UPDATE: LeBron James (groin) has been ruled out vs. the Rockets. As a result, Anthony Davis ($10,300) should be considered in cash games and will be very popular later on. We could also see some ownership go to Kyle Kuzma ($4,500) on DK.
We’ve got a five-game main slate on tap on DraftKings for the NBA this fine Thursday. As always we’ll need to monitor the news before lock at 4 p.m. ET but for now, we can look at how things might shake out on the slate. Here, we’ll go over some players who should be highly owned and whether or not it’s good or bad chalk.
Michael Porter Jr. ($6,400) vs. POR
So Porter has benefitted from the Nuggets having pretty much no go-to scorers. Gary Harris, Jamal Murray and Will Barton have all be sidelined with injuries. Murray may return Thursday but is still questionable and could be limited. Porter is coming off his second straight outing of at least 50 DKFP. He’s scored 30 points in back-to-back games and has a double-double in each.
While Porter is dominating, he has a lot of things trending in the wrong direction. Murray coming back eats into some usage. His ownership should skyrocket for cash games and GPPs, since his price is still affordable compared to his production. Still, that price has gone up since Wednesday by $200. In cash games, I think Porter is an OK option. He should have a tougher time scoring down low on the Blazers’ front court of Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins. I’d maybe fade Porter in GPPs given the lack of leverage.
The Miami Heat vs. MIL
There are a lot of popular plays on the Heat for this evening against the Bucks. Jimmy Butler has a sore foot and is listed as out. He missed the last game and we saw Bam Adebayo ($7,700) really take off and lead the offense. He scored 21 points with 12 rebounds for 44 DKFP vs. the Celtics. Kelly Olynyk ($4,800) has been a chalk center play since the bubble started up. Olynyk has returned value with a 20+% usage rate in three straight games. His price is up but still low enough to consider.
So the big news we’re waiting on is Goran Dragic, who is questionable. If he’s ruled out, we can look at pretty much the entire Heat rotation. Jae Crowder ($4,400) is my favorite play but it looks like a lot of ownership could go to Kendrick Nunn ($4,100), who has been bad in the bubble. Nunn has a combined six points in the past two games. One of those was with Butler already out. Now, the minutes will have to go above 20 if Dragic is out. But if Nunn is going to be chalky, it may be a play to get off of. Pivot to Crowder, Tyler Herro ($3,600) or Duncan Robinson ($5,000).
James Harden ($10,700) vs. LAL
Right now, it looks like there may actually be an edge to playing Harden. But I think once we get news on Russ, it’ll be quite different. The saving grace here is that we may not know anything until 8:45 p.m. ET. If Russ isn’t ruled out early — around the 5:30 NBA injury dump — then we’re probably looking at a GTD scenario. If Russell Westbrook ($9,000) is sidelined, then Harden immediately becomes the best play on the slate, right? He’s incredibly cheap for what we’re used to seeing Harden at. The Rockets really need a win to not drop any lower in the West standings. Eric Gordon is already out. A lot of things pointing to Harden.
We can also look at the matchup. If the Lakers decide to play this out, LeBron James and Anthony Davis should go hard. That should only elevate Harden’s game. We know the type of usage Harden has with Russ off the court. Add in Gordon not in there and the Rockets’ have absolutely no depth. I’d say Harden looks like a great GPP play who could pay dividends in cash games if he’s under-owned.