This article is part of our EuroLeague Primer series.
- Red Star's Dejan Davidovac will not play Thursday.
- Kostas Papanikolaou will not suit up Thursday for Olympiacos, but Hassan Martin will.
- Zenit's Shabazz Napier and Conner Frankamp remain out for Round 23.
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Best Bets for Success: The first game of the day won't lack for intrigue, as Zenit will attempt to move closer to securing a playoff spot and Efes will try to hang onto the eighth spot in the standings without one half of its star backcourt. While it was certainly great to hear Larkin will not be out long-term, he will miss at least one Round, so the visitors will need a big night from Vasilije Micic. The MVP was kept in check last time these teams met, which is not surprising considering Zenit ranks top-6 against guards in points, rebounds, assists, threes and field goal attempts. While the matchup is imposing and Micic's going rate on DraftKings jumped considerably, $9,600 is not too bad for a player who has put up at least 36.3 fantasy points six times this season and should get as many minutes and shots as he can handle. The home team has a couple players who qualify here, as Jordan Loyd has been too consistent to exclude and Jordan Mickey has too much upside to ignore. Loyd averaged just 8.0 ppg over his last three appearances, but he still hit the 20-point mark on DraftKings twice during that span and has done so 13 times in 19 games. He shot just 28.6 percent from the field over his last three games but made 47.3 percent of his shots prior to that, so he's due to bust out of his slump soon. Mickey, meanwhile, put up a season-high 38.9 fantasy points his last time out, and a repeat could be in store. Mickey is listed as a center but still started at a forward spot with Gudaitis out in Round 22, and if he does the same Thursday, he will get the chance to capitalize on an Efes defense that ranks bottom-2 against forwards in all of the points, rebounds, assists and FGA categories. Like Micic, Mickey's price took quite a leap, but only to a more-than-reasonable $9,100.
DFS Darlings: With some notable absences on each team, there will be several value plays to consider on both sides. The player most likely to fill Larkin's role is Rodrigue Beaubois, who was quiet the last two Rounds but has put up 24.3 DraftKings points six times this season. Krunoslav Simon should also be more involved, and he returned 3x value in his last game even at his current price. Elijah Bryant could also be worth a gamble at $5,100. The only concern for all those players is the defense, as in addition to being tough on guards the Russian team ranks is allowing the fewest points and rebounds to opposing forwards. Bryant Dunston at least has a decent matchup, as Zenit is allowing centers to tally more points, steals and blocks than most. Given Efes' issues with forwards, Mateusz Ponitka will be in position to deliver, and you could consider another player or two at that position. Assuming Napier and Frankamp remain sidelined, Billy Baron will be a potential bounceback candidate, as no team allows more threes than Efes, and only one allows them to shoot a better percentage beyond the arc. If Napier does make his season debut, he could be worth going with at $4,300, as he will likely cost at least twice that much once he is at full speed.
Best Bets for Success: Red Star took home the win when these teams met in Round 14, yet Olympiacos is nearly a double-digit favorite in this one. Why, you ask? Well, the Greek team will be playing at home, where they are a remarkable 9-0 this season. The Greek team has three players to consider here in Sasha Vezenkov, Tyler Dorsey and Kostas Sloukas, who is the priciest player on the board Thursday. Both guards – particularly Sloukas – could have a tough time returning significant value, as Red Star is ceding the fewest points and FGA to opposing guards and is above average in the five other counting-stat categories. As such, Vezenkov looks like the best option for his team in Round 23. He was quiet in his last two appearances, but he is as cheap as he has been in a long time at $9,300, and the Serbian squad has not been stout against frontcourt players. Vezenkov averaged 14.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 threes over his last two appearances against them, and he could be even more involved Thursday with one and possibly two of his frontcourt mates sidelined. Nikola Kalinic failed to capitalize on a plus matchup his last time out, but he remains the top pick for the visitors, having averaged 31.9 fantasy points over the five games prior to that. Kalinic played just 22 minutes in Round 22, but he averaged 30 minutes in the 17 games he has finished, so he should spend more time on the court Thursday. It should also be noted that Kalinic scored a career-high 25 points and dropped a season-high 38.5 DraftKings points last team these teams squared off.
DFS Darlings: Only two Red Star players saw more than 22 minutes last week, and 11 of of them in all took the court in the club's first game in a while. With the entire team back in the swing of things, though, their rotation figures to tighten up a bit Thursday. The hosts have been pretty good against guards, but Nate Wolters will be a quality option on DraftKings, as he checks in $1,000 cheaper than he did in Round 22 and is returning some of the most average value on the board. Luka Mitrovic can also be considered, having hit the 20-point mark on DraftKings four times over his last six appearances. Moustapha Fall was a non-factor last time these teams met, but Red Star is allowing centers to get pretty involved and Olympiacos will be down one big man and possibly another, so he will have some appeal at $7,300. Thomas Walkup will not have an easy matchup, but with McKissic out, he will be worth a look at $6,900. Last up is Livio Jean-Charles, who started Olympiacos' last domestic game and has dart-throw potential at $4,600 if Martin joins Printezis on the inactive list.
Per an official announcement from the EuroLeague, "The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 23 game Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv vs. Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul, originally scheduled to be played on Thursday, January 27, has been suspended. Fenerbahce requested the suspension after several team members tested positive for COVID-19, which leaves the team without the minimum eight players on the Authorization List fit to play."
Best Bets for Success: The last game on the slate features two squads that have won only one EuroLeague game apiece in January, but the home team sits 11 spots higher in the standings than the visitors, and that's why they are heavy favorites in this one. No doubt influencing the spread is the return of Nikola Mirotic, who will return to action Thursday following a one-game absence. Playing time could be a concern for Mirotic if the game gets out of hand, but he has been plenty productive in blowouts, and he might not need much time to stack up stats, as ASVEL ranks bottom-3 against forwards in all of the points, rebounds, assists, field goal percentage and FGA categories. He is also returning some of the most average value on the DraftKings board despite his $10,400 price tag. Both Elie Okobo and Chris Jones will play Friday for ASVEL, and at least for one Round, it appears the latter has surpassed the former in terms of potential fantasy value. Okobo has not put up more than 24.3 DraftKings points in a game since Round 13, while Jones surpassed that mark six times in the same span and in each of his last two appearances. Neither player is a particularly inviting option against a Barcelona team that fares pretty well against guards, but they both should handle a heavy workload, and the Spanish squad is allowing opposing guards to get up the second most shots from the field and the most attempts from the charity stripe.
DFS Darlings: The only player returning more average value than Mirotic is Nick Calathes, who is listed at a season-low $8,300 on DraftKings. Calathes has been a bit underwhelming since returning from an extended absence, but even an average night gives him a shot to return 3x value. Cory Higgins remains a bargain at $7,200, particularly with him coming off a 17-point showing his last time out. ASVEL has handled opposing centers, but Brandon Davies earns a mention as the only established center set to suit up for Barcelona on Thursday. If the game gets out of hand, James Nnaji will have a shot to return value at a meager $3,900. There is not a lot to like on the ASVEL side, as Barcelona is faring pretty well against players at all positions. You could at least consider Youssoupha Fall, though. Barcelona will be lacking in size in Round 23, and at his going rate of $6,000, Fall has returned 3x value five times and 4x value thrice.