After a plush 10-game Wednesday slate, the NBA has turned back to clock to last season, where light Thursday schedules were commonplace. With just three games on tap, options may be limited, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some good DFS action on the night. Let’s take a look at what Vegas think of this slate.
Vegas lines and totals
Golden State Warriors (-6.5) @ Los Angeles Clippers – total of 212.5
Sacramento Kings @ Miami Heat (-7.5) – total of 199.5
Milwaukee Bucks @ Cleveland Cavaliers (-9.5) – total of 194
Obviously the Warriors-Clippers game stands out, even with Chris Paul likely to miss his third straight game due to injury. J.J. Redick is out too for the Clippers, but their absences will create opportunities for value as well. The DraftKings scoring system is below, per usual.
Point = +1 PT
Made 3pt. shot = +0.5 PTs
Rebound = +1.25 PTs
Assist = +1.5 PTs
Steal = +2 PTs
Block = +2 PTs
Turnover = -0.5 PTs
Double-Double = +1.5PTs (MAX 1 PER PLAYER: Points, Rebounds, Assists, Blocks, Steals)
Triple-Double = +3PTs (MAX 1 PER PLAYER: Points, Rebounds, Assists, Blocks, Steals)
Now, for the top options and values at each position:
Stephen Curry ($10,800) – If you don’t play Curry tonight, you might as well just burn your money. A matchup with Austin Rivers awaits in Paul’s absence and Curry has continued his incendiary start to the season by averaging over 36 points per game in his last four contests, with no fewer than 49.25 DK points. Short slates tend to lend themselves to stars-and-scrubs strategies, and Thursday is no different. Curry is one of the stars you want.
Goran Dragic ($5,200) – It doesn’t happen often, but point guard is pretty devoid of good plays behind Curry. Rajon Rondo is overpriced while Michael Carter-Williams and Mo Williams have tough matchups. That leaves Dragic, who has picked up his game of late with 59.25 DK points in his last two games. His price is way down thanks to his early-season struggles, but he’s pretty clearly No. 2 on this night from a value standpoint.
Cheap risk option: Leandro Barbosa ($3,000) – Thursday is not a good night for cheap point-guard value, but Barbosa should enjoy the up-tempo pace this game projects to play at as well as the thin Clippers’ bench. Just treat him like a punt and don’t expect anything more than 15 fantasy points.
Jamal Crawford ($4,600) – Crawford will probably be the chalkiest play of the night after he exploded for 58.5 DK points Saturday against the Pistons, but there’s little reason not to play him. He should be a lock for minutes in the mid-30s and is a good bet to cross the 30-fantasy point plateau at a bargain price.
Austin Rivers ($3,900) – Dwyane Wade and Klay Thompson are solid options if you wanted to pay up at shooting guard Thursday, but it’s also the best position to mine value due to Paul’s injury. Rivers hasn’t exactly lit it up in the Clippers’ two games sans Paul, scoring just 35.25 DK points, but he’s seen 38 minutes per game and has a decent enough chance at 20 fantasy points, which is valuable at his price on a short slate.
Cheap risk option: Tyler Johnson ($3,600) – Johnson busted badly in this spot Tuesday, scoring just two points on 1-of-6 shooting against Minnesota. I still prefer rolling the dice on him compared to the other cheap SG not named Rivers, but Tuesday is a reminder of the risk that comes with plugging him into a GPP lineup.
LeBron James ($10,100) – James is hot and has scored at least 29 points in each of his past six games, with no fewer than 41.5 DK points in any of those contests. He’s the top option at small forward Thursday, but he’s not the best high-priced option on the slate. If you want to pay up for him though, he should produce.
Luol Deng ($4,300) – Don’t look now, but Deng has topped 30 fantasy points in two of his past four games after failing to top 25 in any of his first seven. His minutes have remained steady in the high-20s and even the low-30s, which should help him pay off at this price point. He’s no sure thing, though.
Cheap risk option: Paul Pierce ($3,400) – Speaking of no sure thing, Pierce saw 30 minutes in start Saturday, but shot 1-of-6 from the field for three points, three rebounds and three assists. He will start again Thursday and while Father Time has finally caught up to Pierce, the minutes will be there for him to at least attempt to push for 20 fantasy points. Just don’t be surprised when he’s in the low teens, either.
Blake Griffin ($9,600) – Like Curry, Griffin is a “fade at your own risk” option Thursday night. Coming off a near-triple-double Saturday, Griffin’s usage rate skyrockets with Paul out of the lineup and he tends to facilitate the offense more than the guards who play in Paul’s place. Griffin is having his best season as a pro, and that should continue even in a tough matchup with Draymond Green.
Draymond Green ($7,400) – Speaking of Green, he’s a solid option in his own right Thursday night, especially if you want to go contrarian and fade Griffin. Green has two 60-point fantasy outings in his last three games, including a triple-double Saturday, and Griffin will be too busy on offense to keep Green from his stat-stuffing ways on the other end of the court.
Cheap risk option: John Henson ($3,800) – In his last six games, Henson has three with at least 20 fantasy points and three others with 12 or fewer. His minutes are never consistent and he could end up going back to strictly backup up Greg Monroe at center with Jabari Parker returning. If he manages to get 20 minutes, however, he’s a decent bet for 20 fantasy points. It’s tough to know how hard Milwaukee will push Parker if he returns.
Hassan Whiteside ($8,400) – Whiteside has been playing tremendous basketball lately and is averaging almost 50 fantasy points in his last four games, including Tuesday’s triple-double with 10 blocks. The Kings are a good matchup for the burgeoning rim protector, which combined with Whiteside’s current hot streak makes him another difficult fade.
Andrew Bogut ($5,000) – Foul trouble limited Bogut to 17 minutes in his return to the starting lineup Tuesday, but the big man still managed to hit value with 13 points, six rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal. If he can stay out of foul trouble and keep himself on the court, Bogut has been very productive this season and has a good matchup against DeAndre Jordan, who is better as a help defender than he is guarding on the ball.
Cheap risk option: Kosta Koufos ($3,700) – Koufos should draw the start in the frontcourt with DeMarcus Cousins suspended, and he was a bigger beneficiary than Willie-Cauley Stein during the four games Cousins missed, scoring over 30 DK points twice and sitting around 20 in the other two games. The 30-point upside may not be there tonight with a tough matchup and the possibility of foul trouble, but cheap options are limited.
Cash Game Ranks
This isn’t necessarily an order of who will score the most DraftKings points. Rather, the rankings are aimed to find the best price, value and production combo to help you win cash games, also taking into account potential ownership levels for each player.
As always, stay locked to Twitter and follow me @christripodi, where I’ll do my best to break down the implications of any late scratches or lineup changes before the first game tips at 7:30 p.m. EST. I’ll also update this article as news breaks throughout the day if at all possible, but I will usually update via Twitter first.