Thursday features a small four-game slate starting at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Let’s dive into some of the top plays on the slate using the FantasyLabs tools and metrics.
Also, don’t forget that for large-field tournaments, you can utilize our Lineup Optimizer to effortlessly create up to 150 lineups, or use our Lineup Builder if you like to hand-build your lineups.
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.
NBA DFS Point Guard Picks
The point guard position is absolutely loaded on this four-game slate. Four of the top six most expensive players on DraftKings have point guard-only eligibility. Damian Lillard leads all guards with the highest ceiling in our NBA Models for both DraftKings and FanDuel. Over the last six games, Lillard has averaged 39 points, 56.4 DraftKings points, and a 35.8% usage rate per game, while shooting a ridiculous 51.4% from the field.
Playing against the 76ers is usually a difficult matchup as they rank fourth in Defensive Rating and play at the sixth-slowest Pace. However, during Lillard’s six-game nuclear stretch, he has played the Raptors, Cavaliers, and Mavericks twice, and they all rank in the bottom four in Pace. It is safe to say that Lillard is matchup-proof, and it helps that this game has a 233.5-point total, with the Trail Blazers’ implied team total of 115.5 points ranking third on the slate.
There are not many true value point guards, but Marcus Smart stands out as one of the best. He has the second-highest projected Plus/Minus at the point guard position on DraftKings and the third-highest on FanDuel. Smart has recorded two double-doubles in his last three games, averaging 13 points, 9.3 assists, and 35.8 DraftKings points per game. He continues to average a team and career-high 7.3 assists per game.
Jaylen Brown was absent for all three games where Smart took advantage and is questionable to play after recording a full practice on Wednesday. Keep an eye on his status in our news dashboard because if he were to sit, that would give Smart a significant boost. The Celtics have won seven-straight games as they opened up as five-point home favorites against the Warriors in the first set of the TNT double-header with a slate-high 120.75 implied point total.
Tonight will be Stephen Curry‘s fifth game back from his month-long shoulder injury. After easing his way back, Curry finally exploded last game for 41 points in 38 minutes while attempting 28 field goal attempts. There are apparently no issues with the shoulder anymore, as he also had a 42.1% usage rate. He will be looking to do anything in his power to keep the Warriors competitive against the Eastern Conference juggernaut.
NBA DFS Shooting Guard Picks
We have yet to see that explosion game from Kyrie Irving since Kevin Durant has been sidelined with an injury. However, the potential is there given his increased usage rate. Using our On/Off Tool, Irving has a team-high +5.3% usage rate with Durant off the floor this season. The Nets need Irving to step it up, as they have lost three-straight games without Durant while only averaging 99.3 points per game.
Irving is point guard-only eligible on DraftKings but has both point guard and shooting guard eligibility on FanDuel. He also has the highest projected Plus/Minus on FanDuel as he is only $9,200 with a 96% Bargain Rating. Irving has the third-highest projected ceiling, so potentially this is the game he breaks out of his slump. Chris Paul may return, but this Suns team is decimated with injuries as their defense continues to suffer.
Gary Trent Jr. is the value shooting guard to get exposure to on this four-game slate. He has provided a positive Plus/Minus on both sites in 10 of his last 12 games. Trent Jr. has scored 18 or more points in all but one of those games, as he is averaging a 22.6% usage rate per game. Ever since he was called out for his lack of defense, Trent Jr. has been an absolute thief, averaging over two steals per game.
Trent has guard and forward eligibility, making it easy to fit him into lineup builds on both sites. The playing time has been exceptional, as Trent has played 42 and 43 minutes in his last two games. It is rare to see, but the Raptors are fully healthy and are four-point road favorites against the Timberwolves. Not only do the Timberwolves play at the eighth-fastest Pace in the league, but they also allow the fourth-most steals per game, making this an extra juicy spot for Trent.
After six-straight games of double-doubles and two triple-doubles, James Harden seemingly took the last game off as he only recorded six points on six field goal attempts. In 32 minutes, Harden had an uncharacteristically low 16.1% usage rate while only scoring 25.75 DraftKings points. The Clippers’ defense completely shut down the former MVP. A much easier matchup awaits Harden tonight as the Trail Blazers rank 22nd in Defensive Rating (114.1) entering tonight’s games.
NBA DFS Small Forward Picks
Anthony Edwards had a lackluster game against the Nuggets last night but will get a chance to bounce back tonight at home against the Raptors. Karl-Anthony Towns remains out, and Rudy Gobert sat out last night’s game with an injury. Gobert is questionable for tonight, and Edwards would see a boost in usage and value if he’s unable to suit up. Using our On/Off Tool, Edwards has increased his production to 1.38 DraftKings points per minute with Towns and Gobert off the floor.
Edwards provides some value as he is tied for the most Pro Trends at the small forward position on both sites. In his third season in the league, Edwards has had a great season averaging a career-high in points, rebounds, and assists while shooting the ball better than he ever has from the field and behind the arc. Playing without Towns and potentially Gobert, Edwards has a massive ceiling with as much usage as he can handle.
The second-highest projected Plus/Minus on the slate for DraftKings belongs to small forward Josh Hart. The Trail Blazers have struggled recently, but Hart has seen his salary drop -$200 on FanDuel and -$700 on DraftKings. Sitting below $5,000 on DraftKings, Hart has a 92% Bargain Rating as he is projected to play 34 minutes and be one of the better values. Hart can stuff the stat sheet in a variety of ways, which helps solidify his value.
Hart is one of the best rebounding forwards in the league. He is averaging a career-high 8.3 rebounds per game, as he has recorded double-digit rebounds in three of his last seven games. The 76ers may have Joel Embiid and a great rebounding guard in James Harden, but they are still tied for the third-lowest Rebounding Percentage (48.3) in the league. There is a chance Hart can return a double-double, which is hard to find at this salary.
Jaylen Brown has been out for three-straight games but did have a full practice yesterday. He is coming off a game where he poured in 41 points and 12 rebounds. If Brown can play, he is worth targeting in tournaments where he will likely get lower ownership in his first game back. Brown is averaging a career-high 27.2 points per game while shooting 49.8% from the field.
NBA DFS Power Forward Picks
Sticking with the Celtics stars, Jayson Tatum scored a season-high 51 points last game against the Hornets. He shot 15 of 23 from the field, seven of 12 from behind the arc, and made all 14 of his free-throw attempts. He grabbed nine rebounds and had five assists on his way to over 70 DraftKings points. Tatum is the best player on the best team in the league, which always makes him a worthy candidate in DFS, and it helps he is averaging a career-high 31.3 points per game.
Tatum will get a boost if Jaylen Brown cannot play, as his usage rate climbs to 36.1% with Brown off the floor this season. The Warriors’ defense isn’t what it used to be, as they rank below average in Defensive Rating and are playing at the fastest Pace (103.3) in the league this season. They allow 117.9 points per game, which ranks as the fifth-highest in the league. Take advantage of the red-hot Tatum, even if Brown suits up.
Three of the top four value plays on DraftKings at the power forward position come from the Timberwolves roster. Those three would be Taurean Prince, Kyle Anderson, and Jaden McDaniels. Prince is the cheapest of the bunch and has the highest projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings as he is only $3,600 with a 96% Bargain Rating. He played a season-high 32 minutes last night and poured in 14 points and over 20 DraftKings points for the second-straight game.
With Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert off the floor, Prince has averaged 0.77 DraftKings points per minute. Since coming back from injury, Prince has averaged 11.6 points while playing 25 minutes per game in eight total games. During that time, he has averaged two made 3-pointers, which will benefit him tonight as the Raptors are allowing opponents to shoot 36.8% from behind the arc. He is too cheap on DraftKings playing this many minutes.
Naz Reid and Luka Garza are two more Timberwolves players worth getting exposure to if Gobert is ruled out.
After scoring zero points two games ago, Ben Simmons bounced back with a triple-double with 10 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds. Scoring has been a struggle for Simmons this season, as he is averaging a career-low 7.5 points per game. However, he leads the Nets in assists and has double-digit assists in three of his last four games. The triple-double threat is there, and this matchup against the Suns isn’t as intimidating as years past.
NBA DFS Center Picks
Joel Embiid is the most expensive player on the slate, with the highest ceiling in our NBA Models tonight. Not only is he closing in on Luka Doncic in scoring, but Embiid is now tied for the second-highest usage rate with 37.8% per game. Embiid has scored 30+ points in 10 of his last 11 games, with multiple games scoring over 40 points. He is averaging a career-high 33.6 points per game as the 76ers have won 16 of their previous 20 games.
The 76ers have also won three-straight road games as they are 2.5-point favorites on the road against the Trial Blazers tonight. Embiid should feast on this Trail Blazers frontcourt that has an injured Jusuf Nurkic and is allowing 51.2 points per game in the paint this season, which ranks 22nd in the league. Priced at $11,000 on DraftKings and $11,500 on FanDuel, Embiid is the best pay-up option on the slate with how he has been scoring the ball recently.
The best value play on the entire slate is Raptors center Precious Achiuwa, who has five-straight games with a positive Plus/Minus. He has the highest projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings, averaging 11.2 points and 20.5 DraftKings points per game. His minutes are starting to ramp up as Achiuwa played 26 minutes last game and is projected for 25 minutes tonight. Not bad for a player priced at $3,700 on DraftKings and $4,500 on FanDuel.
Having power forward eligibility on FanDuel makes him a strong play on that site as well. He recorded five steals in one game during his recent stretch, which always looks good on FanDuel. If Gobert is out, this matchup would be extremely favorable. Over the last three games with a limited Gobert, the Timberwolves have allowed 61.3 points per game in the paint, which is tied for the third-highest mark during that time. This spot already looks strong for Achiuwa but could look even better if Gobert is ruled out.
Pascal Siakam, who is center-only eligible on DraftKings but has power forward and center eligibility on FanDuel, would also benefit in this matchup if Gobert is ruled out. When healthy, Siakam has had a fantastic season averaging a career-high 25.5 points per game. He also has a career-high in assists and is close to his career-high in rebounds. His positional eligibility makes it challenging to get to Siakam, which makes him a strong tournament option.
Deandre Ayton and Nic Claxton round out a loaded center position as mid-range options worth getting exposure to. They are playing against each other, but both have significant upside, as Ayton is playing without Devin Booker and potentially Chris Paul, and Claxton is playing without Kevin Durant. Ayton gets the slight lean on DraftKings, but Claxton is better on FanDuel, where he has recorded nine-straight games with 3+ blocks.
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