Friday’s main NBA slate features 10 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: Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers ($9,700)
After a shooting slump and some time off earlier in April, Lillard has been back to top form as he prepares for Dame Time in the postseason. The Blazers and Lakers are currently tied for the No. 6 seed, which is especially significant since that is the first spot to avoid the play-in tournament. With the Lakers’ rotation severely depleted by injuries, the Blazers should be able to get this much-needed win, as long as Lillard stays hot. He has been locked in over his four most recent games, averaging 56.3 DKFP on 30.8 points, 9.8 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. His production has gone up to 1.6 DKFP per minute over that stretch while his usage rate has spiked to 30.1% in those games.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Armoni Brooks, Houston Rockets at Milwaukee Bucks ($3,900)
The Rockets’ injury report is intense this Friday with 13 players listed, including Kevin Porter Jr. (ankle), who has been ruled out. The only PGs potentially available are Brooks and D.J. Augustin ($3,000; ankle), who hasn’t seen the floor in almost a month and was active Wednesday but did not play.
Whether Augustin plays or not, Brooks is set up for a huge workload. The 22-year-old played 30 minutes Wednesday and stepped up with 20 points and 28.0 DKFP to help fill in after Porter’s injury. He has made five starts for Houston this season, averaging over 31 minutes per game in that role and producing 8.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists. Even though his efficiency hasn’t been great, the volume of minutes and his usage should help him produce at least value and also give him a very high ceiling if he soaks up a bunch of garbage-time production against the Bucks, who are favored by 17 points on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Worth Paying Up For: Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves at Miami Heat ($7,900)
Edwards is coming off a massive 66.5-DKFP performance on Wednesday when he matched his previous season-high with 42 points and added seven assists and six rebounds. The return of D’Angelo Russell ($7,300) to the starting lineup for the first time since February 8 definitely didn’t hurt Edwards and actually seemed to open up more space for him.
Edwards has over 40 DKFP in four of his past six games on a usage rate of 28.1% while averaging 1.3 DKFP per minute. The 19-year-old No. 1 overall pick has put together an impressive rookie season and should be able to keep rolling against the Heat, who allow the second-most DKFP to opposing SG in the NBA.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Alex Caruso, Los Angeles Lakers at Portland Trail Blazers ($4,000)
The Lakers will be without LeBron James (ankle) and Dennis Schroder (health and safety protocols) for the third straight game when they visit the Blazers, and could also be without Anthony Davis ($9,800; back), who left Thursday night’s game early with back spasms. The Lakers desperately need Caruso to step up in the backcourt, and he should at least return value based on the workload he’ll have to carry. He started Monday against the Nuggets and had 11 points, three assists and 25.25 DKFP. On Thursday, he played even more minutes and finished with 21.5 DKFP on eight points, seven assists and two steals. Since he’s the only true PG the Lakers have available, look for him to get plenty of work against Portland.
Worth Paying Up For: DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs at Sacramento Kings ($8,400)
The Spurs are limping to the finishing line of an especially brutal post-All-Star schedule, and DeRozan has been given some games off for rest purposes despite the team still chasing the final spot in the play-in tournament. DeRozan only played 18 minutes in a blowout loss on Wednesday but had been on a nice roll before that, posting over 44 DKFP in four of his previous five games, highlighted by a 61.0-DKFP performance against the Celtics in which he had 30 points and 14 assists.
DeRozan has posted 1.2 DKFP per minute in his 55 games this season with a healthy 25.8% usage rate. In a favorable matchup against the up-tempo Kings, he is a great way to get an elite ceiling while paying under $9K.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Tim Hardaway Jr., Dallas Mavericks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers ($5,700)
With Kristaps Porzingis ($9,200; knee) doubtful, this looks like another matchup where Hardaway will step in as the complimentary scorer to Luka Doncic ($10,900). Hardaway played 37 minutes Thursday in the Mavs’ win over the Nets and dropped 23 points and 34.5 DKFP. He also had 49.0 and 51.75 DKFP in two recent matchups with the Heat and Pistons and posted over 1.1 DKFP per minute in four straight before falling just below that pace against Brooklyn. His recent success has been fueled by extreme efficiency from long-range over his past four games, as he has hit 22-of-41 (53.7 percent) three-point attempts during that span.
Worth Paying Up For: Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans at Philadelphia 76ers ($9,900)
Williamson had to briefly leave Tuesday’s game with a hand injury but was able to return and should be ready to roll after two days off. Brandon Ingram (ankle), however, will not be able to play after rolling his ankle, which will leave more work for Zion against the Sixers. Williamson has already been doing lots of heavy-lifting for the Pelicans with over 20 points in 15 straight games. During that stretch, he has averaged 29.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.3 DKFP per minute. He has over 45 DKFP in four straight and also had 68.25 DKFP on 37 points, 15 boards and eight assists in his earlier matchup this season with the 76ers.
Best Bang For Your Buck: KJ Martin Jr., Houston Rockets at Milwaukee Bucks ($4,700)
Martin is another one of the only four Rockets who are not on the injury report ahead of this game, so he should be set up for plenty of work like his teammate Brooks, discussed above. Martin started Wednesday against the Sixers and played a team-high 44 minutes. He finished with 23 points and 50 DKFP, setting new career highs for points and assists along with his second career double-double. With so few healthy bodies, the Rockets will likely lean heavily on Martin once again, giving him a very high ceiling for a play under $5K.
Worth Paying Up For: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets at Utah Jazz ($10,800)
Taking on Rudy Gobert ($9,000) is far from an ideal matchup, but Jokic has been extremely dialed-in lately and has actually fared very well against the Jazz this season. He had 72.0 and 77.5 DKFP in his two games against Utah, but both those contests were back in January before injuries struck both teams.
Lately, Jokic has been carrying the load for Denver, piling up a 33.3% usage rate over his past seven games and producing 56.3 DKFP per game at the rate of 1.8 DKFP per minute on 27.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.1 blocks. To summarize, he’s been great in this matchup and great lately, so there’s no need to overthink this one.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Dwight Powell, Dallas Mavericks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers ($3,700)
With Porzingis doubtful and Maxi Kleber also out lately, Powell has been playing meaningful minutes for the Mavs. He has posted over 30 DKFP in three straight games with 10 boards in each of his past two games, which were both Mavs wins over the Heat and Nets. Powell didn’t start either of those two games but has still been involved enough off the bench to be a solid sub-$4K play against the Cavs.
Overall Lineup Strategy
At this point in the season, availability and rotation changes always make things a little wild, but the accelerated pace of this season has cranked the insanity up a notch. The Lakers will be a key injury situation to watch since Davis may be sidelined for the second game of their back-to-back. If he is, there will be a ton of usage available. Another place to find great value is with the short-handed Rockets, depending on who is in and who is unable to go.
Since so much value is likely to be available, it seems like a good night for a stars-and-scrubs style of lineup construction. With Doncic on the second night of a back-to-back and Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,000) in what should be a blowout against Houston, I like Jokic and Dame as my two top stars to build around, although Zion also has a ton of upside with Ingram out.
Center is a fully-stacked position with Giannis, Jokic, Joel Embiid ($10,700), Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,600) and Nikola Vucevic ($10,400). You’ll want to be sure to have a star there and could possibly even consider a twin-towers lineup if you put another one in your flex spot.
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