Thursday features a three-game slate starting at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Let’s dive into some of the top plays using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics.
Note: Projections and Leverages Scores/Ratings may change throughout the day after this article is posted. The NBA DFS landscape changes quickly. Consult the Player Models directly for any updates as we get closer to lock.
The potential return of Luka Doncic is the big news on Thursday’s slate. He’s missed the Mavericks’ first two postseason contests, but he’s been upgraded to questionable for Game 3. The Mavs don’t necessarily need to rush Doncic back with the series tied at one game apiece, but he’s clearly making progress with his calf injury.
If Doncic returns, he’ll be a major wild card on this slate. His minutes could be monitored, making him a bit riskier than usual. Still, Doncic has been a fantasy monster recently, averaging 1.84 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, and he’s been priced down to just $10,600. That’s a mere pittance for Luka, who has been priced above $12,000 at times this year.
Patrick Beverley has been a considerable part of the Timberwolves’ rotation this season, and there’s no reason that should change moving forward. He’s currently projected for 30 minutes in our NBA Models, and Beverley has averaged 0.99 DraftKings points per minute this season.
The game between the Timberwolves and Grizzlies also stands out as the best of the day for fantasy purposes. The total is listed at 237.5 points, which is the top mark on the slate by more than 14 points.
Jordan Poole continues to crush for the Warriors. He’s posted an average Plus/Minus of +8.15 over his past 10 games on FanDuel, and he’s coming off 54.0 FanDuel points in his last outing. He’s gotten a bit more expensive at $7,200, but he still owns a position-high 95% Bargain Rating. That keeps him in play.
Mike Conley is coming off a dreadful performance in his last game, finishing with just 12.3 FanDuel points over 22.2 minutes. However, he struggled with foul trouble, so there’s no reason to expect a repeat on Thursday. Conley has been priced down to just $5,600 on FanDuel, and he’s historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +1.25 with a comparable price tag (per the Trends tool).
Donovan Mitchell can occasionally be overlooked in DFS, but that would be a mistake on Thursday. He’s taken his already massive usage rate and supercharged it to start the postseason. He’s posted a usage rate of at least 38.5% in both contests, and he’s also logged at least 41 minutes in each game. Unsurprisingly, he’s responded with at least 45.0 DraftKings points in both outings.
The best part is Mitchell hasn’t even shot the ball well. He’s just a combined 23-59 from the field (39.0%), so he has plenty of room for improvement. Overall, he provides one of the best combinations of ceiling and value on the slate.
It’s hard to find cheap players with large minute counts during the postseason, but Reggie Bullock fits that description to a T. He’s racked up a ridiculous 44.3 minutes or more in both playoff contests, and he’s projected for another 41 minutes in our NBA Models. You’ll gladly take that at just $4,200 on FanDuel.
Poole has gotten most of the attention for the Warriors recently, but Klay Thompson has played well in his own right. He hasn’t really been needed during the postseason, but he scored at least 42.8 FanDuel points in his final three regular season games. His $6,200 salary on FanDuel comes with a Bargain Rating of 92%, making him an excellent buy-low option.
Desmond Bane has predictably struggled with Ja Morant back in the lineup, posting a negative Plus/Minus in each of his first two postseason contests. That’s caused his price tag to drop across the industry, but Bane has still averaged an outstanding 1.05 DraftKings points per minute this season. He’s projected for 33 minutes in our NBA Models, which should be enough to pay off his reduced price tags.
Anthony Edwards exploded for 54.5 DraftKings points in his first playoff outing, but he came crashing back to reality in Game 2. He finished with just 30.5 DraftKings points in a game where the Timberwolves lost by nearly 30 points.
Edwards should see a few additional minutes if today’s matchup is more competitive, and he’s increased his production to 1.16 DraftKings points per minute over the past month. That makes him a reasonable option on DraftKings, where his $8,200 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 79%.
Otto Porter could be a nice source of savings on this slate. His production has been mediocre during the postseason, but the minutes have been there. He racked up 25.1 minutes in Game 1 and 22.5 minutes in Game 2, and Porter has averaged 0.94 DraftKings points per minute this season. He has some bust potential, but he still stands out as one of the best sub-$5k plays on DraftKings.
Dillon Brooks is another potential option for the Grizzlies, particularly on FanDuel at just $5,100. His price tag results in a Bargain Rating of 95%, and Brooks has the potential to smash his current salary. He’s projected for 35 minutes in our NBA Models, and he’s averaged 1.02 FanDuel points per minute this season.
Andrew Wiggins is not someone I typically look to roster in DFS. He provides minimal production in the peripheral categories, which gives him a pedestrian ceiling for his price tag. Still, he’s a solid bet to return value at just $5,900. He’s averaged 0.94 DraftKings points per minute this season, and he should see around 34 minutes if Game 3 is more competitive.
Power forward is one of the weakest positions on DraftKings, where no one is priced above $6,700. However, both Nikola Jokic and Karl-Anthony Towns have PF eligibility on FanDuel, making the position a lot more appealing.
Of the two, Jokic stands out as the clear preferred option. He’s been the superior fantasy production all season, and he’s increased his production to 1.86 FanDuel points per minute over the past month. The Nuggets will also need a massive game from Jokic to try to stave off elimination. They’re currently in an 0-2 hole vs. the Warriors, so expect Jokic to play a few extra minutes. Jokic has upside for 90 fantasy points with his usual workload, so fade him Thursday at your own risk.
The Timberwolves have employed a wide rotation in the frontcourt during the playoffs, and Jaren Jackson Jr., Brandon Clarke, and Xavier Tillman all have appeal on this slate. Jackson has the best upside of the bunch, while Tillman makes some sense at $3,700 on FanDuel.
However, Clarke is my preferred option of the trio. He’s a bit cheaper than Jackson across the industry, but he provides virtually the same per-minute production. He’s averaged 1.20 DraftKings points per minute this season, so he doesn’t need much playing time to pay off his current salary.
The Warriors haven’t really asked Draymond Green to do much to start the postseason. He’s played less than 30 minutes in both contests, but the Warriors have won both games by at least 16 points. He could see a few additional minutes moving forward if they play in some more competitive contests. Green has averaged 1.08 DraftKings points per minute this season, so that’s an appealing proposition for fantasy purposes.
Jarred Vanderbilt is an interesting punt play at just $3,500 on DraftKings. He played just 9.2 minutes in Game 2, which obviously makes him a bit risky on Thursday. However, he’s projected for closer to 20 minutes in Game 3, and he’s averaged 0.90 DraftKings points per minute this season. Vanderbilt should also carry modest ownership, and he’ll help you jam multiple studs into your lineups.
Jokic is the clear top play at center, but Towns has merit in his own right. He struggled with foul trouble in Game 2, limiting him to just 33.25 DraftKings points over 28 minutes, which caused his price tag to dip to just $9,300. That’s very reasonable for a player of his caliber. Towns has averaged 1.39 DraftKings points per minute this season, which trails only Jokic, Doncic, and Ja Morant on Thursday’s slate. His 39 projected minutes on Thursday also leads the center position.
Pairing Jokic and Towns together is tough, but it’s doable in stars-and-scrubs builds. They have a combined ceiling projection of more than 165 DraftKings points, so that duo has some merit.
Center does not look like a position to get cheap at on Thursday. Jaren Jackson Jr. is about as cheap as I’m willing to go on FanDuel, and he’ll still cost you $6,600. Triple J has posted a positive Plus/Minutes in each of his first two playoff contests, but he has the potential for so much more. He tends to foul anything that moves, which often limits his playing time. However, if he can stay on the court, very few players can match his upside in this price range. He had seven blocks in Game 1 and four made 3-pointers in Game 2, and not many players can dominate a game in both areas.
Rudy Gobert is stuck in the middle between the top-tier centers and guys like Green and Jackson. That could result in him being overlooked, especially given his poor production to start the series vs. the Mavericks. However, he’s playing much more than he did during the regular season, which is a major plus for his fantasy stock moving forward. He’s due for some scoring regression, making him a strong buy-low candidate.