Thursday’s main NBA slate features four games, and it is not a pretty one. It’s probably a better idea to go with a more Tier 2/middle-of-the-road approach tonight rather than a stars and scrubs strategy but it’s also impossible to fade Kawhi Leonard. 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.
Kendrick Nunn, Miami Heat at Phoenix ($5600 FD, $5200 DK)
Minus a blip vs. Houston, Nunn is playing a ton of minutes and generally coming through with around a fantasy point per minute. He’s a capable contributor in multiple categories already, and is a notable source of steals and assists in this price range. Though both of these teams boast a strong defensive rating to start the season, they also play at a fast pace and Vegas has a narrow spread on the game, expecting it to stay competitive for all four quarters.
Patty Mills, San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City ($4100 FD, $3700 DK)
Mills is a roller coaster, still capable of tournament winning lines on occasion, while being unpredictably bad on other nights. He’s on my radar tonight because Derrick White is not 100 percent and listed as questionable tonight. The Spurs have plenty of guards to go around, but if White is out or even limited, Mills is the guy who stands to benefit most in terms of upside. Bryn Forbes is another option, but though he might have a higher floor, he doesn’t have the upside that Mills has shown recently.
Hamidou Diallo, Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio ($4800 FD, $4000 DK)
Though Diallo doesn’t appear to be a very consistent player, he has actually managed to turn in about 5X value in each of his last four games. He can do it in a variety of ways from double-digit scoring or rebounds to multi-steal or block games, making him a fairly safe option at this position.
Rodney Hood, Portland Trail Blazers at LA ($4400 FD, $3800 DK)
I’m pretty sure I’ll regret this, because Hood has been on my “never again” list before, but I can’t overlook that he’s getting at least 30 MPG in every single game this season. For this salary, on this slate, it’s impossible to beat that opportunity. Of course, beyond that, he’s incredibly inconsistent, with two 20-plus point games and three single-digit scoring games. However, he can rebound and he can make up for poor shooting with a couple steals here and there. This game carries the highest point total of the night and Portland will need volume shooters like Hood to come through if they’re to hang with LA.
Dario Saric, Phoenix Suns vs. Miami ($5100 FD, $4600 DK)
I mean, this is how you know it’s bad, when Saric is on the radar as a bargain option at PF. He’s another very frustrating player to roster, but the matchup is favorable (Miami ranks seventh in fantasy points allowed to PFs) and Saric is playing closer to 30 minutes than 20 minutes most nights. There just aren’t players in his range with 40-plus fantasy point upside. This is a crappy slate, and it forces you to swing for the fences with your bargain players.
Steven Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio ($6000 FD, $5400 DK)
Adams sat out two games with a bruised knee and returned with a double-double and his best game of the season. It’s a tough matchup with the Spurs tonight, but if you’re keen to pay up for Leonard and Damian Lillard (or Kemba Walker’s (or Terry Rozier’s) revenge game), Adams has a similar range of outcomes as the more expensive center options tonight.