There are seven games for Thursday’s NBA main slate, with two games tipping off at 7:00 p.m. ET — the Philadelphia 76ers at the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Washington Wizards at the Detroit Pistons. There is one game at 7:30 p.m. ET — the Charlotte Hornets at the Brooklyn Nets. There are two games at 8:00 p.m. ET - the Orlando Magic at the New Orleans Pelicans and the Golden State Warriors at the Miami Heat. There is one game at 8:30 p.m. ET - the Atlanta Hawks at the San Antonio Spurs. The late-night hammer is the Denver Nuggets at the Los Angeles Clippers, which starts at 10:00 p.m. ET.
BKN, DET, MIA, and SA are playing the second leg of a back-to-back. DraftKings Sportsbook has zero games with a double-digit spread. There are no games with an O/U of at least 230.
Let’s break down some of the top studs and values at each position to help you build your DraftKings lineups.
Editor’s Note: Wizards SG Bradley Beal (hip) has been ruled out tonight vs. the Pistons.
Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets vs. Charlotte Hornets, $9,800 – During Wednesday’s game, James Harden injured his hamstring and could not finish the contest. With the quick turnaround, he’s been designated as out for tonight’s game. Irving averages 1.32 DKFP per minute and has gone for at least 49 DKFP in each of the last four games. Without Harden or Kevin Durant on the floor, Irving has seen a 6.1 percentage point usage bump to 36.7%.
Translation: he’s going to eat, then eat some more, and eat some more after that.
Other Options – Russell Westbrook ($11,000), Terry Rozier ($8,000), Jamal Murray ($7,700)
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, New Orleans Pelicans vs. Orlando Magic, $6,100 – Lonzo Ball has missed the last five games and has been ruled out again for tonight. Since replacing him in the starting lineup, NAW has been a model of consistency, producing 32.25, 32.75, 36.25, 32.75, and 31.25 DKFP. On the season, he’s averaging 0.97 DKFP per minute, so if he gets the minutes, you know what the outcome will likely be. Is a new 30 for 30 ESPN episode in the works?
Other Options – Reggie Jackson ($5,300), Bruce Brown ($4,700), and Saben Lee ($4,500)
Terry Rozier, Charlotte Hornets at Brooklyn Nets, $8,000 – I’m not a fan of the price. This will be the fifth time this season that he’s reached $8,000. With that said, there’s no denying the usage and production recently. Since LaMelo Ball went down five games ago, Rozier has averaged 37.6 minutes and 17.6 field goal attempts. He’s produced 44.25, 36.75, 53.25, 39.5, and 45.25 DKFP. The Nets play at the 13th-fastest pace and are 24th in defensive efficiency.
Other Option – Victor Oladipo ($7,500), Terrence Ross ($7,100)
Luke Kennard, Los Angeles Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets, $4,200 – Paul George will miss his third straight game. In his absence, Kennard has stepped into the starting lineup and played 32 and 33 minutes. He produced 31.75 and 26.75 DKFP. The usage rate has been 23.7% and 17.3%, so he doesn’t just stand in the corner and wait to shoot. He is adept at navigating pick-and-roll action and provides a relatively safe floor.
Other Options – Bruce Brown ($4,700) and Malik Monk ($4,900)
Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets, $9,300 – Speaking of consistency, is there a more steady player than Kawhi? He’s gone for 47.75, 48.75, 45, 48.75, and 43.25 DKFP in the last five games. This is how I know that Kawhi truly is an algorithm-driven robot. He/it derives the median projection then executes flawlessly. With no Paul George on the court, Kawhi sees a usage bump of 3.5 percentage points, to 33.2%.
Other Option – Gordon Hayward ($7,900), Jerami Grant ($7,200), and Terrence Ross ($7,100)
Danilo Gallinari, Atlanta Hawks at San Antonio Spurs, $5,200 – John Collins suffered a sprained ankle during Tuesday’s game and is out for today. Gallinari hasn’t been announced as a starter but I’m leaning that way. He has started four prior games this season with one being opening night. In the most recent three, which all occurred in March, Gallinari played 40, 29, and 34 minutes, contributing 51.75, 31.25, and 43 DKFP. The Spurs boost the fantasy points per minute to power forwards by 3.9% above league average.
Other Options – Bogdan Bogdanovic ($5,400), Joe Harris ($5,500)
Editor’s note: Brandon Ingram (foot) is doubtful to play tonight vs. the Magic.
Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans vs. Orlando Magic, $7,800 – Ingram averages 1.16 DKFP per minute and garners a 28.2% usage rate. Zion Williamson has been ruled out for tonight’s game due to a sprained thumb. With Zion off the floor, Ingram sees a 6.5 percentage point usage rate bump, to 35.2%
Other Options – Jerami Grant ($7,200), Rui Hachimura ($6,800), Michael Porter Jr. ($6,800), OG Anunoby ($6,100)
Chuma Okeke, Orlando Magic at New Orleans Pelicans, $5,700 – After the Operation: Tank button was pressed, Okeke has started three games, averaged 31.7 minutes, and produced 41, 28.5, and 31 DKFP. The usage rate has been 23.5%, 20.2%, and 18.1%, so he’s not a statue out there. In addition, he’s contributing in every category, so the floor is high and he does have access to ceiling games.
Other Options – Dean Wade ($4,600), Danilo Gallinari ($5,200), and Joe Harris ($5,500)
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers, $10,600 – Water is wet, taxes are always due, and I will continue to recommend Jokic. Easy gig this is. Jokic is averaging 1.6 DKFP per minute and has one of the highest floor/ceiling combos in the game. He garners a usage rate of 28.5% and can pop off for 80-DKFP on any given night. He isn’t the highest projected player today, but he presents an interesting leverage spot due to his price and cheap centers available on the slate.
Other Option – Bam Adebayo ($8,300)
Isaiah Hartenstein, Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Philadelphia 76ers, $3,700 – Jarrett Allen and Larry Nance Jr. are out while Kevin Love is questionable. That should allow Hartenstein to make his second straight start and play as many minutes as he can handle. Last game, he played 26 minutes and produced 35 DKFP against Rudy Gobert.
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