This feels like it’s going to be one big mess. Half of the Lakers’ roster is questionable following their elimination from the playoffs on Tuesday, we’ve got Nick Nurse hinting that rest is on the way for some major pieces on the Raptors and, on top of that, the Celtics are on the second night of a back-to-back, scheduled to play a game they might not want to win for seeding purposes.
So, you know, a pretty normal seven-game slate. Let’s go position-by-position and do the best we can.
LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets vs. Orlando Magic, $9,200 - With Charlotte now 1.5 games back of the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds in the East, this is a must win spot if the team has any ambition to crack the top-half of the play-in. That should translate to big minutes for Ball, who has been showcasing his ceiling quite often the past couple of weeks. In fact, over his past seven starts, Ball is averaging 1.36 DKFP per minute logged, while he’s managed to exceed 50.0 DKFP four times within that stretch.
Tre Jones, San Antonio Spurs at Minnesota Timberwolves, $5,300 - Jones is finally seeing a noticeable salary bump on Thursday, following three straight starts with a price tag below $4.5K. Even so, he’s still too cheap. Jones has averaged a robust 40.5 DKFP the last five times he’s been given the opportunity to start, while he’s currently reached at least 9x value in each of his past three games. Throw in a matchup with the Timberwolves — the league’s highest-paced team (101.4) — and what’s not to like?
Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks, $8,900 - Will Brown end up on Boston’s injury report? It’s tough to say. The Celtics don’t appear to be afraid of anybody right now, but a win against the Bucks would go a long way towards securing the No. 2 seed in the East — which could mean a first-round matchup with Kevin Durant. Not ideal. Still, Brown’s been stuffing the statsheet as of late, exceeding 48.0 DKFP in each of his past five games and averaging an eye-popping 29.6 points per contest. He’ll likely do some damage in this uptempo matchup if given the opportunity.
Keon Johnson, Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans, $5,300 - As one of the main offensive options remaining in Portland, Johnson has some clear value on this slate. However, I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t be more interested in the rookie if Brandon Williams ($6,200; quad) was to miss his second straight contest. With Williams sidelined on Tuesday, Johnson led the Blazers in minutes (35.7) and points (18), while his 36.8% assist rate was second to only the veteran Kris Dunn ($5,100).
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Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers, $7,000 - I’ll be curious to see how this all shakes out for Toronto. While he’s not currently on the injury report, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Fred VanVleet ($7,800) sit out tonight’s contest, while OG Anunoby ($5,700; thigh) is already questionable. That would leave a lot of usage and play-making responsibilities in the lap of Barnes, who has tended to rise to every challenge in his rookie campaign. The 76ers also don’t really have anyone to guard to 20-year-old, as Matisse Thybulle (personal) was unable to travel into Canada.
Iggy Brazdeikis, Orlando Magic at Charlotte Hornets, $3,500 - Dare I say we’re staring down the barrel of a Brazdeikis chalk night? Mercifully, after being forced to leave two of Orlando’s past three games in the first quarter, Franz Wagner (ankle) has already been ruled out for this evening’s contest. That opens the door to huge minutes for Brazdeikis, who has logged 37.2 minutes and 36.2 minutes, respectively, in his last two appearances. It’s far from empty volume, too, as Brazdeikis has registered double-digit points in five straight games.
Keldon Johnson, San Antonio Spurs at Minnesota Timberwolves, $6,800 - Johnson’s also had to pick up some extra responsibilities with Dejounte Murray (illness) sidelined, and the former first-round selection has responded nicely. In fact, across his past seven starts, Johnson has managed to exceed 20 points scored and 35.0 DKFP. If that’s not a solid floor, I don’t know what is. Minnesota is also more than happy to supply the upside to its opponents. In the Timberwolves’ last five games, the team ranks second in pace (104.6) and second-worst in defensive rating (124.6). That’s a dream matchup.
Georges Niang, Philadelphia 76ers at Toronto Raptors, $3,400 - Niang isn’t a high-ceiling DFS option by any means, but with the aforementioned Thybulle unable to take the floor on Thursday, I’d expect it’s Niang who shoulders the brunt of his teammate’s absence. I mean, Philadelphia just isn’t that deep, if we’re being honest, and Niang has consistently outplayed Danny Green ($3,200). Though, if you live on narrative street, Green will finally be getting his 2019 Championship ring tonight in Toronto, so maybe he’ll have a little extra juice.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets vs. Memphis Grizzlies, $12,600 - Jokic has registered at least 70.0 DKFP in six straight games. He has four double-doubles with at least 17 rebounds within that stretch. It’s also a run where Jokic has translated a 35.8% usage rate into 1.92 DKFP per minute logged. You read that correctly. 1.92 DKFP. Don’t overthink this. If you’re paying up for a single stud on this slate, it’s the reigning MVP.
Jaxson Hayes, New Orleans Pelicans vs. Portland Trail Blazers, $5,400 - It’s possible some value opens up below Hayes as we get closer to tip, but as of now, this is an intriguing price point for the former lottery pick — especially if Jonas Valanciunas ($8,300; ankle) misses another game. Hayes posted a 44.0 DKFP effort with Valanciunas sidelined on Tuesday, and for the season as a whole, the big man is averaging 1.01 DKFP with his teammate off the floor.
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