Welcome to an unusually large 11-game Thursday slate, as the NBA schedule once again takes shape following the All-Star break. However, I don’t think anyone’s complaining about the volume. It’ll be nice to see most of our favorite players and teams take the court with something on the line, though be sure to note the couple situations where a week off didn’t quite cure all the injury woes.
We’ll touch on those situations and more as we break down tonight’s action position-by-position.
Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors vs. Atlanta Hawks, $8,600 - While you could make the case that Norman Powell ($7,200) has been the biggest DFS beneficiary of the Raptors’ COVID outbreak, let’s not overlook the obvious choice. In the three games Lowry has played since Pascal Siakam was initially ruled out due to health protocols, the veteran is averaging 18.3 points, 11.7 assists and 49.3 DKFP with a .611 true shooting percentage. The 34-year-old is well rested and he draws a matchup against a Hawks squad that’s allowed the most DKFP per game to opposing point guards so far this season. What’s not to like?
Elfrid Payton, New York Knicks at Milwaukee Bucks, $5,600 - In Payton’s first game back from injury prior to the All-Star break, the former lottery pick logged 35 minutes, scored 20 points, grabbed four steals and finished up with an impressive 42.5 DKFP in a 114-104 victory. How’s that for easing your way back in? Though Payton might not be able to hit that ceiling once again against the Bucks on Thursday, you know he’s going to have all the minutes he can handle from Tom Thibodeau — especially with both Derrick Rose (health protocols) and Austin Rivers (personal) ruled out. That volume should be enough for the guard to reach value on this slate.
Victor Oladipo, Houston Rockets at Sacramento Kings, $8,200 - The possible return of Eric Gordon ($6,100; knee) might take a couple of looks away from Oladipo this evening, but believe me, with Christian Wood (ankle) out, the former Pacer has enough to spare. Since making his way back from his own injury on Feb. 24, Oladipo’s maintained a massive 30.8% usage rate — the direct result of attempting at least 20 field goals in all four games he’s started in that stretch. The former All-Star has also produced a team-best 1.19 DKFP per minute within this span, a figure that could go up in a matchup with a Kings squad that’s surrendered the most DKFP to opposing shooting guards this season. Simply put, Oladipo’s price should be closer to $9K.
Jaylen Nowell, Minnesota Timberwolves at New Orleans Pelicans, $3,900 - The Wolves are in big trouble when it comes to their guard depth. D’Angelo Russell (knee) is out, Malik Beasley (suspension) is out, Jordan McLaughlin (health protocols) is out and Jarrett Culver ($3,000; toe) is doubtful to suit up in Thursday’s contest. That should leave Nowell with a huge workload in a matchup with the Pelicans that has the largest implied total on the slate. The sophomore is averaging exactly 1.00 DKFP per minute with Russell, Beasley and McLaughlin off the court in 2020-21. If Nowell sees 25-plus minutes, that could equate to 7x or 8x value.
Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets, $9,400 - While Brooklyn’s defense has certainly improved across its past 10 games, it should be noted that’s it’s not hard to go up from “worst defense in the history of the NBA.” The team is still allowing 113.4 points per 100 possessions over this 9-1 stretch and that’s why the total for tonight’s tilt with Boston is so high. Tatum’s averaging an eye-popping 37.2 minutes per game over his last nine starts. Within that span, he’s exceeded 50.0 DKFP five times. He’ll hit that benchmark again on Thursday, so long as this game stays close.
Furkan Korkmaz, Philadelphia 76ers at Chicago Bulls, $3,600 - To be perfectly blunt, someone is going to have to score for the 76ers in tonight’s game versus the Bulls. Why not Korkmaz? The forward is averaging 14.7 points the past six contests he’s logged at least 22 minutes, and I’d expect Korkmaz to be on the floor a lot this evening with both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid out due to health protocols. Tyrese Maxey ($3,300) is another name to consider when it comes to value assets on Philadelphia’s roster, but don’t sleep on Korkmaz’s ability to fill it up from three.
Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers at Chicago Bulls, $8,100 - While the aforementioned Korkmaz could prove to be a bit of a variance play, Harris is the chalk on Thursday’s slate. Still, you generally don’t become a popular play without good reason, and that’s the case with Harris in this particular instance. In the 319 possessions Harris has logged in 2020-21 without Simmons and Embiid by his side, the veteran has produced 1.21 DKFP per minute thanks to a massive 30.6% usage rate. The 76ers have an exceedingly top-heavy roster that’s currently missing both its All Stars. This is Harris’ time to step up.
Kelly Olynyk, Miami Heat at Orlando Magic, $5,100 - There’s so much injury news on this slate that I almost forgot that Bam Adebayo (knee) will miss tonight’s contest versus the Magic. Almost. That opens the door for Olynyk to once again fill the Kentucky product’s void, after the Canadian dominated the Pelicans back on Mar. 4. Olynyk finished the game with 18 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and a season-high 45.0 DKFP. Is it unlikely that the big man sets a season-high in back-to-back starts? Very much so. However, Olynyk’s averaging 0.9 DKFP per minute so far this season, meaning he can do some serious damage with 30 guaranteed minutes of action.
Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, $9,300 - I’m compelled to suggest that playing Zion is a must this evening. The sophomore has been a quite the run lately, registering at least 45.0 DKFP in eight of his past nine starts — a stretch where Williamson is shooting 62.9% from the field and averaging 1.40 DKFP per minute logged. However, the matchup is the real selling point. Not only does this contest have the slate’s highest total, but Minnesota has been ravaged in the paint so far this season, with only the Kings allowing more made opponent field goals in the restricted area per game among Western Conference teams (18.7). That’s where Zion does all his best work.
Cody Zeller, Charlotte Hornets vs. Detroit Pistons, $4,700 - I think there’s enough value elsewhere that you don’t necessarily need to pay down at center; however, if you’re so inclined, you could do worse than Zeller. The veteran missed Charlotte’s final four games of the first half due to a hip issue, but he’ll be back tonight versus a Pistons team that likes to play big. More importantly, Zeller’s salary is way down after his injury, as the 28-year-old had been as expensive as $6.4K in early February. Zeller’s averaging 1.06 DKFP per minute in 2020-21 and should easily reach 5x value if he’s 100% healthy.
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