This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
After a typically expansive MLK Day slate, the NBA goes to the other extreme Tuesday with just two games on the docket. That makes it a particularly interesting night for DFS play, one where it becomes critical to differentiate effectively enough in tournaments to have a chance at the upper tier of those contests. Luckily, fitting in several strong-to-elite plays shouldn't be an issue, as there is only one five-figure salary on the ledger and no truly serious injury concerns.
Here's a further look at Tuesday's two games:
Oklahoma City Thunder at Denver Nuggets (Projected total: 220.5 points)
The Thunder brings a slight bump in pace for the Nuggets, as they average two more possessions per game than Denver. Each team also ranks in the bottom half of the league in points allowed per game, with OKC ranked No. 18 (112.1 PPG surrendered) and Denver a bit below them at No. 21 with 112.5 points per contest given up. The Thunder, with their bottom-10 offense averaging 106.0 points per game, appear a bit less equipped to fully exploit the Nuggets' vulnerabilities; in contrast, Denver went into Monday's action tied with the Lakers with 115.4 points scored per contest.
New Orleans Pelicans at Utah Jazz (Projected total: 217.5 points)
This game could conceivably struggle to live up to its projected total, considering each team ranks in the top 10 in points allowed. New Orleans checks in right at No. 10 with 108.8 points per game surrendered, while Utah is giving up the fourth-fewest points per contest (105.4). What's more, the Jazz may be playing its stingiest defense of the season at the moment, giving up an NBA-low 94.7 points per game over the last three. They're also putting up 114.0 per contest over that span, with Bojan Bogdanovic's resurgence as a shooter playing an important part. The veteran wing is still shooting a career-low 39.1 percent, but he's drained 51.4 percent of his attempts over that three-game sample, including an outstanding 60.0 percent from deep.
Injury Situations to Monitor
NOTE: Injury reporting is especially fluid in the NBA, where the status of multiple players can change during the course of a day. Therefore, although the following serves as a foundation for the latest injury report as of the time the article is written, check back throughout the course of the day with RotoWire for the latest news regarding the status of all players on that night's slate.
Lonzo Ball, NOP (knee)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Ball has stated he plans to play Tuesday, but if he ultimately doesn't suit up, Nickeil Alexander-Walker will likely draw another start at point guard.
Joe Ingles, UTA (Achilles)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
If Ingles misses a fourth consecutive game, it will likely mean some extra minutes for Georges Niang.
Derrick Favors, UTA (knee)/ Status: PROBABLE
Favors is expected to continue playing through his ongoing knee soreness.
Al Horford, OKC (personal)/ Status: OUT
Horford's continuing absence should afford Isaiah Roby another start.
Michael Porter, DEN (COVID-19 protocol)/ Status: OUT
Porter's continuing absence will afford Will Barton another start at small forward.
There's only one five-figure player on the small slate in Nikola Jokic ($11,500). Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($8,600), Rudy Gobert ($8,500), Brandon Ingram ($8,400), Donovan Mitchell ($8,200) and Jamal Murray ($7,800) are the next five players salary-wise, and all are capable of putting up elite production.
Jokic could well be worth the investment, considering he's scored no fewer than 60.8 FD points in each of the last three games and has recorded over 60 on seven occasions overall this season. The Joker is also in an excellent positional matchup, considering the Thunder are allowing an NBA-high 63.5 shooting percentage to centers, including 56.0 percent from behind the arc.
Some of the most prominent names not listed in the prior section that should be particularly popular include Zion Williamson ($7,800), Mike Conley ($7,600), Steven Adams ($5,800) and Lonzo Ball ($5,500), if he indeed suits up.
Jordan Clarkson, UTA vs. NO ($6,300)
Clarkson erupted for 36.1 FD points Sunday against the Nuggets, his third time eclipsing 36 in the last five games. The uptick in production has bumped Clarkson's price up slightly, but he still profiles as a good value candidate, especially on such a small slate. The veteran guard is now shooting a career-high 50.0 percent, including 42.9 percent from three-point range, while putting up a solid 13.4 attempts per contest. The Pelicans make for good targets Tuesday as well, as New Orleans is allowing the seventh-highest offensive efficiency (29.5 percent) to point guards, along with the second-most assists (10.4) and steals (2.7) per game to the position.
Will Barton, DEN vs. OKC ($6,100)
Barton will draw another start at small forward Tuesday with Michael Porter (COVID-19 protocol) still out, and he'll check into the contest having scored 36.9 and 32.3 FD points in two of his last three games. However, Barton turned in just 16 FD points against the Jazz on Sunday, a reminder he's best suited for tournaments. Nevertheless, he'll enjoy a solid matchup Tuesday, as the Thunder allows the third-highest offensive efficiency (26.7 percent) to small forwards, along with the second-highest shooting percentage (50.4), second-most points (24.8) and fifth-most rebounds (8.9) per contest to the position.
Isaiah Roby, OKC at DEN ($4,500)
Roby projects for another start at center Tuesday with Al Horford (personal) still slated to remain away from the Thunder. The 2019 second-round pick has delivered 25.8 and 23.3 FD points in his first two turns with the first unit, logging 24 and 26 minutes in that pair of contests. He'll likely be in line for a similar workload Tuesday against a Nuggets team that's allowing the second-highest shooting percentage (62.7) to centers, while Roby is shooting an efficient 59.3 percent over nine games this season.