Thursday’s NBA slate features six games. We have four of the five worst defensive teams taking the court tonight, but also six of the Top 11 in defensive efficiency. Notable pace bumps go to Charlotte, Philadelphia, Sacramento and Cleveland. My favorite positions to save on are the forward slots tonight. There are three blowout risks tonight: Toronto at Cleveland, LA Clippers vs. Sacramento and Boston vs. Golden State. Paul George and Patrick Beverley are expected back tonight. Al Horford, Jamaal Murray, Marvin Bagley, Josh Richardson, Paul Millsap, Alex Len, Marc Gasol, Jordan McRae, Enes Kanter, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Richaun Holmes will be sidelined. 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. Tonight’s slate tips at 7:00 pm EST.
Colin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Toronto ($6000 FD, $6900 DK)
Sexton is becoming a regular fixture here, as long as FanDuel doesn’t raise his salary. He’s out of range on DraftKings, but still worth considering. Coming off another great game in which Darius Garland didn’t play, Sexton put up 40 fantasy points in only 32 minutes. While the Raptors aren’t an easy matchup, Sexton is averaging over 30 fantasy points per game against them already this season. He’s a solid mid-range option this evening.
Monte Morris, Denver Nuggets vs. Utah ($4400 FD, $5300 DK)
Morris broke a three game double-digit scoring streak Tuesday, but his six assists and five rebounds made up for it. He’s one of a few cheap point guards I’m considering tonight, given that Utah is one of the best defensive teams in the league. Still, this should be a close and hard-fought game, and with Morris getting 34-35 minutes lately, he should be able to exceed value with 25-plus fantasy points tonight.
Also consider: Ish Smith ($5000 FD, $4600 DK)
Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics vs. Golden State ($5600 FD, $6200 DK)
I like Smart slightly less with Jayson Tatum available to play tonight, albeit on a limit, but so will everyone else. Expect a fast-paced game with little defensive resistance from the Warriors, who rank fourth in overall fantasy points allowed and are especially generous to guards. Smart is still very capable of a 40-fantasy point game, and at this price with Tatum back, he’ll have relatively low ownership.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, Sacramento Kings at LA ($4300 FD, $4800 DK)
This is not a position I’m overly keen to save on tonight. Bogdanovic stands to play near 30 minutes tonight as the Kings are still down several players. They are massive underdogs tonight, but Bogdanovic has proven he can score in any environment…in fact he hasn’t been under 10 points in any game in January. He’s a solid bet for the price, with upside if he comes away with more peripheral stats.
Also consider: Malik Monk ($4400 FD, $4700 DK)
OG Anunoby, Toronto Raptors at Cleveland ($4300 FD, $5000 DK)
Anunoby had a bit of a slump last week, but he appears to be putting it back together. No better opportunity for a real bounce-back than the Cavs. They rank second in fantasy points allowed to small forwards, and Anunoby is averaging about five more fantasy points against them this season than his overall average.
Glenn Robinson, Golden State Warriors at Boston ($4500 FD, $4800 DK)
Robinson is playing solid ball for the Warriors right now, and his price isn’t changing. He’s got over 30 fantasy points in three of his last four games, almost always scores in the double-digits, doesn’t get in foul trouble or turn the ball over a lot, and boosts his fantasy total with plenty of rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.
Davis Bertans, Washington Wizards vs. Charlotte ($5600 FD, $6200 DK)
Rostering the big men vs. Charlotte is generally a good strategy. Bertans is solid value on a regular night, but against the Hornets he has averaged 46 fantasy points per game this season. Look for a strong showing from Bertans at a reasonable price.
P.J. Washington, Charlotte Hornets at Washington ($5300 FD, $5400 DK)
This game is the low-hanging fruit of the night, as the Wizards rank third in overall fantasy points allowed, as well as in the Top 10 at every position (and Charlotte isn’t a lot better). The Hornets get the pace bump, and power forwards are one of the positions that benefit most (PG is the other, not surprisingly). Washington has had his ups and downs, so he’s a somewhat riskier play, but the down games have been much tougher matchups than this one. I’m optimistic about him tonight. This is a price range full of good options, however, one of the reasons I’m inclined to save here more so than at guard.
Thomas Bryant, Washington Wizards vs. Charlotte ($4400 FD, $5200 DK)
Like I was saying about the matchup for Bertans…but Bryant is far from a lock. Bryant played over 30 minutes Tuesday for the first time since his foot injury at the beginning of December. Ian Mahinmi is still in the mix, and although I’m betting we are at the changing of the guard, so to speak, with Bryant set to continue to dominate the minutes at center, some would prefer to let the dust settle before chasing Bryant’s 44 fantasy points from Tuesday.
Harry Giles, Sacramento Kings at LA ($3500 FD, $3100 DK)
The Kings are without Holmes and Bagley again tonight, providing an opportunity for Giles to see extended court time. For him, that means about 20 minutes. Still, he’s capable of around 20 fantasy points in that time frame – which could be longer in a blowout – which is great for the price. There aren’t many in this range with as reasonable path to 6-7X value than Giles.