What has already been a crazy and wildly entertaining work week in the NBA wraps up with a nine-game fantasy basketball slate, which sets up a huge night of fantasy basketball contests on DraftKings. The possible Return of the King — LeBron James ($10,800) — is one of the many storylines to keep a close eye on by following @dklive on Twitter and downloading the DK Live app. With 18 teams in action and four on the second night of back-to-back games, there is sure to be plenty of breaking news to respond to and readjust your lineup.
As you get your roster squared away, take a look at my favorite picks from the less expensive, end of the salary spectrum listed below. Based on their form, matchup and expected workload, these players enter the day with a great chance to out-perform their affordable salaries. You can also find more bargain picks every day of the NBA season on my Twitter account, @ZT_Sports.
SF/PF Franz Wagner, Orlando Magic at Brooklyn Nets, $4,300
Wagner has started all 15 games for the Magic this season, averaging 25.5 DKFP in 32.4 minutes per game with an 18.2% usage rate. Like many rookies, he has struggled a little with consistency, but he has found ways to contribute in more categories recently, and his heavy minutes and involved role make him a lower risk than many cheap plays. He has at least 20 DKFP in five of his past six games and at least 28 DKFP in three of his four most recent contests.
He and the Magic were blown out by 33 at home vs. the Nets earlier this month, but Wagner still had a solid 30.25 DKFP on 10 points, seven rebounds and a season-high six steals. He had a season-high nine rebounds in his most recent game, which was a win vs. the Knicks on Wednesday. In that game, Wagner finished with 28.25 DKFP and was just one rebound short of adding the double-double bonus. In his past six games, he has averaged 11.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.5 steals, and that solid non-scoring production gives him a high floor and a ceiling in this rematch vs. Brooklyn.
SG/SF Bruce Brown, Brooklyn Nets vs. Orlando Magic, $4,200
For the sake of variety, I try to not have a player in my bargain picks for back-to-back games or have multiple players from the same game. But Brown has been performing well enough to overcome both those obstacles and make it into my value picks for the second time this week. He has been getting more work lately for the Nets while Joe Harris (ankle) has been sidelined. Harris went down on Sunday vs. the Thunder, and in the two games since then, Brown finished with 31.25 DKFP and 32 DKFP against the Warriors and Cavaliers, respectively.
At the beginning of the season, Brown was barely in the rotation for Brooklyn, but he quickly established himself as a key contributor and has started 13 straight games, averaging 27.7 minutes per contest. Brown doesn’t need a lot of shots to be successful, which is good since the team’s superstars get most of the scoring opportunities. In his 13 starts, though, Brown has averaged 4.3 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.4 assists to go with his 8.5 points per game. He had a season-high 10 rebounds in his most recent contest, finishing with 32 DKFP and just two points shy of double-double. While a double-double bonus is probably unrealistic, Brown should continue to be a good play at this price with his multi-category potential, as long as Harris is out.
PG Davion Mitchell, Sacramento Kings vs. Toronto Raptors, $3,900
Even though he’s not in the Kings’ starting five, Mitchell has had a significant role from Day 1 in the NBA, much like Wagner. Mitchell has averaged 20.8 DKFP on 26 minutes per game and has been one of the few bright spots for the Kings this season. Mitchell had a strong run of results early in the month, with double-digit scoring in five of six games, but his price has dropped back under $4K since he’s had a couple of down games recently. In each of his 15 games, though, he has taken at least six shots, showing the opportunities are there.
The 23-year-old rookie from Baylor has posted at least 18 DKFP in eight of his past nine contests, with a 19.7% usage rate over that span. He has added an impressive 4.6 assists per game to his 10.6 points and 3.1 rebounds over that stretch. He seems to be settling into a nice role as a creator in the second unit but can also score points in bunches when his shot is dropping.
PF/C Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Oklahoma City Thunder at Milwaukee Bucks, $3,400
The Thunder have been giving JRE plenty of work in their frontcourt on most nights, starting him instead of veteran options Derrick Favors ($3,300) and Mike Muscala ($3,100) in four straight games and six of their past eight contests. In each of his five most recent starts, he has posted at least 17 DKFP, and he reached at least 25 DKFP in three of his past four starts, thanks mostly to an increasing rebound rate. In his first nine games, he has just a 10.3% rebound rate, but over the past five games, he has posted an 18% rebound rate. He had a 14-board game during that stretch vs. the Kings and finished with 25 DKFP, even though he only scored two points.
His scoring has also been trending up a bit lately, and he has totaled 24 points in his two most recent games. If he has a good night in both categories, a low-end double-double is within the realm of possibility. However, as long as he is able to keep doing such good work on the glass, he should be able to return excellent value at this extremely affordable salary.
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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 do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. 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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