Thursday’s NBA main slate features seven 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: Russell Westbrook, Washington Wizards vs. Toronto Raptors ($11,000)
Westbrook continues to be the safest investment in fantasy basketball. He’s scored at least 55.75 DKFP in 16 of his past 18 games, and he’s scored at least 69.5 DKFP in four of his past five. Despite all that production, his salary seems capped at $11K. He certainly deserves to be more expensive at this point, so just keep locking him into your lineups.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Aaron Holiday, Indiana Pacers vs. Atlanta Hawks ($3,500)
The Pacers’ injury report is going to be a huge factor on today’s slate. They were without Malcolm Brogdon ($9,000; hamstring), Jeremy Lamb ($3,700; knee) and Edmond Sumner ($4,500; knee) yesterday vs. the Kings, and all three players are listed as questionable for tonight’s contest vs. the Hawks. Myles Turner and Jakarr Sampson also remain sidelined with injuries.
If they’re sidelined again on Thursday, Aaron Holiday becomes an appealing value play at $3.5K. He’s played at least 23.9 minutes in each of his past four games, and he’s increased his production to 0.86 DKFP per minute over the past month.
Worth Paying Up For: Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors vs. Oklahoma City Thunder ($7,100)
Kelly Oubre (wrist) will not play on Thursday. His absence has allowed Wiggins to pick up some additional usage. He’s scored at least 20 points in four-straight games, and he’s scored at least 26 in three of them.
He should be able to rack up points in this matchup vs. the Thunder. They’ve played at the fifth-fastest pace this season, and they rank just 23rd in defensive efficiency. The Warriors are implied for 121.5 points in this matchup, which is the second-highest mark on the slate.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Frank Jackson, Detroit Pistons vs. Memphis Grizzlies ($5,100)
The Pistons have been extremely shorthanded recently, and they’re going to be without a bunch of key contributors again on Thursday. They’ve already ruled out six players, while the likes of Killian Hayes ($5,200; illness), Cory Joseph ($4,900; ankle) and Wayne Ellington ($3,000; calf) are also listed as questionable. Jackson has been an excellent source of value recently, scoring at least 24.25 DKFP in five-straight games, and he should be looking at another expanded workload vs. the Grizzlies.
Worth Paying Up For: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks vs. Brooklyn Nets ($10,900)
The best thing to happen for Doncic from a fantasy perspective is him getting small forward eligibility. Instead of having to compete with guys like Westbrook and Steph Curry ($10,600) at point guard, his competition is much thinner at small forward. He should also benefit from some additional usage opportunities on Thursday with Kristaps Porzingis and Maxi Kleber out of the lineup, and the Nets are a strong matchup. They’ve struggled defensively this season, and they’ve actually been worse in that department with James Harden off the court.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Caleb Martin, Charlotte Hornets vs. Chicago Bulls ($3,900)
Cody Martin is the Martin brother that typically gets the attention in DFS, but Caleb is the player to consider on Thursday. Cody has already been ruled out for this contest, while Devonte’ Graham ($6,000; knee) is listed as doubtful. Caleb responded with 32.75 DKFP over 33.9 minutes with both players out of the lineup on Tuesday, and he should see a comparable workload in a strong matchup vs. the Bulls.
Worth Paying Up For: Darius Bazley, Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors ($6,200)
Add the Thunder to the list of teams worth monitoring on Thursday. They’ve already ruled out Aleksej Pokusevski, but Lu Dort ($6,400; hip) is listed as questionable. Dort has been the Thunder’s offensive focal point when on the court recently, so his absence would create plenty of value with the rest of the roster.
Bazley is someone I’d definitely be interested in if Dort is ruled out. He’s increased his usage rate by 6.0% in games without Pokusevski, Dort, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Al Horford and George Hill this season.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Sekou Doumbouya, Detroit Pistons vs. Memphis Grizzlies ($3,500)
Doumbouya has seen plenty of playing time recently, and he’s coming off 33.7 minutes in his last outing. The bigger problem with Doumbouya has been his pedestrian per-minute productivity, but he exploded for 35.5 DKFP in his last outing. Overall, he provides a pretty safe floor given his likely workload vs. the Grizzlies, and he has the potential for a big game if he can duplicate his scoring numbers from his last contest.
Worth Paying Up For: Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers vs. Atlanta Hawks ($10,400)
Center is weaker than usual on Thursday. Sabonis is the most expensive option, and while this is a higher price tag than usual, he could pay it off if the Pacers’ are shorthanded. He posted back-to-back games with at least 74.75 DKFP before “struggling” to 48.75 DKFP in his last contest.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Willie Cauley-Stein, Dallas Mavericks vs. Brooklyn Nets ($3,000)
Cauley-Stein’s playing time has been volatile this season, but he should see a larger workload vs. the Nets with Porzingis and Kleber out of the lineup. He’s averaged 0.81 DKFP per minute this season, so he doesn’t need much more than 20 minutes to potentially return value.
Overall Lineup Strategy
As is the case with most late-season slates, this looks like a stars-and-scrubs night. There are plenty of teams that are resting players or dealing with injuries, which means we have an abundance of value options to choose from.
I’m starting my lineups with Westbrook, who has been money in the bank recently. That’s not exactly a groundbreaking strategy, but it’s been an effective one.
The bigger question is what stud should you pair with him? Doncic and Curry seem like the best options, but Sabonis is also in consideration. You could possibly even throw three of those players in your lineup if you really want to load up on the values.
As for those values, it seems like a really good slate to save money at forward. Doumbouya and Davis Bertans ($3,600) are excellent options at power forward, while Cauley-Stein and Jahlil Okafor ($3,000) are both excellent values at center. Martin and Desmond Bane ($3,500) also make a lot of sense at small forward. Locking in three of four of those players allow you to do basically whatever you want with the rest of your lineup.
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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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