What a relief it is to see a double-digit amount of games for Friday’s NBA DFS main slate. We got only two games on Thursday night and LeBron James ended up being sidelined for the Los Angeles Lakers, giving us an even more limited selection of players to choose from. The Lakers play the second leg of a back-to-back on Friday, so it will be interesting to see if James can go for Los Angeles.
The NBA All-Star starters were announced on Thursday night, so if you’re someone that believes in narratives, some players could be extra-motivated to perform well on Friday. As someone who has been impressed with Andrew Wiggins this season, I’m still torn on whether or not I believe he deserves to be a starter in the All-Star game. While everyone argues over who should have made the All-Star starting lineup, here are my favorite pay-up and value options at each position for Friday’s main slate on DraftKings.
Pay-up option: LeBron James ($11,200)
The aforementioned James was unable to suit up for the Lakers on Thursday due to a knee injury he suffered in Tuesday’s win over the Brooklyn Nets. It remains to be seen if James can return on Friday, but if he does, then James is a fantastic option at the point guard or small forward position. The Lakers will be playing in a game that features two of the top four fastest-paced teams in the NBA when they face the Charlotte Hornets on Friday. James has scored 25+ real-life points in each of his last 18 games and he’s eclipsed 55+ DraftKings points in 11 of those 18 games. A ceiling game is always in play for James, especially when he faces the sixth-worst defense in defensive efficiency in the Hornets. If James misses his second straight game for the Lakers, then I’m fine going down to Ja Morant or Russell Westbrook.
Value option: Lance Stephenson ($3,900)
I listed Lance Stephenson as my favorite value option at the point guard position on Wednesday and it resulted in him scoring 37 DraftKings points in 28 minutes for the Indiana Pacers. The veteran guard has seen 17+ minutes in four straight games and he’s notched 20+ DraftKings points in each of his last three outings. With Malcolm Brogdon out for the Pacers, Stephenson should continue to see more time on the floor as the backup point guard. Despite his recent success, Stephenson is still sitting at a salary under $4,000, so he doesn’t need to do much to return value. Also, the Oklahoma City Thunder have allowed the second-most points per game (52.39) to the point guard position on DraftKings in their last 30 games.
Pay-up option: LaMelo Ball ($8,400)
LaMelo Ball was another player that made my list on Wednesday against the Pacers. For some reason, Ball loves to play Indiana as he’s now scored 51+ DraftKings in each of his four matchups with the Pacers this season. Following his 69-point performance on the green site on Wednesday, Ball draws another favorable matchup in the Lakers on Friday night. Los Angeles has struggled against guards all season and Ball is one of the best up-and-coming guards in the NBA. With Westbrook likely being the primary defender on Ball, the young guard could be in for another fantastic showing at home versus the reeling Lakers. Cade Cunningham and CJ McCollum are other shooting guards I like in the same salary range as Ball.
Value option: Luke Kennard ($4,500)
I’m starting to think that the Los Angeles Clippers should have had Luke Kennard be a main fixture off of their bench all season. Kennard’s minutes have wavered throughout the season, but in his past three appearances, he’s garnered 28+ minutes. Without a doubt, Kennard has benefitted from Marcus Morris being absent from the lineup and Morris has already been ruled out for Friday’s showdown with the Miami Heat. DraftKings has raised Kennard’s salary to $4,500 in response to him recording 25+ DraftKings points in three consecutive games. I love this spot for Kennard as the Heat surrender the third-most three-pointers per game (3.67) to shooting guards this season. Malik Monk and Duncan Robinson are other value shooting guards I like on Friday.
Pay-up option: Zach LaVine ($8,300)
Following a five-game absence from a knee injury, the Chicago Bulls wasted no time getting Zach LaVine back into the swing of things on Monday versus the Thunder. LaVine has played 35+ minutes in each of his first two games back from injury and he’s supplied 46+ DraftKings points in both games, returning 5x value at his current salary in each of those contests. With Lonzo Ball sidelined for the Bulls, it forces LaVine to shoulder even more on the offensive end and he gets to play in a pace-up game against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night. Norman Powell and Franz Wagner are viable mid-tier options if you're unable to afford LaVine.
Value option: Cameron Johnson ($4,700)
The Phoenix Suns have announced that Jae Crowder will miss his third straight game on Friday with a wrist injury. Cameron Johnson has started in his place in the past two games and has gotten 36+ minutes in each of those games. Johnson has seen his salary balloon to $4,700, but I still believe he’s capable of giving us 5x value versus the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. The North Carolina product’s role on the Suns is to knock down threes and play formidable defense on the wing, which can lead to productive outings in DFS for us. Austin Rivers and Caleb Martin could be viable value options for under $4,000 if Jimmy Butler is ruled out for the Heat on Friday night.
Pay-up option: DeMar DeRozan ($8,500)
I’m all for DeMar DeRozan getting some love from fans and the media alike this season. DeRozan has always been an underrated player in the NBA and he’s finally getting his props with the Bulls being one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. After facing his former team in the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, DeRozan will face his other former team in the Spurs on Friday night. San Antonio surprisingly plays at the sixth-fastest pace in the league, which should lead to more possessions for Chicago and DeRozan. If you need to save some salary and you’re unable to get up to DeRozan, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Wendell Carter Jr. are fantastic options for slightly less salary.
Value option: Trey Lyles ($4,900)
Trey Lyles is never going to be a flashy pick in any form of fantasy basketball, but he has his spurts each season that continues to keep his career in the NBA alive. Lyles is seeing more run for the Detroit Pistons with Kelly Olynyk sidelined due to being placed in the health and safety protocols. Olynyk is currently questionable to play, but if he remains out, then Lyles should operate as one of the primary front-court contributors on Friday night against the Orlando Magic. Lyles has posted 25+ DraftKings points in three straight appearances and the Magic are permitting the sixth-most points per game (48.38) to power forwards in their last 30 games.
Pay-up option: Nikola Jokic ($12,600)
You don’t need me to explain why you should play Nikola Jokic in NBA DFS. No matter the matchup, Jokic continues to be the best option in any form of fantasy basketball as he’s making his case as the league’s MVP. The Serbian big man has accrued 62+ DraftKings in five of his last six games and he has a legitimate ceiling of 80+ DraftKings points on any given night. Jokic loves facing Jonas Valanciunas, logging a double-double in seven of his last eight, and a triple-double in three of his last eight matchups against Valanciunas. His last outing versus Valanciunas came on December 8th when Jokic finished with 39 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. Jusuf Nurkic and Bam Adebayo are other centers you could use if you don’t have the salary for Jokic.
Value option: Grant Williams ($3,700)
The Boston Celtics have looked much better in their past two games and that is in large part due to the play of Grant Williams. Williams has seen increased run recently, playing 22+ minutes in five consecutive games. In his past three appearances, Williams has returned 5x value at his current salary with ease and he’s knocked down multiple threes in five straight contests. As long as Williams continues to see more playing time, he should be able to have another producing showing on Friday night versus the Atlanta Hawks.