I’ve been writing up these NBA slates for a long time and I can honestly say I’ve never seen one like tonight has to offer. Have we had small, two-game schedules before? Of course, though generally it’ll be Opening Night or a very high-profile Thursday. But a two-game slate where both tip-off at 9:00 p.m. ET? That’s new to me.
Who should be in your lineups? Which matchups stand out? How should you kill the extra two hours till lock? Let’s break it all down position-by-position.
Mike Conley, Utah Jazz vs. New Orleans Pelicans, $6,800 - Conley’s play has really picked up as of late, with the veteran averaging 37.0 DKFP across his past five starts. It’s a span of time where Conley’s been hyper-efficient, posting a .625 true shooting percentage and a team-best 1.27 DKFP per minute of action. He may lack the elite ceiling of some of the other high-end options at this position, yet Conley’s floor is about as stable as it gets on this microscopic slate.
George Hill, Oklahoma City Thunder at Denver Nuggets, $4,300 - Hill is sort of like the poor man’s Conley. You’re not expecting 50.0 DKFP when you insert him into a lineup, yet he possesses a solid floor — he’s scored 20.0 DKFP in six of his 11 starts this season — and he’s going to log about 30 minutes of work every evening. Hill’s also due for a little shooting regression. After leading the NBA with a 46.0% mark from distance last season, the veteran is shooting just 33.3% in 2020-21, having specifically missed his past seven attempts. Considering opponents have managed to hit 39.1% of their threes against Denver through 13 games, maybe that normalization kicks in on Tuesday.
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz vs. New Orleans Pelicans, $8,200 - Mitchell’s a DFS asset that’s always better when he’s playing point guard rather than shooting guard, yet options are extremely limited this evening. Also, Mitchell’s biggest strength, his scoring ability, is what could shine brightest in this matchup with New Orleans. While the Pelicans began the season looking noticeably improved on the defensive end of the court, we’ve begun to see some slippage the past week. In its last four contests, New Orleans has conceded 120.2 opponent points per 100 possessions — the second-worst mark in the NBA.
Jordan Clarkson, Utah Jazz vs. New Orleans Pelicans, $6,500 - Sure, it’s a stretch to suggest the second-most expensive SG on the slate is a value, but allow me to find some freedom in this rigid structure. It’s not entirely true to suggest that Clarkson’s viability relies solely on the status of Joe Ingles ($5,000; Achilles), as the guard’s quick trigger and 27.3% usage rate tend to play on their own; but we’re past the point of happenstance when it comes to Clarkson excelling with Ingles sidelined. To wit, the 28-year-old has posted his four best DFS performances of the young season in the four games Ingles has recently missed, managing to exceed 30.0 DKFP each time.
Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans at Utah Jazz, $9,100 - Well, when it comes to high-end assets at small forward, Ingram isn’t just the best one, he’s the only one. The former lottery pick is the lone active player priced above $6K at his position and while he’s not my No. 1 target on this slate, he’s viable if you can spare the salary. Ingram has yet to register fewer than 30.0 DKFP in a game so far this season and his 28.8% usage rate is a career-best.
PJ Dozier, Denver Nuggets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, $3,900 - Dozier’s price tag is a little surprising considering he’s been locked into some heavy rotation minutes with Michael Porter Jr. (health protocols) sidelined since late December. In fact, the 24-year-old has averaged 22.2 minutes per game in the month of January, with that average spiking to 26.0 minutes across Denver’s past three contests — the fifth-most of any player on the team. I doubt he matches the 27.5 DKFP he managed to put up on Sunday, but look for Dozier to flirt with 6x value on this slate.
Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans at Utah Jazz, $7,900 - I mentioned above that Ingram isn’t one of my main targets on this slate and Williamson is a huge reason why. Going back to Jan. 4, Zion possesses a higher usage rate (30.2%) and true shooting rate (.624) than Ingram, all while scoring more DKFP per minute (1.21) than the All-Star. Both are likely to finish tonight’s game with roughly 40.0 DKFP, yet Williamson will be doing it with a salary of less than $8K. There’s some clear value in the duo’s price discrepancy.
JaMychal Green, Denver Nuggets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, $4,600 - While someone like Darius Bazley ($5,600) does feature more upside, Green has been a steady asset since making his 2020-21 debut back on Jan. 1. In that stretch of nine contests, Green has managed to exceed 20.0 DKFP and score double-digit points six times. That might not seem all that amazing, but remember the requirements to be viable are slightly different than normal on a two-game slate.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, $11,000 - I can only assume that each and every lineup you fill out this evening comes with Jokic already inserted into the center spot. Seriously, there’s a chance that the big man is 90% owned on this slate. Still, while that might create an opportunity to pivot —- and maybe you do make one lineup without the All-Star just for the sake of it — there’s a case to be made that Jokic has been the best DFS asset in the whole league in 2020-21. The veteran is averaging an eye-popping 1.65 DKFP per minute played and he’s eclipsed the 60.0 DKFP plateau in eight of his 13 starts. With the Thunder surrendering the most DKFP to opposing centers this season, Jokic should continue to thrive.
Isaiah Roby, Oklahoma City Thunder at Denver Nuggets, $4,100 - Roby’s sure to be chalky, as most of the public has figured out that the sophomore is the next man up when Al Horford (personal) is unavailable; yet that only makes his slightly less appealing. In Roby’s three starts this season, he’s averaging 26.0 minutes, 14.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 28.4 DKFP. His eligibility at power forward will also come in handy, as he can be easily slotted alongside Jokic.
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