Thursday brings a three-game main slate at 8pm ET. Let’s jump in.
Golden State Warriors at Chicago Bulls
Vegas: 218.5 over/under, Warriors -7.5
During Tuesday’s loss to the Wizards, Patrick McCaw played 23.8 minutes, Andre Iguodala played 30.1 minutes on the second leg of a back-to-back, and Shaun Livingston played a season-high 23.9 minutes. The increase in playing time was due to Kevin Durant‘s knee injury, which will keep him out of action for at least the next four weeks.
Per NBAwowy.com, when Stephen Curry is on the court and Durant is off, the Warriors’ Offensive Rating is 117.9 and their Defensive Rating is 105.1. While the defense yields about four additional points compared to their yearly average, the offense is slightly improved from their league-leading 114.0 points scored per 100 possessions.
Matt Barnes has signed with the Warriors and will be available tonight. His role remains unclear. He’s listed on DK at $3,800, but he’s not priced on FD. Even at that discount, unless coach Steve Kerr commits to starting him and playing him all of Durant’s minutes, it’s difficult to justify taking a chance on him in his first game with the Warriors. Coach Kerr did miss shootaround due to an illness, and he hopes to be able to coach. If assistant coach Ron Adams coaches instead, he may be inclined to keep the rotations shorter with the Warriors getting two days off after tonight.
Here’s how the Warriors have performed on a per-minute basis sans Durant (per the NBA On/Off tool):
Curry leads the team with 1.44 DK points per minute, and Klay Thompson has averaged a team-best +6.7 percent usage rate differential. Curry costs a season-high $10,600 on FD, which is $2,200 less than Russell Westbrook‘s salary. Curry’s salary on DK ($10,000) is much less restrictive. Thompson is among the highest-priced shooting guards on the slate, but with Durant out of the picture, he’ll likely see a bump in minutes.
Power forwards facing the Bulls this season have provided exceptional value — a +4.32 DK Plus/Minus, to be exact. And when you see the list of power forwards on the slate, gravitating to Draymond Green will quickly become the popular move. He’s the most expensive option at the position on both platforms, but he’s unrivaled in terms of projected ceiling and floor. In fact, per the Phan Model, his floor is more than double that of the next closest listed power forward.
Moving on to the Bulls: They have won 17 straight homes games on TNT. That is the one piece of hope I can offer.
Not much has changed since Tuesday’s breakdown. The three point guard rotation is led by Rajon Rondo, who comes off the bench, and Dwyane Wade has been the only Bull to provide 100 percent Consistency on FD and DK over the past month. Michael Carter-Williams has been upgraded to a game-time decision, and Paul Zipser should be available after missing the previous six games. It appears coach Fred Hoiberg will have a multitude of options to choose from, none of whom are all too appealing. It’s a buyer beware situation all over again.
Jimmy Butler has struggled from the field and attempted two free throws over the past two games. He’s in a similar position as Green when it comes to the players available at his position: He clearly leads all players in Upside and projected ceiling by a significant margin, and especially on FD. However, he’ll likely be guarded by Thompson, and if you’re paying up at point guard and power forward, you’ll have to save somewhere.
Wade is the cheapest of the five most-expensive shooting guards on DK, and if McCaw gets the start for the Warriors, he’ll likely be assigned to guard Wade. His floor continues to suit cash games, but his ceiling doesn’t challenge that of those with similar salaries.
Charlotte Hornets at Phoenix Suns
Vegas: 219 over/under, Hornets -4
The Hornets average the highest DraftKings Plus/Minus and third-best FD Plus/Minus on the road this season for players projected to play at least 18 minutes.
The Hornets also lead all teams in DK Plus/Minus for those implied to score at least 100 points.
When combining both filters — “Visitor” and “Team Score of at least 100” — the results for the projected starters are tepid. Their Consistency has been solid, but they’ve offered minimal Upside on the road. However, the Suns are ranked last in Defensive Rating over the past 15 games, allowing 113.7 points per 100 possessions, and when P.J. Tucker and Tyson Chandler have been off the court since the beginning of 2017, the Suns’ Defensive Rating has dropped to 118.7 and opponents have converted 45.5 percent of their 3-point attempts. The Suns are a great team to stack against since they marry a terrible defense with a fast-paced offense.
Kemba Walker has produced a solid four-game stretch against the Suns. He’s the cheapest of the five expensive point guard options on FD, and he’s played at least 40 minutes in four of the past seven contests. When coach Steve Clifford looks down the bench and makes eye contact with backup point guard Brian Roberts, he plays it off as if he got something stuck in his eye.
Nicolas Batum can be a mixed bag on some nights. He’ll perform really well or just fade into the background. This may be one of those nights when the good Batum shows up.
Cody Zeller will likely see an incremental increase in minutes after returning to the lineup in the previous game, but his presence didn’t affect Frank Kaminsky‘s production as the starting center. In fact, they spent time on the court with Kaminsky as the backup power forward on Tuesday. Kaminsky’s salary has peaked at $7,200 on DK, but it remains affordable on FD. He costs more than any other center on FD, which is not a misprint. Spending up at center may not be the best approach on the slate, but Kaminsky has had a great stretch of late.
The center spot isn’t an appealing position tonight, but the Suns have two cheap options worth considering: Alex Len and Alan Williams. Len will likely get most of his minutes against Kaminsky, and Williams will likely face Zeller more often should Kaminsky remain in the Hornets’ starting lineup. Williams is cheaper than Len on FD, making the decision easy, and both cost less than $4,500 on DK. Williams has exceeded 35.0 DK points twice in the past six games, while Len has topped out at 30.25 DK points since the end of January. Both will likely share center minutes, and since Williams averages 1.28 DK points per minutes to Len’s 0.96 DK points per minute, he’ll be the more popular value play.
Eric Bledsoe and Marquese Chriss are much more viable options when playing at Talking Stick Resort Arena, and Bledsoe ranks third among all players this season on DK with a +7.3 Plus/Minus at home. Chriss is nowhere near consistent enough to force him into your cash-game lineups, but on a three-game slate, there are very few solid cash options at power forward.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Portland Trail Blazers
Vegas: 219.5 over/under, Thunder -1
Russell Westbrook costs $13,300 on DK — tied for the highest salary in our database. He accounts for five of the previous six instances in which a player cost at least $13,000 on DK. His salary-implied point total is 64.15 DK points, and based on recent performances, that’s a number he’s more likely to exceed than not:
When the Thunder have been favored this season, Westbrook has provided a +8.75 DK Plus/Minus, and when they are implied to score at least 107 points, Westbrook averages 70.47 DK points. The one cause for concern is the team’s poor overall performance on the road, and if they aren’t knocking down shots, Westbrook’s chance at a triple-double decreases. Here’s how the Thunder have performed on the road this season:
Westbrook: DFS Scouting Report
Steven Adams has been the epitome of consistent when facing the Blazers. He, along with many of the center options on DK, offers a Bargain Rating of at least 86 percent, which creates quite the selection process.
The Blazers’ Defensive Rating when Mason Plumlee was on the court was a team-worst 111.0. In the 112 minutes Jusuf Nurkic has been on the court, the Blazers’ Defensive Rating has improved to 97.3. However, when Nurkic has sat the past five games, the Blazers’ Defensive Rating has climbed to 117.8. That’s solid news for Enes Kanter, who’s still working his way back from a fractured forearm, and the rest of the Thunder’s second unit. Kanter is center-only eligible on DK and power forward-only eligible on FD, and in both instances, he’s flirting with cash-game residence. When the Thunder are favored, Kanter averages a +5.47 DK Plus/Minus. Taj Gibson‘s salary has crept to a season-low $3,700 on DK, and power forwards facing the Blazers this season have provided a league-best 63.2 percent Consistency.
Now that Ed Davis has been ruled out for the rest of the season, Nurkic and Meyers Leonard are expected to handle all of the center minutes. Nurkic has exceeded 30 FD points in two of the past three starts, while getting into early foul trouble in the other contest. He’s the clear pivot on FD behind Alan Williams and Kaminsky.
Andre Roberson will likely guard C.J. McCollum and Westbrook will stick Damian Lillard. That makes me like Lillard more than McCollum in this game, and especially in GPPs: The last time he faced the Thunder, he recorded 46.9 FD points in 36.45 minutes. He leads all point guards on the slate with 100 percent Consistency over the past month.
Lillard: DFS Scouting Report
Every Trail Blazer projected to play at least 18 minutes (sans Noah Vonleh) has averaged a positive Plus/Minus at home this season.
Maurice Harkless is in the cash-game discussion at small forward on the three-game slate. He’s played at least 36 minutes in three straight games, and he’ll likely have Alex Abrines on him. His recent game performance has led to 90 percent Consistency over the past 10 games:
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