This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
As COVID-19 and inclement weather continue to devastate the NBA schedule, we are limited to only three games on Thursday's FanDuel slate. The action kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET.
TOR @ MIL (-6.5) O/U: 233.5
MIA @ SAC (+1.5) O/U: 222.5
BKN @ LAL (-2) O/U: 237.5
Odds via the FanDuel Sportsbook
Games to Target in BOLD
Games to Fade in ITALICS
On small slates, it's imperative to field unique lineups that could be construed as 'cute' because we have to make plays for guys who are usually unreliable options. This ends up being true for both cash and tournament lineups because even single-entry cash games are becoming sharper and sharper. The interesting wrinkle in today's player pool is that you're almost forced into saving money at the center position because the list starts low with Montrezl Harrell and keeps going down from there. I'll likely begin my build there so I can at least nail one player down who is below the median salary.
TOR: Kyle Lowry (ankle) - QUESTIONABLE
Lowry left the court in Tuesday night's game and the severity of the injury is unknown, at present. Norman Powell ($5,800) would likely find his way into the starting five, but on such a small slate, it's wise to give the starting lineup a look. This is the first game on the slate, so the news will hopefully filter in early.
MIL: Jrue Holiday (undisclosed) - QUESTIONABLE
Due to privacy regulations, there's no official word that Holiday tested positive for COVID-19, but that's the general assumption. The Bucks are in the midst of a horrific four-game skid that's aligned with Holiday's absence. Subpar play from the supporting cast hasn't helped matters. We'll dive into Milwaukee a bit later in the article.
BKN: Kevin Durant (hamstring) - OUT
BKN: Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot - OUT
TLC's tag eliminated one possible pivot for Durant, so doors should open a bit for Joe Harris ($5,200) and Jeff Green ($4,900). Over the past few games, their usage has been almost identical, so it could be more prudent to take the discount and go with Green. Both are still in play, however.
LAL: Anthony Davis (calf) - OUT
It appears that Kyle Kuzma ($5,800) is doing enough to merit consideration in this injury scenario, but he's been doggedly inconsistent. I'm much more inclined to roster Montrezl Harrell ($6,200), and Marc Gasol ($5,200) is a great way to get unique.
MIA: Goran Dragic (ankle) - OUT
SAC: Richaun Holmes (ankle) - OUT
SAC: Harrison Barnes (foot) - OUT
Despite Milwaukee's losing streak, Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,300) has averaged 33.5 points, 13.2 rebounds and 7.2 assists across the four losses. In other words, Giannis has been a nightly 60-70 FDFP threat. It's necessary to be very contrarian to win GPPs on a small slate, so forcing Giannis in may also press you to get cute with some cheaper options. In fact, stacking him and LeBron James ($10,500) would put you to the test in finding cheap value. Building a core around these two players could start you off with 150 FDFP right off the bat. If I were to go with one, it would be James, who faces the Nets' weak defense.
Speaking of Brooklyn, it's still going to be an excellent night for James Harden ($11,000) and Kyrie Irving ($9,600) against the Lakers. I favor Irving more than Harden's inflated number, as the Kyrie/LeBron narrative is always an interesting intangible to explore. Jimmy Butler ($9,200) continues to generate substantial stat lines, and you could consider his salary a bit of a discount relative to his potential production. Teammate Bam Adebayo ($8,800) also finds himself in an exploitable spot against a depleted Sacramento frontcourt, so he definitely merits significant exposure.
Pascal Siakam, TOR ($8,500) @ MIL
What I like most about Siakam lately is his shot volume. He put up 23 shots against Milwaukee in the first game of this mini-series and flirted with a 50 FDFP number. I see no reason why he can't replicate that feat on the back end of this tilt with the Bucks.
Fred VanVleet, TOR ($8,000) @ MIL
Kyle Lowry's injury issue immediately puts VanVleet in play, and he's a nightly threat to break 5x value at his current salary. He exploded for 33 points and seven assists in the first of two games against Milwaukee. Much like Siakam, he should be able to keep the ball rolling against the slumping Bucks.
Khris Middleton, MIL ($7,300) vs. TOR
Middleton deserves mention, but not because he'll be chalk. Conversely, I think there will be a great deal of recency bias due to mediocre performance, and the dip in ownership is what makes him attractive at this salary. It was a mistake not to have Middleton more involved in the loss, and he should end with more than the paltry eight shot attempts he notched in the first game against Toronto.
Buddy Hield, SAC ($6,500) vs. MIA
While I also like De'Aaron Fox ($8,300), the Kings will need Held's three-point shot, especially when you consider their frontcourt challenges. He drained six treys in their recent loss to the Nets, and over the past ten games, Hield's been good for an average of 11 three-point attempts per game.
We'll highlight three value options here. The rest will be found in the injury section.
Bobby Portis, MIL ($5,500) vs. TOR
Throughout the four-game skid, Portis has demonstrated a rock-solid floor, and for the most part, it's come close to or met 5x value in each contest. His numbers are point and rebound dependent, and with an average of around 12 shot attempts per game over his past three games, we should see a decent number from him. He managed 16 points and six rebounds in the first game of this tilt against the Raptors.
Duncan Robinson, MIA ($4,100) @ SAC
Robinson can be frustrating, but luckily, he's never very popular, and the three-point upside is there when he gets hot. The potential ceiling is why I have little problem opting for a 35-minute starter in cash and GPPs at this salary. Players in this range will make or break this small slate, and Robinson's sharpshooting could be a difference-maker.
Cory Joseph, SAC ($3,800) vs. MIA
I wouldn't pair Hield with Joseph, but it appears the point guard's services will be needed again as the rest of the starting lineup slides down to accommodate Harrison Barnes' absence. Joseph will have to contend with Tyrese Halliburton ($5,500) for playing time, but Joseph is a low-cost option who puts up stat lines like an every-day starter. He's absolutely destroyed value over his past three games, usually approaching 7x in every game. He's impossible to avoid if you're loading up on elites.