although that is still low, it is better than his 12% so far this season.
Caruso makes for a good play in cash games tonight, given the number of minutes he will get at his price.
Top Ceiling: Jayson Tatum at Charlotte Hornets – $8,700 DraftKings, $9,700 FanDuel
Jayson Tatum had the best game of the season last night in a win over the Houston Rockets 107-97. Tatum went for 31 points and nine rebounds as he attempted 24 field goal attempts. It helped Jaylen Brown was ruled out, but Brown is also questionable to play tonight. We will need to keep an eye on the Brown news, but if he is out, this price tag for Tatum is too low on both sites.
Per the Phan Model, Tatum has the highest ceiling for small forwards on the slate, even ahead of Kevin Durant, who has been incredible for the Brooklyn Nets. Tatum is going to get his shots one way or another. He had 30 fields goal attempts in his first game and, as I mentioned, 24 last game. He is a threat for a double-double with rebounds as he has averaged 8.7 rebounds per game to start the season.
If Brown is in, this is still a discount on Tatum. If Brown is out, Tatum is one of the best plays on the slate.
Top Value: Franz Wagner at Miami Heat – $4,400 DraftKings, $4,100 FanDuel
A great option to get away from all of the Milwaukee Bucks value plays tonight is Franz Wagner. The rookie from Michigan has been getting all of the minutes that he can handle for the Orlando Magic thus far. I do prefer Wagner on FanDuel, where he has an 85% Bargain Rating.
Wagner has scored double figures and has had over 20 DraftKings points in all three games this season. This matchup against the Miami Heat doesn’t appeal to the eye. However, like I mentioned yesterday with Jalen Suggs, young rookies on a bad team, it simply doesn’t matter. Wagner will get his minutes if they are down by 5 or 25 points. He has averaged 35 minutes per game this season, and the Magic have the second-worst points differential in the league.
If you want to get away from some of the Milwaukee Bucks value, Wagner is the play.
Top Ceiling: Giannis Antetokounmpo at Indiana Pacers – $10,400 DraftKings, $11,200 FanDuel
We get to play Giannis Antetokounmpo again tonight! It hasn’t been pretty playing Giannis lately, but trust me when I say we need to go back to the well again tonight. After all, he does lead the entire league in usage rate this season with 36.2%. This matchup against the Indiana Pacers has a 230.5 over/under, which is tied for the second-best on the slate, and it has a close spread.
Last game against the San Antonio Spurs, Giannis got into foul trouble. He had three offensive fouls in the first half. He still managed to put up 47 DraftKings points in 30 minutes with 21 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists, but that felt underwhelming. With likely no Holiday tonight, Giannis will need to carry the heavy lifting once again.
Giannis is a fine spend-up option on FanDuel but is preferred on DraftKings, where he has an 86% Bargain Rating.
Top Value: Jordan Nwora at Indiana Pacers – $4,200 DraftKings, $4,500 FanDuel
From one Milwaukee Bucks player to another, we have a value play at small forward tonight in Jordan Nwora. He rates highly in our projections. Nwora has the highest Projected Plus/Minus and is the best Pts/Sal at small forward on this slate. The price has come up on Nwora since the regular season started, but not nearly enough for the opportunity that he will be given tonight.
Nwora should get a little over 25 minutes again tonight, and he will be needed to provide scoring with Holiday doubtful to play. For those who played the preseason, you know Nwora is going to hunt for his shot whenever he can. He had 13, and 12 field goal attempts in the first two games and a usage rate over 20% when Holiday was out and when he left early due to injury. Nwora is one of the best salary saver plays on the slate tonight.
Top Ceiling: Nikola Jokic vs. Cleveland Cavaliers – $11,000 DraftKings, $11,100 FanDuel
I get it, you see an $11,000 price tag, and you immediately write off one of the best players on the slate to go with a cheaper option. I had that first reaction as well. The more I look into it though, the more I love Nikola Jokic as a spend-up today. I’ll see if I can convince you to at least give Jokic a second glance as you walk down the street drooling over Giannis, Durant, and Harden.
Among the top options, Jokic has to be one of the safest. He is still playing without Jamal Murray, which provides a very high ceiling. Jokic has a 33.5% usage rate through the first two games as he has averaged 20.5 field goal attempts and shot 65.9%. He has averaged 29.5 points per game, 14.5 rebounds per game, and 4.5 assists per game. Jokic should be able to play bully-ball against this Cleveland Cavaliers frontcourt. If the Cavaliers keep this game competitive, I have no doubt that Jokic has the highest ceiling on the slate tonight.
Similar to Lillard, he makes for a great tournament option on both sites.
Top Value: LaMarcus Aldridge vs Washington Wizards – $4,300 DraftKings, $4,900 FanDuel
Last but not least, we have LaMarcus Aldridge, who I believe is one of the best value plays tonight on the slate. After a pitiful first game that everyone saw on national television, Aldridge has been sneaky good ever since. He had 23 points and five rebounds against the Philadelphia 76ers, and last night had nine points and eight rebounds against the Charlotte Hornets.
He likely won’t start and will likely only play 20-25 minutes, but that is enough for Aldridge to pay off his price tag. Monitor his status because he is a veteran; this is a back-to-back, and after all, Aldridge did retire and then decided to come back for another season. If he is good to go, I think this is a great price. I much prefer Aldridge on DraftKings, where he has a 79% Bargain Rating. On FanDuel, I would play him at power forward because the center position is too valuable.
Editor’s note: Aldridge (rest) was ruled out after this article was submitted.