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DraftKings NBA: Thursday Cheat Sheet

Alex Rikleen

Rikleen writes the NBA column "Numbers Game," which decodes the math that underpins fantasy basketball. A certified math teacher, Rikleen decided the field of education pays too well, so he left it for writing. He is a Boston College graduate living in Delaware.

It’s a pretty big crowd, for a Thursday. I tried to turn that opening into an elaborate riff on Piano Man, but it turns out that I’m better at picking DFS values than rewriting hits from the 70s. So let’s get to that.

Six games is a lot for a Thursday, so while it’s still a small slate for everyday players, contest scores will likely be higher than your typical Thursday.

With the trade deadline coming (or passing, depending on when you read this) at 3 PM EST Thursday, there could be a lot of trade-related fallout. The most likely scenario is that a player gets traded, opening up minutes that injects a ton of value into a near-minimum salaried player. It is highly likely that some of those players will provide the best per-dollar production on the entire slate. Remember to adjust your lineups accordingly.

TARGET

TOR vs. NY and LAL vs. OKC: There isn’t any particular game that I recommend targeting Tuesday, but I do recommend trying to fit in at least one or two Raptors and/or Lakers. The Raptors have been playing great recently, while the already mediocre Knicks have the emotional load of their first game after losing star player, Kristaps Porzingis (knee), for the year. The Lakers are also playing some of their best ball lately, and they face the Thunder in a classic “trap game” scenario – 48 hours ago the Thunder defeated the top-seeded Warriors on the road.

AVOID

DAL at GS: For the sake of your eyes, I’d avoid watching the Hawks-Magic game. However, as far as your fantasy lineup is concerned, the Mavericks-Warriors is more concerning. The Mavericks are the third-slowest team over the past 10 games, and though the Warriors defense has occasionally lapsed recently, they still rank sixth in per-possession scoring on the season.

GUARDS

Damian Lillard, POR vs. CHA ($9,000): Lillard has scored at least 44 DKFP in three of his last five games, and in five of his last 10. The Hornets have the fifth-worst per-possession defense over the last 10 games, and they run at an above-average pace. If the Hornets trade Kemba Walker at the deadline – his name pops up frequently in rumors, for whatever that’s worth – then Lillard would become even more attractive.

Terry Rozier, BOS at WAS ($5,900): Kyrie Irving has returned to action, but Marcus Smart (hand) and Shane Larkin (knee) remain sidelined. With a shortened backcourt rotation, Rozier should see extra minutes, and extra minutes for Rozier correlates with extra production. In games where Rozier has played at least 28 minutes, he’s averaging 15.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 2.7 threes.

Josh Hart, LAL vs. OKC ($5,500): As Matt Moore likes to say, “LA nightlife is undefeated”. The Thunder won a major upset over the Warriors Tuesday. Now the Thunder have had a full day – and, more importantly, night – off in Los Angeles ahead of Thursday’s matchup against the lottery-bound Lakers. Russell Westbook’s defense has been subpar all season, and when you add in the possibility of a “trap game”, this looks like an excellent matchup for Hart. Furthermore, even without the favorable matchup, Hart would be an attractive play. He’s seeing increased run while Lonzo Ball (knee) is sidelined, and Hart has averaged 14.7 points and 12.0 rebounds in 35.0 minutes over the last three games, double-doubling in all three.

FORWARDS

Paul George, OKC at LAL ($8,800): George has home-run appeal, having topped 62 DKFP twice in his last four games. But he also provides a strong floor, scoring at least 18 points in all but two games in 2018, and at least 33 DKFP in nine of his past 10. When these teams last faced off, he scored 26 points and grabbed seven rebounds on his way to 42.75 DKFP. The Lakers are one of the fastest-paced teams in the league, and one of the easiest matchups for small forwards.

Brandon Ingram, LAL vs. OKC ($6,500): Ingram is averaging 35.4 minutes per game over the past five games, a workload that would rank inside the league’s top-15 for the season. He’s performed well in that stretch, averaging 17.0 points, 5.8 assists and 5.6 rebounds while topping 32 DKFP four times. If you’re already looking to target Lakers, Ingram’s recent production should make him a priority.

Mario Hezonja, ORL vs. ATL ($5,300): With Aaron Gordon (hip) out the last five games, Hezonja has stepped up, scoring double-figures in each game. He’s averaging 15.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 27.4 minutes, and 28.4 DKFP. That’s strong production for this price, and that’s before factoring in the opponent. The Hawks may be one of the worst teams in the league, and they are one of the worst defenses in action Thursday. While his numbers are up across the board over these last five games, it’s reasonable to think Hezonja is capable of even more if the Magic find themselves in a close game – three of those five games were decided by at least 17 points.

CENTERS

Nikola Vucevic, ORL vs. ATL ($7,000): Vucevic (hand) remains questionable for Thursday, so there is a chance he doesn’t even play. If he is active, however, his value is incredible. His salary was over $8,000 dollars before he got hurt, and that was back when Aaron Gordon (hip) was also healthy. Should Vucevic play, he would be significantly discounted and asked to bear a larger share of the offensive load.

Julius Randle, LAL vs. OKC ($6,600): Writing about the center position before the trade deadline feels a little silly, as six of the eight most expensive players on the slate are either already listed on their teams’ injury report or could be impacted by a rumored trade. Randle is one of the players who falls into the latter bucket. If he is still a Laker Thursday afternoon, then he demands attention after scoring at least 30 DKFP in five straight games, and in seven of his last eight. Over that eight-game period, he’s scored at least 14 points every night, double-doubled four times, and averages 18.9 points and 9.6 rebounds. If the Lakers trade a different big man, then Randle’s value increases further. If they trade Randle, then look to either Larry Nance Jr ($4,400) or Brook Lopez ($5,400) to see increased work.

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The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.