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 five-game main slate starting at 4:00 p.m. ET.
Luka Doncic is the most expensive player on the slate, and it’s hard to argue against that at this point. He’s logged at least 64.25 DraftKings points in each of his past three games, culminating with a ridiculous 34 points, 20 rebounds, and 12 assists in his last contest. Per Stathead, only three other players have accomplished at least 30 points, 20 rebounds, and 10 assists since the merger: Nikola Jokic, DeMarcus Cousins, and David Lee.
That said, Doncic is in a difficult spot Thursday vs. the Los Angeles Clippers. They have two of the better perimeter defenders in the league in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and they’ve allowed just 104.6 points per 100 possessions with both players on the court this season. Still, this game has a total of 231.5 points, which is one of the better marks on the slate.
The Nuggets have played without Gary Harris, Will Barton, and Jamal Murray in each game in Orlando, which has allowed Monte Morris to take on a larger role in the rotation. Morris played 35 minutes yesterday vs. the Spurs, and he responded with 29.5 DraftKings points. If Morris draws another start vs. the Blazers, he’s an excellent value at just $4,700 on DraftKings.
Murray was listed as questionable prior to Wednesday’s contest, so there is a chance he suits up Thursday. Make sure to utilize the new Labs Insiders tool to get the most recent information on Murray and every other player on tomorrow’s slate.
Don’t look now, but the Suns are making a push for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They’re currently just 2.5 games behind the Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed and 1.5 games behind the Blazers for the No. 9 seed.
From a fantasy perspective, Ricky Rubio looks like an excellent value at just $6,000 on FanDuel. He’s scored at least 35.7 FanDuel points in two of his past three games, and Rubio has averaged a Plus/Minus of +7.43 with a comparable salary this season (per the Trends tool).
Malcolm Brogdon is currently listed as questionable for Thursday’s contest vs. the Suns, and Aaron Holiday would become an intriguing value option if he’s ultimately ruled out. Holiday has increased his usage rate by +4.8% with both Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis off the court, resulting in an average of 0.97 DraftKings points per minute.
James Harden is always in play for DFS, but he might possess the highest ceiling on Thursday’s slate. Russell Westbrook is currently listed as questionable, and Harden would be forced into a massive usage rate if he’s unable to suit up. Harden has increased his usage rate by +8.9% with both Westbrook and Eric Gordon off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.76 DraftKings points per minute. He’s also averaged a whopping 40.8 minutes in three full games with Westbrook and Gordon out of the lineup.
The only real concern is that these games don’t mean all that much for the Rockets. They’re already locked into the playoffs, and there doesn’t appear to be a ton of difference between the 3-6 seeds in the West. With that in mind, it’s possible that Harden doesn’t see as big of a bump in playing time as he has in the past.
Victor Oladipo is another member of the Pacers who would benefit from the absence of Brogdon. He’s increased his usage rate by a whopping +11.5% with Brogdon and Sabonis off the court, resulting in an average of 1.72 FanDuel points per minute. That’s over a small sample size of just 17 minutes, but it’s clear that Oladipo would have a massive ceiling in that situation.
The Heat could be another potential source of value Thursday. Jimmy Butler has already been ruled out, while Goran Dragic is listed as questionable.
Tyler Herro would be an interesting option if Dragic is unable to suit up. He’s seen a usage bump of +5.1% with Dragic and Butler off the court this season, resulting in an average of 0.86 DraftKings points per minute. He’s dirt-cheap at just $3,600 on DraftKings.
Gary Trent Jr. has become a huge part of the Blazers’ rotation in the bubble. He’s logged at least 33.9 minutes in each of his past two games, which makes him a nice option at just $3,900 on FanDuel. Historically, players with a comparable salary have averaged a Plus/Minus of +4.54 when projected for at least 30 minutes.
LeBron James headlines the SF position on Thursday’s slate, but he’s struggled to return value in the bubble. He’s posted a negative Plus/Minus in each of his first four games, and the Lakers simply don’t need to push him too hard at this point. The Lakers have already locked up the top spot in the Western Conference, so these games are essentially just tune ups before the postseason.
The fact that the Lakers are also playing on the second leg of a back-to-back shouldn’t help his cause. He was limited to just 30 minutes in a blowout loss to the Thunder on Wednesday, but I still wouldn’t be shocked if he got the night off vs. the Rockets.
Cam Johnson has been carrying a huge workload for the Suns recently. He’s logged at least 37.6 minutes in each of his past two games, and he’s responded with at least 22.25 DraftKings points in each contest. That includes a game with 43.5 DraftKings points, which gives him a monster ceiling at just $4,200 on FanDuel.
The Pacers have a pair of SF options who could be worth some attention. T.J. Warren has been scorching hot inside the bubble, scoring at least 50.90 FanDuel points in each of his first three games. He has been priced way up – he’s $8,800 on FanDuel and $8,400 on DraftKings – but he would still have some upside at that salary if Brogdon is ruled out.
If you’re looking for a cheaper option, Justin Holiday stands out as one of the better values on the slate. He played just under 38 minutes with Brogdon out of the lineup in the Pacers’ first seeding game, and it’s hard to find that much playing time at such a reasonable salary.
The Clippers are another team that you’ll need to monitor before lock – they’re always a threat to rest some of their players – but it’s hard to ignore Kawhi Leonard at $8,400 on FanDuel if he’s active. Leonard has historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +4.00 with a comparable salary.
There are plenty of stud options to consider at the PF position. Giannis Antetokounmpo. Anthony Davis. Kristaps Porzingis.
But I don’t want to talk about any of them.
Instead, let’s talk about Michael Porter Jr. He was widely considered a top prospect who fell in the draft two years ago because of injuries. He’s put that immense upside on display recently, posting back-to-back games with at least 30 points and 12 rebounds. He has unsurprisingly been a fantasy monster over that time frame.
With that in mind, how do you pass on him at just $5,500 on FanDuel. He’s probably due for some shooting regression, but he can afford some regression at such a moderate price tag. The injuries to Barton and Harris should ensure a large workload, which makes Porter Jr. one of the top options on the slate regardless of position.
Kelly Olynyk is another elite option on Thursday’s slate. He moved into the starting lineup with Butler out of the lineup in their last game, and he should draw another start vs. the Bucks. He’s scored at least 30.5 DraftKings points in each of his past three games, so he’s still too cheap at $4,600 on DraftKings.
Jerami Grant is another potential option for the Nuggets. He’s played at least 33.7 minutes in each of his past two games, including 35 yesterday vs. the Spurs. That makes him a nice option at just $4,000 on FanDuel.
Danuel House has been playing a healthy number of minutes for the Rockets, and he would likely benefit if Westbrook is unable to suit up. He’s averaged a respectable 0.73 DraftKings points per minute with Westbrook and Gordon off the court, and he doesn’t need a ton of production to pay off his $4,900 salary on DraftKings.
Nikola Jokic is nearly impossible to predict on a night-to-night basis, but he’s been playing well recently. He posted 66.5 DraftKings points two games ago, and he followed that up with 25 points and 11 assists yesterday. Jokic also showed up to the bubble in tremendous shape, so maybe his performances will be more sustainable moving forward.
Jeff Green is another member of the Rockets who would benefit from an expanded workload if Westbrook is ultimately ruled out. He’s increased his usage rate by +6.3% with Gordon and Westbrook off the court this season, which trails only Harden’s mark. Green has played just 57 minutes in that situation, but he’s averaged a stout 1.38 DraftKings points per minute.
P.J. Tucker could also be in play for the Rockets, and he’s super cheap at just $3,800 on FanDuel. He doesn’t possess a huge ceiling, but he should be pretty safe at that price tag.
Pictured above: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets
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