This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We're set for a typically robust 10-game mid-week slate Wednesday – one that has a star-studded array of players taking the floor. The abundance of five-figure and high four-figure salaries makes it prudent that we get selective about which stars we choose to invest in and which value plays we round out our lineups with. As of early Wednesday, there are still a couple of games with totals off the board due to the questionable health status of big names, which we'll delve into further.
Charlotte Hornets (-5.5) at Orlando Magic (O/U: 216.5 points)
Indiana Pacers (-1) at Toronto Raptors (O/U: 218.5 points)
Atlanta Hawks (-6) at New Orleans Pelicans (O/U: 219.0 points)
Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics (-6) (O/U: 225.0 points)
Miami Heat at Brooklyn Nets (-4) (O/U: 217.5 points)
Minnesota Timberwolves at Milwaukee Bucks (-7) (O/U: OTB)
Los Angeles Lakers (-8) at Oklahoma City Thunder (O/U: OTB)
Sacramento Kings at Phoenix Suns (-7.5) (O/U: 226.0 points)
Memphis Grizzlies at Portland Trail Blazers (-2.5) (O/U: 234.0 points)
Cleveland Cavaliers at Los Angeles Clippers (-8) (O/U: 217.0 points)
As the totals cited above indicate, oddsmakers don't project it to necessarily be a prolific offensive night in the NBA on Wednesday, despite the abundance of games. It's not very common to see five of 10 games projected to finish under 220 points in today's scoreboard-minded NBA, but that's the case Wednesday as many teams are still finding their stride.
Despite the possibility many of these contests may have more of a defensive-minded feel to them, the abundance of big names in action should still lead to plenty of big DFS performances. Additionally, a fair amount of competitive matchups should keep many of those stars busy for a standard allotment of minutes. Except for two or three games, most contests are likely to be very competitive, as there are no double-digit spreads as of early Wednesday, and even a team like the Cavaliers has already proven capable of pulling an upset in the early going.
Injury Situations to Monitor
NOTE: Injury reporting is especially fluid in the NBA, where the status of multiple players can change during the 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 day with RotoWire for the latest news regarding the status of all players on that night's slate.
Anthony Davis, LAL (knee): QUESTIONABLE
Davis knocked knees with a Spurs player in Tuesday's overtime win and is reportedly managing some soreness. His status may be in question until close to tip-off as Los Angeles has a quick turnaround against OKC. If Davis sits out, Dwight Howard is likely to draw the start at center, while LeBron James and Russell Westbrook would be in for big bumps in usage if they're on the floor.
LeBron James, LAL (ankle): QUESTIONABLE
James surprisingly sat out Tuesday against the Spurs after starting the day as probable. If James can play through the lingering right ankle soreness Wednesday, he could be in for even more usage than usual if Anthony Davis (knee) sits out. If James were sidelined again, Carmelo Anthony would likely draw the start at power forward.
Kyrie Irving, BKN (team decision): OUT
Irving will remain out Wednesday as a result of the ongoing vaccination dispute between him and the Nets.
Jrue Holiday, MIL (ankle): OUT
Caris LeVert, IND (back): QUESTIONABLE
LeVert has missed the first four games of the season with a stress fracture, and while he was previously projected to return for Wednesday's contest, it remains to be seen if he'll take the floor. Impressive rookie Chris Duarte would draw another start at shooting guard should LeVert sit, and he could stay in the starting five even if the latter suits up and is eased into action.
Other notable injuries:
Pascal Siakam, TOR (shoulder): OUT
Zion Williamson, NOP (foot): OUT
Marcus Morris, LAC (knee): OUT
Al Horford, BOS (adductor): PROBABLE
De'Andre Hunter, ATL (illness): PROBABLE
Norman Powell, POR (knee): QUESTIONABLE
Terry Rozier, CHA (ankle): DOUBTFUL
Raul Neto, WAS (shoulder): QUESTIONABLE
Dillon Brooks, MEM (hand/thigh): OUT
Brook Lopez, MIL (back): OUT
Josh Hart, NOP (quadriceps): QUESTIONABLE
P.J. Washington, CHA (knee): OUT
Bobby Portis, MIL (hamstring): PROBABLE
Danilo Gallinari, ATL (shoulder): QUESTIONABLE
Lou Williams, ATL (ankle): QUESTIONABLE
Kendrick Nunn, LAL (knee): OUT
We have seven players with five-figure salaries on Wednesday's slate – Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,200), Kevin Durant ($11,000), Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,900), Paul George ($10,500), Anthony Davis ($10,500), LeBron James ($10,300) and James Harden ($10,000).
Antetokounmpo has already hit the hardwood running in the Bucks' title defense season, posting a pair of tallies over 60 FD points in his first four games. The second came Monday against the Pacers in the absence of Jrue Holiday, who Giannis will play without again Wednesday.
Durant already owns a 33.3 percent usage rate without Kyrie Irving in the early going this season and should continue to be worth every dollar of his salary Wednesday after averaging 54.8 FD points over his first four games and stuffing the stat sheet to varying degrees in each.
Towns won't have to worry about facing Brook Lopez's (back) size and defense Wednesday. Towns has already exceeded 50 FD points twice in his first three games, including a tally of 68.3 on Monday against the Pelicans. The big man also notably has multiple blocks in each of his first three games, as well as a pair of two-steal tallies, rounding out his fantasy production nicely.
Like Antetokounmpo and Durant, George is another star benefiting from a notable absence on his squad, as PG13 is unsurprisingly carrying a heavy load without Kawhi Leonard (knee). The veteran wing has a 31.9 percent usage rate and is averaging a whopping 59.5 FD points per 36 minutes thus far this season, with a pair of tallies over 50 already on his resume.
As mentioned earlier, the statuses of both Davis and James are in question for the Lakers on Wednesday. If they can play, they'll each be set up well against a Thunder team that's allowing the highest offensive efficiency (93.5 percent) to opposing frontcourt players thus far this season. If one plays and the other sits out, the available star will naturally see a big bump in usage, as Davis did Tuesday against the Spurs when he posted 71.4 FD points over 42 minutes.
Harden is averaging "only" 40 FD points per game over his first four, as he hasn't quite looked like himself while shooting a miserable 36.4 percent overall and averaging fewer shot attempts (16.5) than last season (16.7) despite the ongoing absence of Irving. The struggles make a player of Harden's talent an intriguing tournament play on a large slate, however, given his unquestioned ability to pop off on any given night. But he scored under 40 FD points in both of his games against the Heat last season.
In addition to the players just mentioned in the prior section, other likely chalk plays include:
Domantas Sabonis, IND ($9,600)
Sabonis has been as superbly steady as usual early, averaging 47 FD points in his first four contests by comfortably exceeding the 40-mark in each. It does bear mentioning the matchup against Toronto has been the toughest in the league for power forwards early, with the Raps allowing the lowest offensive efficiency (16.0 percent) to the position.
Ja Morant, MEM ($9,500)
Morant has been spectacular early on his way to an average of 53.1 FD points, thanks in large part to tallies of 57.2 and 61.6. He's averaging an NBA-high 35 PPG and should certainly find himself in plenty of lineups.
Jayson Tatum, BOS ($9,400)
Tatum began the season with a very ragged 7-for-30 shooting performance against the Knicks, but he's bounced back to drain 51.5 percent of his attempts, including 44.4 percent of those from behind the arc, in his subsequent three contests.
Trae Young, ATL ($9,000)
Young is carrying a much lower salary than he did at times last season, but he has as much upside as ever with 43.8 FD points over his first three games. He's also shooting a career-best 45.8 percent at the moment and has a particularly favorable matchup against a Pelicans team allowing the seventh-highest offensive efficiency to point guards thus far.
Russell Westbrook, LAL ($8,400)
Speaking of players sporting lower-than-usual salaries, Westbrook is an absolute bargain at this figure when considering his upside. He finally flashed some of his top-end stuff in Tuesday's overtime win against the Spurs with LeBron out, posting 63 FD points on the strength of a 33-point, 10-rebound double-double. With the possibility that at least one of James or Anthony Davis is out Wednesday, Westbrook could again overdeliver significantly.
John Collins, ATL at NO ($6,400)
Collins sports a very appealing mid-level salary that can offer you flexibility elsewhere on a night where there are plenty of top-shelf options. He has opened the season shooting an impressive 57.6 percent and posting 40.3 and 38.4 FD points in two of his first three contests. The Pelicans aren't a prohibitive matchup by any stretch and allowed 51.8 percent shooting in their one home contest thus far, while Collins delivered at least 5x return on his current salary on 34 occasions last season in addition to twice this year already.
Desmond Bane, MEM at POR ($5,800)
Bane should continue to see plenty of run with Dillon Brooks (hand/thigh) once again sidelined Wednesday. The second-year wing has been excellent over his first three games, parlaying his current starting role into an average of 32.8 FD points and averages of 19.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 47.8 percent on just under 16 shot attempts per contest. He should see another workload of at least 30 minutes again Wednesday versus a Blazers squad that's allowing the sixth-highest offensive efficiency (28.0 percent) to small forwards.
Reggie Jackson, LAC vs. CLE ($5,600)
While Paul George is doing a lot of the heavy lifting in Kawhi Leonard's absence, as mentioned earlier, Jackson is pitching in nicely with a 24.6 percent usage rate himself and an average of 27.1 FD points over his first three games. The veteran guard most recently put up 29 FD points against the Blazers on Monday. Wednesday, he'll be set up for what could be another strong return against a Cavaliers team that's already having trouble defending point guards again early this season. Cleveland allows the second-highest offensive efficiency (29.8 percent) to ones and the ninth-most assists per contest (25.2) overall, boosting Jackson's prospects at a very reasonable salary.