There are just four days left in the NBA season, and Thursday’s slate should be a good one. There are nine games to choose from, 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: Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs @ New York Knicks ($7,000)
Murray has seen a pretty significant price decrease recently. He was priced as high as $7,900 last Saturday, but he’s down to just $7,000 for tonight’s matchup vs. the Knicks. The Knicks aren’t an ideal matchup – they’ve played at the slowest pace in the league this season – but this is simply too cheap for Murray. He’s averaged 35.55 DKFP with a comparable price tag this season, and he’s increased his production to 1.14 DKFP per minute over the past month.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Malachi Flynn, Toronto Raptors @ Chicago Bulls ($5,700)
The Raptors are tanking hard to end the season. They’ve ruled out a host of key players for tonight’s matchup vs. the Bulls, including Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Chris Boucher. They also have some reserve players that have been ruled out, which is going to leave plenty of playing time for the rest of the roster.
Flynn stands out as one of their most appealing options. He’s thrived when given the chance to play big minutes this season, and he’s racked up at least 28.25 DKFP in back-to-back games.
Worth Paying Up For: Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns vs. Portland Trail Blazers ($8,300)
The Suns own one of the best matchups on the slate. They’re taking on the Trail Blazers, who rank just 29th in defensive efficiency, and the Suns’ implied team total of 119.75 ranks second on the slate.
Booker is someone who should be able to find success in this matchup. He’s the Suns’ top scorer, leading the team in usage rate and points per game by a significant margin. He’s coming off 34 points in his last game, and he finished with 48.75 DKFP.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Jalen Harris, Toronto Raptors @ Chicago Bulls ($3,800)
Harris is another player who should take on a large workload for the Raptors on Thursday. He’s increased his production to 0.92 DKFP per minute over the past month, and he’s logged at least 25.3 minutes in each of his past two games. He should see at least that much playing time vs. the Bulls, which makes him a strong bet to return value.
Worth Paying Up For: Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers ($8,800)
The Heat have officially clinched a guaranteed playoff spot, but they still have something to play for. They’re currently tied with the Knicks and trail the Hawks by just 0.5 games in the standings, and the difference between the fifth spot and the sixth spot in the East could be very meaningful. The team that finishes sixth will have a first-round date with the Bucks – one of the most dominant teams in basketball over the past three seasons – while the teams that finish fourth and fifth while face each other. That’s a much friendlier matchup.
With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how they approach Butler in today’s contest. He’s currently questionable, and he missed the second half of Tuesday’s win after getting poked in the eye. I would expect Butler to play because that’s the kind of guy that he is, and I like his chances of returning value if he’s in the lineup. Butler has averaged 1.36 DKFP per minute this season, which is one of the best marks on the slate.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies vs. Sacramento Kings ($4,300)
The Raptors have some appealing value options at small forward as well, but let’s focus on a different team instead. The Grizzlies have an elite matchup vs. the Kings, who rank dead last in defensive efficiency. They also have the potential to be without two usual starters. Grayson Allen has already been ruled out, while Jonas Valanciunas ($8,100) is currently listed as questionable.
If Valanciunas is ruled out, expected Bane to be one of the primary beneficiaries. He’s averaged 0.82 DKFP per minute this season, so he’s capable of taking advantage of a few extra minutes.
Worth Paying Up For: Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies vs. Sacramento Kings ($5,900)
Sticking with the Grizzlies, JJJ will return to the lineup after resting during their last game. He should continue to earn more playing time as he reintegrates himself into the lineup, and he’s been fantastic when on the floor this season. He’s averaged 1.22 DKFP per minute, so he has excellent upside vs. the Kings.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Chimezie Metu, Sacramento Kings @ Memphis Grizzlies ($4,100)
On the other side of that matchup, Metu stands out as an excellent value option. De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton remain out of the lineup, and Harrison Barnes and Marvin Bagley are doubtful. Metu should see plenty of minutes with all four players likely out, and he’s averaged 1.03 DKFP per minute this season. He’s played at least 26.8 minutes in each of his past two games, and he’s responded with 26.25 DKFP in both contests. Overall, he’s one of the strongest plays on the slate.
Worth Paying Up For: Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers vs. Milwaukee Bucks ($10,700)
This is a very tough call between Sabonis and Nikola Jokic ($11,000). It feels weird to give the nod to Sabonis when he’s just $300 cheaper, but it’s impossible to ignore what he’s done recently. He’s scored at least 55.0 DKFP in six of his past seven games, and he’s scored at least 72.5 DKFP in four of them. The Pacers have been playing extremely shorthanded recently, and they’re going to be without Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb, and Edmond Sumner once again on Thursday.
Finally, the game between the Pacers and Bucks stands out as one of the best of the day. The total sits at a slate-high 244.5 points, so there should be plenty of scoring in this matchup.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Nerlens Noel, New York Knicks vs. San Antonio Spurs ($4,200)
Noel is another player who has seen a sizable price decrease recently. That said, he’s still playing plenty of minutes for the Knicks, and he’s averaged 0.85 DKFP per minute this season. This is a prime buy-low opportunity.
Overall Lineup Strategy
This is an interesting slate. There aren’t a ton of true studs to consider, but I like the idea of going with Sabonis and Jokic as my core options. Locking those two players into your lineup leaves you with an average of just over $4,700 per player.
After that, I’m looking at Metu and Flynn as my two preferred value options. Those are two of my favorite overall plays on the slate, and they should deliver excellent points-per-dollar production.
After that, loading up on some of the other members of the Raptors makes a ton of sense. Harris, Gary Trent ($6,000), Stanley Johnson ($3,700), and Yuta Watanabe ($3,900) are all underpriced given the number of minutes that they’re expected to play.
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