The 2018 NBA All-Star break is upon us, as Thursday caps this week’s basketball action with a tiny two-game slate. Hopefully you broke yesterday’s massive slate down and entered a few lineups (and won), as today’s small slate is going to be tough to cash in.
While these super small slates can be frustrating, they can still be worth a roll of the dice in a GPP. I do not suggest participating in cash games for such small slates, though, so my daily focus on tourneys is alive and well here.
There isn’t much of a point in wasting time, so let’s dive into Thursday’s slate and see what my favorite GPP NBA DFS squad looks like over at FanDuel:
PG: Jamal Murray – Denver Nuggets ($6.3k)
Murray is the top value point guard on this slate and I really don’t have much interest in paying up for Eric Bledsoe ($8k) or Isaiah Thomas ($7.3k) tonight. They’re both fine options, but I’m simply not a fan of the value.
Murray always brings upside to the table and he snapped out of a mild funk with 17 actual points against the Spurs in 37 minutes in his last contest. He’s listed as probable for Thursday, so I fully expect him to suit up and provide some solid value.
PG: Jeff Teague – Minnesota Timberwolves ($6.7k)
Ditto for Teague, who like Murray is cheaper than the top two options on the board tonight. Teague has looked sharp recently, piling on 35 and 42 fantasy points over his last two contests. He can absolutely be hit or miss, but he’s in good form and at home in a pace-up game with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Anytime you get a guy facing IT2 defense for a good portion of a game, I’m all ears. Teague isn’t the first Minnesota option I run to, but he’s got an awesome individual matchup and isn’t a guy I want to fade on this small slate.
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – Los Angeles Lakers ($5.7k)
I really don’t love KCP usually, but I have to think Jimmy Butler spends most of his time on one of L.A.’s top scoring threats – Brandon Ingram. Covering KCP would be a waste of his defensive ability, so if Caldwell-Pope is allowed to roam free, there could be upside to be had here.
KCP has actually been on the rise lately, as he’s back to logging 30+ minutes a game and potentially has a beatable matchup against Andrew Wiggins. I just don’t love Josh Hart in this matchup and Andrew Wiggins has been awful, so I’ll chase the value and hope KCP avoids Butler.
SG: Gary Harris – Denver Nuggets ($6k)
I don’t love the idea of paying nearly $8k for Middleton, who should draw the defense of Gary Harris. He’s still viable, but I’d rather pivot to the guy across from him. Harris saves me $1.9k in salary and can get hot as a scorer.
Doing so in Milwaukee against a rising Bucks defense could be difficult, but I like Harris enough to take a shot here. Paying up at SG just doesn’t seem to be in the cards on this slate and if Jamal Murray sits out, Harris only gets a boost in overall value.
SF: Jimmy Butler – Minnesota Timberwolves ($9.5k)
On such a tiny slate, I have to think Giannis Antetokounpo ($11.7k) is going to be forced into a lot of lineups. Whether that makes him 44% owned or 92% owned, I’m not sure. I think he’s owned quite a bit, though, so I’ll make what I feel could be an elite pivot and just use Butler, instead.
These guys are basically the same NBA DFS producer right now. The Greek Freak averages 11 more fantasy points per game on the season, but over their last five games they’re actually quite comparable. During that stretch, Giannis has delivered fantasy nights of 45, 51, 44, 51 and 32 points. In that same span, Butler’s handed in fantasy outings of 32, 31, 64, 54 and 54 points.
I think you’re ultimately left splitting hairs here, so I’ll take the value with Butler and see if a more balanced roster doesn’t win out.
SF: Wilson Chandler – Denver Nuggets ($6.2k)
The other SF slot will surely be down to Chandler or Brandon Ingram, while I’m hoping other DFS gamers try to smash both Butler and Giannis in together. I won’t be doing that and I also am off of Ingram with Butler likely shadowing him.
That leads me to Chandler, who has woken up lately, dropping in 37 and 46 fantasy points over his last two games. I’m not sure how much longer that lasts, but Denver is riding him right now so I’ll bite and hope he delivers again.
PF: Jabari Parker – Milwaukee Bucks ($3.9k)
Kyle Kuzma leads the charge at power forward, but he’s almost $7k. I’d rather spend elsewhere, so I like the idea of just dropping down at both spots. I’ll start with Parker, who has been on a minutes cap but can still do a lot offensively if he can get hot.
There is some mild concern with Parker, of course. He’s already topping out at about 20 minutes off the bench, but he also tweaked his leg in his last game and could easily be limited or even held out tonight. I’m hoping that fact and his minutes cap lowers his ownership even more than usual. He is not a lock to pay off, but he’s dirt cheap and PF is awful.
PF: Taj Gibson – Minnesota Timberwolves ($5.2k)
The story is similar with Gibson. He has been hovering just over 20 fantasy points per game lately (which isn’t ideal), but he still gets tons of run and offers value at a very weak position. I’m taking a risk in fading Kuzma, in hopes he doesn’t meet expectations and these two drop-down options exceed value.
Gibson is by far the safer of these two options. He’s at home against the Lakers, who he’s found success against (28+ fantasy points per game) across two meetings this year. I’m not expecting the world out of either of these guys, but if they can simply meet/exceed Kuz, I’ll be thrilled.
I also like Trey Lyles as a pivot here and he should be more contrarian than Gibson. His minutes have been in decline, though, so I’d prefer to use the stable Gibson and use Parker’s similar run over Lyles.
C: Nikola Jokic – Denver Nuggets ($10k)
There are three truly viable center options on this small slate, but I’m down to The Joker or Karl-Anthony Towns. KAT is always a fun option and he could easily wreck the Lakers, but Joker should crush inside against a Milwaukee defense that ranks 29th in rebounding.
Glass dominance aside, Jokic has triple-double upside and has been wrecking lately with 47 and 57 fantasy points in his last two games. Both of these guys are red hot and have killer matchups, but I like Jokic’s upside slightly more. He’s the one I can afford with my team as is, plus I will hope KAT garners more ownership due to his recent play.
Overall, I hope to stay balanced even on a two-game slate and I think the best way to do that is to fade The Greek Freak and then take a few stands. My first stand is not paying up at point guard, while my second stand will be not using options facing high level defenders.
That takes Ingram and Middleton off the board for me, while Butler and Joker are elite pivots off of equally tantalizing options at their positions.
When it’s all said and done, the glue to this whole thing may very well end up being Jabari Parker and Wilson Chandler. They’re undeniable risks, but this is a GPP team so you need to be willing to throw caution to the wind. Whether you join me in doing so with this exact roster or not, I wish you luck and hope you enjoy the All-Star weekend!