Sometimes Thursday slates can be a little boring. I can assure you that won’t be the case this evening. I mean, just take a quick look at the top of the pricing list for this seven-game set. All-Stars LeBron James ($11,000; knee), Trae Young ($10,400; ankle) and Fred VanVleet ($8,300; ankle) are all questionable, while former All-Star Jaylen Brown (ankle) has already been ruled out. On top of that, it appears that Kevin Durant ($10,800) is set to return from his 21-game absence when the Nets take on the Heat.
Having fun yet? Let’s dive into the madness and go position-by-position.
Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs vs. Sacramento Kings, $10,600 - What’s really left to be said about Murray? Named a first-time All-Star less than a month ago, Murray’s been a fantasy supernova in recent weeks, producing an eye-popping 1.51 DKFP per minute dating back to Jan. 28. As you might expect, things have only gotten better for the guard since the Spurs traded Derrick White ($6,300) to Boston, as that figure has jumped to 1.55 DKFP. In a matchup with a Kings squad that ranks third in the league in pace their past 10 games, Murray should be looking at a ceiling performance.
Malachi Flynn, Toronto Raptors vs. Detroit Pistons, $4,200 - Obviously Flynn’s viability still hinges on whether or not the aforementioned VanVleet is available, but if the sophomore gets his third straight start on Thursday, this price increase still isn’t enough. On the surface, Flynn’s 14.7% usage rate the past two games isn’t flashy, and his .688 true shooting rate doesn’t seem sustainable. However, when you’re playing 42.5 minutes in a game, efficiency doesn’t really matter all that much. Outputs of 35.0 DKFP and 36.0 DKFP, respectively, speak for themselves.
Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics vs. Memphis Grizzlies, $6,400 - It’ll be interesting to see the difference $100 makes in rostership, but if I’m being honest, both Smart and White are viable with Brown sidelined for this contest against Memphis. It feels like Smart has the higher floor, though. Not only did the former lottery pick log 37.3 minutes in Boston’s victory over Atlanta on Tuesday, but Smart’s averaging over 1.00 DKFP per minute played with Brown off the court since the trade deadline. In an uptempo matchup with the Grizzlies, there’s a lot to like.
Devin Vassell, San Antonio Spurs vs. Sacramento Kings, $5,500 - Continuing the Derrick White adjacent trend, let’s talk about Vassell, who has seen increased playing time since White was shipped to Boston. Vassell has managed to exceed 30.0 DKFP in six of his last eight games, a span of time where the former 11th overall pick is averaging 30.9 minutes per contest. Considering the Kings have surrendered the second-most DKFP per game to opposing wings so far this season, you have to be encouraged by Vassell’s outlook on this slate.
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Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics vs. Memphis Grizzlies, $10,000 - Let’s not get cute. With Brown unavailable on Thursday, Tatum is going to have to shoulder a heavy offensive burden — something I’m pretty sure he’ll gladly accept. To wit, in the 106 minutes Tatum has logged without Brown on the floor since the trade deadline, the All-Star has produced 1.52 DKFP per minute thanks primarily to an insane 39.6% usage rate. How am I going to pass that up? I’m only human.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, Atlanta Hawks vs. Chicago Bulls, $6,000 - I think there’s a case to be made that Bogdanovic is viable regardless of the status of Young. Since Feb. 11, the wing is second on the Hawks in minutes (226) and usage rate (24.3%), while he’s also posted a .655 true shooting rate and 1.15 DKFP per minute across that same span. Still, I’d be lying if I said Young’s absence wouldn’t elevate Bogdanovic’s ceiling. Dating back to the beginning of January, Bogdanovic is averaging 1.32 DKFP per minute with Young off the court. That’s a big number.
DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls at Atlanta Hawks, $10,300 - It happened. DeRozan had a “bad” shooting performance. He only scored 18 points against the Heat on Monday. It’s all over. Well, that’s one perspective, anyway. Conversely, one could point out that DeRozan has still managed to exceed 50.0 DKFP in eight of his last 10 starts. If one contest is going to sour people to DeRozan, I’ll gladly buy the dip. However, it’s worth noting that Young’s availability is important for Bulls’ assets, too. Young drives Atlanta’s pace, he’s a terrible defender and his presence likely means a tighter script. DeRozan’s fine in a vacuum, but I like him more if Young is healthy.
Danilo Gallinari, Atlanta Hawks vs. Chicago Bulls, $5,100 - The Hawks are going to be super thin in the frontcourt on Thursday. Onyeka Okongwu (concussion) has already been ruled out, while John Collins ($6,300; foot) is once again listed as doubtful on the team’s injury report. Okongwu suffered the aliment in Tuesday’s loss to Boston after logging just 7.1 minutes, which then opened the door for Gallinari to play a season-high 35.4 minutes of his own. I can’t see a reason why the veteran wouldn’t be required to handle a similar level of run against the Bulls.
Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento Kings at San Antonio Spurs, $9,700 - We’ve spent a lot of time criticizing the Kings’ defense, but it’s not like the Spurs have been much better in recent days. In fact, in San Antonio’s past five games, the team ranks fifth-worst in defensive rating (117.1) and its operated at the the league’s fifth-highest pace. In short, this matchup is going to be a track meet. Sabonis is averaging 1.44 DKFP per minute dating back to Feb. 16 and the only thing that’s been able to slow him down has been lopsided scripts. It’s actually a little surprising he’s listed below $10K this evening.
Thaddeus Young, Toronto Raptors vs. Detroit Pistons, $3,800 - There’s a chance OG Anunoby ($5,800; finger) is back in the lineup for this contest, but if not, you could do worse than Young as a salary-saver. Toronto isn’t short on options to fill Anunoby’s role when the forward is unavailable, but Young’s proven to be the most consistent replacement, exceeding 20 minutes and 20.0 DKFP in four of his last five games. It’s also important to note that Young played all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter in the Raptors’ one-point win over the Nets on Tuesday, as Nick Nurse is clearly warming to the newly-acquired veteran.
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