Thursday features a five-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.
Thursday’s slate has the potential to be an interesting one. The Bucks are going to be an extremely popular team to target. They own the top implied team total on the slate, and they’re also going to be without two of their biggest stars. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton have both been ruled out, opening up a ton of minutes and shot attempts for the rest of the roster.
Jrue Holiday should be the biggest beneficiary. He’s increased his usage rate by a staggering +13.0% with both players off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.47 DraftKings points per minute. To put that in perspective, Ja Morant – the most expensive point guard on Thursday’s slate – has averaged just 1.41 DraftKings points per minute this season. That makes Holiday an absolute steal at his current price tag, and he should be the first player into your lineups.
Jose Alvarado has been a nice story for the Pelicans this season. The undrafted rookie from Queens has recently seen a few additional minutes, and he’s taken full advantage. He’s posted an average Plus/Minus of +6.04 over his past 10 games on DraftKings, and he’s averaged 1.02 DraftKings points per minute over the past month. He’s currently projected for 22 minutes in our NBA Models, which should be enough to pay off his $4,200 salary.
Tyrese Haliburton stands out as one of the best pure values on FanDuel, where his $7,500 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 97%. He’s been excellent as a member of the Pacers, averaging 1.09 FanDuel points per minute over the past month, and the Grizzlies are a decent matchup. They’ve played at the seventh-fastest pace this season, and this game owns the highest total on the slate.
Monte Morris has been a reliable contributor for the Nuggets of late, posting a positive Plus/Minus in eight of his past 11 games on FanDuel. His salary also remains reasonable across the industry.
Zach LaVine has seen a sizable price decrease recently. His salary has dropped by -$900 over the past month on DraftKings and -$600 on FanDuel, giving him some buy-low appeal vs. the Pelicans. LaVine is particularly appealing at $7,200 on FanDuel, and he’s historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +1.67 with a comparable salary (per the Trends tool).
Despite the price drop, LaVine has actually increased his per-minute production over the past month. There’s also a chance the Bulls could be without DeMar DeRozan on Thursday. He’s currently listed as questionable, and LaVine has increased his usage rate by +4.2% with DeRozan off the floor.
Sticking with the Bulls, Alex Caruso is back to playing 30+ minutes following an extended injury absence. He racked up 32.6 minutes two games ago, and he’s currently projected for 32 minutes in our NBA Models. That’s an appealing number for Caruso, who has averaged 0.81 DraftKings points per minute this season. Historically, Caruso has averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.47 with a comparable salary and minute projection.
Grayson Allen is another candidate to see a few additional minutes for the Bucks. He’s also increased his usage rate by +5.5% with Antetokounmpo and Middleton off the court, resulting in an average of 0.90 DraftKings points per minute.
Caris LeVert has struggled recently, and he’s coming off just 18.8 FanDuel points in his last outing. That’s caused his price tag to plummet to just $4,900 on FanDuel, representing a decrease of -$2,800 over the past month. His salary also comes with a Bargain Rating of 95%, but LeVert has averaged 1.00 FanDuel points per minute this season. If he returns to his usual workload on Thursday – he’s currently projected for 26 minutes – he has the potential to be one of the best values of the day.
DeRozan has SG/SF eligibility on FanDuel and PF eligibility on DraftKings, but he’s more appealing on the former on Thursday. He’s seen an even larger price drop than LaVine recently, and his $7,700 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 95%. DeRozan leads the position with 11 Pro Trends, and he’s averaged a Plus/Minus of +8.22 with a comparable salary this season. If he can suit up, he’s an elite buy-low target.
Deni Avdija has gotten the opportunity to play a bit more recently, and he’s provided excellent fantasy value. He’s scored at least 30.25 DraftKings points in three of his past four games, and he should continue to benefit from the absence of Kyle Kuzma. Avdija is massively underpriced on DraftKings, where his $4,700 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 95%.
There really is no pay-up option at small forward on DraftKings. Only two players are priced above $6,300, and neither of those players stands out as a great option. With that in mind, Dillon Brooks is about as expensive as I’m looking to get. Brooks has been eased into action since returning to the lineup five games ago, but he’s coming off 33.6 minutes in his last outing. That came with Morant sidelined, but Brooks is expected to see around 30 minutes again on Thursday. He’s averaged 1.04 DraftKings points per minute this season, so that’s enough to make him a viable option.
Will Barton is down to just $4,200 on FanDuel, which is crazy-low for him. He hasn’t played particularly well of late, but he’s still averaged 0.88 FanDuel points per minute for the year and should see more than 30 minutes vs. the Suns.
Kristaps Porzingis will always have injury concerns, but he’s healthy and playing fantastic basketball for the Wizards. He’s averaged 1.45 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, and his 32.0 minutes in his last outing was his most with his new squad. Porzingis should be looking at another expanded workload vs. the Bucks. He’s posted an average usage rate of 36.8% in his two games without Kuzma, and he’s averaged 1.61 DraftKings points per minute in those contests.
Rui Hachimura is another option for the Wizards. This has basically been a lost season for him – he’s averaging just 20.2 minutes over 31 games played – but he racked up just under 30 minutes in his last outing. Hachimura responded with 29.0 DraftKings points, and there’s no reason he can’t duplicate that production vs. the Bucks. Hachimura has averaged 0.89 DraftKings points per minute this season, and he’s projected for 30 minutes in our NBA Models.
Pascal Siakam has a tough matchup vs. the Cavaliers, but he can always be counted on for massive minutes. He ranks second in the league in minutes per game, trailing only teammate Fred VanVleet. His 39 projected minutes rank second on Thursday’s slate, and Siakam has averaged 1.14 DraftKings points per minute this season. That’s an excellent combination at $8,500.
The Cavaliers are still playing without Jarrett Allen and Dean Wade, opening up some additional minutes in the frontcourt. Kevin Love is someone who can take advantage. His playing time varies wildly from night to night, but Love owns a massive ceiling thanks to his elite per-minute production. He’s already proven that he doesn’t need to play more than 20 minutes to rack up 40 fantasy points.
Nikola Jokic headlines Thursday’s slate, and his price tag has come down a smidge. He’s down to $11,400 on DraftKings after spending most of the year priced above $12,000. Jokic has been as dominant as ever recently, averaging 1.85 DraftKings points per minute over the past month. He’s scored at least 62.0 DraftKings points in three of his past four games, so I’ll gladly take the discount.
Brook Lopez is back in the Bucks’ lineup, and he’s a very interesting value option vs. the Wizards. Lopez’s playing time is trending in the right direction. He’s coming off 23.9 minutes in his last outing, and he’s projected for 26 minutes on Thursday. Lopez has historically been an excellent per-minute producer, so he’s capable of taking advantage of a few extra minutes.
Bobby Portis is the other center option for the Bucks, and he’s also in play on Thursday. He’s lost some playing time since Lopez rejoined the rotation, but he’s still averaged a stout 1.12 DraftKings points per minute this season. He’s also increased his usage rate by +4.1% with Antetokounmpo and Middleton off the floor, so he offers a bit more per-minute upside than usual.