Saturday’s main NBA slate features seven games, and it’s a good one. The Top 7 players in PER (player efficiency rating) are all on the court tonight, and four of the top five in USG (player usage) are too. Injuries and other situations to watch include Kawhi Leonard, Brandon Ingram, Malcom Brogdon, R.J. Barrett, Lonzo Ball, and Patrick Beverley. Players already ruled out include Eric Gordon, Russell Westbrook, Clint Capela, Andrew Wiggins, Kyle Lowry, Myles Turner, Khris Middleton, Justise Winslow, Jeremy Lamb, Serge Ibaka, Josh Hart, Danuel House, and Kevin Huerter. In this column, I generally set $6000 FD/$5000 DK as the bargain threshold, and I try to indicate when I think a position is particularly well-suited--or not--to using the cheap plays given the landscape of the particular slate. DraftKings’ pricing is notably sharper than FanDuel’s tonight, so I tried to provide a couple extra options to consider where it was feasible. Tonight’s slate tips at 7:00 pm EST.
Dennis Smith Jr., New York Knicks vs. Charlotte ($3900 FD, $5000 DK)
Smith Jr. was more reward than risk in his second game back from a prolonged absence, as he scored 13 points with 6 rebounds and 8 assists in 30 minutes Thursday night. Charlotte plays at a slightly faster pace than New York, and is a generally friendly matchup for fantasy (seventh-most overall fantasy points allowed). Smith should once again be able to smash value on FanDuel, but his $1800 salary hike on DraftKings might make you look elsewhere.
Austin Rivers, Houston Rockets at Minnesota ($4500 FD, $3700 DK)
One option on DK is Rivers, who should see an uptick in minutes and usage with Westbrook sitting out tonight. The Rockets are short-handed in general, so although Rivers can be a frustrating player to roster, the opportunity is enough to push me over the edge. He’s coming off a 10 point, five rebound game with two steals. Minnesota has been a great matchup for point guards this season, and this game carries the highest point total of the night (234.5 points). Chris Clemons ($4200 FD, $3000 DK) is a little pricey for me on FanDuel relative to Rivers, but he’s min price on DraftKings and could see 15-ish minutes in this good matchup. He’s a very risky tournament option.
Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors at Dallas ($4600 FD, $4400 DK)
After three consecutive quality games, Powell went scoreless from the field in Portland Wednesday night with seven rebounds and two blocks. His salary dropped a bit and I think he’ll get back on track in Dallas. Generally the kind of player that does more than score, Powell actually has five blocks in his last three games. He’s a player I don’t mind using in cash games tonight.
Ben McLemore, Houston Rockets at Minnesota ($4600 FD, $3800 DK)
McLemore has a long history with DFS players, and I love that DraftKings refuses to raise his salary. He played 33 minutes last night and Houston doesn’t have much choice but to let him loose again tonight. He made 11 three-point attempts Friday night, ending with 21 points and 26 fantasy points. He’s not a cash game play, but given the game environment and his DK salary, where it’s hard to find good values, get some tournament exposure there.
Also consider: Rodney McGruder ($3700 FD, $3500 DK) if all the questionable Clipper are out tonight
De’Andre Hunter, Atlanta Hawks at LA ($4600 FD, $4700 DK)
Hunter will keep being a fixture in this article at this price. He’s rounding into a very reliable wing option for the Hawks as Kevin Huerter remains out, playing 34-40 minutes in the last three games as the Hawks are averaging about 115 points per game lately. He’s not the kind of player that will take you to the top of the big GPP standings, but he won’t hurt your cash game lineup either.
Rodney Hood, Portland Trail Blazers at San Antonio ($4500 FD, $4600 DK)
Hood’s back looked good on Wednesday as he returned with 25 real points vs. the Raptors. The Spurs are ranked in the Top 10 for SF matchups, and this game has the positive combination of high point total and narrow spread (Spurs minus-1). Damian Lillard will bounce back here for sure, but Hood could also reach value with ease.
Taj Gibson, NY Knicks vs. Charlotte ($3800 FD, $4300 DK)
Gibson has been announced as the starting center tonight, a valuable role as Charlotte is the third-best matchup for the position. Mitchell Robinson is a great value too, as he has been performing well off the bench and is cheap on DraftKings (see below). It’s hard to find good PF value tonight, so given Gibson’s wide range of outcomes, including a recent 30-plus fantasy point game vs. another good frontcourt matchup (Chicago), I like him as a GPP play.
Trey Lyles, San Antonio Spurs vs. Portland ($4000 FD, $3500 DK)
Lyles certainly isn’t an exciting play, but another deep bargain, especially on DK. He’s been averaging about 19-20 fantasy points per game pretty consistently, and Portland has been a terrific fantasy matchup for forwards this season.
Also consider: P.J. Tucker ($5000 FD, $4400 DK), who’s getting all the minutes he can handle but is capable of doing great things or nothing with them.
Alex Len, Atlanta Hawks at LA ($4100 FD, $4500 DK)
Len should be pretty popular tonight, despite the Hawks being big road underdogs. He has played well off the bench the past two games, averaging 19 PPG and 8.5 RPG. As noted above, the rotation the Hawks are using has been an offensive improvement, even though they aren’t winning many more games. Look for more of the same from Len tonight.
Ivica Zubac, LA Clippers vs. Atlanta ($4100 both)
Zubac has been an extremely efficient player this season, usually exceeding a fantasy point per minute, sometimes by a lot. Even though his minutes have been down the last two games as Montrezl Harrell has started, the Clippers could be short-handed tonight if Kawhi Leonard and Patrick Beverley are out. Zubac is nowhere near a safe play, and should be cheaper, but he does have 30-plus fantasy point upside if things fall right.