The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.
Thursday’s slate features seven games, scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Luka Dončić welcomes Jrue Holiday and the Milwaukee Bucks to Dallas. Giannis Antetokounmpo is doubtful (knee) for Milwaukee, weakening the offense and defense that is tasked with slowing down Dončić. He has the highest median projection on the slate, and could see even more usage with Kristaps Porzingis dealing with a wrist issue that might require offseason surgery. Dončić leads the position in Projected Plus/Minus on FanDuel.
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I am also a fan of De’Aaron Fox against the Detroit Pistons. Detroit is not good at point guard and trust a rookie returning from a lengthy injury to lead the position. The Kings are 4.5-point favorites at home with a projected game total of 228 points, tied for second-most on the slate.
Killian Hayes is the point guard Detroit is trusting to solidify the position. He saw 25 minutes in his second game back from injury and received a night off Tuesday for resting purposes. Expect a full workload from him against an awful Kings defense. Hayes is a top-five play on DraftKings, and his salary tops out at $4,000 on FanDuel.
Malachi Flynn has three consecutive game with 30 or more minutes. Kyle Lowry’s foot infection is serious, allowing for Flynn to showcase his talent as Toronto winds down the season. Flynn gets Tomas Satoransky and Coby White opposite him, a juicy matchup. The Raptors are home dogs against Chicago, but only by four points.
Damian Lillard versus Mike Conley is going to be fun to watch. Lillard does not stand out as a must-play with Utah playing like the best team in the NBA, and Conley could see his ownership spike after scoring 28 points earlier this week and Portland’s defensive woes being a target of DFS players.
I am locking Donovan Mitchell into my lineups against Portland. He is the top overall play on FanDuel, and is the top shooting guard on DraftKings according to the NBA Model. I am cool eating chalk, because Mitchell is the unquestioned number one scorer on one of the best teams. He also leads the position in Pro Trends, and has a top-10 matchup using Opponent Plus/Minus. No surprise that Portland-Utah is projected to have the highest game total at 230.5 points.
Svi Mykhailiuk should avoid Isaac Okoro of the Cavaliers in a plus matchup. Mykhailiuk is also projected to have the same ownership percentage as Mitchell as Oklahoma City continues their journey for a top pick in the NBA Draft. Svi has an excellent 89% Bargain Rating on FanDuel. He has the best Projected Plus Minus at shooting guard on FanDuel and is $3,800.
A similarly cheap pivot off Svi is Josh Jackson of the Pistons. Like Hayes, Jackson will face a poor defensive frontcourt and is only $4,400 on FanDuel and $4,700 on DraftKings.
Jalen Brunson gets a boost if Porzingis either sits or plays poorly due to that wrist issue. Dallas is playing the second of a back-to-back, so it is not crazy to think he sits.
Zach LaVine is probable for Chicago, but I am good fading him. His ankle sprain is hampering his shot and has seen his fantasy point production drop into the 30-plus point range over the past two weeks. There is enough talent and value elsewhere at shooting guard.
Jrue Holiday should see a boost if Giannis is out. He is eligible at point and shooting guard on DraftKings, and similarly projected to Mitchell at a lower salary.
Donte DiVincenzo was three assists away from a triple-double when the Bucks played the Kings this past Saturday. Giannis sat out that game. This also goes one step farther for the Bucks offense. Besides Holiday and Khris Middleton, the rest of the secondary player should see a boost on offense. It is not like Brooklyn where the scoring onus falls primarily to the other superstar players.
I will pay up for Khris Middleton and Kawhi Leonard. That is it. Middleton tends to perform better/more consistently without Giannis in the lineup. Middleton’s only knock is a matchup with Dorian Finney-Smith, Dallas’s best defender. DFS has played at least 33 minutes in seven of the past eight games, so he will be out there when Middleton is. Leonard has been vital to the Clippers’ success during a tough stretch of games and has three consecutive double-doubles. Leonard could also have his hands full with Mikal Bridges, but the Clippers star has dominated everyone in his way the past two weeks.
There are two players that are worth paying down for. Taurean Prince and Saddiq Bey top all small forwards in Points Per Salary on DraftKings. Bey is the only one of the duo that stands out as a top play on both sites.
Kenrich Williams is not a dependable scorer, but his ability to fill the stat sheet and almost had a double-double with rebounds and assists. The Thunder are in tank mode and want to give the young players as much playing time as possible.
I do not know how close Lakers-Heat will be and I hate the game total at 204. Jimmy Butler could still put up good numbers, but the health of the Lakers makes this game tough to see value on either side.
Pascal Siakam is the last man standing for Toronto and faces a Bulls backcourt that has issues defending athletic bigs. Siakam also is looking for his third consecutive game with stats in all five categories. He has double-digit shots attempts in 11 of 12 contests since returning from health and safety protocols.
Bobby Portis stands to see the biggest boost in DFS value with Giannis unlikely to play. He is projected to top out at about 12% ownership on both sites, which is ideal with Middleton and Holiday the likely targets in majority of lineups. Portis is a top three option on both sites and could smash if Porzingis and Maxi Kleber are out.
Isaiah Stewart has the best matchup at power forward on FanDuel. Jerami Grant has already been ruled out for Detroit and Stewart has been a favorite of many in the community when he gets extended playing time. His scoring floor is limited but his defensive capabilities keep him in my roster pool, especially at $3,700 on FanDuel. He is center-eligible on DraftKings.
Kevin Love playing (even with a minutes restriction) puts a damper on Dean Wade and Isaiah Hartenstein’s upside. I am okay saving salary elsewhere to avoid Cleveland’s backcourt situation.
Harrison Barnes leads all power forwards in Pro Trends and has excelled in his role with Sacramento. He has a 91% Leverage Score because a lot of players will target Detroit and Milwaukee’s openings at the position.
Rudy Gobert is the obvious play among the stud centers. The status of LaVine will determine how much ownership Nikola Vucevic has, and if LaVine is in I will buck the NBA Model’s rating and play him. Gobert is more appealing if Jusuf Nurkic remains sidelined with knee inflammation.
Moses Brown has had some odd lines as of late, but is the unquestioned starter for OKC. His biggest defensive threat, Jarrett Allen, remains out for Cleveland. I also like Brown’s teammate Tony Bradley, especially if Aleksej Pokusevski misses the second of a back-to-back with a hip injury. Bradley is center eligible on DraftKings.
Mason Plumlee is the top overall player on DraftKings and a top three center play on FanDuel against Sacramento. Richaun Holmes is the top center on FanDuel and should be able to get his production against Plumlee. There is also potential that Holmes and Hassan Whiteside play together with Detroit looking at big minutes for Plumlee and Stewart. There could be a lot of defensive points scored between these four.
I will be okay if I am wrong for not considering Chris Boucher against Chicago. The suspension of DeAndre Bembry opens time at small forward, which could mean Siakam and OG Anunoby slot up to forward and Boucher sees more time. Even in a great spot, Boucher is too inconsistent for me to believe he takes advantage of the Bulls’ inept defense.