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 slate starting at 8 p.m. ET.
The Warriors are coming off a blowout loss to the Lakers on Christmas, but the majority of their players look like nice values today against the Trail Blazers. That includes Steph Curry, who is priced at just $8,900 on DraftKings. It results in a Bargain Rating of 95%, and Curry has averaged a Plus/Minus of +2.88 with a comparable salary over the past three seasons (per the Trends tool). The Warriors’ implied team total of 118.0 points also ranks second on the slate.
The Lakers are going to be without LeBron James and Rajon Rondo for today’s matchup vs. the Kings, which makes Lonzo Ball one of the easiest plays on the slate. It’s an excellent matchup, with the Kings currently ranking second on the league in pace.
Ball has seen a usage bump of +3.8% with both players off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.00 DraftKings points per minute. He’s currently projected for 36 minutes in our NBA Models, which would make him one of the best values of the day at just $5,500 on DraftKings.
There are three other high-end point guards who look like excellent values on DraftKings:
- Damian Lillard — $8,300 (90% Bargain Rating)
- Ben Simmons — $8,200 (98% Bargain Rating)
- Ricky Rubio — $6,300 (93% Bargain Rating)
Simmons is the best pure value and leads the position with 14 Pro Trends. Rubio has the best individual matchup, evidenced by an Opponent Plus/Minus of +1.83. Lillard has historically done some of his best work against the Warriors, owning an average Plus/Minus of +5.20 in his past 23 matchups. All three players look like strong options.
Emmanuel Mudiay appears to be the best point guard value on FanDuel, where his $5,800 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 95%. He’s been excellent over his past 10 games, posting an average Plus/Minus of +4.52, and his current matchup vs. the Bucks represents a big pace-up spot. The only question is if the Knicks can keep this game competitive: They’re currently listed as 14.5-point underdogs and have lost their two previous meetings vs. the Bucks by an average of 12.5 points.
James Harden is currently dealing with a calf injury, but he appears to be on track to play today vs. the Celtics. He has been on a tear recently, posting a positive Plus/Minus in each of his past seven games on DraftKings. He’ll also have the added benefit of playing with Chris Paul out of the lineup, and Harden has averaged a ridiculous 42.4% usage rate and 63.25 DraftKings points in seven games without Paul this season.
The matchup with the Celtics is concerning — they currently rank third in defensive efficiency and 23rd in pace — but he’s simply too cheap at $11,300 on DraftKings. He’s averaged 1.67 DraftKings points per minute over the past month and is routinely playing 40-plus minutes for the shorthanded Rockets, which makes him an ideal target in all formats.
The Lakers are going to be a popular source of value today, and they have two appealing options at the shooting guard position. Josh Hart is expected to replace LeBron in the starting lineup, and he’s historically been a strong option when he’s been given minutes. He’s currently projected for 28.5 minutes in our NBA Models, and Hart has averaged a Plus/Minus of +3.36 on FanDuel with a comparable minute projection. He’s also priced just barely above the minimum at $3,700, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 97%.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope should also see a boost in playing time with LeBron and Rondo out of the lineup. He has been slightly better than Hart on a per-minute basis over the past month and might be the preferred option on DraftKings at just $3,800.
Klay Thompson is a really inconsistent fantasy producer, but he’s hard to ignore at $6,200 on DraftKings. He’s averaged a Plus/Minus of +1.38 with a comparable salary over the past three seasons and has the potential to go off every time he’s on the court.
Khris Middleton is also priced at $6,200 on DraftKings, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 98%. The Bucks’ implied team total of 122.0 points is the top mark on the slate, and Middleton has averaged 33.05 DraftKings points over his past five games.
Giannis Antetokounmpo may not offer the same floor as Harden today, but his ceiling is pretty comparable. He’s in an excellent spot vs. the Knicks, who currently rank just 29th in the league in defensive efficiency. He’s historically crushed the Knicks as well, posting an average Plus/Minus of +6.05 over their past eight meetings on DraftKings. That includes scoring at least 60.25 DraftKings points in both previous matchups this season. There’s enough value on the slate where you can theoretically pair Giannis with Harden on FanDuel, which is obviously a very appealing strategy.
Brandon Ingram has small forward eligibility on FanDuel and point guard/shooting guard eligibly on DraftKings, but he deserves some consideration today regardless of where you’re looking to play him. He’s seen a usage bump of +5.8% with LeBron and Rondo off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.21 DraftKings points per minute. That’s stud-like production, so he looks like a major bargain across the industry.
Lance Stephenson is more of a wild card, but he’s also significantly cheaper. He’s averaged 0.96 FanDuel points per minute over the past month and should see more than 20 minutes in today’s contest. He’s projected for greater than 40% ownership on FanDuel and could be a key option for getting multiple studs into your lineup.
Nemanja Bjelica continues to produce with Marvin Bagley out of the lineup. He scored 34.75 DraftKings points in just 25 minutes yesterday vs. the Clippers and has the potential to play more if today’s game stays close. He’s priced at a discount at $4,800 on DraftKings.
Eric Gordon has been a bit of a disappointment this season, but he still carries huge upside with CP3 out of the lineup. He has attempted at least 17 shots in each of his past three games, including at least 11 attempts from 3-point range. He’s shot just 36.3% from the field over that time frame, but has still managed to post a positive Plus/Minus on DraftKings in each contest.
Kyle Kuzma figures to be one of the biggest beneficiaries for the shorthanded Lakers. He’s seen a massive +8.4% usage bump with both LeBron and Rondo off the floor this season, resulting in an average of 1.20 DraftKings points per minute. He’s an elite target on FanDuel, where his $6,700 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 98%.
Power forward looks like a tough spot to pay down at today. That said, Jonas Jerebko could have some appeal if you need to find some savings. The Swedish Larry Bird has averaged 0.89 DraftKings points per minute over the past month and is priced at just $3,700 on DraftKings and $4,000 on FanDuel. However, he’s scored just 12 FanDuel points over his past two games combined, so there’s obviously some risk in rostering him.
Draymond Green is priced at just $6,100 on DraftKings, which would have been almost unfathomable at the start of the season. The price decrease has been warranted — he’s posted an average Plus/Minus of -3.28 over his past 10 games on DraftKings — but there are still reasons for optimism moving forward. He’s been more involved on the offensive end over his past three games, posting an average usage rate of 18.3%, and he still has the ability to pile up peripheral statistics. This could be a prime time to buy low on him.
Kevin Knox continues to play big minutes for the Knicks, playing at least 36 in each of his past six games. He’s averaged 0.85 FanDuel points per minute over the past month, so he seems underpriced at $6,000.
Joel Embiid finally busted out of his slump on Christmas, posting 60.5 DraftKings points vs. the Boston Celtics. That said, it’s fair to wonder if he can duplicate that production today. For starters, that matchup took place against the Celtics, who were missing one of their best interior defenders in Aron Baynes. Things likely won’t be as easy today against Rudy Gobert, who remains one of the best defensive centers in the league.
Embiid also benefited from playing in an overtime game on Christmas, which resulted in more than 40 minutes of playing time. He should return to his usual workload today.
The days of Ivica Zubac being a free square are over, but he still looks like a strong value at just $5,400 on DraftKings. He has averaged a stout 1.10 DraftKings points per minute over the past month and has played at least 30.5 minutes in each of his past three games.
JaVale McGee is doubtful to return to the Lakers’ lineup today, so Zubac has the potential to earn another start and play big minutes vs. the Kings. They’ve struggled against opposing centers all season, giving Zubac an Opponent Plus/Minus of +2.77 on DraftKings.
On the other side of the same matchup, Willie Cauley-Stein looks like an appealing option. He was limited to just 22.5 minutes in yesterday’s contest, which was ultimately a blowout before the Kings’ backups made a run in the fourth quarter. He had played more than 35 minutes in each of his two prior contests and has averaged 1.15 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, and his $6,600 salary on DraftKings comes with a Bargain Rating of 97%.
Rudy Gobert has somewhat quietly been a dominant force over the past month, averaging 1.39 DraftKings points per minute. That’s second only to Embiid at the center position. He could be an interesting contrarian play at just $7,500 given his Bargain Rating of 99%.
After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players. Be sure to stay ahead of your competition with our NBA news feed.
Pictured Above: Lakers F Kyle Kuzma
Photo Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports