Wednesday gave us a weird 5-game daily fantasy basketball slate and we responded with a solid team, overall. We did have to act fast late in the night when news broke that Kristaps Porzingis wouldn’t be playing, but hopefully that helped some of you upgrade over Jeff Teague, who under-performed.
Our NBA DFS picks were quite strong across the board, otherwise. Goran Dragic got his revenge against the Suns (44.8 fantasy points), Klay Thompson was rock solid (40), Tim Hardaway Jr. was fantastic in the wake of Zinger sitting (40), Evan Fournier was a smashing success and Justise Winslow was a great deep dive (30 fantasy points).
Those guys all worked out, while we also got a gem out of Nikola Vucevic (24 points and 4 steals). Our only issue with the lineup we served up last night was Taps sat out with injuries and Jayson Tatum (ankle) bowed out early. Tatum hopefully didn’t cripple your teams, as he did get 12 fantasy points before his exit. Zinger not playing freed up $9.8k to do as you pleased with, too, so perhaps you just paid down at both PF spots or paid up to upgrade over Teague.
Regardless of which way you went, odds are some of our picks worked out for you, as there weren’t any bad misses beyond Teague (at least none that were under our control).
Thursday’s NBA DFS slate keeps things chill again with just a mild five-game slate coming our way. Let’s see if we can’t work through the top studs and value plays to build another winner:
PG: Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder ($10.5k)
I could give into the chalk and go with John Wall at this spot (that saves us $500), but both Westbrook and Wall have awesome matchups and I think Russ may be slightly more contrarian. He hasn’t been the same explosive DFS machine he was a year ago, for one, while there are a ton of elite options to consider on this slate.
Westbrook does too many things to stay grounded forever, though. He also gets a great matchup against a Denver defense that isn’t amazing and specifically has trouble stopping quality point guards. This should be a solid scoring night for Russ and with his triple-double nature, I think he’s going to blow past his price tag.
PG: T.J. McConnell – Philadelphia 76ers ($5.4k)
McConnell is a glue guy for this roster (and for his own in real life) and I think he’s necessary to let this all come together. The Sixers remain severely mangled at guard, so he has a big role off the bench. He’s basically the main man on offense when he comes in with the second unit and he’s a stat magnet.
He’s not an elite play that is a lock for 40+ fantasy points, but he’s a threat to log close to 30 minutes and could get us around 30 fantasy points. With this particular GPP lineup, that will do the trick.
SG: Iman Shumpert – Cleveland Cavaliers ($3k)
I don’t love the idea of hitching my wagon to Iman Shumpert, but we may not have a choice. Derrick Rose has already been ruled out of Thursday’s matchup with the Rockets and Shumpert is slated to get the start. Rose being out means much more for LeBron James than anything else, but Shump is the bare minimum at FanDuel and can randomly blow up due to defensive stats and his outside shooting.
Shumpert can also be the slowest of burns and kill a team early in the night, so I certainly suggest a slew of entries without him. That being said, he looks like a lock for 20+ minutes with Rose out and if he can get hot as a shooter he’ll quickly pay off at this low price. Think of Shump as a necessary evil, while there is an argument that he could be needed more than usual for his defense.
SG: James Harden – Houston Rockets ($11.2k)
I think a lot of people will be drawn to the value that guys like Russell Westbrook and Nikola Jokic will provide, or they’ll be smitten with Anthony Davis and/or DeMarcus Cousins. Those guys probably aren’t bad picks, but this battle between Harden and James could be epic.
That’s certainly been the case in the past, while Harden has clearly gotten up for this matchup (39.5 points and 13 dimes per game across two meetings last year). We’re not chasing the points he delivered earlier this week when he dropped 56 points on the Utah Jazz. However, the Cavs rank dead last in defensive efficiency and Harden is on his home floor. I want this battling duo tonight and I don’t mind paying for it.
SF: LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers ($11.8k)
We have to eat the chalk tonight, as Derrick Rose being out means another glorious shot at “point-LeBron”. That means the offense will run mostly through King James and could give way to another massive outing. He’s been on fire lately and pretty fantastic for much of the year, but with the Cavs struggling, he knows he needs to beast out until things fall into place.
Rose is really a hindrance to the Cavs, but he did provide scoring and some playmaking ability. His absence boots LeBron’s already sky high stock and there’s not much to hate what should be an uber-hyped showdown with the Houston Rockets. Paul George is our next best option at SF and he nor any other small forward can come close to giving us what LeBron can on this slate. He’s our favorite stud to pay up for and the top core play.
SF: P.J. Tucker – Houston Rockets ($3.7k)
If you weren’t sure this was a strictly GPP squad, you are now. I usually loathe testing the DFS waters with Tucker, who seems to be literally good for one made shot a game. This is still a guy that logs 25-30 minutes a night because he can hit the outside shot, defends well and helps Houston go small.
Tucker’s usefulness in this matchup is on the defensive end, where he’ll try to slow down LeBron James and company. That should get him floor time, while Cleveland’s league-worst defense may give him a chance at flexing his offensive muscle, as well. Small forward is rather bland beyond the top two options, so I don’t mind gambling here.
PF: Dario Saric – Philadelphia 76ers ($4.1k)
Saric could be in line to start his sixth consecutive game due to a slew of injuries to Philly’s guards. That’s allowed the Sixers to play big and let Saric run out of the four spot.
He has absolutely not been consistent, but if he has a shot at a starting role and 25+ minutes, we may need to save with him. Saric has loads of upside as a scorer and can clean the glass at times, so at this price there are certainly worse dives to be made.
PF: Markieff Morris – Washington Wizards ($4.5k)
Unless you’re paying for The Brow or Ben Simmons tonight (and we already have our cash invested elsewhere) I think dropping down at PF makes a lot of sense. It makes even more sense when we can get two guys with some upside that should start and log close to 30 minutes.
Kieff has been slow to work his way back from injury, but he upped his run to 27 minutes in his last game. He’s said to still have a mild minutes cap, but if we can get 27 minutes again versus the Lakers (24th at stopping power forwards), I think Morris has a chance to crush value. His brother dropped 30 fantasy points on the Lakers last night in this same matchup, after all.
C: Jonas Valanciunas – Toronto Raptors ($4.9k)
JV might be the glue that holds this all together, as some will simply want to pay for Joker or Boogie, while others may be scared that he can’t handle Boogie or The Brow down low. Maybe that’s the case in the end or maybe a minute limit holds him back. I’m not buying any of that, though, or at least I’m not willing to let it scare me off of a GPP gem.
I love Valanciunas for three key reasons; his minutes are on the rise since he returned from injury, his size will be needed to combat two massive Pelicans studs and he’s actually had a ton of success against these bigs. Last year in one game against the Kings (when Boogie was still there), JV put up 23 points and 13 rebounds. In two more games against the Pelicans, he averaged over 22 points and 12 boards across two meetings.
The problem with JV for forever has always been whether we can trust his run. If he’s healthy enough to play, the guy is going to be out there and chances are at this super cheap price, he’s going to have no problem crushing value.
This is not a cash game roster and we’re taking calculated risks here. The likes of Shump, Tucker, Saric, Kieff, McConnell and even JV could all blow up in our face. Even one or two of those guys not working out could sink us. However, it gets us three studs and if we’re leaning on logic, Morris, Saric, McConnell and JV actually all make a lot of sense. Here’s to hoping Shump and Tucker can deliver for one night and carry us to the top.