This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
We have a bigger than usual slate for a Saturday night, as nine games are on tap overall. The injury report does have some big names populating it, but with 18 teams in action, we should have a robust player pool across the board to work with under any circumstance. There are also some players currently in COVID-19 protocols that could conceivably make returns Saturday, which would only enhance what should be a strong night of DFS action.
Portland Trail Blazers at Washington Wizards (-7.5) (O/U: 217.5 points)
New York Knicks at Atlanta Hawks (-2.5) (O/U: 213.5 points)
New Orleans Pelicans at Brooklyn Nets (-6.5) (O/U: 229.0 points)
Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat (-2.5) (O/U: 209.5 points)
Cleveland Cavaliers (-5) at Oklahoma City Thunder (O/U: 210.0 points)
Los Angeles Clippers at San Antonio Spurs (-2.5) (O/U: 217.5 points)
Chicago Bulls at Boston Celtics (-5) (O/U: 216.5 points)
Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets (-4) (O/U: 224.5 points)
Orlando Magic at Dallas Mavericks (-11) (O/U: 207.5 points)
One of the first things that stands out about Saturday night's slate of games is the fact that all but one is projected to be extremely competitive based on point spreads. That helps offset the fact that the majority of contests are expected to be of the lower-scoring variety based on projected totals. What's more, even the one projected lopsided outcome of the night, the Magic-Mavericks battle, might be deceiving, considering Orlando just upended the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.
As far as point spreads that catch the eye, the Celtics as five-point home favorites over the Bulls certainly fits the bill, especially considering the difference in win totals between the clubs. However, Chicago lost Zach LaVine to a knee injury Friday, and the Bulls are also in the midst of a particularly rough stretch of play that's seen them drop three of their last four games.
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, including those carrying injury designations that aren't listed in this section.
LeBron James, LAL (abdomen): PROBABLE
James is fully expected to play through his lingering abdomen issue Saturday night.
Damian Lillard, POR (abdomen): OUT
In Lillard's ongoing absence, Anfernee Simons will handle starting point guard duties and should see elevated usage.
Kyrie Irving, BKN (ankle): OUT
Irving will sit out since the Nets are at home and he's also nursing an ankle injury he picked up Monday night against the Trail Blazers.
Bradley Beal, WAS (COVID-19 protocols): GTD
Kristaps Porzingis, DAL (COVID-19 protocols): GTD
Clint Capela, ATL (ankle): GTD
Zach LaVine, CHI (knee): OUT
Other notable injuries:
Paul George, LAC (elbow): OUT
Anthony Davis, LAL (knee): OUT
Zion Williamson, NOP (foot): OUT
CJ McCollum, POR (chest): OUT
Norman Powell, POR (COVID-19 protocols): GTD
Kemba Walker, NYK (knee): OUT
Will Barton, DEN (neck): PROBABLE
Derrick White, SAN (COVID-19 protocols): QUESTIONABLE
Marcus Smart, BOS (thigh/COVID-19 protocols): GTD
Mo Bamba, ORL (toe): QUESTIONABLE
Bam Adebayo, MIA (thumb): OUT
Wendell Carter, ORL (hamstring): QUESTIONABLE
We have seven players with five-figure salaries on Saturday's slate – Nikola Jokic ($12,400), LeBron James ($11,900), Joel Embiid ($11,400), James Harden ($11,200), Luka Doncic ($11,100), Kevin Durant ($11,000) and Dejounte Murray ($10,600).
Jokic's salary is especially elevated, but he's averaging 58.6 DK points per game, including 61.4 per home contest. He's also in a favorable matchup against the Lakers and will enjoy a notable size advantage down low whenever LeBron James is poised to defend him.
James has scored 54.8 to 68 DK points in the last three contests and is averaging 54.5 per game for the season, giving him one of the safest floors in the entire slate.
Embiid scored 47.5 DK points in his one prior game against the Heat and is averaging 53.3 DK points per road contest while shooting 51.9 percent, including 42.9 percent from three-point range, in that split.
Harden has scored over 60 DK points in two straight and hung 68.8 on the Pelicans in the first meeting between the clubs this season. The Beard also boasts a 28.7 percent usage rate with Irving off the floor this season.
Doncic sports a 38.0 percent usage rate and averages 54 DK points per 36 minutes with Porzingis off the floor, and he checks in having scored 58.5 and 64 DK points in two of his last three games.
Durant has scored no fewer than 48 DK points in six straight contests and contributed 49.3 DK points in his one prior game against the Pelicans. He also boasts a team-high 31.7 percent usage rate without Irving.
Murray has scored 53.3 to 73.5 DK points in five of the last six contests and has averaged 66.6 DK points in two previous games against the Clippers this season while shooting 62.5 percent from three-point range in that pair of contests.
In addition to the players just mentioned in the prior section, other likely chalk plays include:
Trae Young, ATL ($9,900)
Young is averaging 48.8 DK points per contest despite some recent down games and posted 49.5 in his one previous meeting against the Knicks. He also owns a 33.5 percent usage rate with Capela off the floor.
Jimmy Butler, MIA ($9,800)
Butler returned against Atlanta on Friday and racked up 48.3 DK points while shooting 53.8 percent, which should make him very popular again Saturday.
Jayson Tatum, BOS ($9,300)
Tatum is averaging 44 DK points across his last six games and has eclipsed 50 DK points on three occasions over the last seven, which should lead to him finding a spot on plenty of lineups Saturday.
Jaylen Brown, BOS ($9,100)
Brown posted a modest 23.5 DK points against the 76ers on Friday but generated 45.3 in his first meeting with the Bulls this season. He also is averaging 43.4 over his last six games while shooting 43.5 percent from three-point range over that span.
DeMar DeRozan, CHI ($8,500)
DeRozan owns a team-high 37.3 percent usage rate with LaVine unavailable and scored 52.5 DK points in his one prior game against the Celtics this season.
Anfernee Simons, POR at WAS ($7,200)
Simons carries a bit of a higher salary than I normally like when classifying value plays, but relative to his upside and recent production, he could indeed prove a bargain. The young guard will be well-rested after missing Thursday's game versus the Nuggets for personal reasons and will be one of the Blazers' primary offensive options once again with Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Norman Powell and Larry Nance all expected out. Simons owns a 30.3 percent usage rate and averages 44.1 DK points per 36 minutes under such a scenario this season, and he'll check in having posted 45.3 to 60.8 DK points in four of his last five contests. He's also shooting an impressive 51.1 percent, including 44.6 percent from distance, in that span, furthering his already strong case.
RJ Barrett, NYK at ATL ($6,800)
Similar to Simons, Barrett has been outpacing his salaries of late, scoring over 40 DK points in four of the last seven games while shooting 42.9 percent from three-point range during that span. Barrett has scored at least 26 actual points in each of those four contests, and he also posted a solid 25.8 against the Hawks in their one prior encounter this season. Atlanta has had trouble defensively most of the season and comes into Saturday's contest allowing 42.2 DK points per game over the last 15 to small forwards. The Hawks are also yielding an elevated 38.9 percent three-point shooting percentage in the last three games, particularly relevant considering Barrett's aforementioned hot hand from distance.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, WAS vs. POR ($5,000)
KCP is averaging a solid 28.7 DK points per 36 minutes without Bradley Beal on the floor this season and has scored 28.8 and 35 DK points in his last two games with his teammate in COVID-19 protocols. Caldwell-Pope's spotty shooting always makes him much more of a tournament play, but he draws an excellent matchup against a Trail Blazers squad that's the second-highest offensive efficiency to small forwards (24.3 percent), along with NBA-high 39.3 percent three-point shooting on the road as well. As mentioned in Simons' entry, Portland will also be playing very short-handed on the first unit, while Caldwell-Pope comes in averaging 24.8 DK points per game and shooting 42.3 percent from three-point range across 18 home contests this season.