Thursday’s slate of NBA games is ugly. There are only six games and three of them feature tanking teams who could get blown out. One of the better matchups could be the Denver Nuggets hosting the Toronto Raptors, which also happens to be the featured Showdown contest on DraftKings. Here are some players to consider as you build your lineups.
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Nikola Jokic ($19,200 CP): If the Nuggets are in a Showdown contest, Jokic is an automatic top option to consider for the Captain’s pick. He’s having an MVP-caliber season, averaging 26.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 1.4 steals. Not only is he attempting a career-high 18.1 shot per game, but his field goal percentage is a whopping 56.8 percent. He could dominate a Raptors team that has allowed the ninth-most rebounds per game and fifth-most assists per game in the league.
OG Anunoby ($12,900 CP): Anunoby isn’t one of the bigger names on the Raptors, but his recent play should earn your attention. He’s scored at least 33.3 DKFP in each of his last five games, averaging 23.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.4 steals and 3.4 three-pointers during that stretch. The Raptors’ depleted bench has left Anunoby to average 33 minutes per game, so don’t be surprised if he thrives with an underwhelming defender in Michael Porter Jr. ($10,200) likely tasked with trying to slow him down.
Kyle Lowry ($9,000): Lowry had a great performance versus the Nets on Tuesday, recording 38.5 DKFP in 37 minutes. The playing time was a bit of a surprise given that it was the second game of a back-to-back set for the Raptors, who had been giving some of their starters rest days in those situations. With the expectation that he plays a lot again Thursday, he could thrive with the Nuggets dealing with a couple of key injuries at point guard, including the loss of Jamal Murray (knee) for the season.
Khem Birch ($6,400): The Raptors appear to have finally found their starting center in Birch, who has served in that role for seven straight games. He’s certainly capitalized on his opportunity, averaging 10.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks during that stretch. With Chris Boucher (knee) no longer pushing him for playing time, Birch should continue to play significant minutes in this matchup.
Malachi Flynn ($4,600): When the Raptors were resting players a couple of weeks ago, Flynn stepped up in a big way. Although he’s back to coming off the bench, there is still added playing time available for him with Gary Trent Jr. (lower leg) set to miss his third straight game. The previous two games that he was sidelined, Flynn scored 36.3 and 22.5 DKFP, respectively. If you’re rolling with Jokic at the Captain’s spot, then deploying Flynn at his cheap salary could help balance out your budget, while also providing the potential for value.
Editor’s Note: Raptors PG/SG Fred VanVleet (rest) has been ruled out for tonight’s game vs. the Nuggets.
Fred VanVleet ($9,600): VanVleet hasn’t been the same player since returning from a seven-game absence because of a hip injury. He’s still logging heavy minutes, but he’s only averaged 13.8 points and shot 35.2 percent from the field over his last five games. Until he starts to show signs of coming out of his slump, allocating his hefty salary to your budget might not be a wise idea.
The Nuggets just played on Wednesday, pulling out a narrow victory over the Pelicans. They are only 4-6 against the spread in the second game of a back-to-back set this season, and their current depleted depth chart might make this a tough spot to earn another victory. Operating under the assumption that the Raptors won’t rest any of their starters, they could emerge with a win here.
Final Score: Raptors 111, Nuggets 109
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mbarner51) 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.
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