This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
Hello, NBA fans! It's that time of year again, so for those of you who have been whetting your DFS appetite with NASCAR, Soccer, or even Call of Duty - welcome back to the NBA, at last. Before the restart, my recommended cash picks (with a standard two-player deviation) were running right below 60%, so let's try and keep the ball rolling!
LAL (-4) vs. LAC O/U: 216
UTA (-2) @ NOR O/U: 223
The seeding contests kick off with only two games. Before we dive in, it's important to note two things that will overarch any kind of advice I could give you over the next few weeks. First, starting lineups are more crucial than ever. It's IMPERATIVE that you check them before game lock. Things are changing in the bubble by the day (if not the hour) and it's important to keep your ear to the ground and stay abreast of what's happening. Second, expect GPPs to be extremely volatile. I will be using my usual formula of 80 percent cash, 20 percent GPP, but you should use whatever makes you comfortable. My recommendations will primarily be cash considerations, and I will note when they are better as GPP selections.
With only two games to choose from, we'll likely need both of these to build our lineups, so there isn't one that you can fade, in my opinion. Both games have some question marks that we will cover below, so these situations will require your due diligence if you are to have a +EV day.
INJURY SITUATIONS TO MONITOR
Anthony Davis (eye) - QUESTIONABLE
Reports say that Davis will play, but any complication before tip-off could muddy your lineup if you trust the press. It's more prudent to stick a player like this in the UTIL category, which frees you up for an all-position player if you get the bad news. The obvious pivot for production here would be LeBron James ($10,700), who only costs $700 more. If we hear that he will play less than a full complement of minutes, a budget route like JaVale McGee ($3,600) could come into play, but as you'll see later in the column, I already have a center I'm high on and will plan to roster in most of my cash builds.
Zion Williamson (personal) - QUESTIONABLE
Zion is healthy, out of quarantine and ready to go, but historically the Pelicans have played it extremely safe with Zion. Whenever he 'might' play, he usually doesn't. He's been cooped up in his hotel room for a few days with nothing but some weights and a stationary bike, so it's hard to say how well he'll fare. I feel he will play regardless, but I doubt he'll beat value at $7,500. I'm usually looking for 5x value or better to get to my magic number of 320, so he'd need at least 40 DKFP to be worthwhile. Additionally, if he is green-lit, his roster percentage would be through the roof. I'm inclined to fade Zion regardless of his status.
Montrezl Harrell (personal) OUT
Patrick Beverley (personal) QUESTIONABLE
Lou Williams (personal) OUT
I decided to bunch the entire Clippers situation in one paragraph. We hear that Beverley is a 'maybe,' but you can count both Sweet Lou and Harrell out for Thursday. I had already slated Reggie Jackson ($4,600) in a few lineups with the assumption that Beverley wasn't going to play, but I doubt I would swing to him if he suited up. I like Beverley as a real-world option, but his intangibles don't translate to DFS, and I think I can find a better opportunity elsewhere. As for the frontcourt, Ivica Zubac ($4,500) emerges as a very chalky pivot, but I am more inclined to go with JaMychal Green ($3,500) in a GPP scenario. Williams' absence will be felt, but I like what I've seen out of Marcus Morris Sr. ($4,700), and he is going to get at least 40% exposure from me tonight. These absences put added pressure on two top-rated players - I'll get to them in a second.
I've already mentioned James, so there's very little need to discuss his value, which will increase if AD is limited. Beyond LeBron, the duo of Kawhi Leonard ($9,200) and Paul George ($7,200) come to mind when we are thinking of name-value on this slate. The Clippers have a lot of holes to fill, but these two can easily absorb a lot of the production that they lack at other positions. Leonard averaged 30.6 points in three regular-season games against the Lakers, and George averaged 24 points across two contests. Considering the frontcourt issues, George would seem to be the favored candidate here, which is exactly why I would spend more money on Leonard. The sharp money is on the Lakers here, and if I want lineup diversification, Leonard is the better bet. He's probably too chalky to be considered a GPP option, but I think 30% exposure is a likely number for me.
Brandon Ingram, NO ($8,500) vs. UTA
Zion's arrival before the shutdown didn't slow Ingram down as many had expected. A face injury and a minutes restriction kept him from action for most of the scrimmages, but he creates most of his opportunities by himself anyway. As I said, I'm of the mind that Zion plays less than 40 minutes, so unless I hear otherwise, I will likely give a lot of exposure to Ingram in cash lineups, and I expect many others will as well.
Additional players to consider: Jrue Holiday, NO ($8,600) vs. UTA
Rudy Gobert, UTA ($7,100) @ NOR
With all of the uncertainty at various frontcourt positions on this slate, I expect Gobert to be very popular. I have no problem building around Gobert in my cash lineups, especially when you consider that New Orleans is especially forgiving against opposing centers. I initially expected guys who can create their own shots in space would fare better in this environment, but centers have done quite well in the scrimmages and have no fear in mixing it up inside. He put up 41 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots over the last two scrimmage games, and I like where he's priced.
J.R. Smith, LAL ($3,800) vs. LAC
I know, he should go in the value section, but I'm probably going to join a lot of other players and jump on the J.R. Smith hype train tonight. I waited until Smith to discuss the current mess for the Lakers in the backcourt. The guard position for the Lakers feels like a big GPP opportunity if you fade Smith. I would be inclined to take a flier on Waiters, because at $3,100 he doesn't have to do much to meet my value threshold, but LeBron trusts Smith - except when it comes to timeouts, of course.
Donovan Mitchell, UTA ($7,000) @ NO
A Gobert/Mitchell stack is going to be prevalent in a lot of my GPP action because I think the Jazz will be the most neglected team on the slate. The Pelicans are flashier, and the Lakers-Clippers battle will take most of the focus, but I wouldn't sleep on Utah's potential in a matchup that will likely be the higher-paced matchup. Mitchell will consistently give you 35-plus minutes and is one of the best backcourt options on the slate. The news about the animosity between Gobert and Mitchell is something I'm not paying much attention to. These guys are paid big bucks and want to make the playoffs. For that to happen, they'll need each other. For less, I wouldn't sleep on Mike Conley ($6,200) as he had flashes of brilliance during the scrimmage games and looks much-improved after a plodding start this season.
I've already identified Green, Jackson, Waiters, McGee and Zubac for value, so please keep them in mind.
Joe Ingles, UTA ($5,700) @ NOR
Someone has to absorb Bojan Bogdanovic's (wrist) production, and although he started a few games at the off-guard spot in the scrimmages, he's usually a mainstay at the wing for the Jazz and should be the primary beneficiary of Bogdanovic's absence. The player that could potentially hinder that is Georges Niang ($3,300), who we could see more of in the second unit. Still, Ingles will have the first crack and is almost assuredly the starter on Thursday, which makes him worth a shot in either format.
Kyle Kuzma, LAL ($4,500) vs. LAC
There are a couple of scenarios that could potentially benefit Kuzma on Thursday. If AD is limited, he'll get a lot more time on the court as he did during the scrimmage games. If the Lakers blow out the Clippers, he could find himself out there for garbage time. In either case, Kuzma is likely to be the first guy off the bench, and around 25 DKFP would be the bare minimum I would need for him to be a worthwhile add here. His roster percentage will go way up if the news for Davis goes negative, but not so much that I'd write him off completely.
So, that's it for Day One in the bubble. I am not going to lock up my lineups until just before tip-off at 6:30 ET, and I would strongly suggest you do the same. As always, go to RotoWire and check our advanced lineups page for the latest information on who will take the floor first on Thursday!