The first week of the new year has been a wild one in the NBA, and we get to celebrate the first Friday of 2022 with a great slate of nine games on tap for the DraftKings main slate. With 18 teams taking the floor, there are some fun storylines to monitor including a showdown between two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference as the Bucks visit the Nets. Since there is still plenty of fantasy-relevant news breaking each and every day in the current environment, make sure to pay close attention to @dklive on Twitter and the DK Live app.
As things change and rotations shift, new bargains continually emerge just about every night. Based on their current form, matchups and expected workloads, the four players below are set up for a great chance to outproduce their bargain-basement salaries. Stay tuned for updates to these values on Twitter @ZT_Sports, where you can also find my four to play under $4K each day of the NBA season.
C Damian Jones, Sacramento Kings at Denver Nuggets, $4,000
The Kings will likely remain without Richaun Holmes (health and safety protocols) for another game, which opens the door for Jones to continue his strong run of recent play. Whether he’s earned a role once all the Kings’ pieces are back in play or not remains to be seen, but for DFS purposes that doesn’t really impact his value. He has started each of the past three games for the Kings and been productive. He’ll have to step up his game on the defensive end against Nikola Jokic ($12,000), but the need for size on defense should keep him on the court for most of this matchup.
He started his three-game run in the lineup with his best game of the season, posting an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double on his way to 35.5 DKFP against the Miami Heat. Jones followed that with 19 and 13 DKFP in his two more recent games, but I think he’ll be back around a double-double in this contest and love his upside at just $4K.
PF Maxi Kleber, Dallas Mavericks at Houston Rockets, $4,000
The Mavericks will need some players to step up on offense with Luka Doncic (10,700; ankle, doubtful) expected to be sidelined by his troublesome ankle once again. While he doesn’t come close to matching Luka’s game or even play the same position, Kleber could be part of the answer and is a very high-floor play at $4K. Kleber just returned from the health and safety protocols with Doncic three games ago, but he has started all three games and produced 21.25, 26.25 and 19.5 DKFP in those three contests.
In his most recent game, he shot a woeful 1-for-9 including 0-for-7 from long range but still returned over 5x value with 10 rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot. If Kristaps Porzingis (health and safety protocols) remains sidelined as expected, Kleber’s role should remain significant enough that he should easily return 5x value once again. If he makes more of his shots, he also brings a very high ceiling, which he showcased in a 45-DKFP outburst earlier this season. On a regular basis, he’s not going to bring back 40-plus DKFP but can be counted on as a steady, multi-category contributor who brings solid returns regardless of game script. He should have no problem continuing to do that against the Rockets Friday.
SG Joshua Primo, San Antonio Spurs at Philadelphia 76ers, $3,400
The Spurs got Dejounte Murray ($9,600) back from the health and safety protocols for Wednesday’s game in Boston and beat the Celtics to conclude their back-to-back. The rotation they’ll have tonight, though, will look very different than Wednesday’s since Derrick White, Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson and Thaddeus Young all landed in the health and safety protocols Thursday. White, Vassell and Johnson each started and played 30-plus minutes against the Celtics, combining for a 66.7% usage rate. Multiple players from the Spurs will likely end up being great value plays as a result of all the available opportunities. Lonnie Walker IV ($4,100) could be a good option if cleared to return, Keita Bates-Diop ($3,700) has flashed very nice upside (as I highlighted in this week’s Waiver Wire Pickups), and Bryn Forbes ($3,500) is a shooter who can get hot and drop a big number whenever usage comes his way.
Of the group, though, the most intriguing option to me is Primo. The Spurs have been hyping Primo since they made him the youngest pick in the 2021 NBA Draft at No. 12 overall. He just turned 19 at the end of October, but he looks like he is ready to contribute at the NBA level in the brief looks we have had of him. Two games ago against the Raptors, Primo helped fill in for Murray and played more than 15 minutes for the first time in his NBA career. He finished with 15 points to go with five rebounds, four assists and 31.25 DKFP in 28 minutes. Spurs fans are definitely ready for a longer look at a young player who could be a big part of their future, and hopefully, coach Gregg Popovich gives him a chance to step up and contribute while the team is short-handed. If Primo is in a position that we’d consider “primo,” he should get a great chance to showcase his exciting long-term potential.
C Hassan Whiteside, Utah Jazz at Toronto Raptors, $3,500
Another situation that should provide massive fantasy value this Friday is the Jazz, who appear to be punting Friday’s game in Toronto, which is the first of a back-to-back set that finishes Friday in Indiana. With Rudy Gobert in health and safety protocols, there’s definitely a clear path to playing time for Whiteside, and he should get plenty of usage if available since Donovan Mitchell (back), Mike Conley (rest), Bojan Bogdanovic (finger) and Joe Ingles (protocols) have also been ruled out while Jordan Clarkson ($5,500; back), Royce O’Neale ($4,100; knee) and Rudy Gay ($4,000; injury management) are all questionable. Whiteside himself is also questionable after missing three games with a concussion, but he was able to go through warmups on Wednesday, which usually indicates a player is very close to returning.
Whiteside has only averaged 15.1 minutes per game in his 33 contests with the Jazz but is still producing 19.05 DKFP per contest. His per-minute production is outstanding with 18.7 points, 15.7 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks per 36 minutes to this point in the season and an average of 1.26 DKFP per minute. If he gets 20 minutes in his return with heavy usage he should easily return value, and if he gets 30 minutes he could break the slate. The Jazz situation will definitely be one to watch closely throughout the day since Clarkson, O’Neale and Gay would also be great options if they’re going to play a lot since so much usage is available with all Utah’s top players sidelined.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is z.thompson) 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 do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. 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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