Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

James Davis

Daily Fantasy NBA Basketball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - Thursday 1/24/19

Welcome to Thursday basketball! It's a four game slate, but it's actually a pretty solid one that features a lot of DFS relevant players, potential injury considerations, and bad defenses. A welcome relief from some of these small slates recently to be sure. Let's dive in!

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The Golden State Warriors at the Washington Wizards

The Warriors are favored by 9 in a game with a 235 total.
Our first game for the slate and I'm already interested. The Warriors have rolled out the Boogie Man, and he's coming off a season high 24 minute appearance. The Wiz have looked surprisingly feisty, taking four of their last five, including impressive wins over Philly and Milwaukee and taking Toronto to the brink in a double overtime game. Great work, Wiz!

Okay, I give them that little nugget because the rest of this post about them isn't going to be quite so kind. To a man our system basically hates all of the Wizards. I'm inspired by Tomas Satoransky's recent minutes increase, but can you really count on that continuing in a match-up like this? Seems like there's a little bit too much that can go wrong.

DeMarcus CousinsDeMarcus Cousins FD - $6400 DK - $5800
Opponent - WAS
Proj Pts FD - 33.76 DK - 34.92
So Cousins has played 15 and 21 minutes, but both games have seen him get in foul trouble AND have been blowouts. If you project him for a mere 25 minutes 30 fantasy points seems like a lock. And yet, this is Boogie we're talking about, and the Dubs have a lot of mouths to feed. It seems like they should be able to sustain him up to a price of $7k at least though and on a short slate this might be enough.

After Boogie, our lineup optimizer sees the rest of the Warriors as being on relatively equal footing. All are solid 5x points per dollar plays, and any of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green could be good options for their positions. The big question will be whether this game stays close, and if these guys are too risky if the game gets out of hand.

The New Orleans Pelicans at the Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder are favored by 11.5 in a game with a 237.5 total.
With Davis shelved for the foreseeable future, the Pelicans are in an "all hands on deck" situation when it comes to their big men. I think there is still a lot to learn about how the Pels are going to deploy their bigs. Is Jahlil Okafor really going to top 30 minutes with any sort of regularity? Shouldn't Julius Randle be more involved? Nonetheless, we can say for certain that Davis' ~37 minutes and 21 shots a game are going to go somewhere, and the sites haven't fully caught up to where his teammates should be priced without him.

That being said, they are facing the Thunder - whose top 5 defensive efficiency has stymied opposing players frequently this year. Let's look at where we can find a little value here.

Jahlil OkaforJahlil Okafor FD - $5500 DK - $4900
Opponent - OKC
Proj Pts FD - 32.12 DK - 31.79
I'm not sure what to make of this, but we're living in a world where Jahlil Okafor just had a 4 block first quarter against the Pistons. He looks rejuvenated in what would likely have been his final NBA stop if he DIDN'T look rejuvenated, but that's nonetheless a very good thing. We almost took a chance on him for cash games on Wednesday, and I wish that we had stuck with him instead of pivoting to Zizic. Either way, even in a tough match-up he should be an excellent play unless there are back to back issues that we don't know about yet.

Our system also sees some value in Julius Randle and Nikola Mirotic as guys whose prices probably have additional room to grow with Davis sidelined.

Russell WestbrookRussell Westbrook FD - $12200 DK - $10700
Opponent - NO
Proj Pts FD - 62.05 DK - 64.31
With OKC playing so well and staying relatively healthy you're seeing a dramatic increase in the price of guys like Steven Adams and Paul George. While both of those guys are playable, Westbrook is probably the premier pay-up option on the slate - particularly at just 10.7k on DraftKings. Westbrook is still averaging a triple double this season, and it looks like the Thunder are ready to run him 38 minutes in close games. I guess there are some game script issues here with Vegas pegging the Thunder as double digit favorites, but I have to say I'm just a little bit skeptical of such a one-sided line. I'd still happily play Russ against a team that plays a top 6 pace and a bottom 10 defensive efficiency.

Jerami GrantJerami Grant FD - $6200 DK - $5000
Opponent - NO
Proj Pts FD - 31.32 DK - 30.21
Another guy who is probably under-priced on both sites, Jerami Grant has been routinely putting up 30+ fantasy points on salaries that just haven't caught up. He's as steady as ever on defense, putting up at least 2 blocks a game in each of his last 8, and has importantly earned Westbrook's trust as well, averaging 10+ shots during that stretch. New Orleans has always been weak against opposing bigs, and given how thin they are in the front court right now our system likes Grant to log 33+ minutes with 30+ fantasy points once again.

The Portland Trail Blazers at the Phoenix Suns

There is no line on this game as of now, but Portland should be heavily favored.
Both of these teams are featuring some amount of uncertainty right now. On the Blazers it's relatively benign. Moe Harkless is starting, but still played just 18 minutes against the Thunder. He could see a minutes increase in the near future, and at any time that could take additional minutes from guys like Evan Turner (and maybe McCollum). I'm just not sure how much it matters, as that small forward role has been relatively insignificant this season.

The Suns, however, are in a pretty interesting state of flux. TJ Warren left the Minnesota game with an ankle injury, and it opened up serious opportunity for Josh Jackson in particular. The tricky thing for just penciling Jackson in for those minutes going forward, however, is the fact that Phoenix wound up losing by 27 points and shaving minutes from a number of starters' regular rotation. There is a world where someone like Mikal Bridges is actually the primary beneficiary of no Warren, but we just have to wait and see. What we do know is that Warren has the second highest usage on the Suns, and his absence means not just the redistribution of 36 minutes, but all those shots as well.

DeAndre Ayton is also currently listed as "unlikely to play," which would open up huge minutes for Richaun Holmes - the only issue there is that Holmes is questionable as well.

The Suns are just a team where we'll need to be paying close attention to who winds up in the starting lineup and very likely considering them in all formats. If this game stays close, Devin Booker should get all the shots his arms can handle.

On the Portland side things are looking solid but unexciting. With Lillard and McCollum locked into the same rotations for the whole season both of their prices are hovering around season highs, and while the Suns have played an awful bottom 3 defensive efficiency this season their middle of the pack pace means the match-up doesn't do enough to vault the Blazers' back-court into must-play territory. Al-Farouq Aminu is also in that solid category, and due to how terrible power forward is on a nightly basis I wouldn't be surprised at all to find him in our optimal lineups come lock time.

Jusuf NurkicJusuf Nurkic FD - $9500 DK - $8000
Opponent - PHO
Proj Pts FD - 46.9 DK - 46.87
Speaking of all time high prices, Nurkic is now as expensive as he's ever been - but his performances have warranted it. The huge question here is: what is the right number of minutes for Nurkic? If the 36 minutes he played against the Thunder are legit you could see this price go even higher. If it's more like the high 20s he was playing earlier this season then you could wind up feeling very disappointed. Maybe it's a play you only pull out in big tournaments, but it certainly feels like there is a wealth of upside against a team whose center position is decimated and wasn't particularly good against opposing bigs in the first place.

The Minnesota Timberwolves at the Los Angeles Lakers

The Timberwolves are favored by 1.5 in a game with a 229 total.
We got late news that both Teague and Jones were going to sit in the Wolves' game against the Suns, and that make Derrick Rose a chalk cash game swap over on DraftKings. Rose wound up being pretty disappointing thanks to playing just 23 minutes, but most of that can be attributed to a game script that cost basically all of the Timberwolves' starters their minutes. We should see a much closer game against the Lakers, and we should see Minnesota go right back to running their starters for their full upper 30 minute rotations. The Lakers are playing better defense this year, but their top 3 pace means we're going to consider stacking players against them as a matter of course on such a small slate.

The only Minnesota starter our system isn't interested in is Karl-Anthony Towns. The price has just out-stripped the performance at this point. Give me any of the other four guys, though.

On the Lakers side, the major piece of outstanding news surrounds the status of Rajon Rondo. He practiced on Wednesday, and even though it was a non-contact practice for him he's currently listed as a game time decision. His return would eat directly off Lonzo Ball's plate, and might have trickle down options for guys like Josh Hart and KCP as well. I don't think you run Rondo even if he does play, but you can't ignore his status if you are considering any Lakers' back-court players.

All that being said, we still have plenty of value on the Lakers' side in the post-LeBron era.

The system is particularly calling out Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma as being excellent values on their current price points, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Hart and KCP find their way into lineups as well.

So that's it! A four game slate, but a juicy one. Best of luck, and I hope to see you in our members-only chat room to discuss the games tonight!


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