This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
We head into Saturday's slate with some doubts about James Harden's availability. I'm no doctor, but the phrase 'cervical strain' certainlY Doesn't sound promising. As the Rockets prepare for a playoff run, you have to consider the possibility of The Beard taking a seat against the Warriors.
If it were any other team, I think the Rockets would elect to bench him, but you can bet Harden wants in on this game. We'll have to wait and see, but unfortunately, that wait may prove too costly – the HOU/GS matchup is the second-latest game on the slate. The Vegas odds are still trending towards a Harden start. If he goes, I'm going to play him, because I see a lot of cheap value to even things out on tonight's slate
BACK-TO-BACK TEAMS: Wizards, Hornets, Pelicans, Pacers, Bulls, Hawks, Timberwolves, Grizzlies, Mavericks, Jazz, Thunder
That's a lot of teams coming off of no rest. This could spell good news for the Suns, Nets, Cavs, Lakers, Heat, Celtics, Kings and the Bucks as they tackle these fatigued squads.
After the GS/HOU matchup, the other game worth considering is the OKC/SAC game. Both Russell Westbrook and Paul George played brilliantly last night – but can we go with them again on this back-to-back? My instincts tell me to stay away and instead opt for a Durant/Curry-Durant pairing tonight, but if we get bad news about Harden, I may be tempted to put one of those Thunder guys in the mix.
On a slate this large, it's usually wise to just fade a game altogether, and we've got a few of those tonight. MEM/CLE (204), DET/MIA (207) and DAL/UTA (215) all look to be low-scoring affairs. Cherry-pick players from these teams with caution. Also, the BOS/CHI game is my blowout candidate, so it might be wise to stay away from that one as well, although you've got a lot of Boston backups to get value from.
KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS (concussion) QUESTIONABLE: He's traveling with the team after entering concussion protocol and missing Friday's game due to Thursday's car accident. We aren't aware yet if he'll play, but the fact that he's with the team is an encouraging sign. This is one of the later games so we may not be able to use Towns tonight.
LUKA DONCIC (ankle) QUESTIONABLE: Luka was a frustrating late scratch for some owners on Friday, and although he is listed day-to-day, Doncic might sit again. As expected, Jalen Brunson ($3,500) performed well in Doncic's absence and should be a highly-owned pivot if Doncic sits.
ANTHONY DAVIS (non-injury) QUESTIONABLE: It's probably best to just let Davis go at this point. He doesn't see enough playing time to be profitable, and there's really no telling what his output will be like in the short term Those who banked on a lighter load from Davis got big numbers from Cheick Diallo ($3,100) on Friday, but other guys like Okafor and Randle didn't do as well. After playing near a season-high 26 minutes, I don't know if Diallo will have the same impact in this back-to-back, but he certainly comes at a low price.
Jaren Jackson (quad) OUT: Jackson will be out a while. Both Ivan Rabb ($5,900) and Joakim Noah ($4,300) put up big numbers on Friday with Jackson and Valanciunas (personal) out. If Valanciunas stays out tonight, this duo could produce well yet again.
Myles Turner (hip) QUESTIONABLE: DraftKings currently has him listed as out but I suspect that is a holdover from last night, and he should be upgraded later in the day. If he sits, you know what to do – Domantas Sabonis ($5,300) all the way.
All other injury tags are ongoing or probable.
I'll now go position-by-position, with an eye toward providing an elite pick, a mid-range target, and a low-cost value play. On the high end, keep my Harden/Curry/Durant ideas in mind along with Diallo and Brunson on the low end.
Chris Paul, HOU at GS ($7,600): With Harden a question mark, I think you can roster CP3 regardless of The Beard's status tonight, as this should end up as the highest game total of the evening. Paul played only 28 minutes on the way to a 36.8 DKFP total in his last game against the Warriors, but he's been averaging well into the 30-minute range in terms of usage, and even if Harden plays the All-Star will be more than happy to let Paul do the heavy lifting. I slid past a lot of elites to get here, but I'm satisfied with the choice.
Brandon Ingram, LAL at NO ($6,000): Ingram looked every bit like the Lakers' starting point guard against Houston two days ago, while Rajon Rondo didn't factor into the game script at all. Is this a trend while Lonzo Ball stays out? It's hard to say, but as they head into New Orleans, I think Luke Walton will take an 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' approach and let Ingram loose on the Pelicans. At this reasonable price, a rested Ingram seems like a prudent pick here.
Miles Bridges, CHA vs. BKN ($3,200): Bridges drew the start over Jeremy Lamb on Friday, and put up 29 DKFP in 29 minutes of work. Even if this is just a one-time thing, you don't need a massive game from the rookie to crush value at this price. I'd take a look at the starting lineup tonight to see if Bridges gets the green light again. If he starts, I like his matchup against the Nets.
LeBron James, LAL at NO ($10,800): We've alreadY Discussed Durant and George in this range – do we really think the Lakers need The King to come up big against the struggling Pelicans? He's an intriguing pivot of sorts, and if you lock in the small revenge element with LeBron absorbing most of former Laker Julius Randle's 2018 output, you find yourself thinking of all sorts of reasons why James wants to prove himself on a nightly basis. Every win counts for the Lakers right now as they make run for a playoff berth.
Marvin Bagley III, SAC at OKC ($6,100): Both George and Westbrook played monster minutes last night, and that's good news for Bagley and the Kings. The rookie hasn't done particularly well against the Thunder in the two games they've played, but one look at his 48 DKFP performance in a narrow loss to the Warriors is enough evidence for me to endorse him tonight. With every game, the Kings are gradually giving Bagley more responsibility and opportunity, and they could use a statement win right now.
Marcus Morris, BOS at CHI ($4,900): The Celtics won't need to overplay Gordon Hayward due to this ankle sprain, and they'll need someone to handle the frontcourt in the midst of this potential blowout. Morris should deliver a dependable stat line here, and although it isn't a full-throated endorsement, there isn't a lot at this level in the forward section. Going with Morris seems totally reasonable.
Clint Capela, HOU at GS ($6,800): There isn't a huge price gap between Capela and Cousins in this game, but the Warriors seem content with limiting Boogie to under 30 minutes, and Capela rarelY Dips below that level. I want to ride this game for all it's worth, and in a game where Harden will be more inclined to depend on his playmakers, Capela should be on the receiving end of those assists often.
Al Horford, BOS at CHI ($6,400): Sure, this could be a blowout, but the Celtics don't have a lot of options under center with Aron Baynes out. Rather than taking a flier on Theis or Williams, I think they'll let Horford stay on the court for 30 minutes. He also comes into this game on a day of rest after erupting for 62 DKFP against the Bucks.
JaVale McGee, LAL at NO ($5,100): This should be fun tangle between McGee and Julius Randle. There's no doubt Randle is eager to give the Lakers a taste of what they're missing, but the Pelicans are shoving a lot of inexperience into the frontcourt, and it should allow McGee to post a decent number. We don't have any history for McGee against the Pels this season, but it's of little consequence, as New Orleans looks to be a shell of themselves without Davis and Mirotic.
I found that a Paul/Durant/Harden stack worked best for me, and I used some of the value plays I mentioned to help me squeeze Ingram in there as well. Best of luck, and head back to RotoWire for updates on guys like Harden and Towns before tip-off.