After a wild Thursday night that included the most lopsided game in NBA history, there are nine games on Friday’s fantasy basketball DraftKings main slate. There are some intriguing matchups to track led by the Warriors-Suns rematch and the two teams from Los Angeles going head-to-head in the two late games. As always at this point in the season, player updates throughout the day will tilt the slate and create fantasy opportunities, so make sure you're following @dklive on Twitter and have downloaded the DK Live app to keep up with the latest news.
There are lots of options to consider this Friday, but be sure to take a look at my top bargain picks highlighted below. Based on their form, matchup and expected workload, these four options enter the day with a good chance to outproduce their bargain-basement salaries. If you’re looking for more cheap options, follow me on Twitter @ZT_Sports, where I give out four to play under $4K every day of the NBA season.
SF/PF Cameron Johnson, Phoenix Suns at Golden State Warriors, $4,200
The Suns are on the second night of their back-to-back as they travel to San Francisco to face the Warriors looking to win their 19th game in a row. With Devin Booker (hamstring) sidelined, taking down the Warriors for the second time this week will be a difficult task, but Johnson’s emergence was vital to their win Thursday night and has been key throughout their win streak. Johnson has been playing heavy minutes all season and is now starting to produce in more fantasy categories.
He has scored double-digit points in six of his past eight games with multiple three-pointers in seven of those contests. Over those eight games, he has averaged 21.4 DKFP on 12.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.8 three-pointers made per contest. He stepped up with 17 points and 27 DKFP in Tuesday’s win against the Warriors, taking a more involved role after Booker’s departure. He also chipped in 19 points off the bench against the Pistons Thursday and had a season-high 33.5 DKFP in his 27 minutes. On the season, his usage rate is only 16.9%, but that percentage jumped to 20.4% without Booker on Thursday. With more work in what should be a great rematch, look for Johnson to be a very solid play on Friday.
SG/SF Max Strus, Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers, $3,800
The Heat will also be shorthanded for this matchup in Indiana since Jimmy Butler (tailbone) will join Bam Adebayo (thumb) on the sideline. While I wholeheartedly endorse jumping on board the Dewayne train and rolling with Dewayne Dedmon ($4,800), he’s a little pricey for this bargains post, so instead, I’ll highlight Strus, who has been stepping up lately and should pick up plenty of work with Butler sidelined.
Strus has played over 27 minutes in each of Miami’s past three games and scored in double-figures in each contest. He had 19 points and 29 DKFP against the Nuggets on Monday, hitting a season-high six three-pointers. He only had two in a big loss to the Cavaliers on Wednesday but still chipped in 10 points, three assists, a steal and a rebound on his way to 17.75 DKFP. His spot in the rotation has been inconsistent throughout the season, but he should get enough work while Butler and Bam are out to be a very viable play under $4K.
C Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers vs. Los Angeles Clippers, $3,600
The Lakers were able to rally and beat the Kings on Tuesday even though LeBron James ($10,400) was in the health and safety protocols. James has been cleared to return, but Anthony Davis ($10,900) is questionable due to a thumb sprain and was already playing through other injuries. Even if Davis and James are available, Howard is a fascinating option to consider since coach Frank Vogel has already stated that he’ll get the start against the Clippers and that the team will evaluate their starting center position on a game-by-game basis. He’s obviously a better play if Davis is out, but he’s the best cheap big man even if Davis plays unless another cheap option gets a surprise start—Naz Reid ($3,300) for example.
Howard earned the start with his first double-double of the season on Tuesday, finishing with 12 points, 13 rebounds, two blocks, two steals and 36.25 DKFP in 35 minutes. His 35 minutes stands in stark contrast to DeAndre Jordan ($3,400), who only played four minutes despite drawing the start. Howard drew the dreaded DNP-CD the game right before his breakout against Sacramento, so the situation is extremely volatile, but the veteran big man showed he still can contribute if given the chance. Last season, he averaged 22.2 DKFP over his six spot starts for the Sixers, so a return to fantasy relevance is definitely not out of the question at least while his salary is this low.
PG/SG Armoni Brooks, Houston Rockets vs. Orlando Magic, $3,400
The Rockets didn’t beat the Thunder by 73, but they have knocked off their fellow cellar-dwellers in each of their two most recent games and have now extended their win streak to four games. They’re getting wins despite missing No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green (hamstring), and last game Kevin Porter Jr. ($7,700; thigh, questionable) also left with an injury. Without Green and Porter, Brooks stepped up and scored a season-high 18 points in 30 minutes and even chipped in some defensive contributions on his way to 32.5 DKFP in 30 minutes.
Brooks has reached double-digit points in four of his past five games, averaging 12.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.2 steals for 23.0 DKFP over those five contests. The 23-year-old earned some productive playing time at the end of last season and could be set up for a huge workload in this favorable matchup against Orlando if Porter is out. If Porter plays, Brooks will still play a key role off the bench and bring nice scoring upside for 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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