NBA DFS Bargains: Thursday
Every NBA DFS lineup needs to draw from the bottom of the player well to balance those stars who spend through the DraftKings or FanDuel salary cap with such ease. Bargain players are ideally those with low salaries, but plenty of upside. Opportunity is often the key to success for our low-cost lineup fillers. Depending on the size of your DRAFT league, you may not need to dig into the Bargain Bin, but we’ll also highlight a couple guys whose projections seem lower than they should be—potential game changers that your opponents may overlook.
Thursday offers five great NBA games, many featuring the same teams that played on Christmas Day. Some good defensive teams take the floor again – Boston, Utah and Milwaukee all rank in the top five in defensive efficiency – and five teams make the top 10 in offensive efficiency (Golden State, Houston, Boston, Milwaukee and Philadelphia). The Lakers at Kings carries the fastest paced matchup and highest game total (231 points), while we should consider blowout risk in the Warriors vs. Trail Blazers and Bucks vs. Knicks games. The Lakers and Rockets suffered key injuries on Christmas that could seriously open up some value tonight. While Rajon Rondo and LeBron James are already ruled out, you’ll need to keep an eye out for news on James Harden’s calf strain.
Kevin Durant – F – Golden State (DRAFT Projection 49.1)
It’s between Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo for top forward on DRAFT today, and I lean toward Durant. The Warriors were embarrassed on Christmas with another 20-plus point loss at home, and Portland is the league-best SF matchup for fantasy. Durant put up 61 fantasy points the first time these teams met, and is an easy bet for 50-plus tonight.
Eric Gordon – G – Houston (DRAFT Projection 25. 6)
If Harden is unable to play tonight, Gordon would be pressed into an even higher usage role than he is currently playing. Certainly other Rockets players benefit as well (see below), but Gordon is such a scoring threat that I wouldn’t mind reaching for him over guys like Klay Thompson and Emmanuel Mudiay in deeper DRAFTs tonight.
UPDATE: Harden is probable tonight.
Malcolm Brogdon – PG – Milwaukee (FD: $5700, DK: $5300)
Brogdon was a key to successful Christmas Day lineups, as he went off for 17 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block in this matchup at the Garden. With a day of rest in between, I think he’ll have another chance to shine, and while he may not exceed value by quite as much this time, he’s still a very solid play in a top eight PG matchup.
Austin Rivers – G – Houston (FD: $3600, DK: $3400)
Of course Gordon would be an extremely popular and productive play if Harden were to miss tonight’s game, but Rivers wasn’t bad in his Houston debut on Christmas and could be relied on even more tonight. Gerald Green andPJ Tucker are the other bargain Rockets you could consider; Rivers and Green definitely have more upside, but Tucker is continuing to play a ton of minutes and that opportunity gives him the best floor of the three.
Lonzo Ball – PG – LA Lakers (FD: $6000, DK: $5500)
With James and Rondo out tonight, Ball will be the primary ball handler for the Lakers. Expect him to be popular but very hard to fade vs. a Kings team that ranks sixth in fantasy points to opposing point guards. The high score and narrow spread make this one of the best games to target tonight.
Nemanja Bjelica – F – Sacramento (FD: $5500, DK: $4800)
Bjelica and the Kings are on a back-to-back, but he played only 25 very efficient minutes last night. With four blocks and two steals, Bjelica returned about 6X value in the loss. I’ve mentioned the high total and fast pace here; it may also benefit Bjelica that the Lakers rank eighth in the league in turnover rate and are missing a key defender in James tonight.
Lance Stephenson – SF – LA Lakers (FD: $4100, DK: $4200)
The loss of James for tonight’s game probably directly benefits Stephenson the most. He’s capable of returning a fantasy point a minute or better when he sees 20-plus minutes. He’s also been oddly better (10 fantasy points better) on the road than in LA this season, and had an efficient 20-fantasy point game vs. the Kings earlier this season. His ability to put up fantasy points in every category is what makes him a near must-play today.
Josh Hart –SG – LA Lakers (FD: $3700, DK: $4300)
Hart (and Stephenson) is notably mis-priced on FanDuel relative to his role tonight and his upside in general. Without Rondo, Hart should pick up around 30 minutes tonight. His range is very wide, but he performed well in this matchup earlier in the season and can get you to 25 fantasy points in a number of ways. I view him as more of a tournament play, but I want some exposure to Hart tonight.