New York Knicks NBA DFS Picks & Daily Fantasy Basketball 2017-2018 Overview
The New York Knicks are finally out of the cloud of Phil Jackson, or so it appears.
After a tumultuous tenure that ended following this past summer’s draft, which featured the controversial decision to take Frank Ntilikina over Dennis Smith Jr., the Knicks and Jackson mutually decided to part ways, paving the way for Kristaps Porzingis to take over as the face of the franchise.
Jackson’s interest in dealing the Knicks’ most talented young asset in “The Zinger” likely had much to do with his departure. It appears New York’s decision to essentially choose Porzingis over the basketball legend is paying dividends.
Though he’s missed time due to injury this year, Porzingis, when healthy, has been as dynamic a player as the Knicks could hope for. And free agent signing Tim Hardaway Jr. has also been something of a revelation in his return to New York. He’s averaging more than 17 points per game, a massive jump from his career average. He’s also double his steals per game from his career average. Porzingis, meanwhile, has averaged 25.4 points per game, compared to his career average of 17.3.
The Knicks also have surprising depth, with veterans like Courtney Lee, Enes Kanter, Kyle O’Quinn, Ramon Sessions, Jarrett Jack, and Michael Beasley. Lee and Kanter are legitimate players who demand big (or at least bigger) contracts, but the rest are affordable and bring some level of veteran reliability to the squad.
Then, there’s the younger class of Knicks, including Doug McDermott, Ron Baker, Willy Hernangomez, Frank Ntilikina, and Damyean Dotson, among others. And don’t forget about low-minute vets like Joakim Noah (more of a no-minute guy at this point in his career) and Lance Thomas. At minimum, they provide veteran guidance to a team with a lot of young players at the forefront.
The Knicks have promise and need to stay healthy to contend for a postseason spot in the Eastern Conference. But how does their .500 start translate to fantasy?
Well, the Knicks are not a fast team, ranking in the bottom 10 in pace (ninth-to-last), but they play in a conference that boasts 10 of the 15 fastest-paced teams in the entire league. As a result, they oftentimes see a positive pace differential. This allows them to slow other teams down and catch them off rhythm. It’s also allowed them to erase notable deficits at times.
New York Knicks Top Options
Kristaps Porzingis – PF/C
Porzingis has a usage in 2017 up there with elite players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard. In fact, it’s slightly higher than both of those franchise players’ usage at 31.8 (compared to Russell Westbrook’s 35.1 and James Harden’s 36, for reference). However, his salary is almost always in the $8K to $9K range, and could eventually reach $10K. The same cannot be said for Antetokounmpo or Westbrook or Harden, all of whom have seen salaries in five figures more often than not.
But Porzingis does have a shortcoming — his inability to truly rack up peripheral stats. While Giannis, Russell, and James are all consistent double-double (and even triple-double) threats, Porzingis is quite reliant on scoring to hit his value. While he has just three double-digit rebounding performances this year, he can provide major upside with his vaunted rim protection. Averaging 2.1 blocks per game, Porzingis carries some additional upside every time he can get his minutes (which is almost always contingent on how healthy he is). He’s registered as many as six blocks in a game this year, showing that he can sometimes get you double-digit DK points just from rim protection.
Porzingis has been adamant this season that he is an elite player. He’s a freak, boasting incredible rim protection, stellar scoring ability, and a perimeter game that is frightening for how tall he is. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more athletic big, and opposing teams will continue to struggle with his size and versatility, especially slower bigs who can’t hang on the 3-point line.
Tim Hardaway Jr. – SG/SF
The Michigan product’s first stint in the Big Apple was a massive failure, ultimately leading him to a tenure with the Hawks. He looked better there, and after last season, Hardaway entered free agency. As fate would have it, he landed back in New York with a shot at redemption.
He has unquestionably delivered this year, improving his points per game average by around 50 percent compared his career average and showcasing playmaking abilities in clutch moments. Whatever NBA transition problems he was having in his first run with the Knicks, those seem to be behind him.
He’s also shooting a lot more. In Hardaway’s career, he’s averaged fewer than 11 FGA per game, but this season he’s up to 15. Though his FG, 3P, and FT percentages for 2017-18 have all dipped below his career averages, his increased usage has allowed him to make up for that. Hardaway averages twice as many steals, rebounds, and assists per game than he has over his career.
While Hardaway isn’t the most efficient player on the Knicks, he does have a scrappy style of play that reminds me of Lance Stephenson at his best a few years back. While Hardaway isn’t exactly Sixers-era Andre Iguodala, he is capable of stuffing multiple stat columns and contributing to your DFS production in multiple ways. He’s always a GPP option but is a very good Cash option whenever injuries lead him to be the focal point of the offense.
Courtney Lee – SG/SF
Lee has a very old-school approach to basketball, leading with lockdown defense and adding 3-point abilities to the Knicks’ offense. In past years, he’s always taken a more passive role in the offense, but this season, which has seen injuries keep Kanter and Porzingis out of several contests, Lee has had opportunities to display his abilities in multiple categories.
And like Hardaway, he’s seen increases in points, assists, and rebounds per game this season over his career averages. Lee often garners mid-range salaries, likely the result of years of mediocrity from a fantasy perspective.
The veteran is an often-overlooked commodity. However, in games where injuries have rattled the Knicks’ rotation, Lee has been integral, flashing upside in the high-30s. Sure, his DFS value is somewhat contingent on opportunity, but the Knicks are a fairly injury-prone squad. If Lee’s usage is going to be there, he’s much more appealing in Cash. But if there’s any indication that he should see more run on a given night, Lee is normally a good salary-relief option for tournaments.
Enes Kanter – PF/C
Kanter went from playing alongside Russell Westbrook to playing alongside Kristaps Porzingis. You could make the argument the latter is much more suitable for him. Averaging almost four offensive rebounds per game this season, Kanter has been remarkable on the glass, which has also allowed him to find many easy layups off misses. He’s also averaging a double-double per game, on account of his 10+ rebounds per night (again, on average).
While his time in OKC was positive, he was always much better without Steven Adams in the rotation. And Russell Westbrook ate up so much of the team’s usage last year that there often wasn’t much room for Kanter. He competed with Adams and Victor Oladipo for the scraps left behind by Westbrook.
This season, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Kanter is dominating opponents on the boards and is the third-highest scorer on the team. As a result, he’s an excellent Cash play on most nights (especially on sites that give performance bonuses), as a double-double is always on the table.
Jarret Jack – PG/SG
Jack hardly ever inspires a lot of confidence. His viral fail from the preseason (where he sailed a full-court shot about 15 rows into the stands) is a pretty good way to sum up what you get from him. Hardly a finesse player, Jack employs a gritty style, which doesn’t exactly yield production. He’s a low-upside player, since he’s a reserve scorer on this squad, but there are times when he has appeal. For instance, he dropped 33 DK points in a December matchup against a Mike Conley-less Memphis backcourt. He also put up 37 DK points in November against Dennis Schroder and the Hawks. All that is to say Jack is very much dependent on his matchup. His minutes should stay in the mid- to high-20s per night as Ntilikina isn’t quite ready to take on more action. For what it’s worth, Ramon Sessions is no threat to Jack’s role in the rotation.
Kyle O’Quinn – PF/C
Picking the right night to be on O’Quinn can be difficult. First, he only has DFS appeal if Kanter sits. When that does happen, it’s often an arms race between O’Quinn and Willy Hernangomez, but so far in the 2017-18 season, O’Quinn seems to be the preferred option.
To give you a better sense of the difficulty in picking O’Quinn, in three games where his minutes exceeded 20 in November, he scored 14.5, 50.75, and 25.75 DK points. So there’s merit in rostering him when his minutes will be elevated, but there’s arguably more of an argument for fading him, specifically if he doesn’t have a plum matchup. Just know that he is one of the higher-owned players on a given slate when the Knicks’ frontcourt loses a starter or two, specifically if it’s Kanter who sits.
Michael Beasley – SF/PF
Like O’Quinn’s, Beasley’s value is solely reliant on injuries. Even then, there’s risk associated with the once-promising talent out of Kansas State. In the first two months of the season, Beasley has logged 96 percent of his minutes at power forward. This means Porzingis sitting is the clearest way for Beasley to see maximum run. It also helps if Tim Hardaway Jr. is out, as that gives the Knicks about 15 extra shots to make up. Keep a close eye on minutes projections; Beasley only has upside if he plays minutes in the high-20s (or above). Here are the vet’s two stat lines from games in which he’s seen more than 27 minutes this season:
Beasley @ Houston Rockets: 36 minutes, 30 points, eight rebounds, two assists, one block (42 DraftKings points)
Beasley vs. Orlando Magic: 27 minutes, 21 points, three rebounds, one assist, one block (26.25 DraftKings points)
The most notable takeaway from those two lines is the number of actual points Beasley has to score to hit his upside. That makes this decision-making process a little simpler. Is Beasley going to take on the brunt of his team’s offensive playmaking in a given matchup? If the answer skews toward “yes,” he’s in play. But a lot needs to happen for that to be the case.
Frank Ntilikina – PG/SG
The Knicks’ rookie point guard, who was the last high-profile draft pick by Phil Jackson, has a ways to go before he can fully contribute to this team. And with Porzingis, Kanter, and Hardaway Jr. as the preferred options, plus a veteran backcourt capable of managing games, there doesn’t really seem to be a need to rush Ntilikina into more minutes. Barring injury, he’s off the fantasy radar until proven otherwise. Expect his 19 MPG average to stay consistent, though Jeff Hornacek may attempt to get him in the low-20s at some point.
Doug McDermott – SF/PF
His nickname of “Dougie McBuckets” suggests fantasy appeal, but even with consistent minutes (23.5 per game), the former Creighton star rarely exceeds even 20 DK points. As a result, his DK points per minute average lands in the .60 to .65 range, which means, in theory, he would need to see minutes in the 30s to even consider in Cash. That almost never happens, nor should it if Porzingis and Hardaway are healthy. McDermott may grow into his nickname at some point, but he’s little more than a tournament flyer at this point.
Joakim Noah – C
A once dominant frontcourt presence in Chicago, Noah is a shell of his former self. He began the season with a 20-game suspension due to a failed drug test. While he has been reintroduced in a very small way since his return, his minutes are extremely inconsistent. As such, Noah is, for now, a very deep tournament flyer option, but you really only want to go there if Kanter and/or O’Quinn are ruled out.
Damyean Dotson – SG/SF
Dotson, the actual final draft pick from The Zen Master, is in a similar position as Ntilikina. He’s a bit buried on this depth chart. There may be moments where minutes open up, but Courtney Lee has the SG position pretty much on lockdown. Meanwhile, small forward, the position in which Dotson plays just under half his minutes, is Hardaway’s and McDermott’s most of the time. Long story short, there just aren’t a lot of minutes to go around, even with injuries (as we saw with Hardaway in December).
Ramon Sessions – PG
Sessions is very much in the twilight of his career and is, at best, no more than a veteran presence on this team. At worst, he’s a stop gap until Ntilikina can get up to game speed. Barring injuries to essentially all of the preferred backcourt options, Sessions is well off the fantasy radar.
Ron Baker – PG/SG
Like Sessions, Baker just doesn’t see enough run to be a valuable play. The fact that he has logged minutes this season at PG, SG, and SF does give him a Lance Stephenson feel, except with lower upside, greater uncertainty (somehow), and less athleticism. Baker should only be on your radar if Courtney Lee gets hurt or sits.
Lance Thomas – SF/PF
Thomas brings intangible value to this squad. His veteran presence and leadership is something in which the organization has invested heavily. However, Thomas offers no NBA DFS appeal, and you really should be able to do better, even if injuries pave the way for more minutes. This is a good example of where real-life value, even if not extremely apparent, can be meaningless in the scope of NBA DFS.
Willy Hernangomez – PF/C
Hernangomez showed flashes of upside last season thanks to the Knicks’ battered frontcourt. This season, he’s averaging just 11 minutes per game, not see enough run for you to strongly consider him. Even in games where Kanter was ruled out, O’Quinn picked up the production and minutes. A lot will have to happen for Hernangomez to become viable, even in tournaments.
The New York Knicks may as well be the New York Unicorns, as Kristaps Porzingis is the heart and soul of this squad. He’s far and away the most appealing DFS play on this roster. But the core of this Knicks team provides plenty of DFS options, especially considering how many bad Eastern Conference teams they’ll see this year.