Thursday’s NBA main slate features six games, and the action on DraftKings gets underway at 7:00 p.m. ET. Let’s dive into some of the top plays, strategies, and injuries to monitor heading into lineup lock.
Worth Paying Up For: Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors @ Minnesota Timberwolves ($10,300)
Curry has thrown himself into the MVP conversation with his recent play, and while he doesn’t deserve to actually win that award, he has been awesome from a fantasy perspective. He’s increased his production to 1.55 DKFP per minute over the past month, which is the fourth-highest mark among today’s players.
He has a chance to be even better on Thursday. The Warriors own an elite matchup vs. the Timberwolves, who rank tied for 27th in defensive efficiency. Kelly Oubre is also doubtful, and Curry has done some of his best work this season with Oubre out of the lineup. He’s increased his usage rate by +5.1% in six games without Oubre, resulting in an average of 59.67 DKFP per game.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Mike James, Brooklyn Nets @ Indiana Pacers ($3,200)
James is the newest addition to the Nets’ roster, but he’s wasted little time making an impact. He’s averaged 1.2 DKFP per minute since joining the squad, and he’s played at least 21.2 minutes in two of three games. He should see at least that much playing time vs. the Pacers since Kyrie Irving has been ruled out due to a groin injury.
Worth Paying Up For: D’Angelo Russell, Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Golden State Warriors ($6,700)
Russell has been a nice source of value recently. He’s scored at least 30.75 DKFP in five straight games, and he’s scored at least 38.25 DKFP in three of them. He’s still playing limited minutes since returning to the lineup on April 5th, but he’s made up for it thanks to an average of 1.32 DKFP per minute.
He takes the floor in a nice spot on Thursday. The Warriors have played at the second-fastest pace this season, and the total on that game sits at 234 points. There are lots of teams with strong implied team totals on Thursday, but the Timberwolves’ mark of 115.25 still represents a sizable increase from their season average of 110.6.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Tyler Johnson, Brooklyn Nets @ Indiana Pacers ($3,100)
Let’s go back to the Nets for another value option. Johnson hasn’t been nearly as effective as James on a per-minute basis recently, but he should see more playing time. He played 24.4 minutes in his only game without Irving and James Harden this season, which is plenty of playing time for someone who is priced essentially at the minimum. The Nets also lead the slate with a massive implied team total of 125.75 points, so there should be plenty of scoring to go around.
Worth Paying Up For: Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets vs. Toronto Raptors ($8,300)
Small forward isn’t a particularly exciting position to pay up at on Thursday, but Porter is definitely worth some consideration. He’s scored at least 43.25 DKFP in four straight games, and he’s the Nuggets’ clear No. 2 option with Jamal Murray and Will Barton sidelined.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Kent Bazemore, Golden State Warriors @ Minnesota Timberwolves ($3,900)
Head coach Steve Kerr already confirmed that Bazemore would re-enter the starting lineup, and he’s a natural replacement for Oubre if he’s ultimately ruled out. Bazemore has averaged 0.88 DKFP per minute this season, so he’s always an appealing option when he’s expected to see significant playing time. He’s averaged 20.64 DKFP in seven games without Oubre this season, which makes him a viable target at $3,900.
Worth Paying Up For: Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets @ Indiana Pacers ($8,500)
It’s all systems go for Durant on Thursday. His playing time was increased to 32.6 minutes in his last game, which is more than enough for Durant to pay off his current salary. He’s also increased his usage rate by +9.4% with Irving and Harden off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.67 DKFP per minute. He’s simply too cheap at $8,500 in an elite matchup.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Jeff Green, Brooklyn Nets @ Indiana Pacers ($4,800)
It’s hard not to load up on the Nets today, and Green is another elite value option. He’s increased his production to 0.88 DKFP per minute over the past month, and he should see plenty of playing time for the shorthanded Nets on Thursday. He’s scored at least 33.5 DKFP in three of his past five games, so he has the potential to be one of the best values on the slate.
Worth Paying Up For: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets vs. Toronto Raptors ($10,900)
Jokic has had an incredible season. His production has been a bit down recently, but it’s due more to a lack of playing time than anything he. He returned to his usual workload yesterday vs. the Pelicans and responded with 62.75 DKFP. Overall, he should continue to feast as long as Murray and Barton are out of the lineup.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Goga Bitadze, Indiana Pacers vs. Brooklyn Nets ($4,000)
Bitadze is currently listed as questionable, but he has a chance to provide excellent value if he suits up. Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner both remain out of the lineup, and Bitadze has averaged 28.63 DKFP in two games without both players this season. If Bitadze is also ruled out, guys like Oshae Brissett ($5,300) and JaKarr Sampson ($3,900) would be in play once again.
Overall Lineup Strategy
This is definitely a stars and scrubs kind of night, and your lineups should start with the Nets. I’m locking in four players from the Nets – Durant, James, Johnson, and Green – and you could make the case to add a fifth like Blake Griffin ($4,900), Landry Shamet ($4,100), or Joe Harris ($5,400). Locking in those four players leaves you with an average of $7,600 for your remaining four roster spots. That leaves you with a ton of flexibility for the rest of your roster.
If you add Bazemore to that mix, that gives you the ability to fill the rest of your lineup with studs. Curry would be my next preferred target, but Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,000), Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,100), and Kristaps Porzingis ($8,700) are also viable options.
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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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