This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
Thursday's NBA slate consists of three games. On a slate this small, I won't purposely fade or target any particular game like I usually do, since we'll need exposure to all six teams to build an ideal lineup. Additionally, I'll lower my cash exposure a bit to include more GPP options, due to the lessened variance you experience with a smaller player pool. The sole drawback is that we'll also see a lot of identical lineups in those contests.
ATL (-6.5) vs. MIA O/U: 217
DEN (-4.5) @ NO O/U: 225
LAC (-5) vs. SA O/U: 226
At first glance, we notice that the O/U numbers are all fairly similar, but as you'll see in the injury section, the line for Atlanta seems a tad too generous, even against the Heat. I'm also a bit shocked at the spread in the LAC/SA game. Vegas is giving way too much credit for a 3-0 Spurs team that's yet to face a challenge on their schedule.
As is typical for small slates, we are really hurting at center, Things actually aren't much better in the guard pool, but the forward position is where we see the most depth. I'll be inclined to spend up at center and guard and take a flier or two on cheaper forwards in cash lineups, but I will flip that exposure recommendation in a couple of GPP builds.
INJURY SITUATIONS TO MONITOR
Trae Young, ATL (ankle) - OUT
Young as the most significant absence on the slate. I think his absence will influence the line on this game all the way up to tip-off. Atlanta will need to rely on other playmakers to get things done, but for the short term, it appears the DeAndre' Bembry ($4,700) will get his shot in the starting lineup in place of Young. Bembry has put up a couple of decent stat lines with the second unit, and his price and opportunity make him an attractive pivot play.
Derrick Favors, NO - DOUBTFUL
Nikola Jokic, DEN ($10,000) @ NO
The Pelicans already have issues at center, but Derrick Favors would have at least a bit more success against Jokic. Rookie Jaxson Hayes has a lot of potential but against one of the league's marquee big men, he should have his hands full. Jokic has recorded two double-doubles in four games but had a bit of a drop-off in production against the Kings. His rebound numbers will always keep his floor relatively steady, but he'll need to put up a few more shots to meet value. He's not a strong add for me due to the prohibitive price, but I will give him some exposure.
Kawhi Leonard, LAC ($9,500) vs. SA
Leonard will return to the floor after a day of rest to face the team he began his career with, and I don't have to recount what happened with that relationship. I believe this is a more potent revenge game because Leonard is now prowling the West in Spurs territory, and I'm sure Kawhi will want to prove a point. That intangible alone makes Leonard an intriguing play for me.
EXPECTED CHALK AND OTHER TARGETS
John Collins, ATL ($8,300) vs. MIA
Collins saw a bit of a boost with Trae Young only seeing 11 minutes of action, logging a season-best 50 DKFP against the Heat, who they'll now meet for a second time. I expect they'll lean on Collins once again, and a lot of DFS players will follow suit.
Brandon Ingram, NO ($7,900) vs. DEN
As the old adage goes - "if it ain't broke...", and so on. Ingram has yet to give us a compelling reason to move off him. The return of Jrue Holiday shouldn't adversely affect Ingram too much, although we've seen snippets of Ingram bringing the ball in a few times. Even though Lonzo Ball's synergy with Ingram is a better match for him, Holiday's no dummy - he'll get it to Ingram enough to make an impact.
Dejounte Murray, SA ($5,900) at LAC
Murray's attractive pricing will undoubtedly chalk him up on Thursday, I predict that we'll see close to 40% ownership on the point guard, despite his slightly erratic floor. The upside for Murray is huge, however. He's logged two games above 40 DKFP, although he faced two weaker opponents. 40 DKFP would be a value-crushing number at this price, and although I'd like to see more minutes from him, he could definitely get to that 37.5 number we need per player to get to 300.
Lou Williams, LAC ($6,800) vs. SA
Williams sits at a spot where I think he'll get a lot of attention on Thursday. His past against the Spurs is checkered with some unspectacular performances, but the Clippers are a markedly better team this year, and the presence of Kawhi Leonard has taken some pressure off of the veteran.
Bryn Forbes, SA ($4,100) at LAC
Forbes is locked in as the starting two-guard, and he's seeing more than enough minutes to be relevant. He's made 21 3-point attempts in the first three games and has a 43 percent conversion rate from long range. If he's hot with the long ball on Thursday, he'll be an impactful force for those who choose to roster him. The Clippers are in the middle of the pack in defense vs. 3- pointers, so Forbes should have his share of opportunities.
Will Barton, DEN ($5,000) @ NO
Barton popped with a double-double against Dallas in his last game, and that performance should draw a lot of players his way. He's averaging close to 30 minutes per game as the Nuggets' starting small forward and has seen a respectable ownership rate of around 20 percent so far this season. He'll likely exceed that percentage on Thursday due to his favorable price and potential ceiling.
Jaxson Hayes, NO ($3,500) vs. DEN
We already mentioned Hayes in this article, but his bargain-basement price makes him a great seat-filler as you finalize your roster build. Even though Jahlil Okafor ranks higher on the depth chart, his 19-point debut this week should be enough to siphon some minutes away from Okafor. It's too early to know who will garner the start, but I'm confident that Hayes will see plenty of court time with Derrick Favors sidelined.
While they're sort of trapped in a middle ground between these categories, here are a few other players worth mentioning as decent plays on Thursday.
Jrue Holiday, NO ($8,800) vs. DEN
LaMarcus Aldridge, SA ($7,200( at LAC
Montrezl Harrell, LAC ($6,400) vs. SA
Goran Dragic, MIA ($5,800) at ATL
That's it for Thursday. As always, be sure to check back in at Rotowire for up-to-date information on your selected players.