Thursday’s NBA slate features 11 games, and the action on DraftKings gets underway at 7:00 p.m. ET. Let’s dive into some of the top plays, strategies and injuries to monitor heading into lineup lock.
Worth Paying Up For: James Harden, Brooklyn Nets vs. Boston Celtics ($11,000)
There are a ton of studs that warrant consideration on today’s slate, but it’s hard to ignore Harden for the shorthanded Nets. Kevin Durant remains out of the lineup, while Blake Griffin will not be available to make his team debut. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot ($3,600; knee) is also listed as doubtful, while Jeff Green ($4,500; shoulder) is listed as questionable. That just doesn’t leave the team with a ton of available bodies.
Harden should be asked to carry another large workload vs. the Celtics. He’s been fantastic recently, scoring at least 62.5 DKFP in seven of his past 10 games, including at least 73.0 DKFP in his final two games before the All-Star break.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves at New Orleans Pelicans ($6,000)
This game between the Timberwolves and Pelicans should provide a ton of fantasy value. The total sits at a slate-high 238.5 points, and both teams have struggled on the defensive end of the court.
Rubio stands out for the Timberwolves with D’Angelo Russell and Jordan McLaughlin both out of the lineup. He could eclipse 30 minutes vs. the Pelicans, and Rubio has averaged 0.99 DKFP per minute over the past month.
Worth Paying Up For: Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors vs. Atlanta Hawks ($7,200)
It’s weird to see Powell priced above $7K, and it’s even weirder that he’s actually a good play at that price tag. The Raptors are going to be extremely thin vs. the Hawks — Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby have all been ruled out — so Powell should step into a massive role. He’s increased his usage rate by 6.1 percentage points with VanVleet, Siakam and Anunoby off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.09 DKFP per minute. He’s scored at least 39.0 DKFP in six of his past eight games, and he should make it seven out of nine today.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Atlanta Hawks at Toronto Raptors ($3,500)
The Raptors aren’t the only team in that matchup who are shorthanded. The Hawks are still without both De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish, which opens up plenty of minutes on the wing. Tony Snell has filled that role recently, but Bogdanovic should earn more playing time now that he’s further removed from his injury. He’s averaged 0.85 DKFP per minute this season, so he doesn’t need a ton of playing time to pay off his current salary.
Worth Paying Up For: Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors ($8,900)
This is the cheapest we’ve seen Leonard in more than a month, which makes him a prime buy-low option vs. the Warriors. Golden State has played at the second-fastest pace this season, and the Clippers’ implied team total of 118.75 ranks second on the slate.
Best Bang For Your Buck: DeAndre Bembry, Toronto Raptors vs. Atlanta Hawks ($3,400)
Bembry is arguably my favorite value option on the slate. He’s started for the shorthanded Raptors in the past, and he should almost certainly draw another start vs. the Hawks. He has the potential to play more than 30 minutes, and he’s averaged 0.72 DKFP per minute with VanVleet, Siakam and Anunoby off the court this season. That’s a lot of potential production at a near-minimum salary.
Worth Paying Up For: Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans at Minnesota Timberwolves ($9,300)
I’m all in on point Zion. The Pelicans have utilized him more as a pick-and-roll ball-handler recently, which has unlocked his dynamic skill set. Not only is he getting more opportunities to finish at the rim, but it’s also increased his production in terms of assists. That’s been huge for his fantasy value, and he’s scored at least 44.0 DKFP in 10 of his past 11 games. The Pelicans’ implied team total of 123.5 is the top mark on the slate by nearly five full points, so Zion has the potential for another huge game.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Jake Layman, Minnesota Timberwolves vs. New Orleans Pelicans ($3,300)
On the other side of that matchup, Layman stands out as a strong value option. He’s played at least 26 minutes in each of his past two games, and he’s responded with at least 20.75 DKFP in both contests. He should be looking at a comparable workload tonight with Jarrett Culver ($3,000; toe) doubtful, which makes him underpriced at $3.3K.
Worth Paying Up For: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks vs. New York Knicks ($11,100)
The Knicks are about as tough of a matchup as it gets from a fantasy perspective — they rank third in defensive efficiency and dead-last in pace — but Giannis has been on an absolute tear recently. He’s scored at least 57.75 DKFP in 10 of his past 12 games, and he had 53.0 DKFP in another. He’s playing significantly more minutes than he did last season, and he’s started to pick up his per-minute efficiency after a slow start to the season. Giannis has averaged 1.79 DKFP per minute over the past month, which is the top mark on the slate regardless of position.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Dwight Howard, Philadelphia 76ers at Chicago Bulls ($5,300)
The 76ers are another team we can target for some value on Thursday. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have both been ruled out due to health and safety protocols, which opens up a ton of playing time for the rest of the roster. Howard has started in place of Embiid when he’s been out of the lineup this season, and he’s averaged 25.75 DKFP in those six games.
Overall Lineup Strategy
It’s definitely a stars and scrubs kind of night. There are tons of teams to choose from, and plenty of those teams are playing shorthanded. The Raptors and 76ers stand out as the most obvious sources of value, but teams like the Nets, Hawks and Timberwolves are also presenting nice options.
You should pretty easily be able to jam in two of your preferred studs, and it’s possible to build a team with Harden, Antetokounmpo and Williamson. That leaves you an average of just over $3.7K for your remaining roster spots, and there are plenty of options priced below that mark that provide value.
That said, I have no problem cutting Giannis from the build in order to get a few midrange targets in, as well. The Knicks are a brutal matchup, and guys like Rubio and Powell have the potential to be better pure values. This form of lineup construction will also likely command lower ownership, which makes it my preferred build for tournaments.
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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 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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