Welcome back, everybody! The NBA All-Star break is in the rearview mirror, as the players got a much-needed rest ahead of the final stretch of the regular season. All-Star weekend was fun to watch once again, even though it’s evident that the NBA needs to do something to fix the dunk contest because this year’s competition was an absolute snooze fest.
During the weekend, there were no traditional DFS slates for the NBA, with the All-Star game itself having a showdown slate. If you were someone that rostered Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, then you probably were in the green on Sunday night. Following an eventful weekend, we are back to having a main slate on Thursday as seven games are scheduled across the league. With games picking back up in the NBA, let’s take a look at who I like at each position on DraftKings.
Pay-up option: Stephen Curry ($10,200)
Speaking of Curry, the greatest shooter of all time put on quite the spectacle in the All-Star game. The three-point extraordinaire tallied 50 points while making a jaw-dropping 16 three-pointers. It was a magnificent performance from Curry in front of the fans in Cleveland. With the Warriors looking to make a push for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, I believe the All-Star game was a perfect way for Curry to find his rhythm from deep for the rest of the season. The Portland Trail Blazers are Curry’s first victim on Thursday night and they happen to surrender the third-most three-pointers per game to opposing teams.
Value option: Aaron Holiday ($3,700)
Over the course of the All-Star weekend, there was some breaking news related to the Phoenix Suns. The Suns, who have the NBA’s best record at 48-10, discovered that Chris Paul is going to miss six to eight weeks with a fractured thumb. While Cameron Payne was expected to return from a 13-game absence on Thursday, he’s been ruled out for at least another game. That leaves Aaron Holiday to potentially join the starting lineup versus the Oklahoma City Thunder. Of the value options at any position, Holiday seems like a free square.
Pay-up option: Devin Booker ($8,800)
While there are a few players that should see a massive uptick in minutes and usage with Paul injured, the player that should see the biggest jump in usage is Devin Booker. We all know Booker is one of the most talented scorers in the NBA and he’s having a remarkable season for the Suns this year. But with Paul sidelined, Booker could be asked to facilitate more, which could lead to even more productive games from the All-Star shooting guard. Booker averaged 58.5 DraftKings points in his first two meetings with the Thunder this season and he could see an increase in his usage on Thursday. Plus, with Payne ruled out on Thursday, 35 points and nearly 10 assists aren’t out of the realm of possibility for the talented guard.
Value option: Donte DiVincenzo ($4,300)
Ahead of the trade deadline, the Milwaukee Bucks attempted to reinforce their frontcourt by acquiring Serge Ibaka in a four-team trade. In the trade, the Bucks sent Donte DiVincenzo to the Sacramento Kings. Since arriving to the Kings, DiVincenzo has taken on a key bench role for Sacramento, logging 27+ minutes in his last two games. While De’Aaron Fox and Justin Holiday are the starters, DiVincenzo and Davion Mitchell are the only reliable bench contributors for the Kings. Even though the matchup with the Denver Nuggets isn’t a great one, DiVincenzo should be able to return 5x value if he continues to get 25+ minutes every night.
Pay-up option: Josh Hart ($7,200)
Similar to most nights, there aren’t many high-salary small forwards I’m interested in paying up for on Thursday. We have Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown available, but with both of them likely carrying decent ownership, I’ll elect to fade both of them. Instead of going above $8,000 on DraftKings, Josh Hart is a solid option at $7,200. Yes, the matchup with the Warriors isn’t a favorable one, but his usage has been solid since joining the Trail Blazers. In his first three games for Portland, Hart has recorded a modest 22% or higher usage percentage while scoring 40+ DraftKings points in his two games before the All-Star break. I also like Desmond Bane at $6,600 and Cameron Thomas at $5,800 in the mid-tier range.
Value option: Cameron Johnson ($4,300)
The absence of Paul is definitely going to be felt for the Suns, whether it be on or off of the court. Holiday and Booker are candidates to handle more ball-handling duties in the coming weeks until Paul and Payne make their returns. At the same time, guys like Cameron Johnson may need to contribute more off of the bench to relieve some pressure off of the guards on the Suns. Johnson has become quite the efficient shooter and he can supply rebounds, blocks, and steals on the defensive end. While I like Jae Crowder at $4,700, I like Johnson a little more for $400 less on the green site. Aleksej Pokusevski and Grant Williams are other value options to consider at the small forward position.
Pay-up option: Domantas Sabonis ($9,000)
After having to play the power forward position on the Indiana Pacers with Myles Turner at center, Domantas Sabonis has been able to move back to the center position with the Kings. Sabonis has looked extremely comfortable since arriving in Sacramento, producing 53 DraftKings points versus the Chicago Bulls before the All-Star break. Next up is the Nuggets, who are strong against opposing centers, which might cause Sabonis to be under-owned on Thursday. There’s always the chance of a triple-double from Sabonis and I expect him to be motivated against Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets coming out of All-Star weekend.
Value option: Jonathan Kuminga ($4,500)
Ahead of the All-Star break, the Warriors began giving more minutes to Jonathan Kuminga. The rookie forward responded by scoring 25+ DraftKings points in six of his last eight games. With Draymond Green’s timetable to return unknown, Kuminga has helped replace his production on both ends of the floor. There’s a chance that Otto Porter Jr. could steal minutes from Kuminga moving forward, but I’ll take a chance on the Warriors sticking with Kuminga until he proves he can’t handle more minutes. Also, Kuminga gets to face a Trail Blazers team that is allowing the second-most DraftKings points per game to power forwards in their last seven games.
Pay-up option: Nikola Jokic ($12,500)
It should come as no surprise that the player with the highest ceiling on Thursday is Nikola Jokic. Jokic possesses the highest ceiling on most slates and when he gets to square off with a team like the Kings, he tends to go nuclear in DFS. The do-it-all center notched 65+ DraftKings points in three out of his last six games and Sacramento is giving up the third-most DraftKings points per game to the center position this season. Following a quiet performance in the All-Star game, I expect Jokic to be well-prepared to have a fantastic outing on Thursday night. In his past four meetings with the Kings, Jokic has averaged 34.5 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 11.3 assists per game.
Value option: LaMarcus Aldridge ($4,800)
On Thursday night, the Brooklyn Nets will be without Kyrie Irving at home once again. And with Kevin Durant still sidelined, the Nets are thin in the scoring department as they lean on Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and Thomas to produce on the offensive end. Besides those guys, LaMarcus Aldridge has taken an increased role as of late. Aldridge has posted 26+ DraftKings points in four out of his last five appearances, including a 33.5-point showing against the New York Knicks on February 16th. Seeing that the Nets are going to be shorthanded against the Boston Celtics on Thursday, I expect Aldridge to see 25-30 minutes easily. Plus, it helps that Nicolas Claxton appears to have fallen out of Brooklyn’s rotation recently.