Wednesday is the last full day before the NBA All-Star break. There are only three games to choose from on Thursday, but we have 10 games lined up tonight. The action gets underway on DraftKings at 7 p.m. ET.
Let’s dive into some of my favorite plays at each position.
Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls at Indiana Pacers ($8,500) – Most of Wednesday’s squads will play their final game before the All-Star break, with the Bulls being the lone exception. They’re facing the Pacers on the front leg of a back-to-back, so they’re going to be in action on Thursday as well. It’s a good matchup, with the Pacers ranking tied for fourth in pace and 25th in defensive efficiency.
The Bulls will also be without DeMar DeRozan on Wednesday, who has been ruled out with a thigh strain. That’s going to open up some additional opportunities for LaVine. He’s taken a backseat to DeRozan for most of the year, but LaVine has increased his usage rate by a team-high 3.5 percentage points with DeRozan off the floor. He’s also averaged just under 40 minutes in four full games without DeRozan, and he can do plenty of damage with that much playing time vs. the Pacers.
Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies vs. Utah Jazz ($7,100) – Bane has blossomed into an excellent NBA player in his third professional season. He’s averaging a career-high 21.4 points per game, and he’s racked up 37.07 DKFP per game. Those numbers would likely be higher if not for an injury that cost him 17 games in November and December. He was limited upon his return to the lineup, but he has started to spread his wings again recently. He’s averaged 33.3 minutes over his past four contests, and he’s racked up at least 38.5 DKFP each.
Bane should be able to keep things rolling Wednesday vs. the Jazz. Utah has struggled on the defensive end this season, and the Grizzlies are currently implied for a massive 124.25 points. That ranks second on the slate and represents a massive increase from the Grizzlies’ season average (116.1). Bane’s price tag has also decreased of late, so this is the perfect opportunity to buy low.
Other Options – Derrick White ($7,000; questionable), Jalen Green ($6,800)
Devonte’ Graham, San Antonio Spurs at Charlotte Hornets ($4,000) – No one can turn trash into treasure better than the Spurs. They acquired Josh Richardson at the trade deadline last season after a dismal campaign with the Celtics. The Spurs were able to get Richardson back to playing at an excellent level, and they cashed him in this season. They turned Richardson into Graham and four second-round picks, which is the most Spursy move possible.
Don’t be surprised if Graham is their next successful reclamation projection. He has thrived in his first three games with his new team, racking up 42.25, 26.5, and 29.75 DKFP. With Tre Jones and Romeo Langford still sidelined, Graham should continue to play plenty of minutes for the shorthanded Spurs backcourt. He’s averaged 0.92 DKFP per minute over the past month, so he’s a great bet to pay off his current price tag.
Other Options – Malcolm Brogdon ($6,000), Gabe Vincent ($4,800), Alex Caruso ($3,400)
Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat at Brooklyn Nets ($8,800) – The Heat are another team with an abundance of injuries at the moment. Kyle Lowry remains out with a long-term injury, while Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo will join him on the sidelines on Wednesday. That leaves the team without three of their top ball handlers.
Butler is going to have to pick up the slack in their absence. He’s increased his usage rate (1.0 percentage point), assist rate (7.6 percentage points), and rebound rate (3.9 percentage points) with all three players off the floor this season, resulting in an average of 1.41 DKFP per minute. In his only full game without Lowry, Herro, and Oladipo this season, Butler racked up 49.75 DKFP in 32.3 minutes. That would be more than enough to pay off his current price tag.
Keldon Johnson, San Antonio Spurs at Charlotte Hornets ($6,600) – This game between the Spurs and Hornets has multiple appealing options on both sides. Both of these teams play fast and struggle defensively, and the total currently sits at 243.5 points. That’s the top mark on the slate.
Johnson has been the Spurs’ top offensive option this season, and while his efficiency has taken a hit in that role, it has led to some strong fantasy performances. His price tag has also come way down over the past month after peaking at $7,500. Overall, Johnson has been priced below $7,000 in just 12 previous games this season, and he’s averaged 34.38 DKFP in those contests. Add in an elite matchup, and he makes tons of sense as a buy-low target.
Other Options – Lauri Markkanen ($9,100), P.J. Washington ($6,100)
Jae’Sean Tate, Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder ($3,600) – The Rockets are still playing without Kevin Porter Jr., and they traded away Eric Gordon before the deadline. That has allowed Tate to move into the starting lineup and take on a more prominent role. He’s still playing limited minutes, but he’s averaged 24.6 minutes over his past three games. Tate has historically been the type of player who can average more than a fantasy point per minute, so that’s enough to make him viable at $3,600. The Thunder have played at one of the fastest paces this season, so Tate stands out as one of the best per-dollar options at forward.
Other Options – Kelly Olynyk ($5,100), Sam Hauser ($4,600)
Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls at Indiana Pacers ($9,200) – Paying up for Nikola Jokic is always worth considering at center, but I’m taking a slight discount with the other Nikola on Wednesday. Like LaVine, Vucevic should be one of the biggest beneficiaries from DeRozan’s absence. He’s seen a team-high 4.7 percentage point usage bump in four full games without DeRozan this season, and he’s averaged 38.5 minutes in those contests. He’s responded with a whopping 53.38 DKFP per game.
The Pacers also stand out as an excellent matchup for Vucevic. They’ve allowed the fourth-most DKFP to opposing centers this season, so Vucevic has far more upside than usual.
Other Options – Nikola Jokic ($11,800), Alperen Sengun ($7,800)
Zach Collins, San Antonio Spurs at Charlotte Hornets ($5,100) – Collins is another outstanding target for the Spurs in this expected up-tempo matchup. With Jakob Poeltl now back in Toronto, the coast is clear for Collins to serve as the team’s top center option. He’s played at least 31.6 minutes in two of their past three games, with the lone exception being a blowout loss to the Hawks. Collins has averaged 1.08 DKFP per minute this season, so he’s capable of taking advantage of a larger workload.
Opposing centers have also feasted on the Hornets this season. They’ve allowed the second-most DKFP per game to the position, so Collins is a great bet to return value. He’s massively underpriced at just $5,100.
Other Options – Walker Kessler ($5,900), Mark Williams ($5,300), Charles Bassey ($3,500)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) 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.