Thursday’s NBA slate is on the smaller side, with only four games to choose from. Still, there’s plenty of money to be won on DraftKings, so let’s dive into some of the top studs and values at each position.
Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies vs. Detroit Pistons ($9,200) – Morant has been rolling recently. He’s scored at least 48.25 DKFP in five straight games, and he’s posted a usage rate of at least 34.4% in four of them. He’s increased his production to 1.48 DKFP per minute over the past month, which is the top mark at the position by a sizable margin.
The Grizzlies are also expected to be short-handed on Thursday. Desmond Bane and Kyle Anderson are both doubtful, while Dillon Brooks and De’Anthony Melton are questionable. That means Morant could be looking at a few additional shot attempts. He’s the top stud on the slate at just $9,200.
Other Options – Chris Paul ($7,300)
Editor’s Note: Warriors PG Stephen Curry (quad) and PF/C Draymond Green (hip) have been ruled out for tonight’s game vs. the Pelicans.
Gary Payton II, Golden State Warriors @ New Orleans Pelicans ($4,800) – Payton figures to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of Curry’s absence. He’s been an excellent fantasy producer this season, averaging 1.01 DKFP per minute, and he’s posted a returned value in seven of his past eight games. The only thing that has been able to slow him down this season has been a lack of playing time, but his minutes should be solidified with Curry out.
Other Options – Cameron Payne ($4,400), Killian Hayes ($3,400)
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Clippers ($8,700) – Booker is another player who has been playing well recently. He’s increased his production to 1.31 DKFP per minute over the past month, which is the top mark on the slate at the shooting guard position. He also racked up 50.75 DKFP in his last outing despite being limited to just 32.1 minutes. The Suns own the second-highest implied team total on the slate at 115.5 points, and only two of Thursday’s squads are implied for more than 107.5. That makes them a nice team to get some exposure to.
Other Options – Brandon Ingram ($8,100)
Jordan Poole, Golden State Warriors @ New Orleans Pelicans ($5,800) – Poole will be asked to serve as the Warriors’ top offensive option with Curry out on Thursday. He’s seen a team-high +6.6% usage bump with Curry off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.05 DKFP per minute. Poole excelled in place of Curry last season, so he would be very appealing in that scenario.
Other Options – Alec Burks ($5,900), Immanuel Quickley ($4,000)
Josh Hart, New Orleans Pelicans vs. Golden State Warriors ($6,400) – Is there a more underappreciated fantasy basketball player than Hart? He’s exceeded salary-based scoring expectations by an average of +8.90 DKFP over his past 10 games, yet his salary has remained very reasonable at just $6,400. He’s averaged 1.02 DKFP per minute over the past month, and he’s logged at least 37.2 minutes in back-to-back games. There’s no reason to stop riding Hart until his salary catches up to his production.
Other Options – Saddiq Bey ($8,500)
Cameron Johnson, Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Clippers ($5,300) – Johnson is a cheap way to get some exposure to the Suns on Thursday. He’s priced at just $5,300, and he’s increased his production to 0.97 DKFP per minute over the past month. He’s also seen a nice spike in playing time given all their absences in the frontcourt. He’s racked up at least 34 minutes in three of his past five games, and he figures to see a similar workload vs. the Clippers.
Other Options – Terance Mann ($4,900)
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks ($10,200) – There aren’t many true “studs” worth considering on Thursday’s slate, which means Tatum should garner plenty of attention. He returned to the lineup on Wednesday following a four-game absence, and the Celtics wasted no time throwing him back into the fire. He logged 37.5 minutes in his first game back, and Tatum has averaged 1.20 DKFP per minute this season. That makes him a reasonable option at $9,800.
Other Options – Jaren Jackson Jr. ($6,100)
Jalen Smith, Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Clippers ($5,300) – Smith ended up playing just 16.3 minutes in his last game, but he dealt with a combination of foul trouble and a head injury. Bismack Biyombo also proved capable off the bench. Still, Smith has averaged a stout 1.24 DKFP per minute this season, so he doesn’t need much playing time to smash his current price tag. He’s expected to see around 25 minutes on Thursday, which should be more than enough to return value.
Other Options – Marcus Morris ($5,600), Taj Gibson ($3,200)
Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans vs. Golden State Warriors ($8,800) – Valanciunas is another player worthy of the “stud” designation. He’s coming off 35.4 minutes in his last outing, and he responded with 48.0 DraftKings points. Valanciunas is one of the best centers in the league on a per-minute basis, averaging 1.29 DKFP per minute this season.
Other Options – Robert Williams ($7,000)
Brandon Clarke, Memphis Grizzlies vs. Detroit Pistons ($4,400) – Clarke stands out as an excellent source of value. He’s priced at just $4,400, and Clarke has massively exceeded expectations in three straight games. He’s scored at least 27.75 DraftKings points in each of them, and he’s racked up at least 32.25 in two. Clarke doesn’t typically play a ton of minutes, but he’s made up for it by averaging at elite 1.19 DKFP per minute over the past month.
Other Options – Steven Adams ($5,400), Trey Lyles ($5,000)
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