DraftKings NBA: Thursday Cheat Sheet

DraftKings NBA: Thursday Cheat Sheet

This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.

With only three games on the slate, Thursday gives us a chance to target some All-Star talent as they take the floor for the first time this season.  At the risk of repeating myself for regular readers, our goal this year is to drill a little deeper into the nuances of lineup construction. So instead of advice columns you might see littered across the landscape, I won't be delivering a list of names -- instead, we're going to give you a comprehensive look at the slate with an eye towards helping you make your own educated decisions based on the information we provide.

I'm primarily focused on sticking to cash games in the early days of the season because team paces haven't been established yet, and that's a metric I will use consistently every time I build lineups. As a result, I'm suggesting you minimize your risk by submitting no more than 10% of your cash allotment towards the large-field, guaranteed prize-pool tournaments.

Looking back at Wednesday evening, we achieved what we set out to do and our recommendations likely got you into the money in most cash games, and a score of 310-315 was enough to get you through. While we only gave modest endorsements to players like Andre Drummond and Kyrie Irving, guys like Devin Booker and Bradley Beal delivered, and undervalued guys like Thomas Bryant and Tyler Herro beat value fairly easily.

SLATE OVERVIEW

GAME TO TARGET 

Rockets (-2) vs. Bucks  O/U:231.5

The two biggest powerhouses in the sport will face off in Houston, and we'll get into them a bit later. While you can give a lot of attention to the Clippers-Warriors matchup, this game checks all the boxes. I can find my elites here, and I can also find other chalky guys to round out my roster. You could stack your lineup on this game alone.

GAME TO FADE

Pistons (-6.5) vs. Hawks  O/U:221

If Detroit snuck up on you last night, you weren't alone. Drummond's 71 DKFP was definitely above virtually any projection, and it looks like the team will do just fine without Blake Griffin as the season kicks off.  They are on a back-to-back game on Thursday, though, so even though they are favored I expect them to regress a tad and I think taking the Under here is a reasonable bet.

(odds via DraftKings Sportsbook and are subject to change)

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN

I think we see the most scarcity at the forward position, with centers not too far behind. This is typically the case on small slates, where you only have six bona fide big men playing. In order to get them, you will likely need to spend up at center, but we have some elite guys that could stand in the way of netting the top-tier guy.  At forward, we will obviously consider 1-2 elites on the docket, and your flexibility there will depend on how you evaluate the litany of guards available.

INJURY SITUATIONS TO MONITOR

Obviously Blake Griffin continues to be out for Detroit, and besides Drummond, Luke Kennard seemed to be the guy to benefit the most, with 39 DKFP on the night.

Across these three games we have a few GTD situations, most notably with Trae Young (back), but the expectation is that he'll play. Aside from  Young, no one of consequence will affect my lineup construction.

ELITE PLAYERS

We'll have some tough decisions to make here. What's more important than selecting elites tonight is figuring out how much money you have left when you go with them. There are so many guys worth considering, it's a tough call, but I'll do my best to estimate the best plays.

Kawhi Leonard, LAC ($9,100) at GS

I wouldn't exactly call Kawhi cheap, but the fact that he isn't above $10K on this slate makes him a bargain. When the team finally gets Paul George, Leonard will have a lot more breathing room, but against the Warriors, lining up against Glenn Robinson III is a favorable spot that he can exploit.  Draymond Green will no doubt slide over to assist if Kawhi slashes inside the perimeter, but it's Leonard's mid-range jumpers that will be extremely tough to defend. For this price, he's hard to fade.

James Harden ($9,700) or Russell Westbrook ($8,900) vs. MIL

Is this grand experiment going to work? The thing is, it's not exactly an experiment as they tried to share the stage in Oklahoma City with mixed results. Westbrook is eminently affordable relative to the kind of ceiling you want to have, and that $800 difference will be significant when you start reaching for bargains. I can't endorse a fade for either player, but I'm making a bet on Westbrook as the more valuable guy for the price.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL ($10,300) at HOU

The multi-category monster that is the Greek Freak will meet an almost identical frontcourt from last year, so looking at his 2018-19 results against the Rockets is a sensible way to estimate his contribution. They only met twice, and Giannis put up 63 and 46 DKFP, respectively, in those matchups. Therefore, it's reasonable to expect Giannis' floor on Thursday to sit somewhere in the 50-53 DKFP range. His floor projection works out to about $87 per point, and at this price, this projection would return about 5x value. Based on basic value calculations, he's a solid bet despite the price.

EXPECTED CHALK

You can expect all of the aforementioned players to be chalky, but let's take a look at some lower-priced players that are expected to be popular on Thursday.

D'Angelo Russell, GS ($7,800) vs, LAC

The Warriors kick things off at the new Chase Center, and I expect it to meet, if not exceed Oracle as an incredibly difficult place to play on the road. I've always been a fan of Russell, but even from an objective standpoint, he's delivering exactly what's needed in the absence of Klay Thompson -- a dynamic scorer to complement Stephen Curry. I didn't give Curry a nod in the elite column, and I'm almost certain that will come to bite me, but it's Russell's presence at this price that has me going in this direction. Russell's looked great all preseason, and he is absolutely dialed in from beyond the arc. I expect some high ownership here.

Draymond Green, GS ($7,100) vs. LAC

Green will be called upon to do a lot more this season, and we saw a preview when Kevin Durant went down with a season-ending injury. He registered a strong floor in the high 40 DKFP range in the series against Toronto and I think we'll see something similar in the Warriors home debut.  At just over $7K, I think he's a cinch to hit value on Thursday.

Clint Capela, HOU ($7,500) vs. MIL

People will be clamoring back to Drummond after his huge game, but I think Capela will yield great returns. In his two games against a comparable Bucks backcourt, he scored 40 and 41 points, so if you depend on that metric, his floor looks to be pretty dependable. To get to 300 we need an average we need about 38 DKFP per player, and that's what we should get from Capela with little difficulty.

Alex Len,  ATL ($5,500) @ DET

I may be off about Len, but I saw myself gravitating towards him as a second center in my utility spot so I expect others might go his way as well.  It's basically Len's job to lose this year, and he could see more opportunity on Thursday with John Collins fighting an illness., I'd be thrilled to get 35 DKFP out of him at this price.

KEY VALUES

This is consistently going to be our make-or-break section, where we find the values that help us afford those elites.  Let's assume for a moment that we are rostering Westbrook and Leonard as our core. That will leave us with around $5,300 per player. If we added Giannis to that mix, that number would lower to around $4,300.  As a result, I'm going to stick to guys in that range.

Reggie Jackson, DET ($5,300) vs. ATL

Despite the back-to-back, I still think Jackson is a decent play based on his 31 DKFP game against the Pacers.  This would be a great number at this price, and I think he'll also be underowned -- he has low ownership fairly often, which is probably due to the star power elsewhere on the roster.  He's on the tip-top of our desired range.

De'Andre Hunter, ATL ($4,000) @ DET

It will be interesting to see how Hunter performs in the season opener. We saw flashes of potential in the preseason, and coach Lloyd Pierce has gifted him with a starting gig. It will also be worthwhile to keep an eye on Cam Reddish ($3,600) if Kevin Huerter continues to miss time, but Hunter is definitely the preferred rookie here.

P.J. Tucker, HOU ($3,900) vs. MIL

This is a great price for Tucker, who I suspect will find some opportunities against the Bucks. He'll be lining up against Giannis, and while that's no small feat, he averaged 24.5 points over two games against the Bucks last season.  For just under $4K, that's not bad at all.

Jabari Parker, ATL ($3,800) at DET

If John Collins is slow out of the gate, I'm almost certain they will spell him with Parker, and there's definitely a lot left in the tank after his stint in Washington. I don't know that we'll see much more than 20 DKFP from Parker, but that's reasonable, especially when we think we can exceed 37 DKFP with some of our elite choices.

That's it for today.  As always, check back in with RotoWire for late-breaking information to optimize your lineup builds.

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
Jeff Edgerton
Jeff has provided sports content for numerous sports outlets and has played fantasy sports since scores had to be tabulated via newspaper. He started working with RotoWire in 2017. Originally from South Carolina, he's a lifelong Clemson fan now enjoying the sun in Los Angeles.
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