Thursday’s NBA slate features four games. 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.
Ty Jerome, Phoenix Suns at New Orleans ($3600 FD(SG), $3500 DK)
The Suns have struggled to find consistency at the PG position. It’s too soon to tell whether Jerome can provide that, but he’s averaged over 18 fantasy points in two games so far, and increased his playing time by six minutes, from 12 to 18 MPG. He’s nabbed five steals in the two games, and dished out seven assists Wednesday night. Like all rookies, there are bound to be inconsistencies, but for the price, and given the No. 1 matchup for PGs tonight in New Orleans, he’s worth a flier.
Lonzo Ball, New Orleans Pelicans vs. Phoenix ($5800 FD, $5300 DK)
Ball would be in line to start again tonight if Kenrich Williams is out again, which is still questionable as of right now. Ball has played over 30 MPG in the last two, and we know he’s capable of much more than he’s showed. However, his brief absence and lack of stellar production lately has brought his salary down to a very palatable level for what should be a close and high scoring game (234 point total, Pelicans minus-3).
Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors vs. Houston ($5700 FD, $5100 DK)
Powell is the safe play at SG in this range, as he is averaging about 24 points per game over the last three, playing huge minutes and adding significant peripherals to his stat lines. This despite the return of Kyle Lowry, too! Houston’s wing defense is notoriously soft, while the Rockets play at the second-fastest pace, making this a game where Powell can continue to return value.
Jordan McRae, Washington Wizards vs. Philadelphia ($4000 both)
Suppose you need to save a bit more for your second SG or G slot. Consider McRae for a short-handed Wizards team in another game with a 234-point total. McRae has posted at least 20 fantasy points in seven of his last 10 games, several with double-digit points or multiple steals, and has shown the ability and willingness to distribute as well. It’s a tough matchup as Philadelphia allows the fewest overall fantasy points to their opponents and ranks fifth in defensive efficiency, but the Wizards may turn to McRae even more in a blowout situation.
RJ Barrett, New York Knicks vs. Denver ($5700 FD, $5600 DK)
The Knicks may get several guards back tonight, including Elfrid Payton and Frank Ntilikina, but I just think Barrett is going to bounce back from Monday’s disaster. He’d be a GPP play only given that he saw only 19 minutes Monday and did pitifully little with them (two points, one assist and one block), but could be a difference maker if he goes off at very low ownership.
James Ennis, Philadelphia 76ers at Washington ($3700 both)
Washington is the team you want to target, as they not only give up the most fantasy points to their opponents, they play at the fastest pace and rank 30th in both defensive efficiency and rebounding. Ennis has been playing 22-27 minutes in the last three games, and while he isn’t going to win a tournament for you, his 20-ish fantasy points at this price can help you fit another star who could.
Frank Kaminsky, Phoenix Suns at New Orleans ($4800 FD, $5300 DK)
With Aron Baynes out, Kaminsky has been reaching value with ease. His salary has come up a bit on FanDuel, but he’s still very rosterable on both sites. Baynes is currently questionable, so check on the status later in the day to be sure he’s out before locking in Kaminsky. The Pelicans are a fast team not so concerned with defense (24th in defensive efficiency and ninth-most fantasy points allowed overall). Cheick Diallo ($3600 FD, $4100 DK) has been tearing it up except in the game vs. Dallas where he was sick, and at this price is possibly a better value than Kaminsky if Baynes remains out.
Davis Bertans, Washington Wizards vs. Philadelphia ($6000 FD, $5800 DK)
The Wizards are set to be without Thomas Bryant and potentially without Mortiz Wagner again tonight. The only healthy big bodies are Bertans and Rui Hachimura ($5800 FD, $5700 DK), and given that they are in the same price range, it’s hard to choose. As noted above, the matchup isn’t great, but they could both play upwards of 40 minutes again tonight out of necessity. I view Bertans as the safer option for 30-ish fantasy points, with Hachimura being more volatile with a wider range of outcomes.
Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks vs. Denver ($5800 FD, $5100 DK)
He’s coming off a great game with a season-high 14 rebounds, along with three blocks, a feat he is unlikely to repeat vs. Denver, but cheap centers are few and far between tonight. I like Serge Ibaka to continue to ramp up and that’s a great game environment, but he’s not C eligible on FanDuel. So Robinson has been a bit all over the place this season, and Denver is a sound defensive team despite Nikola Jokic’s sub-standard performance lately, but if you need a reasonable floor with some upside in this price range, he’s my pick.