Thursday features a five-game slate starting at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Let’s dive into some of the top plays using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics.
Note: Projections and Leverages Scores/Ratings may change throughout the day after this article is posted. The NBA DFS landscape changes quickly. Consult the Player Models directly for any updates as we get closer to lock.
The Grizzlies are riding a 10-game winning streak, and Ja Morant has been a massive part of it. He’s increased his fantasy production to 1.45 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, and he’s put together some big games recently. He racked up 50.75 DraftKings points over 36.9 minutes in his last outing, which came against a tough Warriors’ defense. His matchup on Thursday vs. the Timberwolves is much friendlier. They’ve played at the sixth-fastest pace this season, and the Grizzlies’ implied team total of 118.0 is the top mark on the slate.
Dennis Smith Jr. is going to garner insane ownership for the Blazers. They’re currently without Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Anfernee Simons, and Norman Powell, which leaves the team without four of their top options. Smith should move into the starting lineup and play heavy minutes, and he has historically been an elite per-minute producer. He’s averaged 0.97 DraftKings points per minute with Lillard, McCollum, Simons, and Powell off the court this season, so he has the potential to destroy his current price tag.
Steph Curry got off to a torrid start this season, but he has cooled down substantially since then. He’s posted an average Plus/Minus of -2.94 over his past 10 games on FanDuel, but he did rack up 57.0 FanDuel points in his last outing. Perhaps that means he’s turning the corner. His Opponent Plus/Minus of +1.9 is also one of the best marks at the position on FanDuel, where his $10,400 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 94%.
The Nets are at home on Thursday, which means Kyrie Irving is not going to be able to suit up. That means Patty Mills should see a nice spike in playing time. He’s currently projected for 34.0 minutes in our NBA Models, which should be more than enough to pay off his current salary. Historically, players with comparable salaries and minute projections have averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.94 on DraftKings (per the Trends tool).
Paying up at shooting guard really isn’t an option on Thursday. You can use James Harden at shooting guard on FanDuel, but only three players are priced above $6,600 at the position on DraftKings. None of those options are priced above $8,900.
D’Angelo Russell is my favorite of the bunch. He’s racked up three straight double-doubles, and he’s scored at least 38.75 DraftKings points in each of those contests. Overall, he’s increased his production to 1.14 DraftKings points per minute over the past month. Loading up on players from the Timberwolves-Grizzlies contest also makes sense: The 231-point total is tops on the slate by a sizable margin.
The Blazers are going to be an elite source of value on Thursday. In addition to DSJ, Ben McLemore could also provide some savings at shooting guard. He’s not nearly as effective on a per-minute basis, but he’s still averaged a respectable 0.79 DraftKings points per minute this season. He’s coming off 30.7 minutes and 33.75 DraftKings points in his last outing, so he’s a reasonable option at $4,200.
Lu Dort is another potential option at the position. His minutes are trending in the right direction following a two-game absence, and he logged more than 34 minutes in his last outing. Dort has averaged 0.83 DraftKings points per minute this season, so that’s more than enough playing time to return value.
Harden definitely deserves some consideration at the top of the position on FanDuel. His $10,000 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 92%, and the absence of Irving clearly matters. Harden tallied 61.4 FanDuel points on Wednesday even with Irving in the lineup, so he has the potential for a big game.
I will continue to ride Josh Hart for as long as possible. He’s elite at racking up peripheral stats for a small forward, and he’s averaged 1.01 DraftKings points per minute over the past month. He had his full skill set on display in his last contest, finishing with 21 points, nine rebounds, and five assists over 36 minutes. He’s one of the safest options at the position at just $6,800.
The Warriors are still playing without Draymond Green, which opens up a few additional minutes in the frontcourt. Andre Iguodala should grab a few of them. He’s coming off a poor performance in his last outing, but he racked up 23.5 DraftKings points over 24.9 minutes in his previous contest. Iguodala has averaged 0.97 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, so he doesn’t need much playing time to pay off his $3,500 salary.
Josh Giddey is an absolute stud. The rookie from Australia has been fantastic all year, and he’s displayed the ability to contribute in every category across the board. He’s averaged 11.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game this season, and he’s averaged a stout 1.20 DraftKings points per minute over the past month. He’s only eligible at shooting guard on FanDuel, but his $6,800 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 83%.
Nassir Little is another potential option for the Blazers, especially on FanDuel given his Bargain Rating of 85%. Little has seen a bump in scoring responsibilities when Lillard and McCollum have been sidelined, and he’s coming off 34.0 FanDuel points over 38.5 minutes in his last outing.
Power forward is loaded at the top on Thursday, and DFS players will face a tough choice between Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant. Giannis has been outstanding recently – he’s averaged 1.82 DraftKings points per minute over the past month – but he faces a brutal matchup vs. the Warriors. He’s also been priced up to $12,300, which is a monster price tag.
With that in mind, pivoting to Durant is extremely reasonable. He wasn’t really needed yesterday vs. the Bulls, finishing with 48.0 DraftKings points over just 30 minutes, so he should be ready to take on a larger workload vs. the Thunder. Durant leads the position with 38 projected minutes in our NBA Models, and he’s averaged 1.41 DraftKings points per minute over the past month.
On the other side of that contest, Darius Bazley stands out as an excellent value on DraftKings. He’s priced at just $4,300, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 93%, and he’s coming off 30.1 minutes in his last outing. Bazley has averaged 0.91 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, so he can do some damage with 30+ minutes.
Kyle Anderson is another excellent per-minute producer for his price tag. He’s averaged 0.98 DraftKings points per minute this season, but his playing time has been volatile. However, he’s logged at least 24.2 minutes in back-to-back games, and Steven Adams is currently questionable due to health and safety protocols. If he’s out of the lineup, Anderson’s playing time should be solidified.
Bobby Portis has PF and C eligibility on FanDuel, and he makes a ton of sense at the former on Thursday. He’s coming off a poor performance in his last outing, but he continues to play big minutes for the Bucks. He’s racked up at least 32 minutes in three straight games, and Portis has averaged an outstanding 1.11 FanDuel points per minute this season. Portis is also underpriced on FanDuel, where his $6,200 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 92%.
Nikola Jokic is even more expensive than Giannis at $12,500 on DraftKings, but you can definitely afford him if you want to. Jokic has been dominant this season, averaging 1.80 DraftKings points per minute, but his production has waned a bit recently. He’s coming off just 50.75 DraftKings points in his last outing, and while that would be great for most players, it’s not enough to justify a $12,500 price tag.
Still, the Blazers represent a nice bounce-back spot for Jokic. They rank just 29th in defensive efficiency, and Jokic leads all centers with an Opponent Plus/Minus of +1.82. His eight Pro Trends also rank first at the position.
Jusuf Nurkic isn’t technically a value play at $7,600, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a value. He has the potential to be the best points-per-dollar play at the position on Thursday’s slate. He’s averaged 1.26 DraftKings points per minute this season, and he’s been asked to play more minutes recently given the Blazers’ absences. Nurkic is capable of contributing in every category across the board, and he’s scored at least 38.75 DraftKings points in four of his past five games.
Ivica Zubac was limited to just 9.8 minutes in his last outing, but he struggled with foul trouble against Jokic. He should return to his usual workload on Thursday, making him a nice buy-low option. Zubac has averaged 0.98 DraftKings points per minute this season, so he has the potential to provide excellent value at just $4,400.
Jonas Valanciunas continues to stand out as an elite value on FanDuel given his Bargain Rating of 95%. He disappointed in his last game, but he’s still averaged an outstanding 1.22 FanDuel points per minute this season.
Photo Credit: Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Dennis Smith Jr.