After back-to-back nine-game slates, the NBA will settle things down a little bit on Thursday night with only six contests on the schedule. However, that doesn’t mean we still don’t have our fair share of intriguing matchups to exploit or injuries to keep an eye on as we get closer to lock.
Let’s break it all down position-by-position.
Russell Westbrook, Washington Wizards at Denver Nuggets, $9,500 - It’s a truly difficult decision to choose between Westbrook and James Harden ($10,800) on this slate, but I think I have to give the former the edge. While Harden has been basically unstoppable since Kevin Durant (hamstring) went down with an injury, the Magic have the NBA’s best defensive rating across their past five games and there’s some serious blowout potential in Brooklyn. Denver, on the other hand, is allowing 117.9 points per 100 possessions in its last five and that trend is reflected in a massive implied total for tonight’s tilt. Oh, Westbrook’s also been averaging 20.4 points, 11.4 assists and 11.1 rebounds per game dating back to Feb. 12. That’s sort of important, too.
Michael Carter-Williams, Orlando Magic at Brooklyn Nets, $5,600 - Carter-Williams hasn’t been blowing people away with his DFS productivity since joining the Magic’s depleted starting lineup six games back, yet he’s managed to exceed 27 minutes of action and 20.0 DKFP in all six opportunities. The key for MCW has been his ability to contribute across the stat sheet. Though he’s struggled to score, he leads Orlando with 12.2 potential assists per contest in this span, while his 30 total rebounds sit third on the team. Still, with the Nets’ struggles to defend this season, you’d have to imagine Carter-Williams projects to have a little more ceiling than usual on this slate.
Terrence Ross, Orlando Magic at Brooklyn Nets, $6,700 - I don’t want to go too overboard in stacking Orlando’s assets, but Brooklyn has proven to be a fruitful fantasy matchup all season and Ross is in some kind of zone at the moment. The former lottery pick is averaging 37.3 DKFP across his past eight contests, the direct result of drastically expanded playing time and a 28.0% usage rate. It’s not even like Ross has needed to be all that efficient to reach these heights, either. In fact, he’s registered just a 42.3% field goal rate in this stretch, managing 52.0 DKFP on the lone occasion he shot better than 50%. His teammate Evan Fournier ($6,800) is also viable, but I believe it’s Ross who possesses more upside this evening.
Derrick Rose, New York Knicks vs. Sacramento Kings, $4,600 - This is a ceiling play. While Rose is coming off a 37.5 DKFP performance against the Warriors on Tuesday, he’d scored fewer than 20.0 DKFP in his prior three games, shooting an ugly 5-for-27 (18.5%) from the field during that run. That’s Rose’s DFS archetype in a nutshell. The highs can be exceedingly high and the lows can ruin a lineup. However, I think the veteran’s risk is somewhat mitigated by his matchup this evening. Sacramento owns the NBA’s worst defensive rating (124.2) and its seventh-highest pace (101.3) over its past five contests. I can’t imagine they’ll have an easy time stopping the former MVP.
Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans at Milwaukee Bucks, $7,900 - Generally speaking, I’m a man who prefers Zion Williamson ($8,600) when it comes to getting fantasy exposure to the Pelicans. However, tonight might prove to be the exception. There’s many reasons to like Ingram on this slate, starting with the fact that this is the first time all season that the former All-Star has been priced below $8K. Also, crucially, this is a matchup that would tend to favor Ingram’s skill set. We know the book on the Bucks: They shut down the paint. Milwaukee’s conceded the fourth-fewest field goal attempts per game in the restricted area in 2020-21, and they’ve allowed the fourth-most opponent three-point attempts. Ingram’s a 39.4% three-point shooter. Williamson has six made threes this season in total.
Justise Winslow, Memphis Grizzlies vs. Los Angeles Clippers, $3,800 - Winslow’s two games into his comeback from injury and while he’s only shot 4-for-24 (16.7%) from the field, it’s the volume that interests me more than the efficiency. The 24-year-old has somehow managed a 25.9% usage rate with Memphis, despite going over 13 months between actual NBA minutes. That’s incredible. Should Dillion Brooks ($5,200; thigh) be ruled out again on Thursday, I’m going back to the well with Winslow and hoping he brings back 6x or 7x value with a few friendly bounces on the rim.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks vs. New Orleans Pelicans, $11,000 - I don’t think I have to spend too much time explaining this choice. While there is a slight chance that Jrue Holiday ($7,200; health protocols) plays in tonight’s game against New Orleans, I doubt the veteran is rushed to return before his cardio and conditioning is back to where it needs to be. So, in the meantime, that should mean another game with extra responsibilities for the Greek Freak, a concept that has resulted in Antetokounmpo scoring at least 65.0 DKFP in seven of his last eight starts. The Pelicans haven’t been able to stop anyone on defense so far in 2020-21. You think they’ll start with Giannis?
Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets vs. Washington Wizards, $6,000 - Look, we all have our cautionary Porter Jr. story when it comes to DFS, but most of those tales stem from Mike Malone not giving the talented big enough leash to succeed. However, with so many injuries in the Nuggets’ frontcourt rotation, we don’t really run that risk on Thursday. Porter’s played over 30 minutes in three of Denver’s past four games, averaging 30.5 DKFP in those particular spots. Plus, when the Nuggets and Wizards last played on Feb. 17, the two teams combined for 258 points. This should be a fantasy paradise when it comes to script.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets vs. Washington Wizards, $10,400 - Obviously there isn’t going to be many scenarios where you’re able to afford both Antetokounmpo and Jokic; but if your exposure to the aforementioned Westbrook is going to be high on Thursday, you’d better have a few game stacks with Jokic bringing things back for Denver. Somehow, despite averaging 59.7 DKFP across his last 10 starts, Jokic’s price tag is down on this slate, creating a buying window for a man that has posted 27 double-doubles and seven triple-doubles so far this season. The Wizards simply don’t have the size to match Jokic this evening and he should be in store for another huge performance.
Robin Lopez, Washington Wizards at Denver Nuggets, $3,700 - Lopez is the lone Washington big man that stands a chance defensively against Jokic, so it’s likely we see the veteran log 25-30 minutes this evening, as he did the last time these two squads met. That might not seem like all that big a deal; however, Lopez is averaging 0.81 DKFP per minute in 2020-21. That puts 6x or 7x value squarely in reach in what should be a high-scoring contest.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (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 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.
21+ (18+ NH). CO/IL/IN/IA/NH/NJ/PA/TN/VA/WV/MI only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.