It hasn’t always been pretty — and I guess you could debate if it’s always been safe — but the first half of the NBA’s regular season will wrap up this evening with a nine-game featured slate on DraftKings.
Where should you be looking to spend lavishly? Which teams present an opportunity to save? Let’s break it all down position-by-position.
De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings at Portland Trail Blazers, $8,900 - I think it’s safe to assume that you’ll want exposure to this matchup. Not only does this game have the highest implied total on the slate, not only does this game feature two of the three worst defenses in the NBA by points surrendered per 100 possessions, but both these teams should be sloppy on the second night of a back-to-back. Fox is also averaging 1.23 DKFP per minute with a 30.9% usage rate dating back to Jan. 17. That should play well with the Blazers allowing the second-most DKFP to opposing point guards this season.
Terence Davis, Toronto Raptors at Boston Celtics, $3,700 - On the surface, Davis was a complete bust on Wednesday’s slate, registering just 15.25 DKFP in 21 minutes of action. Still, it wasn’t for a lack of trying. With Detroit zeroed in on Kyle Lowry ($8,400) and Norman Powell ($7,000), it was Davis who led Toronto’s starters with a 33.4% usage rate in the 125-109 loss — he just happened to translate that volume into a 2-for-11 shooting performance and three turnovers. The Raptors will be shorthanded again on Thursday, let’s bank on some regression for the sophomore guard.
Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers at Washington Wizards, $8,600 - I was expecting George’s salary to shoot up on tonight’s slate after being at it’s lowest point in months on Tuesday. I was wrong. The All-Star is still well below $9K, despite 32 points and a 36.4% usage rate in the Clippers’ loss to Boston. Obviously, Kawhi Leonard ($9,100; back) sitting was a huge part of George’s volume, yet the former Finals MVP is also questionable to play in Thursday’s tilt versus the Wizards. If he’s out again, you’ll almost have to roll with George, especially with Washington owning the fastest pace in the league (104.5).
Wayne Ellington, Detroit Pistons at New York Knicks, $3,400 - It’s very unclear who will be available for the Pistons on Thursday, as the statuses of Jerami Grant ($7,400; quad) and Josh Jackson ($6,100; illness) are currently unclear. However, if those two are unavailable again this evening, Ellington is one of several Detroit assets that become viable. Now, it would be crazy to expect Ellington to recreate his performance against Toronto for a second-straight night — the veteran posted an insane 1.093 true shooting rate in the win — but the sharpshooter is 12-for-17 from distance in his last two games. He’s feeling it.
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Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors at Boston Celtics, $7,000 - Powell’s salary is up another $300 after dropping a season-high 36 points on the Pistons in an expanded role due to Toronto’s COVID issues. It was actually the third time in the Raptors’ past six games that Powell has exceeded 30 points, the as the former second-round pick is becoming one of the league’s most surprising threats on the wing. In fact, heading into tonight’s tilt with Boston, no player in the NBA that’s touching the ball at least 35.0 times per contest is averaging more points per touch than Powell (0.478). Adding this much volume to that mix is an easy way to become DFS viable.
Rodney McGruder, Detroit Pistons at New York Knicks, $3,000 - McGruder’s in the same spot as the aforementioned Ellington: If the Pistons once again find themselves without the services of Grant and Jackson, McGruder will likely be asked to log at least 20 minutes on the second night of a back-to-back. I mean, if you’re Dwane Casey, why wouldn’t you give McGruder some run this evening? The veteran took a team-high 14 field goal attempts in Wednesday’s victory over the Raptors, finishing with 20 points and 37.25 DKFP. We probably won’t get 12x value two days in a row, but 7x or 8x is definitely on the table.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks at Memphis Grizzlies, $11,000 - I’m looking for a bounce-back performance from Giannis and the Bucks on Thursday. While the reigning MVP was 10-for-15 from the floor on Tuesday, he was limited to only 33 minutes in Milwaukee’s embarrassing 128-97 loss to a shorthanded Nuggets squad. That ended a streak of 10-straight contests where Antetokounmpo has registered at least 50.0 DKFP — a span where he was averaging an eye-popping 67.5 DKFP per night. With these teams ranking fifth and seventh in pace across their past 10 games, I’m expecting a lot of transition basketball in tonight’s matchup. That’s where the Greek Freak thrives like no one else.
Carmelo Anthony, Portland Trail Blazers vs. Sacramento Kings, $5,500 - I mentioned above that you’ll just want pieces of this game in your lineups, and Anthony is one of the main assets you should be targeting. The future Hall of Fame forward has logged 30-plus minutes in three of Portland’s last four games, averaging 25.0 points and 38.75 DKFP in that trio of high-volume opportunities. Yes, you’re allowed to be concerned about utilizing a 36-year-old on the second night of a back-to-back; yet Melo’s actually shooting 46.7% from the field and putting up 18.7 points per contest on zero days rest in 2020-21. It’s only a six-game sample, but I’ll take it.
Editor’s Note: Pelicans PF/C Zion Williamson (toe) is doubtful to play in tonight’s game vs. the Heat.
Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans vs. Miami Heat , $9,300 - Zion’s price tag continues to rise, but it’s really tough to argue with the results at this point. Going back to Feb. 12 — a span of 11 games for the Pelicans — Williamson is averaging 1.38 DKFP per minute with a 31.4% usage rate and a .670 true shooting percentage. That type of volume and efficiency mix is the exact reason there was so much type about the 20-year-old coming out of Duke. Heck, Williamson’s doing all that while still expanding his skill set, as the forward has registered at least five assists in his last five starts. If Bam Adebayo ($8,800; knee) is out or at less than 100% health this evening, I have no idea how Miami plans to stop Zion.
Trey Lyles, San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, $4,300 - With Rudy Gay (health protocols) having already been ruled out for tonight’s contest, a lot of Lyles’ value comes down to the health of LaMarcus Aldridge ($5,800; illness). If the veteran can play through his questionable tag, you’re likely ignoring Lyles. However, if Aldridge remains out, it opens up a world of opportunity. Lyles has started and logged 29.8 minutes per game over San Antonio’s last four matchups. That’s more than enough opportunity at a salary this low.
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