The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
Thursday features a three-game main slate starting at 8:00 pm ET.
Cleveland Cavaliers (-3.5) at Toronto Raptors – 219.5 total
This game sets up as the most attractive of the day for DFS purposes. Both of these teams rank in the top-five in offensive efficiency this season, resulting in the top-two implied team totals on the slate.
We’ll start with the Cavaliers. LeBron James stands in his own tier on today’s slate, costing approximately $2,500 more than the second-most expensive player on both DraftKings and FanDuel. That said, this doesn’t really profile as a great spot for LeBron. The Raptors rank fourth in defensive efficiency this season, and LeBron has an Opponent Plus/Minus of -0.25.
He’s also been poor by his lofty standards of late, averaging a Plus/Minus of -3.27 over his past 10 games on DraftKings. Some of that can be attributed to the increased presence of Isaiah Thomas. They haven’t played together a ton this season, but when they have shared the court LeBron has seen a major hit to both his usage and fantasy production:
LeBron should have massive ownership on today’s slate, but you wouldn’t be crazy to consider fading him.
Kevin Love has taken an even bigger hit to his typical production with Isaiah, averaging 19.5 fewer fantasy points per 36 minutes when sharing the court with him. He might be too good of a value to pass up on FanDuel, however, where his $6,900 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 99 percent.
It’s hard to trust anyone else on the Cavaliers, but Dwyane Wade could make sense as a value play. He won’t play many minutes – he’s currently projected for 24.6 in our NBA Models – but he’s averaged a strong 1.05 fantasy points per minute on DraftKings over the past month. At just $4,800, he doesn’t need to play much to return value given his productivity.
The Raptors might actually be the more attractive team to target in this game despite the fact that they’re underdogs. The main reason is the injury to Kyle Lowry, who is currently doubtful to play. Serge Ibaka is also suspended for today’s contest, and their absences should create value in both the backcourt and frontcourt.
DeMar DeRozan failed to return value in his first game this season without Lowry, but it wasn’t due to a lack of opportunities. He posted a ridiculous usage rate of 42.5 percent, which is in line with his season-long average of 40.7 percent with Lowry off the court:
DeRozan also has a wonderful matchup today, as the Cavs have been destroyed by opposing wing players all season. No one in the league has allowed a higher average Plus/Minus to the SG and SF positions than Cleveland:
Considering both of those factors, it’d be hard for DeRozan not to return value today.
Delon Wright will likely draw the start at the PG position; he contributed 32.25 DraftKings points in 29.5 minutes in his first start on Tuesday. He’s averaged 0.94 fantasy points per minute this season, so it’s not really surprising that he was productive given the extra minutes. His salary has increased by roughly $1,000 on both sites after that performance, but he still figures to be a solid value.
The rest of the backcourt is a mix of guys who could hit value if everything breaks right for them. OG Anunoby will probably see the most minutes of the group but has been dreadful recently, averaging just 0.50 fantasy points per minute over the past month. Norman Powell and Fred VanVleet might be the more appealing options for guaranteed prize pools: Each exceeded value in their last start in limited minutes and could be big values if they earn more playing time today.
While the suspension of Ibaka will open up approximately 28 minutes of playing time, it’s unclear how those minutes will shake out. So far this season, no one has really grabbed the majority of the playing time in games that he’s missed:
- Jonas Valanciunas – 22.8 minutes per game
- Pascal Siakam – 25.6 minutes per game
- C.J. Miles – 20.4 minutes per game
- Lucas Nogueira – 18.2 minutes per game
- Jakob Poeltl – 17.3 minutes per game
Talk about a balanced rotation. Valanciunas has been the most efficient of the group recently, averaging 1.22 fantasy points per minute over the past month and makes a ton of sense on DraftKings at just $5,400. Same goes for Siakam on FanDuel, who’s priced at the dead minimum and is the most likely option to start. The other three are just tournament options, but all three could wind up returning value at what should be lower ownership.
Los Angeles Clippers (-1.5) at Sacramento Kings – 210 total
The Clippers are extremely banged up right now. C.J. Williams has already been ruled out, and Blake Griffin and Milos Teodosic are both doubtful, adding to their already-long list of injuries for tonight’s game. That leaves a small group of guys to play a large portion of minutes, which is always appealing for NBA DFS.
Lou Williams will draw the most attention here, and rightfully so: He’s absolutely smashed over his past 10 games on FanDuel:
He leads the team with a usage rate of 32.5 percent with all of their injured players off the floor and went for 50 real points against the Warriors on Wednesday. The only concern with Williams is that he is an older player playing on the road for the second leg of a back-to-back. Williams has historically done well in those spots, but this is uncharted territory for him in terms of salary. He’s played in only eight back-to-backs with a salary of at least $6,000 on DraftKings, and those results have been less than impressive:
He might be a little risky at $8,300 on today’s slate, but he also has one of the highest ceilings.
Outside of Williams, the majority of the guard minutes will fall to Jawun Evans and Tyrone Wallace. Evans has played at least 36 minutes in each of the past two games and is projected to lead the team with 38.3 tonight. That said, he doesn’t have a great matchup, evidenced by an Opponent Plus/Minus of -1.22 on FanDuel, and has been priced up quite a bit across the industry. Wallace might actually be the more appealing option. He’s played in only three games for the Clippers but has averaged 1.14 fantasy points per minute. He should also see 30-plus minutes and is priced very fairly at just $3,600. As long as Teodosic is out, these guys should both command a bunch of ownership even though no one knew who they were a month ago.
DeAndre Jordan has had a rough go of it recently, but tonight looks like an excellent spot for him to rebound (pun intended). The Kings have been brutal against centers this season, resulting in an Opponent Plus/Minus of +5.33 on DraftKings. Jordan should also benefit from the absence of Griffin, with Jordan averaging 43.2 fantasy points per 36 minutes with him off the court this season:
Montrezl Harrell should also get some increased run without Griffin: He’s played at least 25.5 minutes in two of his past three games. Given his average of 1.03 fantasy points per minute over the past month, that makes him appealing at just $4,000 on DraftKings and $4,200 on FanDuel.
The Kings are an extremely tough team to target right now, as no one on the team is projected to play more than 29.5 minutes. Zach Randolph will likely lead the team in usage while he’s on the court, but his playing time has waned over the past month. Still, he can potentially return value at just $4,900 on FanDuel in limited minutes.
De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic have both crushed over their past three games, but most of that can be attributed to increased playing time with George Hill and Frank Mason III out of the lineup. With Hill set to return tonight, all three will share minutes and workload.
San Antonio Spurs (-2.5) at Los Angeles Lakers – 211 total
The Spurs are yet another team that will be shorthanded on today’s slate, with Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, and Rudy Gay all out or unlikely to play.
The PG minutes will likely be split between Patty Mills and Dejounte Murray, and Mills has been the preferred option of the two recently. He’s played 54.5 minutes to Murray’s 38.5 over the past two games, which gives him the safer floor. That said, Murray has averaged 1.03 fantasy points per minute over the past month, which gives him a significantly higher ceiling if he gets the playing time. Murray has burned a lot of people recently, but he remains attractive for GPPs given his potential.
Kyle Anderson will likely assume the bulk of the SF minutes with Leonard out of the lineup. He’ll very rarely wow you, but he has posted a Consistency Rating of 90 percent over the past month. Old man Manu Ginobili could also be a factor today: He’s averaged a ridiculous 37.75 FanDuel points over his past two games. He hasn’t played since Sunday, so he should be good to assume his normal workload.
LaMarcus Aldridge has been a monster recently, which is no surprise given the injury to Leonard. In games without the star SF, Aldridge has averaged just under 40 DraftKings points per game:
His price has been jacked up to $9,900 on FanDuel, but he remains very affordable at $8,500 on DraftKings.
Finally, don’t forget about Davis Bertans. He’s played at least 27 minutes in four straight games and has attempted at least 10 shots in three of them. He’s shown elite shooting ability for a big man and has plenty of upside at his current salary.
The Spurs are typically a defensive nightmare for DFS, and it’s reflected in the Opponent Plus/Minus for the Lakers players:
Brutal. Still, it’s only a three-game slate, so we’re probably going to need to at least consider a couple of options.
Today’s slate is relatively light on star power, particularly at the PG position. That could increase the appeal of Lonzo Ball, who has been a really nice source of value over his past 10 games on DraftKings:
He continues to lay more bricks than a mason, but he makes up for it by being a major contributor in all the peripheral categories. The result is an average of 1.12 fantasy points per minute on DraftKings over the past month, which ranks second among all PG-eligible players on today’s slate. He’s a stronger value today on DraftKings, where his $7,200 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 90 percent.
Brook Lopez won’t play more than 22 minutes in today’s game, but that will still give him a chance to return value at just $4,400 on FanDuel. He’s averaged 1.03 fantasy points per minute over the past month, and defending centers is the Spurs’ biggest potential weakness on the defensive end. Julius Randle is also intriguing at center. He’s averaged 1.26 DraftKings points per minute over the past month and is coming off a game where he played 30 minutes.
Photo via Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
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