This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
We're looking at a tiny three-game slate tonight, so your game selection should be limited to cash and other single-entry pursuits. While GPPs are ok if you're a mass multi-entry player, the element of tie scores will limit the overall value of the guarantees.
CLE (-2) vs. WAS, O/U: 231.5
LAL (-9.5) @ BKN, O/U: 229
DAL (-4) @ POR, O/U: 229
All three games have reasonable totals and narrow spreads. There isn't a single team I would fade, and a lot of my value will likely flow from the Wizards and the Nets.
INJURY SITUATIONS TO MONITOR
C.J. McCollum (ankle) QUESTIONABLE
McCollum did some light work yesterday so this designation could be lifted closer to tip-off, and with such a small slate, the shift could be quite consequential. If McCollum sits, then I will almost certainly run with Damian Lillard ($9.900). Anfernee Simons ($4,500) and Gary Trent Jr. ($3,400) are effectively in a time-share for that role, and I'm not enthused with either option.
If you're looking to spend up, there are two basic avenues you could follow to begin your build. The more persuasive path is to set Luka Doncic ($12,300) against Portland and move on. With the Lakers on a back-to-back, that's going to be the higher-owned play, but with Doncic you are only left with $5,385 per player, and I don't know that the values are there tonight. On the second half of this back-to-back, I would pause before even thinking about Anthony Davis ($9,300) because he may take a seat tonight, but there's no doubt LeBron James ($10,400) will be itching to tangle with a newly-healthy Kyrie Irving ($8,400) who is probable to return from hamstring issues and is attractively priced. As you can see, the wheels really start to fall off this slate at around $5,500, so the elites you go with are going to determine your outcome.
For my money, I am going to give some contrarian exposure to a completely different combo of guys. I'm fairly certain that Bradley Beal ($7,700) has the ability to match, and possibly exceed Irving's numbers, and he exceeded 5x value in his last game against Cleveland. Who I pair with Beal will depend heavily on McCollum's status, but if he stays out, then I think a Lillard/Beal stack will be my most popular play for me. Below I will rank my favorite elite stacks:
EXPECTED CHALK AND OTHER TARGETS
Tristan Thompson, CLE ($7,300) vs. WAS
We run into trouble at this price if we elite-stack, but as I've said frequently, you're going to consider running with opposing centers whenever Washington is on the slate. Thompson's game history with the Wizards is highlighted by an excellent 52 DKFP showing earlier in the season, so as the Cavs head into this game, they already know Thompson's ability to exploit this defense. I can find an argument for pairing an elite here, or running Thompson with Beal in an effort to achieve some lineup balance.
Carmelo Anthony, POR ($6,000) vs. DAL
Anthony will yield some high ownership tonight, as his price figures in well with where the public will likely go on this slate. The issue with Anthony is that 5x value is really about as good as you're going to get on any given night, but people still flock to him based on subjective perception about the player. On a slate this slim, he's a reasonable way to go, but on a slate with more options, one should weigh how persuasive his price point is in reality.
Also consider: Collin Sexton, CLE ($6,500) vs. WAS
Thomas Bryant, WAS ($4,700) @ CLE
Almost every roster is going to feature a big man from Washington – it's simply a matter of whether you go with Davis Bertans ($5,000), Ian Mahinmi ($5,200) or Bryant. Historically, Bryant has the better history against the Cavs and although his minutes still aren't where we'd like them to be since returning from injury, he'll be the lower-owned player of this trio. I think Bertans will get the most play of the group, and Mahinmi will get his first crack at the Cavs and could also be an interesting option.
Kyle Kuzma, LAL ($4,600) @ BKN
It's hard to resist Kuzma at this price, especially if you're a believer in Davis' limitations on a back-to-back. Kuzma also only saw 27 minutes yesterday, so he'll be well-rested and even if Davis plays, I think he has the ability to reach 5x value. Dallas should give him plenty of room to create his own opportunities.
Caris LeVert, BKN ($4,900) vs. LAL
Although LeVert comes off the bench for the Nets, he ranks third in usage on the team (28%) and is coming off a decent 16/6/6 line against the Sixers. You're going to battle variance no matter where you go at this salary level, but the numbers tell me that he might be the most reasonable Brooklyn player to go with tonight.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, LAL ($3,800) @ BKN
KCP will kill you with variance, but he's just so cheap! Even if you get 25 DKFP out of him, you're clocking in at over 6x value, and after logging only 28 minutes yesterday, you can make an argument for some increased usage tonight. Be ready for a bumpy ride, however. Over the past ten games his totals have varied from 35 DKFP at the top and 8.5 DKFP at the bottom. While we are on the subject of Laker usage, Rajon Rondo ($3,600) only saw 18 minutes of floor time and could be a reasonable punt play if you've elected to load up on elites.
Also consider: Jordan McRae, WAS ($5,000) @ CLE