Thursday’s NBA slate features just two games and it’s an interesting one, to say the least. All four teams rank in the Top 10 in pace, and top half of the league in offensive efficiency. Damian Lillard, Khris Middleton, Aron Baynes and Derrick Favors are out tonight, and a litany of mid-range guys are on the questionable list, including Hassan Whiteside, Ricky Rubio, and Lonzo Ball. 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 8:00 pm EST.
George Hill, Milwaukee Bucks vs. Portland ($4400 FD, $4000 DK)
There’s more value than you might expect from a two-game slate. The Bucks are 12-point favorites at home vs. the wounded Trail Blazers tonight, in a game with a 230 point total. Expect all the regulars to be popular picks tonight, especially Eric Bledsoe given the PG landscape and Portland’s generosity to opposing PGs, and consider Hill as the second PG or G filler for his consistent 18-24 fantasy points.
Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers at Milwaukee ($4800 FD, $4700 DK)
Simons is himself questionable tonight, but with Lillard out, he might not have much choice but to play. He played 36 minutes vs. New Orleans Tuesday night and put up a balanced 13-point, three rebound, four assist line. Milwaukee is the best defensive team on this small slate, but does rank ninth in fantasy points allowed to point guards.
Donte DiVincenzo, Milwaukee Bucks vs. Portland ($5000 FD, $4400 DK)
With Middleton out, DiVincenzo has been making the most of his 24-26 MPG, filling the stat sheet in a variety of ways. He’s scored double-digit points in three straight, with seven steals in that span. Portland is the best fantasy matchup on the slate, allowing the fifth-most overall fantasy points to opponents.
JJ Redick, New Orleans Pelicans at Phoenix ($5400 FD, $5200 DK)
Redick started the season slow, but has certainly heated up when they’ve needed someone. There are a number of Pelicans listed as questionable or even probable tonight, but you can still count on Redick’s hot shooting. In the last five games, he ranks third in the league in 3P attempts (10.5 per game) and has made a whopping 47.6 percent of them (behind only Karl-Anthony Towns and Coby White among players with at least eight 3PA per game). With a massive 234-point total and fairly narrow spread (Suns minus-4), I expect a fair share of New Orleans’ points to come from Redick again tonight.
Rodney Hood, Portland Trail Blazers at Milwaukee ($4300 FD, $4200 DK)
Hood, given all the injuries the Trail Blazers are dealing with, and also Kent Bazemore ($4200 FD, $4300 DK), are reliable, if a bit boring, cheap wing options tonight. The matchup with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks isn’t ideal, but Hood is going to see over 30 MPG again, and Bazemore made it up to 28 minutes in Tuesday’s game. The opportunity is enough on this short slate.
Frank Kaminsky, Phoenix Suns vs. New Orleans ($4600 both)
Kaminsky is questionable tonight, as are Dario Saric ($5100 FD, $5000 DK) and Cameron Johnson ($4400 FD (SF), $4000 DK), though all sound like they have a decent chance to play. We’d like to get some exposure to the Suns frontcourt tonight given the favorable matchup, but which way to go? I’m opting for Kaminsky, who has the best floor/ceiling combo tonight, but understand going with either of the other two to save money on a safe floor (Johnson), or aim for the 35 fantasy point game that Saric is capable of if you have more to spend. Be sure to check the final news on these guys before making any decisions.
Nassir Little, Portland Trail Blazers at Milwaukee ($4100 both (SF on FD))
If Whiteside is out tonight, consider Little a potential bargain frontcourt option. After seeing that Carmelo Anthony’s starting didn’t impact Little’s ability to produce – in fact he had his first double-double and best game of the year – I’m willing to continue slotting him in. Two-game slates don’t allow the luxury of playing the matchups, and Little has proved enough in his short time that I trust him in any lineup as a salary saver tonight.
Jaxson Hayes, New Orleans Pelicans at Phoenix ($5000 FD, $5100 DK)
The Suns are known for their weak frontcourt defense and that goes back to before they lost Baynes. Even though they are a much improved team, statistically, they still give up the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing centers. Hayes, meanwhile, is doing fine in relief of Favors and Jahlil Okafor. In the past three games he’s averaging nearly 30 fantasy points with eight blocks, four steals, and one double-double. If Okafor is back tonight, it gets a little more tricky, but I still think Hayes will be the top producer at center for the Pelicans (and maybe overall).