This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
Thursdays are usually where we find the shallowest slates of the week, and today's offering is no exception. We've got four games to choose from, so let's get right to it!
BOS (-7) @ CHA O/U: 217.5
SA (-4.5) vs. OKC O/U: 215
PHO (-3) vs. MIA O/U: 219
LAC (-6) vs. POR O/U: 227
(Odds provided via DraftKings Sportsbook and are subject to change)
The POR/LAC game is by far the most attractive game of the night for DFS purposes, and it's also the most watchable contest. The Clippers are on the second game of a back-to-back, but at least they are back home at the Staples Center with a rested Kawhi Leonard back in the lineup. I also think this is a good game for the Spurs, but I'm a little confused about the line. I would take the Spurs all day giving four and a half.
I think the biggest snoozefest will be the BOS/CHA game, where the pace differential is 2.82 in favor of Charlotte. This basically means that the Celtics' pace is slowed by a somewhat surprising yet vulnerable 4-3 Hornets squad. The PHO/MIA game is perhaps the toughest call of the night. The pace is practically even and both teams are finally 100 percent healthy (aside from Deandre Ayton). While Miami's rotation has settled in a bit, the same can't be said for Phoenix – beyond a stable starting five, the second and third units are all over the place. Conclusion? Load the Clippers, Trailblazers and the Spurs, and limit your exposure to the other teams.
Our guard list's baseline is right around Devonte' Graham at $6,100 and drops off from there. There are 12 palatable guards above him, giving this position the most variance on the site. Things are similar at forward, although I think there are a more favorable value picks below Kelly Oubre, which is where the drop-off occurs. On such a shallow slate, the bottom drops out quickly at center, so you'll be faced with a narrower field of playable options.
INJURY SITUATIONS TO MONITOR
The injury notices are kind of funny on Thursday, as most of the guys with questionable tags are likely to play, although some players might be more limited than others.
I think it's safe to say that Jaylen Brown (infection) and PJ Washington (leg) will play, but things look less likely for Enes Kanter (knee). The situation in Boston is the one to watch, as Kanter, Daniel Theis (ankle) and Robert Williams (hip) are all battling various ailments.
Kawhi Leonard, LAC ($9,600) vs, POR
With a different supporting cast, Leonard played well opposite the Trailblazer backcourt, with games of 44 and 53 DKFP. As he comes off a rest day, I see little cause for concern in making Leonard your core for the evening. Portland allowed prolific lines to both DeMar DeRozan and Luka Doncic already this season, and Kawhi Leonard should follow suit.
I think your toughest call among the elites is deciding between Damian Lillard ($9,100), Kemba Walker ($9,300) and Devin Booker ($8,400) as an elite guard to favor. I would take Lillard off the list first, as C.J. McCollum ($6,100) is playing well and is a better value option for Portland. I definitely like Devin Booker's price relative to his ceiling, but his floor is the most erratic from this trio. This leaves Kemba, whose floor is reliable, and let us not forget that he's playing his old team, the Hornets. I think Kemba is the most sensible call.
EXPECTED CHALK AND MID-LEVEL TARGETS
DeMar DeRozan, SA ($7,500) vs. OKC
My eyes go right to DeRozan as a popular play on the slate, and I've already mentioned that I think the Spurs are in a favorable spot. The Thunder have been generally effective against his position so far this season, but they haven't really faced anyone especially tough at the three. His floor isn't as stable as I'd like, but I'm going to trust my read on the game and give him some love.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC ($7,100) at SA
I think this is the week where people finally start paying attention to SGA, as he's kind of flown under the radar in terms of ownership for the first couple of weeks. His salary might be a little high, but he's shooting with an extremely hot hand right now and is logging an average of 35 minutes per game as the Thunder's starting two-guard. His position on the guard chart is going to really boost his ownership on this shallow slate.
Terry Rozier, CHA ($6,800) vs. BOS
I can see myself playing both ends of this revenge game on Thursday, as both point guards face their former teams. Thursday will he best gauge of who came out of the Rozier/Walker trade better, and so far, Walker and the Celtics are the clear winners. Granted, the Hornets are 4-3 and that's largely due to Rozier's excellent play – he's throwing up around two more threes per game than he did last year as a Celtic, and is a more accurate shooter from the field as well. His floor is generally stable, but he's shown the ability to pop and disappoint already. I favor the intangibles in this contest, however.
Ricky Rubio, PHO ($6,700) vs. MIA
Rubio is finding his groove in his new home, and in the early going, you have to assume that the Jazz are experiencing seller's remorse. Mike Conley is grossly underperforming while Rubio is thriving, and I believe it's due to a more favorable game script for the dime-dropping point guard. The playmaking duties in the backcourt are aptly handled by Booker, which not only gives Rubio another player to target, his presence frees up Rubio to do what he's best at – collecting assists. And frankly, that's all we really care about.
Hassan Whiteside, POR ($6,400) at LAC
So many guards, so little time! I need to give you a big man in the mid-levels, and I like Whiteside coming off of multiple days of rest. I don't expect a huge scoring total but when you add in double-digit rebounds, we could be in line for that double-double bonus on DraftKings. Montrezl Harrell is coming off a huge day yesterday against Milwaukee, where he logged a season-high 39 minutes, and that's another reason why I like this spot (more on that in a bit).
Ivica Zubac, LAC ($4,100) vs, POR
As I just said, Harrell is coming off a huge day and now faces a back-to-back game. This is all the more reason why I think we will see a little bit more from Zubac, especially in the early stages of the game. He only played nine minutes on Wednesday, and I think this was done by design. Doc Rivers wants to keep his centers rested and ready, so I think we'll see a shift in Zubac's minutes as a result.
Rudy Gay, SA ($5,000) vs. OKC
I think there's great potential across the Spurs' roster tonight, and although Gay isn't the most consistent player you'll find, his price is enticing when you consider what his ceiling could be. I actually think he'll see lower ownership thanks to that big fat red '1st' you see on the DvP ranking. You shouldn't be paying that much attention to those numbers this early in the season, as it's only a sample size of who they've played. It's a very limited metric, but for Gay it works as an eye-test deterrent.
Aron Baynes, PHO ($5,800) vs. MIA
I like the pace of this game, although it's a toss-up as to who will win the Adebayo/Baynes matchup underneath. For his price, Baynes has been fairly dependable and is a nice value at center with the shallow pool at the position.
I'll conclude the article today with Jimmy Butler ($7,200). He gets a special mention from me because I think he's the best mid-level value on the slate tonight, and somebody I'm going to give a lot of tournament exposure to. The pace is favorable, and I think the public generally a little wary of him. If you look at this year's lines, he's been devilishly consistent when he plays, and I don't think we're at any risk of a rest day. I expect a solid 40 DKFP from him tonight.