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 six games, scheduled to start at 7 p.m. ET.
Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook are elite smash spots with Westbrook being the best overall play on both sites. Irving loses value on DraftKings because James Harden has dual eligibility at guard and is more likely to put up counting stats a la Westbrook. Irving continues to be priced around $2,000 below Harden on DraftKings. Regardless of site, Irving and Westbrook project well in Projected Plus/Minus, an important Trend to use when looking for value above expected fantasy-point production.
Derrick Rose has a 99% Bargain Rating on DraftKings and will absorb Elfrid Payton minutes after he suffered another hamstring injury. At $4,600, he’s the best point-guard play on DraftKings with Immanuel Quickley ($4,100) not far behind. As long as Alec Burks doesn’t take all of Payton’s minutes, look for them to represent some of the best value.
Jrue Holiday is doubtful, but it is the first time since entering the COVID-19 protocols that he has not been ruled out. This is great news going forward for an offensive-starved Bucks team that is clearly better with a seasoned point guard. Until then, D.J. Augustin is a cheap point-guard option.
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Once again, Ja Morant and De’Aaron Fox fall under the elite-priced point guard options and will be leverage plays. Morant carries a better Leverage score on FanDuel as he is $500 cheaper.
Luka Doncic is a top five Leverage play on both sites.
No matter what the FantasyLabs NBA Model says, Tyrese Haliburton is making it into at least 50 percent of my lineups going forward. He is in the conversation for Rookie and Sixth Man of the Year and does not break the bank. He is my run-back of choice if I play any of the Knicks guards.
Irving and Harden remain top options here as well, but Bradley Beal may have a dip in ownership after failing to score 30 points for the first time in two weeks. It appears to be an anomaly because the last time he did not top 30 points his usage dipped below 30 percent (he saw 32% usage Tuesday).
Jalen Brunson stands to produce again if Kristaps Porzingis remains out for Dallas. The Mavericks could use Porzingis against Joel Embiid and the 76ers tonight but if he sits, Brunson will see work as Dallas lacks front-court depth and with depend on Luka Doncic and company against an iffy 76ers backcourt. Seth Curry pops for Philadelphia in our model but is questionable to play, leading Shake Milton to man a lot of minutes. I like Brunson in that matchup if he ends up playing a fair number of minutes at the two position.
Paul George may be model proof. His salary has dropped despite putting up almost 130 fantasy points in three games since his absence. With Harden, Irving, and Beal stealing the headlines and sitting atop pricing, George will go overlooked. He projects to be under 12% rostered on both sites.
Evan Fournier is in a smash spot opposite the Brooklyn Nets tonight. The game total is currently at 227 points, a great number most nights but the second lowest on the slate. Fournier will be overlooked like George.
Monte Morris had his worst start (of three) against the Trail Blazers on Tuesday, but gets a plus matchup against a weak defensive backcourt in the Wizards. Denver will be down three contributors, allowing Morris the opportunity to crack the starting lineup if the Nuggets play small.
Do you trust Bruce Brown to put up another 30-fantasy point effort? It is difficult to expect him to keep being the scoring contributor when Joe Harris and DeAndre Jordan have been quiet as of late.
Small forward is a spot to look to pay down, except for the safer floor Kawhi Leonard offers. Leonard should benefit from playing a Memphis team that likes to push the tempo and is susceptible to the small forward position. Leonard has a top-five matchup according to Opponent Plus/Minus.
R.J. Barrett has a top-three matchup and comes in at $5,500 on both sites. He is the top play at the three on DraftKings, and only trails Michael Porter Jr. on FanDuel. Look for a bounce back performance from Barrett against Sacramento.
The Wizards rotation leaves a lot to be desired which is why MPJ stands out. Teammate Will Barton is a top-five play at the three as well.
A dart throw to consider is Pat Connaughton. The Pelicans are on the second of a back-to-back and gave up 118 to a Pistons team without its best player. The Bucks are nine-point favorites and Connaughton could see more minutes if the game gets out of hand. His stat lines are not sexy, but his ability to rack up defensive stats adds to his appeal.
Terrence Ross is a player I will look to play as a pivot off MPJ in the $6,000 range on FanDuel. Ross is going to get his diet of shots with Orlando still missing key contributors and opposing defenses keying in on Nikola Vucevic.
Giannis Antetokounmpo versus Zion Williamson. Oh baby!
While I drool over that matchup I am here for Julius Randle against the Kings. The return of Richaun Holmes hurts Randle’s inside game some but the All-Star has been hitting threes — four consecutive games with at least two — and will see a fair amount of Marvin Bagley. Fine by me. Randle is the top power forward play on FanDuel.
Taj Gibson is minimum priced and is in the Knicks rotation that is thin. Besides Gibson and Randle, only Nerlens Noel is a frontcourt option, and he is likely to play after tweaking his ankle. There are worse ways to pay the minimum especially with Gibson seeing 19 and 24 minutes in his last two games (insert Tom Thibodeau laugh). He is a top-five play on both sites.
Zion is a better leverage play than Giannis and has the better matchup in terms of opponent matchup and pace of play. Giannis is tied with Randle with 11 Pro Trends on DraftKings, tops at the position.
Randle has 12 Pro Trends on FanDuel, tied with… Williamson.
If Porzingis is out for Dallas, Tobias Harris of the 76ers is a lock.
Another cheap play to consider is Al-Farouq Aminu. He topped 20 minutes Tuesday and is another player who can stuff the stat sheet without trouble. Aminu could be Draymond Green-lite going forward as a player who does not need bonuses to reach top value at cost. He is a top-10 option on both sites against Brooklyn.
Trying to narrow the center pool is near impossible. The top options on both sites rank at the top of our models and are the Projected Plus/Minus leaders at the position. The overall top play on both sites today is Nikola Jokic against the Washington Wizards. Jokic, Embiid, Vucevic, and Giannis all have ceiling projections above 70 fantasy points and expected projections above 50 fantasy points.
Steven Adams dominated against the Detroit Pistons last night and could be asked to shoulder another offensive load against Milwaukee. The Bucks have had issues scoring and Adams cleans the boards as well as any center in the league. If the Bucks can switch Giannis off Zion and onto Adams, then this play could be a bust. Adams is projected to see under five percent ownership on both sites.
Richaun Holmes is in the dead spot of pricing at center against a shorthanded Knicks backcourt. The center five on FanDuel and center 10 on DraftKings, but rates as center four and five in our rankings, respectively.
If Adams sits or has his minutes limited in the second of a back-to-back, Brook Lopez becomes much more appealing as a pay down option..