Friday night’s NBA slate features 13 games with tons of injuries and questionable players. We’ll analyze the following two situations:
- Memphis Grizzlies at Dallas Mavericks: 8 p.m. ET
- New Orleans Pelicans at Phoenix Suns: 10 p.m. ET
Injuries: Luka Doncic (thigh), Dwight Powell (rest) and Jalen Brunson (rest) are out. Dorian Finney-Smith (mouth) is probable.
Injury background: With four games left in the regular season, the Mavs have a lengthy injury report heading into Friday’s contest against the Grizzlies.
Doncic is listed out with a right thigh contusion despite returning from the same injury last game. Powell and Brunson will both rest, while Finney-Smith is expected to suit up after needing eight stitches in his lip.
Tonight’s impact: A very shorthanded team could lead to immense value in DFS. In Doncic’s recent two absences, Courtney Lee entered the starting lineup while Trey Burke shouldered the offensive load.
Burke exceeded 30 DraftKings points in each game with a 25.6% usage rate. He led the team with 30 minutes per game and could step into even heavier playing time with both Doncic and Brunson out. At $4,200 on FanDuel, he makes for one of the slate’s strongest plays.
Ryan Broekhoff and Daryl Macon are candidates to enter the rotation depending on who is available. With Powell out, Maxi Kleber and Salah Mejri would benefit from additional minutes. Kleber has recorded a FantasyLabs’ +3.16 DraftKings Plus/Minus over his last 10 games, while Mejri ranks second on the team with 1.01 DraftKings points per minute since the DeAndre Jordan trade, per the NBA On/Off tool.
Both teams have incentive to lose with identical current records of 31-47. According to Tankathon, each team has an 8.3% chance at the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Opposing point guard Mike Conley (ankle) has already been ruled out, and the game becomes harder to handicap with a plethora of backups playing.
When Doncic has been off the court this season, the Mavs defense has actually improved from a 109.9 Defensive Rating to a 104.4 Defensive Rating. If each team carries a thin rotation with a lack of star power, the under of 215 likely provides the most value.
Injuries: Devin Booker (ankle) and Deandre Ayton (ankle) are out. Richaun Holmes (ankle) is probable.
Injury background: Booker was helped to the locker room after suffering a sprained ankle in Wednesday’s loss. X-rays were negative, but he will be shut down for the season, joining Tyler Johnson (knee) and Kelly Oubre (thumb) on the sidelines for the remaining three games.
Ayton will miss his third straight game due to a sprained left ankle, but coach Igor Kokoskov has yet to rule him out for the season.
Tonight’s impact: Booker and Ayton’s absences will open up a significant amount of usage, and Josh Jackson will become the focal point of the offense. With all injured players off the court this season, Jackson has led the team with a 29.2% usage rate.
Every Suns player is priced below $6,000 on both sites outside of Holmes, and Holmes still profiles as an elite play with increased rates. His 98% Bargain Rating on DraftKings makes him a must-play, while Jackson rates more favorably on FanDuel at $5,800.
Jimmer Fredette, Jamal Crawford, Elie Okobo and Troy Daniels will all see extended run in the backcourt and make for intriguing tournament targets with affordable salaries. In large-field GPPs, Suns ownership will likely be high, and it makes sense to either be lighter than the field or pair those players with low-owned options.
Friday’s game features the slate’s highest total at 230 points, as both teams rank in the bottom third of the league in Defensive Rating this season. As expected, the Suns’ Net Rating falls off a cliff with Booker off the court this season, and the team’s Offensive Rating would rank dead last in the league.
Both teams have struggled immensely as of late, carrying bottom-five Net Ratings over the last 10 games. Opposing big man Anthony Davis (back) is currently listed probable but has a small chance to actually suit up. Taking the points with the Suns appears to offer the most value with Davis’ likely absence not priced in.
Photo credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Luka Doncic