After an 11-game mega slate on Wednesday, the NBA slows down a little bit with just five games on the main DraftKings slate. Of the 10 teams in action, the Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies and the Phoenix Suns are finishing their back-to-back sets while the Washington Wizards are the only team in action that is playing again on Friday. There are a couple of marquee matchups that feature two teams hoping to make noise in the playoffs. The Toronto Raptors host the Cleveland Cavaliers at 7:30 p.m. ET, and in the late game, the Suns visit the Denver Nuggets.
As usual at this point in the season, things will likely shift and change throughout the day, so make sure to keep up with all the news by following @dklive on Twitter. You can also let me know what you think of my picks and find more of my content by following me @ZT_Sports.
Let’s break down some of the top studs and values at each position to help you build your DraftKings NBA lineups.
Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors ($9,700) – Garland missed three games after the All-Star break as he battled a bad back, which could have been from carrying such a heavy load for the Cavaliers offense. In his 11 games since returning, he has resumed his heavy lifting, averaging 26.4 points, 11.5 assists and 50.8 DKFP on 39.7 minutes per contest with a 31.2% usage rate and 45.6% assist rate. He has attempted at least 18 shots in five of his past six games and has averaged 20 shot attempts per game over his past 11 contests.
Garland has posted four double-doubles and produced at least 47 DKFP in four of his five most recent games, and he’ll probably continue to do most of the heavy lifting for the Cavs as they look for a statement win north of the border .
Other Options – Devin Booker ($9,300), CJ McCollum ($9,100)
Tyus Jones, Memphis Grizzlies vs. Indiana Pacers ($4,300) – Jones started Wednesday in place of Ja Morant (knee) and led the Grizzlies to a great win vs. the Nets. Jones had a double-double of 16 points and 10 assists to total 34 DKFP in 35 minutes. When Morant is back, Jones’ role will likely be too reduced for him to be reliable, but whenever Morant is sidelined, Jones has shown he is very capable of returning value with an excellent ceiling, as well. He had eight points, 11 assists and 30 DKFP in a spot start against these same Pacers last week and has at least 30 DKFP in five straight starts, making him a steal at barely over $4K if Morant is sidelined again.
Other Options – Bones Hyland ($5,200), Raul Neto ($3,800)
Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls at New Orleans Pelicans ($7,700) – LaVine has been playing through knee soreness but is listed as probable while his teammate DeMar DeRozan ($8,700; adductor) is questionable. LaVine could get even more work if DeRozan is sidelined since his usage goes from 26.2% for 1.07 DKFP per minute with DeRozan on the floor all the way up to 32.7% usage and 1.26 DKFP per minute when DeRozan is off the floor.
LaVine has posted over 38 DKFP in four of his past five games, and he had 48.25 DKFP the last time DeRozan was out of the lineup. He’s a solid play with upside even if DeRozan plays, but he becomes an elite option if he carries more of the workload in this very favorable matchup vs. New Orleans.
Other Option – Tyrese Haliburton ($8,900), Desmond Bane ($7,100)
Deni Avdija, Washington Wizards at Milwaukee Bucks ($4,700) – The Wizards will be without Kyle Kuzma (knee) for a third straight game, which leaves usage on the wing for other players to pick up. Avdija was already trending upward before Kuzma’s injury, as the top-10 overall pick from last year’s draft has blossomed over the past few weeks. In his past five games, Avdija has produced over 24 DKFP four times while averaging 12 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 0.8 steals per game. He was knocking on the door of a low-grade double-double with seven points and nine rebounds on his way to 30.25 DKFP in his most recent game vs. the Rockets while helping to fill in for Kuz.
Other Options – Dillon Brooks ($5,700), De’Anthony Melton ($5,000)
Mikal Bridges, Phoenix Suns at Denver Nuggets ($6,000) – With Cameron Johnson (quad) missing 10 straight games, Bridges has been asked to carry the load for the Suns. In the first nine games Johnson missed, Bridges averaged 33.5 DKFP in 38.9 minutes per contest with his usage jumping to 18.4%, compared to a 14.4% usage rate in the previous 63 games. Bridges had another workman-like 31 DKFP over 39 minutes on Wednesday in the Suns’ win vs. the Timberwolves. Since he is getting so much run, he’s a relatively low-risk option but also brings upside if he picks up more offense in the flow of the game.
Other Option – Scottie Barnes ($7,600)
Pat Connaughton, Milwaukee Bucks vs. Washington Wizards ($4,100) – Connaughton has only played two games since a five-week layoff due to surgery on his broken finger. He has looked sharp in those two games, though, coming off the bench with exactly 26.25 DKFP in each contest while averaging 14.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. With Khris Middleton (wrist) missing a second straight game, there should be enough available opportunities for Connaughton to continue to work his way back into his significant role in the Bucks’ rotation.
Other Options – Oshae Brissett ($5,300), Landry Shamet ($3,300)
Editor’s Note: Bucks PF/C Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee) has been ruled out tonight vs. the Wizards.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks vs. Washington Wizards ($11,700) – Antetokounmpo missed a game due to knee soreness but showed no signs of limitations in his return on Tuesday, dropping 59.25 DKFP on 25 points and 17 rebounds in only 30 minutes of Milwaukee’s blowout win vs. the Bulls. He has been consistently outstanding, posting at least 57 DKFP in 11 of his past 13 games while averaging 32.5 points and 13.1 rebounds per game. He typically gets a slight usage bump without Middleton, and he should dominate the Wizards. Since Feb. 1, he has produced an other-worldly 1.82 DKFP per minute.
Other Options – Pascal Siakam ($8,500), Evan Mobley ($7,800)
Rui Hachimura, Washington Wizards at Milwaukee Bucks ($4,500) – Hachimura has started each of the past two games in place of Kuzma and seems to be finding his flow again after a delayed start to the season. He has scored double-digit points in 11 of his past 12 games while averaging a robust 9.3 field-goal attempts per contest. He has been a decent scoring contributor but had been hit-or-miss in non-scoring production, so it was especially good to see him match his season-high with eight rebounds in his start on Monday vs. the Rockets on his way to 29 DKFP in 29.7 minutes.
Other Options – Chris Boucher ($5,000), Serge Ibaka ($3,500)
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets vs. Phoenix Suns ($11,400) – Jokic had 30 points, 14 boards, six assists and 67.5 on Tuesday vs. the Clippers, but his salary actually came down $1,000 since this is a tough matchup vs. the Suns. Joker has proven to be virtually matchup-proof, though, with over 60 DKFP in three of his past four games. He has averaged 1.79 DKFP per minute in his 14 games since the break. Even at over $11K, he actually seems to be affordable, which shows just how incredible the numbers he has been putting up really are.
Other Option – Jonas Valanciunas ($8,200)
Brook Lopez, Milwaukee Bucks vs. Washington Wizards ($4,300) – While playing the veteran big man may not seem like an exciting way to fill your center spot, BroLo has been solidly productive while he ramps up from a back injury that sidelined him for five months. Lopez played 15 minutes off the bench in each of his first two games back but has started each of the past two games in place of Antetokounmpo and then Middleton. He played 20 minutes Saturday vs. the Timberwolves and had 25.5 DKFP on 15 points and four rebounds, and he increased his workload to 24 minutes on Tuesday while producing 24.5 DKFP on 10 points and six rebounds vs. the Bulls. While he isn’t a flashy play, he is returning to a steady enough role for Milwaukee that he’s a solid option at barely over $4K.
Other Options – Precious Achiuwa ($4,700), DeMarcus Cousins ($3,900)
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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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