Just a couple of days after a weird West Coast two-game slate, we’ve got another light schedule in the NBA on Thursday. There’s only three contests on tap for this evening, but that doesn’t mean we’re lacking in star power or injury storylines to keep an eye on as we get closer to lock.
Let’s break it all down position-by-position.
Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Bucks vs. Los Angeles Lakers, $6,600 - As expected, Holiday’s production is pretty much down across the board as a member of the Bucks; however, the veteran is still averaging 1.06 DKFP per minute played, thanks in large part to a 2.9% steal rate that ranks fifth in the NBA. More importantly, Holiday has seen at least 35 minutes of action in four of his last five starts, which makes up for some of the volume loss of the guard not playing a high-usage role. In a script that’s likely to be competitive — and in a matchup with the slate’s highest implied total — look for Holiday to be on the court a lot once again.
Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks at Golden State Warriors, $4,100 - Quickley’s minutes have fluctuated wildly so far in his rookie campaign, but you can rest assured that when the guard is on the court, he’s going to be involved. Take Quickley’s past four games as a point of reference. The 21-year-old is carrying a massive 30.1% usage rate, all while averaging 1.38 DKFP per minute and shooting 50.0% from the field. Now, it’s unlikely that Quickley will remain that efficient, and the likely return of Alec Burks ($5,300; ankle) will cost him a few possessions; yet you rarely find this type of upside for just above $4K.
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz vs. New Orleans Pelicans, $7,900 - When Mitchell’s playing off-ball, which he tends to do more of when Mike Conley ($6,500) is healthy, he needs to score to be a productive DFS asset. It’s that simple. Fortunately, after a slow start in December, Mitchell’s been doing exactly that across his past 10 games, averaging 24.5 points per contest while shooting an impressive 42.4% from three-point range. I doubt the Pelicans are going to be the team that phases the red-hot All-Star, as New Orleans has surrendered 120.5 points per 100 possessions over its last five matchups. Yikes.
Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz vs. New Orleans Pelicans, $4,300 - Due to an Achilles issue, Ingles has been limited to just six games so far in January, yet the returns when he has been active have been phenomenal. Ingles is averaging 11.8 points and 27.5 DKFP per contest in the new year, all while maintaining an eye-popping .715 true shooting percentage. Will he continue at this level of efficiency forever? Of course not. Still, as I mentioned above, the Pelicans’ awful defense isn’t exactly a deterrent when specifically projecting for tonight’s slate.
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks vs. Los Angeles Lakers, $7,600 - While he definitely draws the tougher matchup, Middleton being almost $1K cheaper than Brandon Ingram ($8,500) is very interesting. Where New Orleans’ forward has registered fewer than 40.0 DKFP in each of his past four starts, Middleton’s exceeded that total in six of his last seven games, a stretch of time where the All-Star has averaged 42.1 DKFP and shot 52.1% from the field. This isn’t a flash in the pan, either. Middleton has been incredibly efficient all season long, sitting as one of six players with a true shooting percentage above .640 and a usage rate above 25%. The other five? Paul George, Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic and Zach LaVine. Not terrible company, right?
Reggie Bullock, New York Knicks at Golden State Warriors, $4,300 - By no means is Bullock going to blow you away with his upside, but the guard comes into tonight’s matchup averaging 28.9 minutes per game this season and that’s enough to be viable on a slate this small. Bullock should also benefit from the expected absence of Austin Rivers ($3,900; Achilles) and the likelihood that the aforementioned Burks will be on a minutes restriction. Bullock isn’t nearly as appealing an asset as his teammate Quickley, yet his sturdy floor can’t be overlooked.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks vs. Los Angeles Lakers, $10,500 - Without question, power forward is the most stacked position on this slate, and that begins with the presence of the reigning two-time MVP. We’ve been doing this song and dance for the entirety of the Mike Budenholzer era, but for anyone unfamiliar, these are the types of matchups where using Antetokounmpo is crucial. In the seven games in 2020-21 where Giannis has needed to log at least 32 minutes, he’s averaging 60.9 DKFP. I’d say this script stays competitive enough where we see Antetokounmpo playing important fourth quarter minutes this evening.
Royce O’Neale, Utah Jazz vs. New Orleans Pelicans, $4,800 - O’Neale can be a frustrating DFS asset. While the forward has logged the second-most minutes of any player on the Jazz so far this season, O’Neale’s 8.7% usage rate is the second-lowest mark of all qualified players in the NBA. Still, he’s an above-average rebounder and a capable three-point shooter, which has translated to him exceeding 20.0 DKFP in eight of his 14 games in 2020-21. O’Neale’s not exactly someone you’re looking to get into a lineup right away, but there are worse options when trying to find some value in your UTIL spot.
Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans at Utah Jazz, $7,700 - So, people know Zion is averaging 31.5 points and shooting 79.4% (27-for-34) over his past two games, right? Obviously it would be insane to expect the sophomore to keep producing at an 80% clip, yet the big man has proven to be very consistent in 2020-21, having now registered at least 39.0 DKFP in each of his last six starts. It’d be nice if the 20-year-old was a little more active on the glass, but I’ll take my chances rostering an asset with a team-leading 28.8% usage rate that’s priced below $8K.
Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Lakers at Milwaukee Bucks, $5,200 - In a perfect world, you’ll be able to bring back a Bucks stack with one of LeBron James ($9,200) or Anthony Davis ($9,400). However, in most cases, it’ll have to be someone like Harrell filling that role. Honestly, you could do a lot worse, as the big man has posted 29.8 DKFP across his past six games and, for the season, is averaging a respectable 1.08 DKFP per minute.
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