The NBA is ready to fire up a nine-game slate this Friday night to help tip-off what should be a fun weekend. It matches Wednesday for the busiest night of the week and features some nice matchups, highlighted by Joel Embiid ($12,300) leading the 76ers into Dallas to face Luka Doncic ($11,900) and the Mavericks. The Hawks, Bulls, Spurs, Pistons and Raptors are all playing for the second night in a row, so be sure to keep a close eye on injury reports for those teams. To keep up with all the latest news, follow @dklive on Twitter and the DK Live app leading up to tipoff.
With many players resting and dealing with injuries, there are multiple situations that are opening up some good fantasy value. To help you target the best plays from the bargain bin, check out my favorite cheap plays highlighted below, who should be in great spots to outproduce their extremely affordable salaries. As we approach the start of the main slate at 7:00 p.m. ET, I’ll give any 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.
PG/SG Tre Mann, Oklahoma City Thunder at Portland Trail Blazers, $4,200
A significant injury to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (ankle) has accelerated the Thunder’s transition to giving their young players plenty of run coming down the stretch. While seeing rookie Josh Giddey ($7,700) run the show has been great over the past few games, don’t overlook the emergence of Tre Mann as well in the Thunder backcourt. Mann just turned 21 yesterday, but the rookie has already made quite a splash since entering the starting lineup three games ago, the game in which SGA went down.
Mann definitely has a green light and has attempted double-digit field goals in each of those three starts, logging a 23.4% usage rate. That freedom gives Mann a very high ceiling if he’s hitting his shots, like he was Wednesday in Dallas on his way to 29 points and 39.5 DKFP. Even when he wasn’t quite that dialed in, he averaged 19.4 DKFP in 25.3 minutes in his two previous starts with multiple three-pointers in each game. Oklahoma City beat the Trail Blazers in one of those two games as Mann posted 21 DKFP on 13 points, two rebounds, two steals and an assist. While the Thunder let their younger players carry the load, look for Mann to continue to bring a high ceiling in his starting role. One more quick OKC bargain note: there’s also a situation to watch in the frontcourt where Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (foot) will be out for six weeks due to a broken third metatarsal of his right foot. Mamadi Diakite ($3,000) got his second NBA start on Wednesday and produced 18.0 DKFP on 10 rebounds, a block, a steal and two points in just 18 minutes. He’s a desperation punt play at this point, but someone to keep an eye on moving forward.
PF/C Terry Taylor, Indiana Pacers vs. Chicago Bulls, $4,200
The Pacers’ frontcourt has been wiped out by injuries over the past few weeks with starters Domantas Sabonis (health and safety protocols) and Myles Turner (foot) already out and replacement Isaiah Jackson (ankle) joining them, while Goga Bitadze ($5,800; foot) and Oshae Brissett ($4,000; ankle) are questionable. Even if one of those two options ends up playing, Taylor proved his potential deserves more opportunity after taking over following Jackson’s injury Wednesday.
Taylor only played a total of 36 minutes in 51 games before Sabonis landed in the protocols, but he has made the most of his chances in the two games since then. The undrafted rookie had 15 points and 28.5 DKFP in 21 minutes against the Clippers on Monday before exploding for 24 points, 16 rebounds and three assists to net 52.0 DKFP before fouling out against the Magic on Wednesday. While expecting him to drop another 50-burger is probably unrealistic, he definitely showed his upside enough to get a long look in this matchup against the Bulls, although he will be very undersized on the defensive end if asked to be the primary defender against Nikola Vucevic ($9,400).
PG Brandon Goodwin, Cleveland Cavaliers at Charlotte Hornets, $4,100
Like Taylor, Goodwin hasn’t been with his current team all season but has been pressed into a key role due to injury. Goodwin joined the Cavs on a ten-day contract and is now on a two-way deal after also spending time this season with the Knicks. Goodwin has been a huge part of the Cavs’ answer in the backcourt over the past few games, though, with Darius Garland (back) joining Ricky Rubio (knee) and Collin Sexton (knee) on the sideline. Goodwin came off the bench and scored 21 points in 27 minutes on his way to 25.75 DKFP against the Pelicans. That performance earned him a start against the Rockets on Wednesday, and he finished with 29.75 DKFP in 32.5 minutes despite only scoring seven points. In his start, Goodwin relied on non-scoring production with seven rebounds and eight assists, showing he doesn’t have to make or even take a high volume of shots to be a nice fantasy option.
At barely more than $4K, Goodwin is likely set up to start in a great up-tempo matchup against the Hornets and brings a very high ceiling. With Garland off the floor, Goodwin is producing a solid 0.97 DKFP per minute, which should translate to a great return on investment.
SF Javonte Green, Chicago Bulls at Indiana Pacers, $3,500
The Bulls like Green a lot and actually gave him the first shot to replace Patrick Williams (wrist) earlier this season. At that point, Green was a low-usage minutes-eater, but his role has grown to much more as the injuries have piled up for Chicago as the season has progressed. Green dealt with a groin injury that cost him 12 games but has stepped back into a larger role lately. He returned from that injury six games ago and has started every game since, averaging 25.6 minutes per game and working his way up to 33 minutes Thursday against the Raptors.
Green has scored double-digit points in four of his past five games after scoring 13 points Thursday and usually adds strong non-scoring production as well. In Toronto, he finished with six rebounds, three steals and two assists to help him total 31 DKFP. He has over 25 DKFP in three straight and offers a great return from under $4K, especially since the Pacers are so undersized in the frontcourt. Green looks ready to play both ends of the Bulls’ back-to-back but double-check his status along with Zach LaVine ($8,900; back), whose absence would open up more usage for Green and the rest of the Bulls’ rotation.
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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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