This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
Before we dive into Saturday's seven-game slate, I 'd like to say a couple of things about James Harden's 91-point game last night.
If you read my Friday column, I recommended fading Harden, but I also mentioned load management as a concern. As it turns out, I was partly right, but the player who ended up sitting was Chris Paul. My recommendation was based entirely on him sharing the floor with the Beard, and luckily, I was able to slide Harden into some lineups in place of Embiid (because Simmons played) and avoided disaster. As the season winds down, this sort of thing is going to happen – a lot.If you feel like you won't be able to check your lineups just before game lock, I would strongly suggest you reconsider firing up any games on that day. Unless you like burning money, of course.It's not my thing,
So, now that's out of the way, and we can focus on this slate. The early game of ATL/BOS is excluded, which leaves seven matchups with a lot of playability. We don't have a line yet on this game, but the GS/OKC matchup is easily the most watchable game, but it may not be the most playable. The high mark on the slate currently goes to the PHO/NO matchup, which has a 232/5 O/U and a 1-point spread, checking all the boxes when it comes to Vegas metrics.
Kevin Durant (ankle) QUESTIONABLE: I wouldn't be surprised if Durant makes a go of it today, but the injury is too significant to exclude, as it affects the entire Warriors lineup, If Durant can't go, all the Warriors starters get a boost.
Anthony Davis (rest) QUESTIONABLE, Jrue Holiday (abdomen) OUT: It's a back-to-back for the Pelicans, and you already sort of know what to do here, right? Don't ignore Elfrid Payton (#6,900), He's had three triple-doubles in a row, and as I said, this game checks every box.Similarly, you can start Julius Randle ($8,100) with confidence as his usage is almost 30 percent over the last month when Davis and Holiday are out. No one comes close, but Cheick Diallo ($3,800) matches Randle with a 1.3 FPPM pace in the same scenario, so he should also get some attention.
Tomas Satoransky (head) QUESTIONABLE: There's no word on the severity of this injury, but with the Wizards on a back-to-back, I'd expect them to play it safe with their starting point guard. This puts more pressure on Bradley Beal ($9,300), but I'm planning on giving him less exposure tonight than I usually would due to the back-to-back and his average(for Beal) performances against the Grizzlies. The pace-down of this game is bothersome, but Chasson Randle ($3,100) is their only point guard option and should be one of the top low-cost guys tonight.
Larry Nance (ribs) QUESTIONABLE, Tristan Thompson (foot) QUESTIONABLE: IF both of these guys are out, Kevin Love ($7,800) becomes a decent value play against Dallas, and Marquese Chriss ($3,200) will return after what I thought was a pretty senseless one-game suspension, as Serge Ibaka was the clear provoker.
Allen Crabbe (knee) OUT: The pivot here will be difficult to gauge, but recent usage stats clearly point to Spencer Dinwiddie ($6,100) as the biggest beneficiary with 30 percent usage and 1.4 DKFPPM and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson ($3,000) is a decent low-cost guy to hit as he has similar usage stats in this scenario. I think a lot of people will flock to Caris LeVert and Joe Harris, so going with these two will result in a great low-ownership play.
Maurice Harkless (knee) OUT: If this holds, I actually like Enes Kanter ($4,400) here. Over the past two games, Kanter put up 29 points and 16 rebounds with Moe off the court, and has 31 percent usage in over that span. Rodney Hood ($3,300) has also shown some correlation, but Jake Layman is not the way you should go here, as his pivot viability is deceiving, in my opinion.
A lot of valuable nuggets there. I think with all the injury pivots available we can afford a lot. I would wait and see on Durant, but if he sits a Russell Westbrook ($10,800)/Paul George ($9,700) stack is a sensible spot against the Warriors, although I would probably be more inclined to go with George if Durant is absent, and Westbrook if Durant plays. Nikola Jokic plays a tough Indy defense, so that limits our elite picks tonight to the OKC tandem and A Curry/Beal-Lillard-Booker sort of situation. There's a lot more value here tonight though. With the injury pivots in mind, let's take a look at each position.
Damian Lillard, POR at SA ($8,800): This isn't a long trip for Portland on this back-to-back, and Lillard has an excellent history against the Spurs this season, averaging 52.2 DKFP over three contests. I'd expect Gregg Popovich to have some sort of strategy for containing him, but past metrics indicate that he hasn't figured out how to do it yet. Luka Doncic ($8,700) could certainly help you out at a similar price, but I like Lillard a bit more.
Klay Thompson, GS at OKC ($7,400): I'm OK with this play regardless of Durant's status as his floor and ceiling are too good to pass on at this price. The Thunder have a deceptively good defense, but they have some difficulty against opposing backcourts and allow the second-most three-point attempts against opposing shooting guards in the league.
Collin Sexton, CLE at DAL ($5,500): Cleveland has little left to play for this season, but it appears that they view Sexton as their future at point guard as his minutes have spiked along with is production in recent weeks. He's met value fairly easily over the past five with a 33.5 DKFP average, and he's managed that metric against some pretty tough defenses. I'd like to see a few more assists out of him, but I like his potential here.
DeMar DeRozan, SA vs. POR ($8,200): DeRozan has probably one of the best opponent matchups on the slate as he's played lights out against the Blazers this season, averaging 51.2 DKFP per game over three games played. He's shot a cool 50 percent from the floor and a blistering 95 percent from the charity stripe over that span to go along with 33 points, seven assists and 5.7 rebounds as three-game averages. Sound like a decent play to you?
Bobby Portis, WAS vs. MEM ($6,100): I feel like I gave a mention about almost everyone at the top of this slate already, so I'm going to provide you with Portis despite his dreadful game last night.I expect him to rebound from yesterday's game and I like the projected ownership here – a lot of people will flock elsewhere on such a heavy slate. Treat the Charlotte game as an aberration here and take a chance on him in your GPP lineups.
Rudy Gay, SA vs. POR ($5,700): Gay's illness allowed his price to slide below 6K so I think this presents a good value. If he's completely over the flu, his 19 minutes played will render him a little more rested than his other teammates on this back-to-back, and lest we forget, he's given us a solid 30 DKFP floor for most of the season.
Additional forwards to consider: Refer to the injury pivots mentioned above.
Rudy Gobert, UTA vs. BKN ($8,000): The Nets only trail the Clippers in allowing the most NBAFP to opposing centers, and only trail the Kings in allowing the most rebounds (16.9) to opposing big men. I'm always a fan of starting a center against the Nets, and since this is a game I'm relatively light on tonight, I have no problem finding a spot for Gobert in a few lineups, as the metrics and history (58,5 DKFP against the Nets in last game) check a lot of boxes for me.
DeMarcus Cousins, GS at OKC ($7,600): We lack history here, but I am a big fan of this play if Durant is a scratch. He put up 50 DKFP without Durant against the Rockets, and that's as good of a metric as any when approaching this matchup. The Thunder present a slightly tougher challenge under the basket with the tandem of George and Adams, but we should still see a decent total from Boogie tonight. Don't be fooled by Steven Adams' totals against the Warriors – neither of those games involved Cousins.
Derrick Favors, UTA vs. BKN ($5,600): Utah has let Favors get loose a bit over the last two games, with a double-double against Minnesota and a great stat line against Phoenix. You can use the same argument here as you would for Gobert as the Nets just aren't that great under the basket defensively or offensively off the glass. Favors is a great defender and rarely turns the ball over, and I predict he'll see a full complement of minutes tonight.
Additional centers to consider: Julius Randle, NO vs. PHO ($8,100)