The NBA trade deadline is Thursday and we’ve heard rumblings and there will be contenders around the league looking to bolster their rosters for a hopeful deep postseason run. The one notable trade rumor involved the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers as James Harden and Ben Simmons are at the center of reported talks. Could we actually see Simmons play basketball this season? At this point, I’m starting to believe that Simmons and Zion Williamson are mythical beings that were implanted in our heads to make us think they played basketball.
With the deadline happening in the afternoon, it will be crucial to stay updated on roster moves around the NBA as it could affect the main slate on DraftKings. All it takes is for one big-name player or a guy that’s getting heavy minutes for a certain team to alter the outlook of an entire slate. As we patiently wait for a ‘Woj Bomb’ to take place on Twitter, here are my favorite pay-up and value options at each position on Thursday.
Pay-up option: Luka Doncic ($12,400)
Maybe there will be a time when Luka Doncic gets consistent help from someone. Kristaps Porzingis continues to battle injuries for yet another season and the Dallas Mavericks are relying on Doncic to carry the majority of the offensive workload. Doncic has responded by eclipsing 60+ DraftKings points in eight of his last 12 games. The ceiling is always high for Doncic as he’s recorded a triple-double in five of his last 12 games. You shouldn’t need me to explain why Doncic is a home-run choice on every slate, but if you’re someone that likes narratives, Doncic faces a Los Angeles Clippers team that has eliminated the Mavericks from the playoffs in the last two years. If you’re unable to afford Doncic’s expensive salary, Kyrie Irving and Fred VanVleet are other expensive options I like at the point guard position.
Value option: Aaron Holiday ($3,700)
The Washington Wizards looked like a team that was going to outperform their expectations earlier in the season. But as the season has advanced, the Wizards have collapsed and to make matters worse, Bradley Beal is expected to miss the rest of the season. With Beal sidelined, Aaron Holiday should receive more minutes moving forward. The youngest Holiday brother has returned 5x value in back-to-back games as he’s garnered 22+ minutes in those two games. I expect Holiday to get 25-30 minutes on Thursday night against a Nets team that will be without Harden. In their last 30 games, only the Houston Rockets have surrendered more DraftKings points per game than Brooklyn.
Pay-up option: Devin Booker ($8,900)
We have a rematch of the NBA Finals with the Milwaukee Bucks traveling to take on the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night. Both teams look poised for deep playoff runs again as the Suns boast the best record in the NBA right now at 44-10. While it’s hard to say he’s in the MVP race, I don’t think Devin Booker is getting enough love for how well he’s performed this season. Booker has been lights out, recording 25+ real-life points in 14 of his last 18 games. In terms of DFS, he’s notched 45+ DraftKings in eight of his last 14 appearances. The offensive-minded guard also gets to face a Bucks team that allows the most three-pointers per game, so the potential for a ceiling game for Booker is certainly there.
Value option: Cameron Thomas ($5,000)
It was extremely painful to watch the Nets the other night with Harden, Irving, and Kevin Durant unavailable. Brooklyn lacked scorers that could create their own shot, which was telling when they fell down 28-2 to begin the game against the Boston Celtics. While the Nets will have Irving back on Thursday, the only other player that seems capable of creating for himself is Cameron Thomas. Thomas has posted 28+ DraftKings points in three consecutive games and with Harden ruled out, the rookie out of LSU could be the second go-to scorer outside of Irving. De’Anthony Melton is another viable option if you need to shed a few dollars on the green site.
Pay-up option: OG Anunoby ($7,200)
The small forward is typically one that is hit or miss near the top unless LeBron James is active. Jimmy Butler is one of the most expensive small forwards on Thursday, but with the returns of Kyle Lowry and Bam Adebayo, Butler’s ceiling has been significantly lowered. With no clear choices at the top, I do like OG Anunoby in a pace-up game versus the Rockets. Houston plays at the second-fastest pace in the NBA and are the worst team in defensive efficiency in the league. The Rockets’ woeful defense, coupled with the fact that the Toronto Raptors play their starters heavy minutes — even on back-to-backs — Anunoby could have a productive game on Thursday. I’m fine going down to Desmond Bane or Mikal Bridges if you want to save salary at the small forward position.
Value option: Deni Avdija ($3,600)
What do the Wizards do with Beal out for the rest of the season? I’d expect them to begin playing some of their younger players more minutes moving forward and that includes Deni Avdija. Avdija has been effective when he’s been given minutes this season, but his role has wavered throughout the year. The second-year forward should begin seeing 25-30 minutes every night and he’s priced under $4,000 on DraftKings. The Nets have allowed the most DraftKings points per game to small forwards in their last seven games, which could lead to an explosive outing from Avdija on Thursday night. David Duke Jr. could also be someone to consider, though, he could be risky with Irving returning to the court for Brooklyn.
Pay-up option: Giannis Antetokounmpo ($12,000)
While I like Booker a lot for the Suns on Thursday, it shouldn’t come as a shocker that I like Giannis Antetokounmpo for the Bucks. Antetokounmpo has compiled another MVP-Esque season thus far and he’s coming off a game where he terrorized the Lakers en route to a season-high 82 DraftKings points. Even though it’s tough to expect 80+ DraftKings points from Antetokounmpo — it’s certainly possible, though — he always has a chance to reach 60-70 DraftKings points with ease. I expect a competitive game between the Suns and the Bucks on Thursday night in what could be a preview of the NBA Finals for the second straight year.
Value option: Jae Crowder ($4,400)
Speaking of the Bucks and Suns matchup, basically any starter in this game is in play for me on Thursday. Jae Crowder recently returned to the lineup for Phoenix and he’s been extremely productive in the box score. Crowder has played in 30+ minutes in three of his last four games and in his last outing, he managed to score 29.5 DraftKings points despite not scoring a single real-life point. On the Suns, Crowder’s role is to make three-pointers and play formidable defense on the wing. Given the fact that the Bucks surrender the most three-pointers per game, Crowder should have a legitimate chance to be arguably the best value option at power forward. I also like Brandon Clarke and Chris Boucher on Thursday.
Pay-up option: Pascal Siakam ($9,800)
The Raptors continue to climb the ranks in the Eastern Conference and a healthy version of Pascal Siakam is a large reason why. Siakam has scored 45+ DraftKings points in nine of his last 10 games, giving him a relatively safe floor at his salary. He’s also posted 50+ DraftKings points in his last 10 games, also showing that he possesses a decent ceiling. After facing a young Oklahoma City Thunder team on Wednesday, Siakam will square off with another youthful team in the Rockets on Thursday. Houston plays at the fastest pace in the league, which should lead to more scoring and rebound opportunities for Siakam. If you’re someone that needs to target the mid-range options at center, Bobby Portis and Deandre Ayton are certainly viable.
Value option: Alperun Sengun ($4,800)
On the other side of the Raptors and Rockets showdown, Houston has altered their lineup recently. Instead of having Christian Wood operating at the center position, they’ve inserted rookie Alperun Sengun into the starting lineup, moving Wood to power forward. In the past four games with Sengun playing as a starter, he’s exceeded 25+ DraftKings points in three of the four games. Seeing that the Raptors are a team that lacks size in the paint, Sengun should be able to have success down low on Thursday night. A double-double is certainly in the realm of possibility as long as the Rockets can keep the game close.