This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
Lakers (-7.5) at Pistons, o/u 210
Knicks at Bulls (-5), o/u 210.5
Nuggets at Suns (-7.5), o/u 211
Raptors at Warriors (-8)
It's a small slate, but one with an interesting competitive landscape. There aren't any true projected blowouts, though there's a clear path to comfortable margins of victory for the favorites. The Knicks are the only team on the second contest of a back-to-back, and news regarding their big men will be important to follow leading up to tipoff.
There's also features a battle of styles, as the Suns, Warriors and Lakers all prefer push the pace while their opponents generally seek to go slower. That said, this isn't a slate where specific plays jump out based on pace/projected totals.
As always, be sure to carefully watch the news for more values to open up as the day progresses.
Injury Situations to Monitor
LeBron James, LAL (abdomen)/Status: QUESTIONABLE
James returned from a six-game absence Friday. It's a bit curious he's questionable given the Lakers aren't on consecutive night, though perhaps they think they can pick up a win in Detroit without him the court. James' absence would create several different options to turn to on the Lakers, many of which will be covered later.
Nikola Jokic, DEN (wrist)/Status: QUESTIONABLE
Jokic's status will change the complexion of the slate, both in terms of high-salaried options to target and potential value plays. If active, he's the top projected player in terms of raw points.
Killian Hayes, DET (thumb)/Status: QUESTIONABLE
Hayes suffered a thumb injury Nov. 13, though it's yet to hinder him. He's only made three of 11 shots from the field since, so perhaps the Pistons will give him a night off. Frank Jackson and Cory Joseph have already played significant roles in the offense, with Hayes' absence going a long way to ensure that continues.
Isaiah Stewart, DET (ankle)/Status: PROBABLE
Stewart exited Friday with the injury, but it appears likely he'll be able to suit up. Should his health decline, Trey Lyles could reach mid-20 minutes.
Mitchell Robinson, NYK (nose)/Status: QUESTIONABLE
Obi Toppin, NYK (leg)/Status: QUESTIONABLE
Taj Gibson, NYK (groin)/Status: QUESTIONABLE
Both Robinson and Toppin left Saturday, so there should be more clarity on their statuses early on. Meanwhile, Gibson missed that contest and is far from a certainty to return today. If Nerlens Noel is available on the second of a back-to-back, he would become an intriguing play with the team potentially down several bigs.
Frank Kaminsky, PHO (knee)/Status: OUT
With Kaminsky out, JaVale McGee could creep into high-teens minutes.
OG Anunoby, TOR (hip)/Status: QUESTIONABLE
It seemed as if Anunoby would be out for an extended period when it was announced he was dealing with a hip pointer. Now he's suddenly listed as questionable, though it seems more likely he'll miss his third consecutive game.
Otto Porter, GSW (foot)/Status: QUESTIONABLE
Porter missed Friday, but could return after a one-game absence. His status shouldn't majorly impact the slate in any direction.
Stephen Curry ($11,200)
Curry has been on fire of late by topping 55 DK points in five of his last six outings. He's a clear cash-game option regardless of Jokic's status and would likely be mega-chalk should the big man be ruled out. Despite Curry's recent form, the primary downside to his potential production is the slower pace of the Raptors and their stout defense against guards early on this season with a league-best 25.4 defensive rating.
Nikola Jokic ($11,400)
Assuming Jokic can play, he's the other key cash-game piece. Though there's some risk he logs limited minutes or isn't at 100 percent, he's likely worth the risk given his dip in value. Prior to the injury, Jokic was at $12,000 and his $600 reduction marks his lowest salary in his last four contests.
Anthony Davis ($10,600)
Davis will likely become chalk should James be ruled out, which makes him a GPP play with James in and a cash option if out. While on the court with Westbrook but without James, Davis has averaged 1.38 DK points per minute. Should he keep that pace, he'd need to play about 36 minutes to reach value. Given the current line in the Lakers-Pistons matchup, that seems like a distinct possibility, but there's also risk Davis sits for a while if the Lakers jump well ahead.
Russell Westbrook ($10,200)
Including Westbrook in this section refers more to his salary than recent performance. If James goes, there's no viable reason to use Westbrook. If Lebron sits, that changes quite a bit. Westbrook is currently valued as if James will play, yet Westbrook scores 1.28 DK points per minute with James sidelined. At that pace, he'd only need between 32 and 33 minutes to pay off. In his last 10, Westbrook has played at least 30 minutes nine times and more than 35 in five.
Most of the elite players should also be projected to be chalk. Other potential chalky players include:
DeMar DeRozan ($8,500)
DeRozan is valued appropriately, but will likely come out among the best projected players outside those with elite salaries. That combination should get him plenty of attention on the short slate.
Fred VanVleet ($7,900)
Assuming Anunoby remains out, VanVleet is also likely to get plenty of attention. His value has dipped below $8K for only the second time in his last 10 games. He'll have to share the load with Pascal Siakam, as we saw the latter take over in Toronto's last contest when VanVleet struggled with his shot.
Deandre Ayton ($7,500)
Ayton has topped 35 points each time since returning from a five-game absence. His value is finally appropriate after rising from mid-6K, but should be the standout option at center aside from Jokic.
Saddiq Bey ($5,600)
Bey saw a curious dip in salary, as he's been at $6,100 or higher in nine of his last 10 outings. He's coming off an effort where he only posted 19.25 DK points, but shot 3-for-14 from the field. Assuming Bey gets some of his shooting stroke back, this is a prime spot to take advantage of this value.
Talen Horton-Tucker ($5,300)
Should James sit, Horton-Tucker immediately steps into a strong role. In three without James this year, he's posted a minimum of 27 DK points. While Horton-Tucker's salary has risen as a result, he would likely have no issue reaching value while also becoming a very chalky option.
Nerlens Noel ($3,700)
Watch Noel's status, as it's possible he sits on consecutive nights. However, much of the team's frontcourt could be sidelined, which in turn would push Noel's role. He's a risky cash choice, but should be a solid GPP proposition.