The NBA continues to roll on with a very compelling season despite challenges due to the pandemic, and as of Friday morning, eight of the ten games originally on the schedule are expected to be played on Friday night. The Washington Wizards-Detroit Pistons and Golden State Warriors-Phoenix Suns games have been postponed, and you’ll want to stay tuned to @dklive on Twitter and download the DK Live app to stay up-to-the-minute with all the latest news leading up to tipoff since the situation will continue to be very fluid as it has been all season.
With players sidelined due to injury, health protocols and trades, there has been a ton of great value this week, and that should continue with the 16 teams hitting the hardwood Friday. No team will be playing for the second day in a row, but the Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies, and Orlando Magic are still scheduled to play Saturday after their game Friday. It also looks like we’ll get our first look at the Cleveland Cavaliers since the James Harden trade, and the Boston Celtics are on track to return to the court for the first time in a week after having their three most recent games postponed due to health and safety protocols.
As you build your lineups for this nice Friday night slate, check out the four players below, who I think are poised to step up and outproduce their affordable salaries.
PG/SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker, New Orleans Pelicans at Los Angeles Lakers, $4,400
Alexander-Walker had a huge game Wednesday in Los Angeles against the Clippers, and he could be poised for an encore performance Friday as the Pelicans finish out their two-game stay in SoCal with a matchup against the Lakers. Eric Bledsoe ($5,700; eye) is questionable and could return to cancel the NAW show, but Lonzo Ball (knee) has already been ruled out, leaving Alexander-Walker some room to operate even if Bledsoe is able to come back from eye inflammation.
With both Bledsoe and Ball out, Alexander-Walker started and went off for 37 points, eight rebounds, one assist, one steal and 52.5 DKFP in 33 minutes. The Pelicans are expected to have Zion Williamson ($7,900) back in action after an inconclusive COVID-19 test kept him out Wednesday, so Alexander-Walker won’t have to carry the offense quite as much. Still, he flashed some serious upside for Stan Van Gundy’s team and should find his way to enough usage to be a nice play at this price, especially if Bledsoe is out.
SF/PF Grant Williams, Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic, $3,500
The Celtics’ situation is still uncertain with multiple players still questionable for this matchup. Even assuming the questionable players return, Jayson Tatum (health and safety protocols) will remain sidelined while he quarantines for a few more days. Williams would end up with a huge role if Jaylen Brown ($8,900), Daniel Theis ($5,500) or Semi Ojeleye ($3,600) join Tatum on the sidelines, but even if all are active, Williams should carve out enough of a role to be productive against the Magic. He has already cleared the protocols and does not appear on the injury report.
The Celtics haven’t been able to play for a week, but Williams logged at least 19 minutes in each of their past four games before the layoff. He played 24 minutes in a nice win over Toronto, scoring a season-high 14 points on his way to 27.5 DKFP, and he followed that with a season-high 28 minutes in a win over the Heat in which he had a solid 20.0 DKFP. Williams can fill up the stat sheet in non-scoring categories and offers defensive toughness and production when on the court. With Tatum out and others potentially limited, he should get enough minutes to be a great sub-$4K play, and he also has the potential to go off if he can get his shot dropping.
PF/C Jarred Vanderbilt, Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Memphis Grizzlies, $3,900
The Timberwolves haven’t been in the health and safety protocols as deeply as the Celtics or some other teams, but they did have to rule out Ricky Rubio and Juancho Hernangómez for this matchup with the Grizzlies, and Hernangómez is expected to miss at least 10 days. Without Juancho, the Timberwolves will have a hole in the frontcourt next to big man Karl-Anthony Towns ($9,900; wrist, probable). Hernangómez had started six straight games and been regularly logging over 25 minutes a contest, so there is some significant playing time available. The most promising option to step into that spot from a fantasy perspective is Vanderbilt, who has shown some nice potential at times this season but still has lots of growing to do after being a second-round pick out of Kentucky in 2018.
Vanderbilt has played under 20 minutes in each of his past three games but had strong showings against the Nuggets and Trail Blazers before that. He played 23 minutes in Denver and had 11 points, two blocks, three steals and 30.25 DKFP on Jan. 5, and then he followed that up with a double-double of 10 points, 10 rebounds and 29.5 DKFP in 21 minutes on Jan. 7 in Portland. With so many minutes to fill at PF, Vanderbilt should be able to play 20-plus minutes in this favorable matchup with Memphis and at least return 20-plus DKFP which would make him a solid play under $4K. He also brings upside if he hits his ceiling.
PG Reggie Jackson, Los Angeles Clippers at Sacramento Kings, $3,000
One other situation to keep a close eye on for value is the Clippers’ backcourt. Patrick Beverley ($5,000; personal) and Lou Williams ($4,400; hip) are both questionable, and the Clippers could be without either or both in this matchup. Beverley’s situation is totally unclear at this point after he logged 37 minutes on Wednesday in the Clippers’ overtime win. Williams tried to play through his hip injury in that contest but was limited to just nine minutes. If Beverley is out, Williams doesn’t appear to be in a position to pick up a ton of extra work, which would leave plenty of run for Jackson at the point.
Jackson has played over 15 minutes in five games this season, averaging 18.5 DKFP per contest in those situations. He had a season-high 33 DKFP in 26 minutes against Minnesota at the end of December but hasn’t seen much involvement lately. He actually didn’t even see the floor on Monday or Wednesday due to a coach’s decision, but he could be thrust into a major role if Beverley and/or Williams end up missing this contest.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) 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.
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL). Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ/WV/PA), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-522-4700 (NH/CO), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA) or TN REDLINE: 800-889-9789. 21+ (18+ NH). NJ/PA/WV/NH/IN/NH/IA/CO/IL/TN only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.