Thursday’s NBA slate features just four games, and the action on DraftKings gets underway at 7:30 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: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers ($10,600)
Curry has been red-hot recently. He’s scored at least 30 points in each of his past eight games, and he’s been able to return value at his salary in each of those contests. He should also continue to benefit from the absence Kelly Oubre ($6,000; wrist). Curry has increased his usage rate by a team-high 3.7% with Oubre off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.69 DKFP per minute.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Cameron Payne, Phoenix Suns vs. Sacramento Kings ($3,500)
Payne has logged at least 21.4 minutes in each of his past three games, and Payne is the type of player who can take advantage of that volume. He’s averaged 1.02 DKFP per minute this season, and he’s in a strong spot tonight vs. the Kings. They rank dead-last in terms of defensive efficiency, and the Suns are currently implied for a slate-high 123.0 points. The Suns are also listed as 12.5-point favorites on the DraftKings Sportsbook, so Payne could see a few additional minutes if this game turns into a blowout.
Worth Paying Up For: Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers ($8,100)
This honor would belong to Bogdan Bogdanovic ($7,200) if Trae Young ($9,100; calf) is ruled out, but Brown becomes the best bet if Young is active. The Celtics are still playing without Evan Fournier, and Brown has played at least 40.5 minutes in two of his past three games. The Celtics are fighting to secure a top-six spot in the Eastern Conference — which would keep them out of the play-in tournament — so expect them to lean heavily on Brown once again.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers ($6,100)
Smart is an excellent alternative if you want to go a bit cheaper with the Celtics. He’s also been logging a large workload recently, playing at least 36.1 minutes in four of his past five games, and Smart has averaged 0.90 DKFP per minute this season. The Lakers are a tough matchup defensively, but Smart is simply too cheap to ignore.
Worth Paying Up For: Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers ($6,900)
Wiggins is another option worth considering for the Warriors. He’s seen a nice boost in production recently, increasing his fantasy output to 1.06 DKFP per minute over the past month. Wiggins also owns a nice matchup vs. the Cavaliers. They’re just tied for 22nd in defensive efficiency, and the Warriors’ implied team total of 115.25 ranks third on the slate.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Kent Bazemore, Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers ($4,900)
Bazemore was limited to just 21.3 minutes last night, but that will happen when your team wins by 38 points. Bazemore had played at least 32 minutes in each of his previous two contests, so he should return to his normal workload if today’s game is more competitive. Bazemore has returned value in five-straight games, and he should be able to do so once again vs. the Cavaliers.
Worth Paying Up For: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks at Atlanta Hawks ($10,800)
Editor’s Note: Bucks PF/C Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee) is available tonight vs. the Hawks.
Antetokounmpo has been out of the lineup for the Bucks recently, and he’s currently questionable for Thursday’s matchup vs. the Hawks. His status is obviously going to be crucial heading into lineup lock. If he’s out, Jrue Holiday ($8,400) and Khris Middleton ($8,300) would both see a massive boost in value. If he’s in, Antetokounmpo definitely warrants consideration at $10.8K. He would likely be limited in his first game back, but Antetokounmpo has averaged 1.69 DKFP per minute this season. That gives him arguably the highest ceiling on tonight’s short slate.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Jae Crowder, Phoenix Suns vs. Sacramento Kings ($4,400)
The Suns should be a prime target tonight vs. the Kings. Not only are they dreadful defensively, but they’ve been even worse without starting center Richaun Holmes (hamstring). They’ve allowed a ridiculous 117.7 points per 100 possessions with Holmes off the floor this season, so the Suns should be able to do a ton of damage in this matchup.
Crowder can be expected to play around 30 minutes, and he’s averaged 0.83 DKFP per minute this season. That makes him very appealing at just $4.4K.
Worth Paying Up For: Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns vs. Sacramento Kings ($6,700)
Ayton is my favorite target for the Suns on Thursday. He’s been excellent recently, scoring at least 34.5 DKFP in six-straight games, and he’s increased his fantasy production to 1.16 DKFP per minute over the past month. The Kings have unsurprisingly struggled against opposing centers this season, allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to the position.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Hassan Whiteside, Sacramento Kings at Phoenix Suns ($3,400)
Whiteside has the chance to play a few additional minutes with Holmes out of the lineup, and a few additional minutes is always going to make Whiteside an appealing target. He’s historically been one of the best centers in fantasy on a per-minute basis, and he’s averaged 1.33 DKFP per minute this season. He played 22.9 minutes yesterday vs. the Wizards and responded with 36.25 DKFP, so he’s an elite value at just $3.4K.
Overall Lineup Strategy
As is typically the case late in the season, injuries are going to play a huge part on today’s slate. Antetokounmpo is the most important player to monitor, but Young and Collin Sexton ($7,500; groin) are also key players.
The first player I’m locking in is Ayton. He’s simply too cheap in this matchup considering how well he’s been playing recently. I’m also locking in Whiteside, which is going to fill my center and utility spots. That leaves me with an average of $6,650 for my six remaining roster spots.
Curry is my preferred stud target, and Bazemore is another player I’m interested in for the Warriors. Locking in those two players drops your remaining budget to $6,100 per player, and that should be plenty to work with to complete your lineup.
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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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