Friday’s NBA slate features 11 games with a couple notable injuries and questionable players. We’ll hit on the following situations:
- Phoenix Suns at Denver Nuggets: 9 p.m. ET
- Portland Trail Blazers at Sacramento Kings: 10 p.m. ET
Injuries/news: Deandre Ayton is suspended for 25 games. Cameron Johnson (calf) and Ty Jerome (ankle) are also out.
Background: It was announced yesterday that sophomore big man Ayton is facing a suspension of 25 games for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy.
Tonight’s impact: Ayton had a solid season debut Wednesday in the Suns’ blowout win over the Kings, posting an 18-11 line with a steal and four blocks in 33 minutes of action. With him out of the rotation for the foreseeable future, veteran Aron Baynes will slide into the starting role, with Frank Kaminsky likely garnering extra minutes as well.
Current odds: Nuggets -11.5; over/under 221 (via PointsBet — claim your 200% deposit match, an exclusive promotion for Action Network users)
Baynes is a superior defender, although there were signs of improvement in that regard from Ayton, whose biggest question mark coming into the NBA was overall defense. The bigger drop-off will be offensively, as Ayton is a better scorer around the rim and brings a level of athleticism the Suns will now be sorely missing with their current fill-ins.
DFS-wise, all three of Kaminsky, Baynes and Dario Saric are currently projected to outperform their salary-based expectations on both sites. Still, there’s some rotational uncertainty, and tonight’s game is a tough matchup against one of the best teams in the league in the Nuggets. The prices are cheap — Kaminsky, for example, is just $3,300 on DraftKings and has a nice +8.34 Projected Plus/Minus — but there’s downside here.
The spread opened at -11.5, was taken off the board and now sits at 11/12 depending on the book. For what it’s worth, most of the sharper books in the market have it at 12 at the time of writing. That total has held firm at 221. I don’t think there’s much value in those; they’re solid numbers.
Injuries: Marvin Bagley (thumb) is out 4-6 weeks. Buddy Hield (ankle) is questionable. Harry Giles (knee) is out.
Injury background: Bagley, the athletic sophomore, fractured his thumb in Wednesday’s loss to the Suns and will be out for the foreseeable future. Hield was also injured late in the game and is questionable to suit up tonight.
Tonight’s impact: The Kings looked terrible in Wednesday’s debut, although I discussed how that was largely unrepresentative of their future play in yesterday’s column. Long story short, the coaching staff gave away the game by sitting De’Aaron Fox the entire third quarter.
Current odds: Blazers -2.5; over/under 226.5 (via PointsBet — claim your 200% deposit match, an exclusive promotion for Action Network users)
I was hoping to buy low on the Kings moving forward (assuming the turnover issues were fluky), but unfortunately they’re now dealing with major injuries to two of their three best players in Bagley and Hield, the latter of whom was the lone bright spot Wednesday, scoring 28 points on 50% shooting from behind the arc.
With Bagley out, we have Nemanja Bjelica projected to start in his absence, and he’s currently popping in our FantasyLabs DFS models. At near minimum-price at $3,600 on DraftKings and $3,700 on FanDuel, he’s projected to outpace his salary-based expectations by 10 points on both sites. As a result, he’s near the top of the models in terms of value.
Richaun Holmes and Dewayne Dedmon also project as nice values tonight as likely the only big men who will see playing time with Bagley out. If Hield doesn’t go, Bogdan Bogdanovic or Trevor Ariza could be in line for a spot start at low salaries, and Harrison Barnes and De’Aaron Fox would have to pick up massive usage with Hield and Bagley absent.
Betting-wise, this line somehow opened up at Kings -1 in Sacramento, but it’s already been pushed way up to Blazers -2.5 on the road. That may be closer to a fair line if Hield is healthy and able to go, but if he’s out there’s still some value left. Make sure to monitor his status with our FantasyLabsNBA news feed.