Thursday’s NBA slate features five games and gets underway at 7 p.m. ET. Let’s break down some of the top studs and values at each position to help you build your DraftKings lineups.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder @ Los Angeles Lakers ($8,400) – Gilgeous-Alexander has been rolling recently. He’s crushed value in four of his past five games, and he’s scored at least 46.25 DKFP in three of them.
He takes the floor in an excellent spot vs. the Lakers. They’ve played at the fastest pace in the league to start the season, and they also rank 15th in defensive efficiency. That’s an excellent combination, so it’s not surprising that the Lakers have struggled against point guards.
Other Options – Russell Westbrook ($10,700), Donovan Mitchell ($9,400)
Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers @ Detroit Pistons ($5,500) – The 76ers remain shorthanded for the time being. Tobias Harris is out of the lineup due to health and safety protocols, and Ben Simmons is away from the team. That means Maxey should continue to serve as one of their top offensive options. He played approximately 37 minutes on Wednesday, and he’s averaged a respectable 0.79 DKFP per minute this season.
Other Options – Shake Milton ($3,900)
Seth Curry, Philadelphia 76ers @ Detroit Pistons ($5,900) – Curry has had to do more scoring than usual with Harris out of the lineup, and he has been up to the task. He’s scored at least 22 points in back-to-back games, and he’s finished with at least 34.25 DKFP in both contests. Overall, Curry has increased his usage rate to 26.6% with Harris off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.15 DKFP per minute. He’s underpriced at $5,900.
Other Options – Donovan Mitchell ($9,400), Devin Booker ($8,700)
Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons vs. Philadelphia 76ers ($4,000) – It has not been a pretty start to Cunningham’s career. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft has made just 3 of 22 shots through his first two games, and he’s averaged a paltry 0.56 DKFP per minute. Still, he clearly has upside for better performances moving forward. He’s posted a usage rate of at least 22.0% in both contests, and he has the ability to contribute in the peripheral categories as well. He figures to be one of the highest-owned players on the slate at just $4,000.
Other Options – Furkan Korkmaz ($4,700), Lu Dort ($4,400)
Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics ($9,600) – Butler stands out as one of the best pure values of the day. He’s been priced up after a torrid start to the year, but his $9,600 salary still makes him underpriced. Butler has posted career-highs in scoring and rebounds to start the season, and he’s also averaged nearly three steals per game. Overall, his average of 1.41 DKFP per minute is the top mark at a position that includes LeBron James. That’s impressive.
Butler owns an interesting matchup on Thursday vs. the Celtics. They have been one of the better defensive teams in the league in recent years, but they’re just 26th in defensive efficiency to start the season. They will likely improve in that department moving forward, but this matchup might not be as scary as it seems on paper.
Other Options – Jaylen Brown ($8,900)
Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder @ Los Angeles Lakers ($5,800) – We’re only seven games into Giddey’s career, but I feel comfortable saying he’s a good player. He’s been an excellent fantasy investment as well recently, returning value in four of his past five games. Giddey has averaged 1.07 DKFP per minute, and he’s coming off a season-high 34.7 minutes in his last game.
Other Options – Matisse Thybulle ($3,600), Kenrich Williams ($3,200)
LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder ($10,400) – James is currently questionable, and that has unfortunately been a trend for him since the start of last season. Assuming he’s in the lineup, he should be able to do some damage vs. the Thunder. They rank 25th in defensive efficiency, and the Lakers’ implied team total ranks second on the slate. If James is unable to suit up, Anthony Davis ($10,300) would become the clear top option at the position.
Other Options – Anthony Davis ($10,300), Jerami Grant ($6,800)
Jae’Sean Tate, Houston Rockets @ Phoenix Suns ($5,200) – Tate’s playing time has been all over the place recently. He’s logged 35.2 minutes or more in two of his past five games, but he’s also played 17.7 or fewer in two games. That makes him tough to trust for cash games, but it does give him plenty of ceiling for guaranteed prize pools. He’s responded with at least 31.5 DKFP in his two big-minute games, so he has upside when he gets playing time.
Other Options – Saddiq Bey ($5,900), Bojan Bogdanovic ($5,000)
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers @ Detroit Pistons ($10,500) – Embiid struggled a bit on Wednesday. He was just 6-18 from the field and 1-5 from 3-point range, and he also had four turnovers. Still, he racked up 42.25 DKFP and posted his second-highest usage rate of the year. Embiid has been an absolute monster with Harris and Simmons off the court since the start of last season, so he warrants consideration as a stud on Thursday.
However, keep in mind that this is the second leg of a back-to-back. That means the 76ers could choose to rest Embiid, so make sure to monitor the news heading into lineup lock.
Other Options – Rudy Gobert ($8,600), Bam Adebayo ($8,100)
JaVale McGee, Phoenix Suns vs. Houston Rockets ($3,900) – Paying up at center is recommended on Thursday. There are plenty of strong options to consider, and no one is really popping as a great value play. However, McGee could be an exception if Deandre Ayton ($6,600) is unable to suit up. He started in place of Ayton in the Suns’ last game, and he scored 18 points in just 19.2 minutes. McGee has averaged 1.21 DKFP per minute this season, so he doesn’t need a ton of playing time to potentially return value.
Other Options – Isaiah Stewart ($4,600)
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