The NBA is officially back and bringing us slates like never before. Thursday’s five-gamer tips off at 4:00 p.m. ET and continues with games tipping off all the way through 9:00 p.m. ET. This makes following along with all the news on DK Live even more important — especially with this being the last week of the regular season. After the insane flow of news we’ve gotten this week, you’ll need to lock in if you plan on playing these final slates. Things will be constantly shifting.
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Worth Paying Up For: Damian Lillard, POR vs. BKN ($11,200)
Right off the bat, let’s make something clear on this slate — four teams (POR, MEM, PHX and SAS) are playing for their postseason lives, and some obviously still need help to get into the west play-in round. It’s not safe to pay up for any player that’s not on those four teams. The other teams without any motivation are sitting the majority of their top players, that creates easy value plays to lock in alongside the studs that are essentially playing in playoff games. By now, you already know what Dame’s been up to lately — a 51-point game followed up by a 61-point game. He’s averaging over 75 DKFP over his last two, willing his team into the 8-seed — which Portland secures with a win. The Nets have been scrappy in Orlando, but good luck denying Dame.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Markelle Fultz, ORL vs. NO ($5,200)
Orlando is locked into the 8-seed and playing without most of its top players. This is the perfect spot to unleash Fultz on an awful New Orleans defense that’ll also be relying on backups. Fultz topped 30 DKFP in just 22 minutes last game, and went for over 44 DKFP in 33 minutes the previous contest.
Lineup strategy is pretty simple on this slate. Another target with everything to play for is Ja Morant ($9,000), so he’s nearly as important for me to roster as Lillard. UTIL can be used on other guard value if you please, but all three of my guard spots will be pay up spots.
Worth Paying Up For: Devin Booker, PHX vs. DAL ($9,800)
And that third one to pay for is Booker, who needs a win just for the Suns to have a shot at playing this weekend. Booker’s scored 49-plus DKFP in four of his last five games, and should keep rolling against a Mavs squad locked into the 7-seed.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, NOP vs. ORL ($3,700)
The Pelicans didn’t have a run at the playoffs in them in Orlando, so now there’s no reason to risk injury to any of the core. NAW is an intriguing prospect that the Pels should want to get more of a look at. He scored 23 DKFP in 25 minutes last game, and will be facing mostly Orlando backups. He chucks shots up too, and while he shot just 3-for-10 last game, the more attempts the better.
With the guard positions so loaded up for me, it’s really just a call of if you want to use the UTIL spot on a play like Fultz or NAW, or double-down on centers.
Worth Paying Up For: DeMar DeRozan, SAS vs. UTA ($8,100)
DDR is kind of the fourth stud consideration, but I rank him behind the three guards. He just hasn’t had the ceiling games that the others have had, and there’s a chance the Spurs are eliminated by the time this game starts, or find out they’re eliminated at halftime. There are some holes in rostering DeRozan that don’t exist with the other guys to pay up for.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Lonnie Walker, SAS vs. UTA ($4,500)
SF is by far the weakest play on the slate. You can look to play a cheap play on a team with nothing to play for, or ride someone like Walker, who feels safe in this game. I could see him playing a key role if the Spurs do go for the win, and staying out there if they decide to bench key players. Walker’s played 30 minutes in three straight games, and exceeded 5X in each.
Again, unless you want to be a little contrarian and go with DDR, SF is an easy position to punt. The non-motivated teams give you some considerations if you don’t want to target the Spurs.
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Worth Paying Up For: Carmelo Anthony, POR vs. BKN ($6,300)
Forward, in general, is weak on this slate, but at least we have some kind of targets at fair prices that have motivation. Melo’s really been fantastic for the Blazers in the bubble, playing at least 32 minutes in each game, and scoring 30-plus DKFP in four of his last five. He’s coming off 44 DKFP against the Mavs, and should keep crushing against the Nets.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Nicolo Melli, NOP vs. ORL ($3,900)
The Pelicans are extremely thin up front, which should mean plenty of run for Melli. He went 25 minutes last game, but shot just 1-for-10. An average shooting game against the Magic should result in an easy 25 DKFP.
It’ll probably be a two-PF slate for me with how weak SF is. Brandon Clarke ($5,200) and Cam Johnson ($5,100) are a couple of mid-priced plays playing in “playoff games” that are also worth considering.
Worth Paying Up For: Jusuf Nurkic, POR vs. BKN ($9,200)
The Nets have been weak defending centers all season, and we know how much Portland needs this game. Nurk’s been kind of off the last couple of games, but we know how well-rounded he is, and how easily he can surpass 50 DKFP. I think he could be contrarian in tournaments, since he’s a little overpriced, and the guards are stronger plays.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Tony Bradley, UTA vs. SAS ($3,400)
No Rudy Gobert (back) has meant big things for Bradley in the bubble. He scored 41.75 DKFP in just 22 minutes in this very matchup against the Spurs when Gobert last sat. Not much else to say.
Nurk and DeAndre Ayton ($8,100) are the pay-up plays to consider here, but I won’t have the cash for them. Bradley is my top center play, and I like turning to a Jahlil Okafor ($3,400) play in the UTIL if you want another center.
OUT (Opt-out players not included)
Giannis Antetokounmpo (suspension)
Jrue Holiday (elbow)
Brandon Ingram (knee)
Zion Williamson (knee)
Rudy Gobert (back)
Aaron Gordon (hamstring)
Jaren Jackson Jr. (knee)
Mike Conley Jr. (knee)
Evan Fournier (illness)
Terrence Ross (personal)
Jonathan Isaac (knee)
Jamal Crawford (hamstring)
Michael Carter-Williams (foot)
Tyus Jones (knee)
Wes Matthews (hip)
Bryn Forbes (quad)
Aron Baynes (knee)
Chris Chiozza (hip)
Josh Hart (knee)
Seth Curry (leg)
Donta Hall (ankle)
Ersan Ilyasova (elbow)
Kelly Oubre Jr. (knee)
Kristaps Porzingis (heel)
Dorian Finney-Smith (hip)
Cam Johnson (knee)
Maxi Kleber (knee)
Set your DraftKings lineups here: NBA $300K Thursday Shootaround [$100K to 1st]
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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