Thursday’s NBA slate features five games, and the action on DraftKings gets underway at 7:30 p.m. ET. Let’s dive into some of the top plays, strategies, and injuries to monitor heading into lineup lock on DraftKings.
Worth Paying Up For: John Wall, Houston Rockets @ Miami Heat ($7,100)
Wall is listed as probable for Thursday’s matchup vs. the Heat, and he’s simply too cheap if he’s in the lineup. He’s scored at least 33.75 DKFP in seven straight games, and he should continue to benefit from the absence of Christian Wood. Wall has increased his usage rate by 5.5 percentage points in four games without Wood and James Harden this season, resulting in an average of 1.15 DKFP per minute.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Cole Anthony, Orlando Magic @ Golden State Warriors ($5,400)
I’m listing Anthony in this spot, but he’s a placeholder for whoever ends up starting at point guard for the Magic. Anthony, Evan Fournier, Michael Carter-Williams and Al-Farouq Aminu are all listed as questionable, so this is a situation that you’re going to want to monitor before lineup lock. If Anthony is in and Fournier and Carter-Williams are out, he would become an excellent value option. He’s increased his usage rate by a team-high 6.6 percentage points with Fournier, Carter-Williams Aaron Gordon, and Markelle Fultz off the court this season, resulting in an average of 0.91 DKFP per minute.
If Anthony, Carter-Williams, and Fournier are all ruled out, then Frank Mason would become the preferred target at $4,000. The Magic would be almost completely devoid of point guard options at this point, so Mason would be looking at a large workload by default.
Worth Paying Up For: Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors @ Boston Celtics ($6,700)
Shooting guard is very thin today at the top. If Fournier is in the lineup for Orlando and Anthony is ruled out, he deserves some consideration for this spot.
Norman Powell stands out as well, but he also comes with an asterisk. He’s been starting recently in place of OG Anunoby, but Anunoby is questionable to return to the lineup tonight. If he’s back in, then Powell is too expensive at his current salary. If he’s out, then Powell is probably too cheap. He’s scored at least 31.75 DKFP in eight of his past nine games, including 47.25 last night vs. the Wizards in just 31.7 minutes.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers @ Portland Trail Blazers ($3,200)
The 76ers should be the most popular team target on today’s slate. They lead all teams with an implied team total of 117.5 points, and they own an elite matchup vs. the Blazers. Portland ranks 28th in the league in defensive efficiency, and they’ve been markedly worse in that department without Jusuf Nurkic.
The 76ers are also expected to be without Shake Milton. He’s currently listed as doubtful, and Maxey would be one of the primary beneficiaries if he’s ultimately ruled out. Maxey has increased his usage rate by 2.3 percentage points with Milton off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.01 DKFP per minute. He should also see a few additional minutes in that situation, so he has the chance to increase his volume and efficiency on today’s slate.
Worth Paying Up For: Jerami Grant, Detroit Pistons vs. Indiana Pacers ($7,400)
Grant has been a revelation for the Pistons this season. Most people laughed when he said that he felt underutilized in Denver, but it turns out that he was right. He’s shined as the Pistons’ offensive focal point this season, averaging 1.12 DKFP per minute over the past month. His price has come up a smidge, but he’s still not nearly expensive enough after scoring at least 44.5 DKFP in three of his past four games.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Danny Green, Philadelphia 76ers @ Portland Trail Blazers ($3,900)
It doesn’t get much more boring than rostering Green on DraftKings. He provides very little ceiling, and he doesn’t do much outside of make 3-pointers. On night’s where his shot isn’t falling, it’s basically impossible for him to return value.
That said, he has been playing around 30 minutes recently, which is a lot of playing time considering his salary. He could see a few additional minutes if Milton is ruled out, and a matchup vs. Portland is about as good as it gets for a 3-point specialist. They’ve allowed the eighth-highest frequency of shots from 3-point range this season – including the sixth-highest frequency from the corner – and they’ve allowed opponents to make 38.5% of those attempts.
Worth Paying Up For: Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers @ Detroit Pistons ($8,800)
Sabonis finished with 41.25 DKFP yesterday, but that was still a disappointing performance against the Nets. Brooklyn has been absolutely shredded defensively this season, so the fact that the Pacers managed just 94 points was one of the biggest surprises on the slate.
Still, I’m going right back to the well with Sabonis tonight vs. the Pistons. Detroit hasn’t been much better than the Nets defensively – they rank tied for 22nd in defensive efficiency – so it’s another potential smash spot for Sabonis. Sabonis has averaged 1.29 DKFP per minute this season, but he has significantly more upside than that vs. Detroit.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Kelly Olynyk, Miami Heat @ Houston Rockets ($5,000)
The Heat have dusted off Olynyk recently, which is a nice development for fantasy players. Olynyk has always had a fantasy-friendly skill set, and he’s averaged a solid 0.93 DKFP per minute this season. He’s coming off 30.7 minutes in his last outing, and Olynyk can do a lot of damage with that much playing time.
Worth Paying Up For: Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic @ Golden State Warriors ($9,400)
Vucevic should be the highest-owned player on the slate, but I’m not sure how you avoid him tonight. He’s scored at least 61.75 DKFP in two of his past three games, and he should absolutely dominate vs. the Warriors. Not only is this a massive pace-up spot for Orlando – the Warriors have played at the second-fastest pace this season – but Golden State is also missing both of their top center options. Draymond Green will do his best to make life difficult for Vucevic, but he just doesn’t have the size to stop him.
Vucevic should also carry a massive workload given Orlando’s current injury situation. Even if Fournier, Carter-Williams, and Anthony are active, Vucevic is still a threat to lead the team in scoring, rebounding, and assists.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Isaiah Stewart, Detroit Pistons vs. Indiana Pacers ($3,200)
The youth movement is apparently underway in Detroit. The organization has recently stated a commitment to getting some more minutes for their younger players, and Stewart is one of the more promising options. He was selected with the 16th pick in the draft, and he’s increased his fantasy production to 0.93 DKFP per minute over the past month. If he can get to 20 minutes tonight vs. the Pacers, he has the potential to be one of the best values on the slate.
Overall Lineup Strategy
The Magic are the key team here, and their injury report is going to play a huge part on today’s slate. Vucevic is a lock regardless of who suits up, but they could be an amazing source of value if all the questionable players are ultimately ruled out. There are already some solid value options to choose from, so this is shaping up as a stars-and-scrubs type of night. Make sure to follow @dklive on Twitter and download the DK Live app to stay up-to-date with all the latest news.
The problem is that there aren’t a ton of studs to pay up for. I like Sabonis and Wall most, but guys like Joel Embiid ($10,800), Stephen Curry ($10,100), and Damian Lillard ($9,800) are obviously in play as well. Ultimately, locking in Vucevic, Sabonis, and Wall leaves you with an average of just over $4,900 for your five remaining roster spots, and it should be very easy to make that work.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) 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 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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