While tonight’s six-game NBA slate might be a little smaller than we’re all used to seeing on a Wednesday, let me assure you that there will be no shortage of value. As COVID continues to ravage the league — the 100th player was put into health and safety protocols on Tuesday — very few rosters look recognizable. In fact, the biggest issue we might have is that several men who will suit up for tonight’s games based on the hardship exception aren’t even yet listed in DraftKings’ player pool.
Say it with me: That’s a bit dystopian, isn’t it? It’s at least crazy, but without further ado, here are my favorite value plays for this evening’s action.
Editor’s Note: Tonight’s game between the Raptors and the Bulls has been postponed, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
SF Yuta Watanabe ($4,000), SG/SF Svi Mykhailiuk ($3,800) and SF Isaac Bonga ($3,000), Toronto Raptors at Chicago Bulls
This Raptors’ game is such a farce that we’re breaking usual convention and listing three value plays from the same team. Honestly, we’ve seen some teams hit hard by COVID this season, but Toronto will go into tonight’s contest against Chicago with just six players on its actual roster — one of whom, Khem Birch ($4,500; knee) , is questionable and hasn’t played a game since Nov. 21. In fact, those six Raptors’ assets are the only players listed in the DraftKings player pool, as the likes of Brandon Goodwin and Tremont Waters have yet to be added. So, what does this all mean for the men listed above? Well, first and foremost, it means minutes volume. It should also translate to Watanabe and Bonga — two relatively low-end usage players — forcing the action a little bit more than they usually would. I mean, there’s no doubt in my mind that Chris Boucher ($5,100) will be the Toronto asset with the highest usage rate when things are said and done, but the former G League MVP can’t take every shot. As for Mykhailiuk, he leads all Raptors in minutes logged in 2021-22 without any of Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes and Gary Trent Jr. on the court. It’s 44 minutes. This game is going to be a mess.
PF Dean Wade, Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics, $3,800
Another team that’s been decimated by COVID. Cleveland’s had to play its last two contests with super rookie Evan Mobley in the league’s health and safety protocols, but it has also since had to add Jarrett Allen, Isaac Okoro, Lamar Stevens and Ed Davis. It’s a shocking thing to say about a team that generally starts three seven-footers, but the Cavaliers come into tonight’s matchup with the Celtics incredibly thin in the frontcourt.
That’ll open the door for Wade. For the season as a whole, Wade is averaging just 17.7 DKFP per start; however, the 25-year-old has now exceeded 20.0 DKFP in five of his last six opportunities to be in Cleveland’s starting five. That includes a very similar feeling game back on Nov. 18 against the Warriors. In that contest, the Cavaliers were without Mobley, Allen and Lauri Markkanen ($6,000). Wade proceeded to log 40.0 minutes and drop 36.75 DKFP. I wouldn’t be shocked if that’s roughly the role we see for Wade again on Wednesday.
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SG/SF Cam Reddish, Atlanta Hawks vs. Orlando Magic, $3,700
This matchup also promises to be an embarrassment to the league. The Magic might be getting reinforcements this evening in the form of Cole Anthony ($9,100; ankle) and Wendell Carter Jr. ($8,700; leg), but we already know that the Hawks will be without Trae Young, Clint Capela, Danilo Gallinari, Lou Williams and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot due to the league’s health and safety protocols.
It’s not entirely clear how Atlanta will respond to these absences. Young has started all 29 games the team has played in 2021-22, yet I’d assume that it’s Delon Wright ($4,600) who finds himself inserted into the starting five in place of the All-Star. As for Capela, there are couple of options. Does Onyeka Okongwu ($3,400) move into the center spot despite only playing one game this season? Does John Collins ($7,300) slide over with the Hawks going small? Will Gorgui Dieng ($3,100) start? Either way, Reddish should see at least 30 minutes tonight. Considering his 24.5% usage rate with Young off the floor is second on the team, I think he’ll easily be able to pay off this modest salary.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and customer (my username is theglt13) 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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