DraftKings NBA: Friday Picks

DraftKings NBA: Friday Picks

This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.

Slate Overview

PHI (-1) vs. ATL, O/U: 224.5

PHX vs. DEN (-1.5), O/U: 223.5

On most of these recent playoff slates, we've had one game with a much higher point total than the other(s). It's nice not to have to consider the odds tonight as both carry small spreads and the difference in totals is negligible. The 76ers bounced back to even the series in Game 2, thanks in part to another big effort from Joel Embiid. The series moves to Atlanta tonight and you'd figure the Hawks need to win at least one home matchup if they're going to have a chance to steal the series. Meanwhile, Phoenix and Denver haven't played a close one yet. The Suns defense has contained Nikola Jokic and they appear to be the better team offensively as the Nuggets are really missing the scoring and playmaking Jamal Murray provides.

I'd prefer to target the PHI-ATL matchup as all the relevant Hawks come in with favorable salaries. On the 76ers side, Embiid has arguably surpassed Jokic as the top center from a fantasy perspective. Part of the reason why this matchup is appealing is because the PHX-DEN matchup isn't. The Suns play great D and outside of Jokic, the return of Will Barton has made it so that no other Nugget can be rostered with much confidence. Of course they're still in play, I just mean that the minutes, rotations and usage are now harder to predict. Other people probably feel the same way and that would make it a good spot to get leverage in tournaments. 

Injuries to Monitor

Joel Embiid (knee): QUESTIONABLE

Embiid is listed as questionable due to the partially torn meniscus in his knee that's bothered him for most of the season. He's looked excellent while playing 35-plus minutes in both contests, so I'd expect him to start again tonight. 

De'Andre Hunter (knee): OUT

Hunter will undergo meniscus surgery and miss the remainder of the postseason. Solomon Hill got the start last time out, but only played eight minutes. Kevin Huerter and Danilo Gallinari should see expanded roles going forward. 

Elite Players

Center:

Nikola Jokic ($10,700) is coming off 52.25 DK points in 30 minutes as Denver got blown out in Game 2. The Suns and Deandre Ayton have a done a great job containing him thus far, but the Nuggets are expected to bounce back at home tonight. The decision between him or Embiid will be pivotal on this slate. It's worth noting that recency bias will likely to lead to Jokic being less popular than he normally is after two underwhelming efforts in Phoenix. 

Joel Embiid ($10,300) produced 40 points and 13 rebounds as the 76ers evened the series on Tuesday. He's seen major minutes and put up 60-plus fantasy points in both games against Atlanta. For me, that does enough to erase any concerns about the knee injury limiting his production. As far as whether to roster him or Jokic, it's hard not to prefer Embiid based on his lower salary and their contrasting fortunes so far in their series. If you prefer Jokic at home in a must-win game, that also makes sense. 

PG:

Trae Young ($9,300) only shot 6-16 from the field in Game 2 - including 1-7 from three-point range - but still managed 43.25 fantasy points as he recorded his second straight double-double. His salary hasn't changed and the series moves to Atlanta tonight. If the game stays close, Young is going to play 40 minutes, take 20-plus shots and have the ball in his hands on just about every possession. I'd expect him to be popular and rightfully so as he's the slate's only elite guard. 

Expected Chalk

Chris Paul ($7,100)

Paul was chalky in the final two games of the Lakers series and failed both times. Then people got off him for the first two against the Nuggets and he smashed in both. Paul posted big double-doubles in each on his way to scoring 49 and 50.25 DK points. There have been dramatic swings in the popularity of players on a slate-to-slate basis in these playoffs and it's become clear that "box score watching" is the main factor most people consider when choosing players. Back to Paul, where his salary jumped $600, but he's still a bargain if you consider he's normally valued at 8K or above when healthy and playing significant minutes. He isn't a lock tonight by any means, but he should be decent value with plenty of upside. 

Value Picks

Tobias Harris ($8,000)

Harris is coming off a rather disappointing 38.5 DK points in Tuesday's win. Prior to that, he'd managed 40-plus fantasy points in all five playoff games where he logged at least 30 minutes. Of note, Harris's salary has decreased from $8,500. The 76ers rely on his scoring and he's also seen a spike in assist rate.  

Deandre Ayton ($6,800)

Ayton recored a double-double in only 26 minutes during Wednesday's blowout. He's done a good job of containing Jokic thus far, so he should continue to see mid-30 minutes in competitive contests. His salary is back to an affordable level after reaching a high of $7,700 last week. 

Bogdan Bogdanovic ($6,400)

Bogdanovic failed to reach 30 fantasy points for the first time in six playoff games on Tuesday. His salary has fallen to its lowest point in 10 games, but he and the Hawks will expect to bounce back tonight with the series moving to Atlanta. 

John Collins ($5,800)

Collins is still a bargain. It's hard to remember him ever being valued under $6,000 in the regular season. His minutes seem to be safer with De'Andre Hunter out as based on him playing 35 minutes in three consecutive appearances without Hunter in the lineup. 

Danilo Gallinari ($4,800) and Kevin Huerter ($4,700)

Gallinari and Huerter have also benefitted from Hunter's absence. Gallinari dropped 21 points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes during Game 2. Huerter saw a massive 36 minutes off the bench as starter Solomon Hill played only eight. Both are risky and both have seen salary bumps, but one is very likely to do well tonight. I prefer Gallinari based on his higher upside, but his minutes are more of a concern. 

Torrey Craig ($3,100)

If you're looking for minimum-salaried player tonight, you could do a lot worse than Craig. He's become a key part of the Suns' rotation and has topped 20 fantasy points in both outings against the Nuggets. Don't expect more than 15 minutes, but sometimes that's all you need at just $3,100. 

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ryan Belongia
Ryan has a background in accounting, finance and poker. He's been playing DFS full-time since 2018. A multiple-time King of the Pitch finalist, Ryan's been ranked inside the Top 5 on the RG Soccer Leaderboard for three years running. Originally from Wisconsin, he moved to London in 2019 for the futbol.
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