The NBA is offering up a nice slate for a Thursday. There are seven games to choose from, starting with a pair of contests at 7:00 p.m. ET and wrapping up with a 10:00 p.m. ET tip-off between the Nuggets and the Clippers.
Let’s run through some of the top studs and value plays to consider for your lineups.
Editor’s Note: Wizards SG Bradley Beal (hip) has been ruled out tonight vs. the Pistons.
Worth Paying Up For: Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs vs. Atlanta Hawks ($7,100)
Murray has been a consistent source of fantasy value recently. He’s scored at least 33.5 DKFP in four-straight games, yet his salary has actually decreased by $300 over that time frame. He draws an elite individual matchup on today’s slate against Trae Young ($9,400), who ranks dead-last among qualified point guards in ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus/Minus.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Saben Lee, Detroit Pistons vs. Washington Wizards ($4,500)
The Pistons own arguably the best matchup of the day vs. the Wizards. They rank first in pace and 26th in defensive efficiency, which is a juicy combination from a fantasy perspective. Lee should also continue to see a few additional minutes given the Pistons’ current injury situation. Dennis Smith Jr. ($4,700; back) and Wayne Ellington ($3,900; calf) are questionable on Thursday, while Rodney McGruder (elbow) and Hamidou Diallo (rest) have been ruled out.
Worth Paying Up For: Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets vs. Charlotte Hornets ($9,800)
James Harden (hamstring) left yesterday’s game early, and he’s already been ruled out for Thursday’s tilt. He’s carried an insane workload for the team with Kevin Durant out of the lineup, so getting him a little rest is honestly not a bad idea.
With Harden ruled out, Irving is going to be asked to carry the offense. He’s increased his usage rate by 6.0% with Harden and Durant off the court, resulting in an average of 1.55 DKFP per minute. The Nets’ implied team total of 113.75 is also the top mark on the slate.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Bruce Brown, Brooklyn Nets vs. Charlotte Hornets ($4,700)
Let’s stick with the Nets. Brown is another player who should see a boost in value with Harden unable to suit up. He’s averaged 0.85 DKFP per minute with Harden and Durant off the court this season, and he should play around 25-26 minutes this evening. That makes him an appealing target at $4.7K.
Worth Paying Up For: Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets ($9,300)
Leonard stands out as one of the safest options on the slate. Paul George, Serge Ibaka, Rajon Rondo and Patrick Beverley remain out of the lineup with various injuries, and Marcus Morris ($5,300; calf) is also listed as questionable.
Those absences obviously give Leonard a boost in value. He’s increased his usage rate by 3.5% with Beverley, George and Ibaka off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.36 DKFP per minute. Kawhi has also scored at least 43.25 DKFP in five-straight games, and he’s attempted at least 20 shots in each of his past two. He’s an elite cash game option.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Luke Kennard, Los Angeles Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets ($4,200)
Kennard is a nice way to save some salary with the Clippers. He’s actually seen a larger usage bump than Kawhi with all of the currently injured Clippers off the court (6.2%), and he’s scored at least 26.75 DKFP in back-to-back games. He’s way too cheap at the moment, especially if Morris is ultimately ruled out.
Worth Paying Up For: Jerami Grant, Detroit Pistons vs. Washington Wizards ($7,200)
Grant has been the bright spot in an otherwise dismal season for the Pistons. He left Denver for Detroit because he wanted to be a featured part of an offense, and he has thrived in his new role with the Pistons. He’s coming off 47.5 DKFP in his last contest, and he should be able to deliver another big performance tonight vs. the Wizards.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Deni Avdija, Washington Wizards at Detroit Pistons ($4,000)
Avdija has played at least 31 minutes in back-to-back games, and he should continue to see a large workload moving forward. He was a premium draft pick for the Wizards, and they have plenty of minutes available with Davis Bertans out of the lineup. His stock would get another bump if Bradley Beal ($9,100; hip) is ultimately ruled out, and he’s currently questionable after missing the past two games with a hip injury.
Worth Paying Up For: Clint Capela, Atlanta Hawks at San Antonio Spurs ($7,700)
John Collins (ankle) has been ruled out for the Hawks, which should result in a few additional minutes for Capela. He’s coming off nearly 35 minutes on Tuesday after Collins suffered a sprained ankle, and he’s averaged a stout 1.34 DKFP per minute this season. He’s simply too cheap at $7.7K.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Isaiah Hartenstein, Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Philadelphia 76ers ($3,700)
Hartenstein got to make a rare appearance for the Cavaliers in their last contest, and he finished with 35.0 DKFP. He should see another handful of minutes on Thursday with Jarrett Allen (concussion) and Larry Nance Jr. (illness) already ruled out, and Hartenstein has averaged 1.09 DKFP per minute this season.
Overall Lineup Strategy
This is going to be an important slate to monitor the injury news. Guys Beal are going to determine the slate, so make sure to download the DK Live App to get notified for any updates on their statuses.
At the moment, Irving is the stud I’m most interested in paying for. Pairing him with Leonard and Capela leaves you with an average of just over $4,600 for your remaining five roster spots, which should be doable on today’s slate. Lee, Kennard and Hartenstein stand out as my favorite values at the moment, and guys like Brown and Tyler Johnson ($3,200) are also in play for the Nets, as well.
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