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NBA DFS: Best plays for Thursday, January 20th

Brandon Ingram is poised for an explosive outing at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.

New Orleans Pelicans v Boston Celtics Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The NBA has been bouncing back and forth with big and small slates this week. After getting an exciting 13-game slate on Wednesday night, we are stuck with only three games on Thursday night. Despite the shortage of games to watch, it’s still fun to open the DraftKings or FanDuel app to conjure up some NBA DFS lineups.

For this article, we take a look at my favorite plays on DraftKings at each position. Even with a limited selection of players, there are ways to get different from the rest of the field. Sometimes leaving salary on the table can separate you from the pack and put you in a position to place near the top in tournaments, especially on smaller slates like Thursday.

*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.

Point Guard

Pay-up option: Luka Doncic ($10,400)

As long as Luka Doncic continues to be mispriced on DraftKings, I’ll continue to play him with no hesitation. Doncic was $10,700 on Monday before he exploded for 67.25 DraftKings points against the Oklahoma City Thunder. So naturally, DraftKings decided to lower his salary to $10,400, giving us an 11-month-early Christmas present. In his past 10 games, Doncic has scored 59+ points four times, showing his immense ceiling in DFS. On Thursday’s three-game slate, Doncic possesses the highest ceiling and is somehow priced under Stephen Curry. With Doncic playing in a potential pace-up game versus the Phoenix Suns, just insert him into your lineups and worry about the rest.

Value option: Nickeil Alexander-Walker ($3,600)

There are some decent mid-tier options at point guard in Jalen Brunson and Kemba Walker. Devonte’ Graham is also a solid choice at $5,100, but he’s questionable to play for the New Orleans Pelicans. If Graham is out or even limited, Nickeil Alexander-Walker is likely the main recipient of more minutes for the Pelicans. Alexander-Walker has been hot and cold this season, making him a risky option in DFS. But with limited choices to make, Alexander-Walker could be among the best value options at the point guard position. The combo guard should see plenty of Kemba Walker and Immanuel Quickley, who are both known for their offense rather than their defense.

Shooting Guard

Pay-up option: Brandon Ingram ($8,000)

Devin Booker comes in as the highest-priced shooting guard on DraftKings. As big of a fan I am of Booker, he squares off with a Dallas Mavericks team that has been the best defensive team in the NBA since the start of the calendar year. Booker has also struggled against Dallas in his previous two meetings this season, posting an average of only 29.5 points per game in those two games. While Booker could certainly explode again after going off for 71.75 DraftKings points on Monday, I’ll elect to go with Brandon Ingram instead. Ingram gets to play under the bright lights at Madison Square Garden, where players love to show out in front of the celebrities in New York. There’s also the fact that Ingram has been hot as of late, scoring 40+ DraftKings points in 13 of his last 20 games for the Pelicans. I’m expecting a productive outing from Ingram against his former teammate in Julius Randle on Thursday night.

Value option: Klay Thompson ($5,300)

Some people may not consider Klay Thompson a value option, but it’s hard not to use him on Thursday night given his ceiling. Despite having a minutes restriction, Thompson can still be extremely effective on the floor for the Golden State Warriors, as evidenced by his last outing. Thompson recorded 35.75 DraftKings points in 22 minutes of action, giving him 23+ points in four of his first five games of the season. I expect Thompson to be limited to 22-25 minutes on Thursday night, but he faces an Indiana Pacers team that has allowed the third-most points per game (47.5) to on DraftKings and the seventh-most three-pointers (3.83) per game to shooting guards in their past seven games.

Small Forward

Pay-up option: Josh Hart ($6,300)

While Thompson isn’t a massive value at the shooting guard position, Josh Hart isn’t an expensive option on Thursday’s three-game slate. Hart is the fourth highest-priced small forward on DraftKings, putting him behind Ingram, RJ Barrett, and Andrew Wiggins. Hart does a bit of everything for the Pelicans, posting 33.77 points per 36 minutes played. It just so happens that Hart has played 36+ minutes in nine of his last 12 appearances. He’s also notched a double-double in four of his last 10 games and he’s been one rebound short of a double-double twice in that same span. Ingram and Hart are two of my favorite plays on Thursday versus the Knicks.

Value option: Chris Duarte ($4,300)

The Warriors own one of the best defenses in the NBA, so people may be wary of using players against them in DFS. However, someone has to score from the opposing team, right? One player that should see minutes if the Pacers keep it close or are getting blown out is rookie, Chris Duarte. Duarte is a streaky shooter and he just put up 47.25 DraftKings points versus the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday. Indiana needs someone else besides Domantas Sabonis to score the basketball on Thursday night and Duarte can be that guy. The rookie shooting guard has returned 5x value in five of his last eight outings and we just need 20-ish points for him to return value on Thursday.

Power Forward

Pay-up option: Kristaps Porzingis ($7,600)

While DraftKings continues to underprice Doncic for the Mavericks, they are doing the same for Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis should be in the $8,000-$8,500 range, but he’s priced at $7,600. Besides Doncic, Porzingis is the second go-to scorer on Dallas, and his ability to contribute blocks and steals makes him valuable in DFS. Porzingis has accrued 40+ DraftKings points in four of his last six games and is seeing his minutes return to normal upon returning from the league’s health and safety protocols recently. The Suns have an undersized power forward in Jae Crowder that Porzingis should be able to take advantage of on the offensive end. In his previous two matchups with Phoenix this season, Porzingis scored an average of 48.5 DraftKings points per game.

Value option: Jonathan Kuminga ($4,300)

While the Warriors have gotten Thompson back on the court, Draymond Green has been sidelined and will miss the next two weeks at minimum. Even though Golden State is anxious to get Green back in the lineup, rookie Jonathan Kuminga has been making the most of his increased minutes recently. Kuminga has returned 5x value in each of his last five games and has played in 20+ minutes in four of those. And with Kuminga being a player that the Warriors want to develop moving forward, he will likely get minutes if the game is close or if Golden State is up by a wide margin. I feel confident that Kuminga can give us at least 20 DraftKings points on Thursday night against the Pacers.

Center

Pay-up option: Jonas Valanciunas ($7,700)

The Pelicans are among the teams in the NBA that are reliant on a few guys to produce on the offensive end. Along with Ingram, Hart, and Graham (who could be out on Thursday), Jonas Valanciunas is one of the primary scorers for New Orleans. Valanciunas can take over a game in the paint and he’s extended his range to beyond the arc when he’s feeling confident in his shot. The Lithuanian big man averages an outstanding 1.24 DraftKings points per minute and he seems mispriced at $7,700 as he has mustered 40.2 DraftKings points per game this season. While Mitchell Robinson is a defensive-minded center for the Knicks, he tends to get in foul trouble against the more physical centers in the NBA. Valanciunas should have no issue scoring on Thursday night and he’s always capable of logging a double-double.

Value option: Kevon Looney ($4,500)

With Green sidelined for the Warriors, they’ve altered their lineup multiple times. At the center position, Kevon Looney has gotten more run as of late, getting 23+ minutes in three straight contests. In those three games, Looney has scored 21+ DraftKings points and he’s notched 10+ rebounds in each of them. Looney isn’t going to score 20+ real-life points, but he can give us a chance at a double-double at $4,500. He also gets to go up against the Pacers, who are without Myles Turner down low.