For the second straight week, the NBA has a strong nine-game slate to tip off the weekend. Of the 18 teams in action, four are playing for the second day in a row—the Hawks, Bulls, Pistons and Raptors. Fantasy players will definitely need to monitor the injury reports for those teams, but there is uncertainty from teams that had Thursday off as well. To keep up with all the latest fantasy news, be sure to follow @dklive on Twitter and the DK Live app leading up to tipoff.
This slate is well-stocked with star power, led by eight players with a salary of at least $9,900. To build around those superstars, you may need to balance out your spending with just the right value options. Check out my favorite cheap plays highlighted below. As we approach the start of Friday’s main slate at 7 p.m. ET, I’ll provide 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 Aaron Holiday, Phoenix Suns vs. New York Knicks, $4,400
The Suns will continue to be without Chris Paul (thumb) and Devin Booker (health and safety protocols) when they host the Knicks on Friday night. While Paul’s injury happened before the All-Star break, Booker just entered protocols on Wednesday. However, the team had no issue dispatching the Trail Blazers, cruising to a 30-point win with Holiday and Cameron Payne ($4,800) stepping in at PG, even though both were coming off of recent injuries.
Payne drew the start and had 25 DKFP in 20 minutes, but Holiday was a little sharper logging 28 minutes off the bench and finishing with 26.25 DKFP on nine points and nine assists. While Payne will likely take more minutes as he ramps back up after his wrist injury, Holiday is a little cheaper and has seemed very comfortable since joining the Suns at the trade deadline. He has played over 20 minutes in each of his past four games and produced over 23 DKFP in three of those four outings. He has been in much more of a playmaking role with Phoenix than he was earlier this season with Washington, and his assist rate has jumped to 29.5% after it was just 17.9% in his 41 games with the Wizards. He brings a very high ceiling in his expanded role and is also a relatively safe play since he should have plenty of opportunities.
SG/SF Corey Kispert, Washington Wizards vs. Atlanta Hawks, $4,400
Holiday wasn’t the only player Washington sent away at the trade deadline, as they broke down their roster after learning that Bradley Beal (wrist) was out for the year. Since then, Washington has given its first-round pick, Kispert, a large role on the wing. He has started each of the past eight games, showing solid multi-category potential. He is averaging an impressive 32.9 minutes per game, so the opportunities have been there. Lately, he has been taking more shots with a 17.4% usage rate over his past nine games compared to a 14.1% usage rate over his first 47 games of the season.
In each of the nine most recent contests, Kispert has produced over 15 DKFP, so he brings a pretty solid floor. He has also had some high points during that run with over 28 DKFP three times. Overall in those nine games, he has averaged 23.3 DKFP on 11.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 0.9 steals. His numbers have been trending the right way, and he’s coming off a 28.5-DKFP performance highlighted by five assists in 36 minutes on Tuesday against the Pistons.
C Precious Achiuwa, Toronto Raptors vs. Orlando Magic, $4,200
The Raptors have stumbled a little bit coming out of the All-Star break, in part due to injuries to Fred VanVleet ($8,500; knee) and OG Anunoby (finger). While Malachi Flynn ($3,900) has been very good in VanVleet’s place and will be a great value if he starts at PG once again — it’s also worth noticing that Achiuwa has been stepping up in Anunoby’s absence. Achiuwa has settled into his role as one of the first players off the bench and has been providing solid production across multiple categories.
In his past six games, he has averaged 25.5 DKFP in 24.0 minutes per game on 13.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists. While he has usually produced good countable stats when given minutes, he is now showing more offensive upside, which resulted in 37.25 DKFP on 21 points against the Nets, 36.5 DKFP on 20 points in the rematch with Brooklyn and 26.75 DKFP on 18 points in Thursday night’s loss to the Pistons. Thaddeus Young ($3,800; illness) missed that game against Detroit, and if he’s sidelined again, Achiuwa has an even clearer path to minutes. Regardless of Young’s status, Precious has shown enough potential to be a good play at just over $4K in this favorable matchup against Orlando.
PG Theo Maledon, Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, $3,100
You knew there couldn’t be a values post without a pick from the Thunder, right? Oklahoma City remains extremely short-handed and will remain without Josh Giddey (hip), Lu Dort (shoulder), Derrick Favors (back), Aaron Wiggins (ankle) and Kenrich Williams (knee) for this matchup with Minnesota. Vit Krejci ($3,200) has entered the rotation while Tre Mann ($5,500) and Aleksej Pokusevski ($4,900) have been playing huge roles in the starting lineup, but don’t overlook Maledon, who has been contributing very solid numbers despite a salary barely more than the minimum.
Maledon is still just 20-years-old after being a second-round pick before his rookie season last year. The Frenchman has played 35 games this season while also getting some time in the G League. His minutes have been limited until recently, but he has now played over 18 minutes in three of the Thunder’s past four games, producing 34.75, 22.75 and 19.25 DKFP in those three contests. He has at least three assists in three straight games and started his recent involvement with a season-high 22 points against the Spurs just before the All-Star break. If he continues to get around 20 minutes of playing time, he should easily return value at this rock-bottom salary and potentially more, if he’s in a more active role.
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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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