Thursday features a four-game main slate starting at 7:00 p.m. ET.
Let’s dive into some of the top plays on the slate 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 NBA Player Models directly for any updates as we get closer to lock.
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NBA DFS Point Guard Picks
Averaging a double-double for the first time in his career, Trae Young has shown upside and remains affordable, priced barely over $9,000 on both DraftKings and FanDuel. Adding Dejounte Murray hasn’t been much of a detriment to Young’s production from a scoring standpoint. Young’s usage rate at 33.1% per game is still high. He just hasn’t shot the ball well; 42.8% from the field and 31.9% from behind the arc isn’t going to get it done too frequently.
The Hawks are four-point home favorites against the Suns, who are just 11-17 on the road this season. The Suns Defensive Rating goes from 111.4 to 116.1 when playing on the road versus at home. They also traded away Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, so this is an exploitable matchup for Young, who plays much better at home as well. He has recorded a double-double in six of his last seven games, so he’s difficult to ignore on both sites.
The Magic have had quite the turnaround since starting the season with a 5-20 record. They are 17-13 in their last 30 games, and Markelle Fultz’s return has played a big part in their success. With Fultz as a starter, the Magic are 55-50 and 103-211 when he doesn’t play. He is averaging 12.7 points per game while shooting a career-high 51.1% from the field this season and already has five 20+ point games, which is one shy of last year.
Priced in the lower mid-range on both DraftKings and FanDuel, Fultz has returned a positive Plus/Minus in four of his last five games. Over that span, Fultz is averaging 16.4 points, 5.2 assists, and two steals per game while shooting 56.7% from the field with double-digit field goal attempts in each game. The Magic have had plenty of significant upsets recently, so don’t count them out as a home underdog against the Nuggets in this spot.
Chris Paul looks like a strong midrange option, especially on DraftKings, priced at $7,300 with an 88% Bargain Rating. The Suns traded for Kevin Durant, which included Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson. Obviously, none of those three players will be available on Thursday. Additionally, Devin Booker remains out due to injury, so Paul should get all of the usage that he can handle in this spot. He has accumulated 12 and 14 assists in his last two games, so a double-double is firmly on the table for the 37-year-old veteran point guard.
NBA DFS Shooting Guard Picks
The guard position is one of the weakest that we have had in several slates. Zach LaVine gets the nod as the stud option, as he has the potential to play without DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan is questionable after missing the second end of a back-to-back last game, so make sure to monitor our news dashboard the closer we get to lock. Using our On/Off Tool, LaVine has seen a team-high +3.4% usage bump with DeRozan off the floor this season.
Rostering LaVine is a rollercoaster experience, and the last five games are a perfect example of his volatility. LaVine has two games where he scored over 50 DraftKings points and three games where he averaged 28.8 DraftKings points. The inconsistencies keep LaVine’s salary in check, especially on FanDuel. He is -$1,000 cheaper than he is on DraftKings and has a 98% Bargain Rating.
He is worth the risk on FanDuel, even if DeRozan is in the lineup.
Damion Lee has the second-highest Projected Plus/Minus on both DraftKings and FanDuel, as he is priced near the minimum. Lee is projected to start and play 34 minutes and be one of the highest-owned players on the slate. With their trade for Kevin Durant early this morning, the Suns are the go-to team for value. In the four games that Lee has started this season, he has three games scoring 15+ points and 22+ DraftKings points.
The Suns are seven-point road underdogs with a slate-low 110.75 points implied total. Despite the low total, the prices on these Suns value plays are way too low for their increased opportunity. In his first season with the Suns, Lee has shot a career-high 46.8% from behind the arc, with 56.9% of his field goal attempts coming from downtown. The Suns will need his scoring to stay competitive against the Hawks.
Will the Cam Thomas experience continue to pay great dividends? He has averaged 44.7 points per game in his last three games while finishing with over 57 DraftKings points in each game over that time. Thomas has also provided some peripherals, but most of his damage comes with his scoring. His salary has skyrocketed on both DraftKings and FanDuel, but Thomas is playing at an elite level. I’m willing to buy the premium price tag.
NBA DFS Small Forward Picks
LeBron James finally completed his quest for the NBA scoring record last game with 38 points passing the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with 38,390 total points. James looked absolutely exhausted after getting that bucket to pass Kareem and only scored two points in the entire fourth quarter. The Lakers ultimately lost that contest and have since traded Russell Westbrook in return for D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt.
Per usual, James is questionable for tonight, but he hasn’t missed many games this season. James is tied for the most Pro Trends on DraftKings with 11 and FanDuel with 14 in this up-tempo matchup against the Bucks. The total for this matchup is 240.5 points, which is by far the highest on the slate, as the Lakers are six-point home underdogs.
James is reasonably priced on both sites with upside of being the highest-scorer.
Torrey Craig is another Suns value option with small forward and power forward eligibility on both sites. Barely priced over $4,000, Craig has the third-highest projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings and FanDuel while being projected to play 34 minutes. Craig is averaging a career-high in points, rebounds, and 3-point percentage and remains incredibly cheap for his expected role.
Craig’s production has been very sporadic this season. He has games scoring double-digit points with nearly double-digit rebounds, but then he’ll only score two points in the next game. That type of volatility has kept his salary in check. Craig isn’t drawing nearly the ownership projection as Damion Lee, but it’s still very high for this slate. The forward position is much stronger than the guard position tonight, but Craig is a great salary saver to fit in the expensive options.
If healthy, DeMar DeRozan is a good tournament play at a reasonable salary on both sites. In his second consecutive season with the Bulls, DeRozan is averaging over 25 points while shooting over 50% from the field. He has also shown upside on the glass and as a distributor, so DeRozan isn’t relying solely on his scoring. Playing against the Nets without their trade pieces, DeRozan can thrive in this matchup if he can suit up.
NBA DFS Power Forward Picks
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been on a mission over the last six games. Over that span, he is averaging 39.7 points, 15 rebounds, and 69.4 DraftKings points per game. He has shot 61.6% from the field with a 43.1% usage rate. Giannis also leads the league in usage rate and rebounds and ranks third in points per game this season.
Giannis will get the luxury of playing against the Lakers, who rank 20th in Defensive Rating and second in pace. They are also allowing the third-most transition possessions per game, which fits right into Giannis’ wheelhouse. He should have his way against the Lakers’ frontcourt, which has allowed 52.7 points per game in the paint. With all of the Suns’ value, locking in the Greek Freak has plenty of merit.
Dario Saric is the last of the Suns’ values and arguably the best of the bunch. Priced at $3,500 on DraftKings and $4,200 on FanDuel, Saric has the highest Projected Plus/Minus on the slate by a comfortable margin. Ignore the four minutes he played against the Nets last game because our NBA Models have Saric projected for 30 minutes on Thursday. That gives him a chance to be the top value option on the slate.
Three games ago, when Saric played 30 minutes against the Celtics, he finished with his only double-double of the season, scoring 14 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. A double-double is on the table for Saric, even playing alongside Deandre Ayton since the Hawks rank 24th in Rebounding Percentage. He can also get it cooking from the perimeter, as he made four 3-pointers last Friday. This is ultimately a great spot for Saric at a cheap salary.
Currently leading the way in all sportsbooks for Rookie of the Year, Paolo Banchero has lived up to the hype in his debut season. Banchero is leading the Magic in scoring with 20.2 points per game while contributing 6.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. He has recorded eight or more rebounds in five-straight games. Despite a difficult matchup against the Nuggets, Banchero is worth a flier in tournaments.
NBA DFS Center Picks
Mr. Triple-Double Nikola Jokic leads an absolutely loaded center position. It’s become rarer to see Jokic finish without a triple-double at this point. He has recorded that feat in 10 of his last 12 games while averaging 23.2 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 12.3 assists per game. Prioritize Jokic on DraftKings, where he is -$700 cheaper and has 11 Pro Trends.
The Magic are surprisingly a tough matchup for Jokic as they allow the sixth-fewest points per game in the paint and the fifth-fewest rebounds. In their last meeting less than a month ago, Jokic recorded a triple-double with 17 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds while shooting 8-11 from the field, only missing three 3-point attempts. The back-to-back MVP is much cheaper than Giannis and deserves consideration for the top overall scorer tonight.
Onyeka Okongwu is still backing up Clint Capela but deserves consideration given how well he has played recently. Okongwu has recorded a positive Plus/Minus on both DraftKings and FanDuel in each of his last four games while averaging 11.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game over that span. His minutes continue to hover around 20, but playing against a weak Suns frontcourt, Okongwu can take advantage of this spot.
Priced at only $3,900 on DraftKings is a bargain, and he is projected for less than 10% ownership. His ownership projection drops below five percent on FanDuel, where he’s priced at $5,000. Being center-only eligible is a big detriment, but Okongwu is a fantastic way to get different on this slate while still proving salary savings and upside. He’s an interesting pivot off all of the Suns’ value.
Nikola Vucevic has been on a massive heater that seems to go overlooked every time he is on a slate. He has recorded a positive Plus/Minus on FanDuel in 20 of his last 21 games, with an average Plus/Minus of +14.2 over his last six games. He receives a big boost in production if DeRozan sits and is a near-lock to record a double-double every time he touches the floor. The Nets rank last in Rebounding percentage this season, paving the way for another huge game from Vucevic, who is coming in with less than 15% projected ownership on both sites again.
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