Full disclosure: I’m a Raptors fan. One of the greatest nights of my life is celebrating in the streets of downtown Toronto after Game 6 of the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals. So, whenever the Raptors happen to face the Bucks, it always has the feel of a playoff game — and the schedule wrinkles of this current truncated season aren’t helping me to distinguish things any better.
Not only will Toronto be facing Milwaukee for the second-straight time on Thursday evening, but it’s also the lone game taking place till 10:00 p.m. ET on a very “playoff-esque” three-game NBA slate. Let’s break it all down position-by-position while I reminisce.
Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets at Los Angeles Lakers, $8,900 - With Kevin Durant (hamstring) still sidelined for tonight’s tilt, you’ll be inclined to ride with one of Irving or James Harden ($10,600). While the latter is incredibly appealing considering his salary has somehow fallen since a 68.25 DKFP performance against the Suns on Tuesday, let’s save a few dollars off the hop and focus our attention on Irving, who is probable to play on Thursday evening. In the last two contests where Irving has suited up without Durant available, he’s posted usage rates of 34.7% and 38.2% — both team-highs in their respective games. He’s also averaged 57.3 DKFP, illustrating just how high his DFS ceiling is.
Tyler Herro, Miami Heat at Sacramento Kings, $5,900 - Who knows how much the Heat will have left in tank after losing in overtime to the Warriors on Wednesday, but I’d assume the young legs of Herro won’t be overly affected by the back-to-back. With Miami still missing Goran Dragic (ankle), Herro’s been asked to play major minutes the past two weeks, and he’s averaged roughly 40.0 minutes a night over the Heat’s past two games, specifically. That’s way too much potential volume to ignore in a matchup with a Kings defense that’s allowed the most DKFP to opposing shooting guards so far this season. The sophomore should be a lock for 5x value.
Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors at Milwaukee Bucks, $7,900 - VanVleet will be very chalky if we get official word that Kyle Lowry ($7,000; ankle) will be sitting out tonight’s contest, yet he still feels like an essential building block on this slate. Not only has the undrafted guard exceeded 50.0 DKFP in five of his past 10 starts, but VanVleet possesses a 28.2% usage rate with Lowry off the floor in 2020-21, a scenario where he averages 1.22 DKFP per minute. He’s also just the only other point guard on Toronto’s roster right now. Malachi Flynn is in the G League bubble, while DeAndre’ Bembry ($3,200) — a combo guard — has been recently “running” Toronto’s second unit. If this script stays competitive, VanVleet might play 40 minutes.
Bryn Forbes, Milwaukee Bucks vs. Toronto Raptors, $3,700 - This definitely isn’t a ceiling play, as Forbes has managed just nine total rebounds and a single assist since moving into the Bucks’ starting five; however, the guard has also averaged 26.8 minutes in that five-game stretch — tied for the fourth-most on Milwaukee’s roster. Basically, Forbes is going to have to nail three or four open three-pointers to reach value, but with the Raptors surrendering a Conference-high 15.9 opponent made threes across their past seven contests, I think it’s doable.
Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat at Sacramento Kings, $8,800 - What’s really left to be said about Butler, who is essentially acting like a rich man’s Draymond Green since being activated from the league’s health and safety protocols? Across his past 10 games, Butler is averaging 21.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 8.6 assists. With the aforementioned Dragic unavailable, Butler’s managed five double-doubles in his past six starts and three triple-doubles in his past four. He’s also averaging an insane 16.8 potential assists a night within this run, trailing only the likes of Harden, Russell Westbrook and Trae Young in the NBA as a whole. Heck, Butler scored only 13 points with five turnovers on Wednesday and still finished with 53.0 DKFP. He’s unstoppable right now.
Glenn Robinson III, Sacramento Kings vs. Miami Heat, $3,300 - In reality, the absence of Harrison Barnes (foot) will likely just mean larger workloads for De’Aaron Fox ($8,500) and Buddy Hield ($6,600), but it’s still a 35-minute void that Luke Walton has to fill with somebody. Enter Robinson, who might very well draw his second start of the season this evening. The 27-year-old won’t carry a high usage rate, but on a slate this top-heavy, I’ll take any value I can find if they have a reasonable path to 5x production.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks vs. Toronto Raptors, $10,900 - With Jrue Holiday (health protocols) out and Khris Middleton ($7,800) struggling, the Greek Freak has been picking up the slack in Milwaukee’s past four games. Yes, they’ve all been losses, yet that can’t be placed at the feet of Antetokounmpo, who is averaging 33.5 points, 13.3 rebounds and 70.8 DKFP within that span. With Nike Nurse likely turning to a small-ball starting lineup once again, the Raptors simply won’t have the size or strength to matchup with Giannis in the paint or on the glass. He’s in for another huge performance.
Marvin Bagley, Sacramento Kings vs. Miami Heat, $4,800 - Gifting extra run to Bagley is another option Walton can ponder while trying to pick up the slack left by Barnes. The big man has been used cautiously so far in 2020-21 — likely due to his injury history and his awful defensive play — but the Kings might not have a choice this evening. Plus, it’s not like Bagley doesn’t possess massive potential. The former second-overall pick is averaging exactly 1.00 DKFP per minute this season and he managed 19 points in just 21 minutes when Sacramento last took the court on Monday. Hassan Whiteside ($4,600) is someone else to watch in this tier, albeit at the center position.
Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors at Milwaukee Bucks, $7,600 - In Tuesday’s victory over Milwaukee, Siakam finished with 23 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and 51.75 DKFP. Now, in the same matchup and likely without Lowry, the former All-Star finds himself $500 cheaper? Okay. I’ll bite. While his rough start to 2020-21 still looms, Siakam’s been much better as of late, averaging 24.4 points per game and 1.22 DKFP per minute dating back to Jan. 29. Heck, the big man is even shooting 48.1% (13-for-27) from three-point range over his past five starts. He’ll be asked to score and create more with Lowry sidelined and he’ll be asked to rebound more in a small-ball lineup. Siakam should be above $8K. Easily.
Markieff Morris, Los Angeles Lakers vs. Brooklyn Nets, $3,200 - Another high-risk attempt at a value play on this slate. Brooklyn seems to be at its best when Jeff Green ($5,200) is at the five and I think that Los Angeles’ counter to that might be giving big minutes to Morris, who seems like a better fit in this matchup than Marc Gasol ($4,000). Morris has also averaged 22.8 minutes in the last three games Anthony Davis (calf) has missed, so he actually has a little more floor than you might think in this spot.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) 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.
21+ (18+ NH). CO/IL/IN/IA/NH/NJ/PA/TN/VA/WV/MI only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.