This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
Let's dive into Thursday's five-game slate, which features a few fast-paced contests for our perusal.
ORL (-3.5) @ NY, O/U: 205.5
MIL (-8.5) vs. PHI, O/U: 226.5
NO (-4.5) @ CHI, O/U: 231.5
POR (-3.5) vs. SA, O/U: 232
LA (-6.5) vs. HOU, O/U: 235
As I said yesterday, check your lineups so that you don't get bitten by any last-minute trade deals. It's a habit you should get into anyway, as this is the time of year where late scratches begin to increase. For tonight, I will mostly ignore the ORL/NY matchup, but all of the other games will get decent exposure from me.
INJURY SITUATIONS TO MONITOR
There's a flood of ongoing injuries to contend with, but they won't be mentioned here. Our player notes provided on DraftKings should provide you with ample coverage if you need a refresher on reasonable pivots for these players.
Russell Westbrook (thumb) QUESTIONABLE
The Rockets will play the first game of a back-to-back tonight, so I suspect Westbrook will miss one of these games to rest this injury, which isn't considered to be serious. If he does miss tonight, his production should flow to Eric Gordon ($6,300), although Austin Rivers ($4,200) has also played very well in relief recently.
I think James Harden ($12,400) is cost-prohibitive, but if Westbrook ends up sidelined you have to give him some consideration. Otherwise, I think the extra cash should be used elsewhere.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL ($11,100) vs. PHI
Assuming Giannis hits somewhere near his ten-day average of 69 DKFP in this contest, he could deliver us a whopping 6.2x value for us. It also means we have a little bit of room below that number to still consider him worthwhile for the price. He experienced a horrid 8-of-27 shooting night when he last played Philly on the way to a 50-DKFP score. He's shot just over 50 percent over his past three games, so I'd expect a better result at home against them tonight.
Damian Lillard, POR ($10,000) vs. SA
I still have a vivid picture of Lillard's brilliant game against the Lakers in my head, and although he hit a roadblock on Tuesday against Denver, I think it was just a blip on the radar and a rare off night. Over two games against San Antonio, he's averaging just under 50 DKFP, and we'd need a bit more than that to get us over 5x value. Both of those games took place much earlier in the season, long before Lillard's cavalcade of production over the past few weeks.
Finally, we'll touch on the duo of LeBron James ($10,400) and Anthony Davis ($9,400) against Houston. With Clint Capela off to Atlanta, Houston begins the small-ball experiment (unless they trade for a center soon), and the Lakers get the first crack at their new look. While I think this is all good news for Dwight Howard ($4,800), I'm most interested in what Davis could do against Houston, who he's yet to meet this season. I don't think LeBron will have any problem beating value tonight, especially if Westbrook is out, and he's a much better cash play than Davis, who you have to consider as more of a risk-reward value in tournaments. Davis' injury could crop back up at any point during the game, and his minutes will still be a bit limited.
EXPECTED CHALK AND OTHER TARGETS
Zach LaVine, CHI ($8,400) vs. NO
This lightning-fast pace of this game should be fun to watch. Although LaVine managed 51 against the Pelicans earlier in the season, tonight game adds another wrinkle with the presence of Zion Williamson ($7,700) who I think is still a few games away from logging enough minutes to hit value at his price. I suspect that Brandon Ingram ($7,600) will line up opposite LaVine, and I like both players in this game script as they go toe-to-toe and exchange baskets.
Khris Middleton, MIL ($7,400) vs. PHI
Whatever's gotten into Middleton over the past few games, you have to like it at this price. He's already put up 51 DKFP against Philly this season, and he's looked brilliant over his past four contests, shooting around 60 percent from the court in both standard and 3-point categories while sporting a 53-DKFP average.
LaMarcus Aldridge, SA ($6,500) @ POR
I get that Aldridge has the propensity to wreck a lineup on the regular, but his price is ridiculously low when you consider how effective he's been against Portland. Over two games against the Trail Blazers, he's averaged 22.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and a 47-DKFP average. If he can match that tonight, we'd be getting him at $138-per-point, which is well below the $150-per-point average I think we'll need to post a winning cash score tonight.
P.J. Tucker, HOU ($6,200) @ LAL
A lot of people will end up flocking here to 'see what happens' with Houston's new approach. I will probably give him around 25% exposure today, but I think it's a good opportunity to drill a little deeper here. While it's tough to work around Capela's presence with relation to usage, Danuel House Jr. ($6,000) experiences a seven-point DKFP boost when Capela is off the floor and P.J Tucker is on. If we look at a per-48 minute differential in the same situation, House's usage rises almost four percent and he gets about 11 DKFP more in production. All of this is to say that while I get the desire to go to Tucker, I don't think House can be ignored.
Kyle Kuzma, LAL ($5,000) vs. HOU
Of course, if you hear that Kuzma's been sent packing sometime today, nix him from your list, but what better time to play Kuzma than when the Lakers are trying to shop him? They should have a pretty good handle on this game and I like his one-game history against the Rockets, where he put up 35 DKFP. They say that when you're being heavily discussed at the deadline, you're usually safe, but you never know. Either way, I like Kuzma at this price.
Josh Hart, NO ($4,900) @ CHI
Hart's been on a three-game tear where he's beaten value in every contest, and I like going this way in a fast-paced contest that favors the Pelicans. With so many mouths to feed, one might find it surprising that he gets so much production, but Zion Williamson's arrival hasn't put a dent in Hart's court time, which has stayed steady at just below 30 minutes per game. While he's a second-unit guy for New Orleans, he's versatile enough to fill three positions if need be.
Luke Kornet, CHI ($3,900) vs. NO
Say what you will about Kornet, but he's still Chicago's best option at center, and I like the matchup against Derrick Favors in this fast-paced game. I also think Thaddeus Young ($5,500) will spend a significant amount of time in the paint to aid Kornet, and I don't mind either player to reduce your per-player costs.
Coby White, CHI ($3,800) vs. NO
His recent numbers don't show much in the way of an endorsement, but with both Tomas Satoransky and Chandler Hutchison dealing with injuries (both are probable to play), the pace of this matchup could give White a few more opportunities off the bench. If Hutchison is fully cleared I don't mind playing him either, but White only needs 25 DKFP to get to $150-per-point, and he's gotten there a few times over the past month.