Kevin Durant must have seen the lineup that the Brooklyn Nets trotted out on Tuesday versus the Toronto Raptors. Patty Mills, Seth Curry, Bruce Brown, James Johnson, and LaMarcus Aldridge isn’t exactly an imposing lineup. So after witnessing that lineup take the court, Durant is expected to make his awaited return to the court on Thursday versus the Miami Heat, playing for the first time since January 15th.
With Durant back for the Nets, I expect him to be a semi-popular pick in NBA DFS. There are a ton of stars to choose from on Thursday night, especially at the point guard position. Ahead of what should be an interesting slate, here are my favorite pay-up and value options at each position on DraftKings.
Pay-up option: Dejounte Murray ($10.600)
We have a showdown between Luka Doncic and Stephen Curry on Thursday night, which makes me believe that they’ll be popular choices at point guard. Instead of spending $11,000+ of my salary on Doncic or Curry, I can go with Dejounte Murray, who has a similar ceiling as Doncic and a much higher ceiling than Curry. Murray has been magnificent this season as he’s eclipsed 50+ DraftKings points in six of his last 10 games for the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs play at the fifth-fastest pace in the NBA while the Sacramento Kings — who Murray faces on Thursday — play at the seventh-fastest pace. In what should be a fast-paced, high-scoring game, I love Murray’s chances of returning 5x value or better at his current salary.
Value option: Gabe Vincent ($4,500)
Kyle Lowry has missed the last two games for the Miami Heat due to personal reasons and I’d venture to guess there’s a decent chance he is out again on Thursday. Gabe Vincent has filled in for Lowry and he’s performed pretty well. Vincent has returned 5x value in three consecutive games and has gotten 28+ minutes in three straight games. Given Vincent’s ability to shoot from deep, it helps that he squares off with a Nets team that allows the fifth-most three-pointers per game (3.04) and the fourth-most DraftKings points per game (49.74) to point guards this season. Malachi Flynn could also be worth considering if Fred VanVleet misses his third consecutive game for the Raptors.
Pay-up option: Zach LaVine ($8,000)
At first glance, the shooting guard position looks like one that I’ll be saving salary at on Thursday. The three highest-priced options at shooting guard are all sidelined with injuries and VanVleet (the fourth-highest priced shooting guard) is questionable due to an injury. But if I had to choose someone to spend up on at the shooting guard spot, it would be Zach LaVine. LaVine has returned 5x value at his current salary in only four of his last 10 games and he scored 30+ points just twice in that span. But the matchup is perfect for LaVine as the Atlanta Hawks have the fourth-worst defensive efficiency in the NBA and they give up the fifth-most three-pointers per game (3.54) to shooting guards this season.
Value option: Lonnie Walker ($4,600)
The upcoming tilt between the Spurs and the Kings is one that I’m going to have a lot of exposure to on Thursday. Both teams are fast-paced and they are both in the bottom half of the league in defensive efficiency. Besides Murray, Lonnie Walker is in a prime spot to return a ton of value against the Kings. Walker has scored 27+ DraftKings points in five straight games and in that span, he’s seen his usage top 26% or better in each game. With Derrick White gone, Walker has taken on a larger role and Greg Popovich is trusting him more on the offensive end. If he continues to get around 25-28 minutes and his usage is around 25%, then it’s only a matter of time before Walker’s salary increases.
Pay-up option: LeBron James ($11,000)
LeBron James continues to see his salary decrease as he has failed to return much value in his first three games out of the All-Star break. The Los Angeles Lakers look like a team that doesn’t deserve a spot in the playoffs as James is the lone bright spot nearly every night. Despite his inability to return value in recent games, it feels like a special performance from James is right around the corner. James is hearing the criticism from fans and the media, and with Anthony Davis’ return not on the horizon, James knows he has to take it upon himself if the Lakers have any chance of making noise in the Western Conference. What better way for James to bounce back than to face the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night?
Value option: Jeremy Lamb ($3,900)
Along with Domantas Sabonis and Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb was involved in the trade that sent Tyrese Haliburton to the Indiana Pacers. While Sabonis and Holiday are in the starting lineup for the Kings, Lamb operates as one of the main bench contributors for Sacramento, receiving 20+ minutes in two of his first three games for the Kings. Despite his ceiling not being super high, Lamb has scored 18+ DraftKings points in three straight games and he doesn’t need to do much to return 5x value at his current salary. The Spurs are allowing the second-most DraftKings points per game (46.06) to shooting guards in their last 15 games. I’m also not against using Grant Williams as he could see an expanded workload with Jaylen Brown out with an ankle ailment.
Pay-up option: Pascal Siakam ($9,200)
Pascal Siakam has had four straight unexciting outings since the All-Star break despite the Raptors winning their last two games. The versatile forward has found his groove as the season has progressed, allowing Toronto to make a nice push in the Eastern Conference standings. Even amid his recent average performances, Siakam is primed for a bounce-back game on Thursday versus the Detroit Pistons. It should be a pace-up game for Siakam and the Pistons own the sixth-worst defensive efficiency in the NBA. Also, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Siakam has averaged 50.1 DraftKings points in his first two meetings with the Pistons this season. Keldon Johnson and Danilo Gallinari are cheaper options I like if you’re unable to afford Siakam.
Value option: Robert Covington ($4,200)
Playing anyone against the Lakers has been a fruitful strategy this season and that shouldn’t change on Thursday. There are a few guys I like from the Clippers on Thursday, but Robert Covington might be the best value pick of the bunch. Covington has posted 24+ DraftKings points in three consecutive games, including a 32.75 point outing against the Lakers on February 25th. The veteran forward has contributed at least seven rebounds and multiple blocks in his last three appearances. All we need is for him to knock down a couple of threes and give us 8-10 points to make him a nice value option. I’d also consider Thaddeus Young as he’s been getting steadier minutes for the Raptors as of late.
Pay-up option: Jakob Poeltl ($7,500)
If someone wants to pay up for Sabonis on Thursday night, I wouldn’t fault them as he has a fantastic matchup versus the Spurs. However, on the other side of the court, Jakob Poeltl has an equally fantastic matchup against the Kings, and he’s much cheaper. Poeltl is benefitting from an expended role recently, notching 40+ DraftKings points in three straight games. Besides logging a double-double in each of those three games, Poeltl has double-digit shot attempts and he’s recorded 4+ assists in each of those contests. Even with Sabonis in the lineup now, the Kings are still surrendering the seventh-most DraftKings points per game (61.72) to centers in their last seven games. Robert Williams and Steven Adams are guys I’d consider in the mid-tier range if you’re not interested in Poeltl.
Value option: Trey Lyles ($4,000)
Once again, I’m going to have quite a few players from the contest between the Spurs and the Kings on Thursday night. Sacramento recently altered their lineup, inserting Trey Lyles at the power forward position over Moe Harkless. Lyles is a much more efficient player on the offensive end and he doesn’t need many minutes to be effective. Lyles made his second consecutive start for the Kings on Wednesday night and if he draws another start on Thursday, it will be tough not to use him at only $4,000 on DraftKings. Kevon Looney and Precious Achiuwa are other value centers I’d consider on Thursday.