The NBA is set up to start 2021 with a busy 10-game fantasy basketball slate on DraftKings this Friday night, as teams continue to try and find their rhythm and rotation in the early part of the season. Four of the 20 teams in action are playing for the second day in a row, so the Chicago Bulls, Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards could be dealing with extra fatigue or possibly choose to rest players. Players resting can also open up opportunities for value options to step into larger roles and produce, though, so make sure to follow @dklive on Twitter and download the DK Live app to stay up-to-the-minute with all the latest news leading up to tipoff.
There are plenty of high-priced options that are worth considering at the top of the salary structure, but you’ll need to balance out some of those hefty salaries with some cheap plays as well. Check out these four players who seem primed to outproduce their minimal salaries based on form, matchup and expected workload.
PG/SG Raul Neto, Washington Wizards at Minnesota Timberwolves, $3,400
After playing 39 minutes against the Bulls on New Year's Eve, Russell Westbrook ($10,400) is unlikely to play Friday night in Minnesota, according to reports that came out before the Wizards slipped to 0-4 with that 133-130 defeat. As long as Westbrook doesn’t surprise everyone and play, Neto should end up being a great value option.
When Westbrook sat out the second game of the Wizards’ first back-to-back of the season, Neto moved into the starting lineup against the Magic and finished with an impressive 40.5 DKFP on 22 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals in 32 minutes. He hasn’t come close to playing that many minutes in any other game, but the closest he came was Thursday, when he played 22 minutes and had 29 DKFP against Chicago. As the Wizards continue to look for their first win of the season, Neto will need to step up with a big game against the Timberwolves, who are usually a good matchup for opposing PGs. If Westbrook is out as expected, Neto’s ownership will likely be crazy-high, but he’s definitely the free space to take and build around on this slate since he will have to do so little to offer a great return at this salary.
PF Thaddeus Young, Chicago Bulls at Milwaukee Bucks, $3,500
The Bulls will be without Tomas Satoransky, Lauri Markkanen, Chandler Hutchison and Ryan Arcidiacono for the second straight game due to COVID-19 protocols, which will give other players a chance to step up. With a matchup in Milwaukee, there’s also a chance the game will have plenty of garbage time since the Bucks tend to blow everyone out. On Thursday, Young played 27 minutes in his season debut after missing the first few games with a leg infection. He stepped right in with 15 points, six assists, three rebounds, two steals, a blocked shot and 31.25 DKFP.
The Bulls actually announced that Young was starting before correcting that with Young coming off the bench and Otto Porter Jr. ($5,600) starting in Markkanen’s spot. Young and Porter will split the time regardless of who is starting, and the veteran forward showed he can still put up good numbers when given the chance. He should be busy again in this matchup as long as he’s ready and available for the back-to-back.
PG/SG Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies at Charlotte Hornets, $3,700
The Grizzlies were already without Ja Morant (ankle) and De’Anthony Melton (COVID-19 protocols) and will now also be without Grayson Allen ($3,700; ankle), who is doubtful after spraining his ankle against the Celtics. As a result, Bane could be lined up for more work and has shown some promise in the early going of his rookie season out of TCU. Bane actually leads the team in three-point percentage (52.9%) and true shooting percentage (69.6%) while coming off the bench and played a carer-high 32 minutes in his most recent game which was against the Celtics.
In that game, Bane scored 16 points and chipped in four rebounds and two steals on his way to 25.5 DKFP. He’s more of a wing shooter/scorer right now than a true PG, but he can play the point if he has to. With Allen out, Bane should get more work after his promising performance and could be a part of the Grizzlies’ attempt to compensate for the loss of scoring with Morant sidelined.
C Tristan Thompson, Boston Celtics at Detroit Pistons, $4,200
Thompson sat out Wednesday’s game against the Grizzlies with his balky hamstring, but he isn’t on the injury report for Friday, indicating that he was likely just easing into the season and should be ready to roll for this favorable matchup against the Pistons. Thompson has started all four games he has played for the Celtics this season and played over 20 minutes in each game as well. He is averaging 10.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 22.4 DKFP per contest and is coming off his best game of the year. He posted a double-double of 14 points, 10 rebounds and 29.0 DKFP in a season-high 27 minutes against the Pacers Tuesday.
Thompson seems to be a nice fit for the Boston rotation and has helped especially on the offensive glass, grabbing at least four offensive boards in three of his four games. The Pistons have been generous to opposing centers so far this season, allowing the fifth-most DKFP to opposing centers by giving up an average of 21.53 points and 16.02 rebounds to the position each game. While Thompson probably won’t monopolize all that production, he is the starter and has a great chance to return excellent value with a salary barely over $4K.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jetsfan196) 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 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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