After getting a nine-game main slate on Wednesday, we have a smaller five-game main slate on DraftKings for Thursday. The games won’t begin until 7:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, so we’ll have to wait a bit longer than usual for news. The Brooklyn Nets will be on a back-to-back on Thursday against the Oklahoma City Thunder following their contest with the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.
There will be plenty of notable players to pay up for on Thursday night, so there will be plenty of important decisions to make at each position. Should we pay up for Stephen Curry with Draymond Green out for the Golden State Warriors? Is Nikola Jokic the best pay-up option at the center position? Check out my favorite pay-up and value options at each position for Thursday’s five-game main slate over on DraftKings below.
*Note: News is constantly changing throughout the day in the NBA and COVID-19 is still a concern this season. It is extremely important to pay close attention to the news in the NBA as things could change minutes before tip-off occurs.
Pay-up option: James Harden ($10,700)
As mentioned above, the Nets are on the second leg of a back-to-back on Thursday night versus the Thunder. But after having Kyrie Irving available on Wednesday night in a road showdown with the Bulls, the Nets won’t have him in the lineup in their home game against the Thunder. That means that James Harden will handle most of the ball-handling duties for Brooklyn. Harden has scored 56+ points on DraftKings in two out of his past four home outings for the Nets. The offensive-minded guard should be busy against an Oklahoma City team that has surrendered the 10th most points per game (49.98) to point guards on DraftKings in their last 15 games.
Value option: Dennis Smith Jr. ($4,000)
The Portland Trail Blazers are already without Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum at their guard spots, making them extremely thin in the backcourt. While Anfernee Simons has excelled with a larger role in recent weeks amid the absences of Lillard and McCollum, Simons has been ruled out for Thursday’s game with the Denver Nuggets. With Simons sidelined, Dennis Smith Jr. should see a massive increase in his usage rate as one of the only guards remaining on the Trail Blazers. Smith has received 30+ minutes just three times all season, and in all three of those games, he produced at least 31 points on DraftKings. I fully expect Smith to be one of the most popular value options on Thursday night.
Pay-up option: D’Angelo Russell ($7,900)
D’Angelo Russell has always been an underrated playmaker in his career and he’s showing in his recent performances for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Russell is a streaky scorer that can put up points in bunches, but he can also dish out some assists to help the Timberwolves run their offense smoothly. In five of his past six outings, Russell has produced a double-double with points and assists. While the Memphis Grizzlies are the hottest team in the NBA right now with 10 straight wins, the Grizzlies allow the 11th most points per game to point guards (which is essentially the position that Russell plays) and they also surrender the third-most assists per game to the point guard position. People may be indecisive on whether to take Anthony Edwards or Russell at similar salaries, but I’d rather have Russell on DraftKings due to him having a better chance to secure a double-double.
Value option: Ziaire Williams ($3,500)
There isn’t a team in the NBA that is hotter than the Grizzlies right now. They just continue to find ways to win games despite having a youthful roster. With Dillon Brooks expected to miss time for Memphis, Ziaire Williams has been getting more playing time of late, and he’s made the most of his opportunities. The rookie forward has garnered 25+ minutes in three out of the past four games for the Grizzlies, scoring 18+ DraftKings points in each of those contests. Even though Ja Morant and Desmond Bane are the primary scorers for Memphis, Williams is a versatile forward that should continue to see his role grow until Brooks returns. At $3,500 on DraftKings, Williams is a nice player to use to help you fit in the studs at other positions.
Pay-up option: Josh Hart ($6,800)
Just looking at the choices we have at small forward, there isn’t anyone I’m going out of my way to pay up for. You have Brandon Ingram at $8,900, but I’d rather spend up elsewhere for the more expensive options at other positions. Even though I won’t be using Ingram, I’ll stay on the New Orleans Pelicans with Josh Hart being one of my favorite targets at small forward. Hart does a bit of everything for the Pelicans as he scores, rebounds, and dishes out assists with New Orleans not having a true point guard on the roster. The do-it-all forward has hit 5x value in eight of his last 10 games and gets to face a Los Angeles Clippers team that he’s averaged 39 DraftKings points against in his two meetings earlier this season with them.
Value option: Otto Porter Jr. ($4,800)
The Warriors have already ruled out Green for their next two games while announcing that Klay Thompson will play on Thursday but rest on Friday. With Green sidelined for Golden State, Otto Porter Jr. saw the biggest boost in his minutes, playing 28 minutes in the team’s last game versus the Grizzlies. I’d expect Porter to see 28+ minutes again in Thursday night’s potential NBA Finals preview matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks also give up the sixth-most points per game to small forwards (43.28) and power forwards (47.54) on DraftKings, so Porter should excel with a heightened workload on Thursday night.
Pay-up option: Kevin Durant ($11,000)
It’s already known that Irving won’t be active for the Nets on Thursday night as he isn’t allowed to play in home games for Brooklyn due to his vaccine status. Regardless of Irving plays or not, the one constant for the Nets on the offensive end is Kevin Durant. Durant has been tremendous this season as he’s putting up MVP-like numbers as Brooklyn is positioned as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. It will be the Harden and Durant show on Thursday night when the Nets host the Thunder. Even though much has been made about Durant’s minutes this season, I don’t expect him to be limited at all, barring a blowout, which is entirely possible versus Oklahoma City. That being said, if a blowout occurs, Durant will have something to do with that.
Value option: Jaden McDaniels ($3,700)
At first glance, there aren’t many value options that are obvious at the power forward position. Unless you are using Porter at power forward, the options are limited under $5,000. If you’re looking for someone to take a flier on for under $4,000 on DraftKings, Jaden McDaniels looks like a potential value option. McDaniels has earned 28+ minutes in three out of his last five appearances for the Timberwolves. He’s also returned 5x value at his current price in seven of his last 10 games. It should be a pretty high-scoring affair between the Timberwolves and the Grizzlies, and the good news is that McDaniels should see playing time regardless of whether or not a blowout takes place.
Pay-up option: Giannis Antetokounmpo ($12,300)
We have the choice of either Nikola Jokic or Giannis Antetokounmpo on Thursday night as the two most expensive options on the main slate. While you can’t go wrong with either, I’ll side with Antetokounmpo in a competitive environment versus the Warriors. At home this season, Antetokounmpo averages 60.3 points per game on DraftKings compared to 53.9 in road contests. Lucky for us, the Bucks will be hosting the Warriors on Thursday, making it likely we see a ceiling game from the dynamic forward, especially with no Green for Golden State. Antetokounmpo has power forward and center eligibility on the green site, so feel free to play him in either spot.
Value option: Brandon Clarke ($5,200)
When looking at the center position, there aren’t many value options that excite me. Day’Ron Sharpe could become a value play if LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Claxton are ruled out for the Nets, but we’ll have to wait for that news. In the meantime, Brandon Clarke could be a decent mid-tier center to target on DraftKings. Clarke has seen his workload increase recently, especially with Steven Adams sidelined. So there is a chance Clarke sees fewer minutes once Adams returns to the floor. But if Adams remains out, Clarke is worth spending $5,200 on as he operates as the backup center to Jaren Jackson Jr. with Adams out. If Adams is in and you aren’t comfortable starting Clarke, then Herbert Jones and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl are viable options at the center position.