The NBA gets the final weekend before Christmas started with a solid, 10-game fantasy basketball slate. While none of the matchups quite measures up to Thursday’s showdown between the Lakers and the Bucks, there are some interesting matchups on the board including the Wizards visiting the suddenly injury-depleted Raptors, the Knicks taking their talents to South Beach to visit the Heat, the Luka-less Mavs trying to knock off the Sixers and the Pelicans taking on the Warriors in the final game of the evening.
As you sort through all 20 teams in action to find your best lineup, check out these four options available in the bargain bin for under $4K.
PG T.J. MCCONNELL, IND vs. SAC, $3,900The Pacers have gotten solid play from McConnell all season, and he has been picking things up lately with over 26 DKFP in each of his past two games and over 17 DKFP in five of his past six. With Jeremy Lamb ($4,800; groin) and T.J. Warren ($4,900; illness) both questionable for this contest, McConnell may need to step into an even larger role offensively.
McConnell usually fills up the whole stat sheet when given extended run and has done just that in his past two games. He had 12 points, eight assists, two rebounds and 26.5 DKFP against the Hornets on Sunday and followed that with 10 points, four assists, four rebounds, three steals and 26.5 DKFP on Tuesday against the Lakers. Especially if Lamb is out, McConnell should get plenty of time to stuff the stat sheet and be a nice bargain option as the Pacers host the Kings.
SF/PF CAMERON JOHNSON, PHO at OKC, $3,900Johnson is questionable for this contest as he continues to battle hip soreness, but he could be a great value consideration if he does end up playing. The No. 11 overall pick from the past draft had been stepping into a larger role with the Suns before the injury. He had played over 24 minutes in six of his past seven games, averaging 11.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 21.6 DKFP per contest. In each of those games, he had at least 17 DKFP and posted 24.75 DKFP in his most recent contest against the Trail Blazers.
Even though his hip injury isn’t expected to be a long-term issue, it is worth keeping a close eye on and does raise his risk a bit on this slate. However, if he gets the clearance to play, he may need to carry a lot of the offense with Deandre Ayton (ankle) out again after just one game back from suspension and Devin Booker ($8,400; forearm) still listed as questionable. If Cam can play and Booker is out, look for him to have a big game and plenty of usage against the Thunder.
PF/C CHRIS BOUCHER, TOR vs. WAS, $3,300The best bargain play of the night is Boucher, who the Raptors will need to rely on heavily while Marc Gasol (hamstring) and Pascal Siakam (groin) are out. Since Toronto’s frontcourt has been healthy, Boucher has played very limited minutes, not logging even 15 minutes in and of his previous nine games. He did get some run earlier this season, though, when Serge Ibaka ($7,400) was out and played over 15 minutes in six games earlier this season.
In each of those six games, Boucher scored in double digits and had a double-double in three of those contests. The last time he got extended run, he had 13 points, 12 rebounds and a season-high 36.5 DKFP in 25 minutes against the Knicks. The Wizards’ frontcourt is also dealing with plenty of their own injuries and should be a great opportunity for Boucher to show he can be part of the solution to the Raptors’ injury woes. Boucher available at just $3.3K due to the late announcement of Siakam’s groin injury makes him an outstanding option that is a must-own on this slate.
PG/SG J.J. BAREA, DAL at PHI, $3,000You may not have even known that Barea was still in the NBA, but the Mavericks’ rash of backcourt injuries could press the 35-year-old veteran into a bigger role against Philadelphia. Barea has played in just seven games this season but has been a little frisky lately when he has seen the court. He had 12 points, five assists and 23 DKFP in his most recent game against Miami last Saturday but didn’t play against the Bucks or Celtics even with Luka Doncic (ankle) sitting those contests out.
Doncic isn’t the only injury concern for Dallas in this contest, though since both Seth Curry ($4,900; back) and Delon Wright ($3,800; finger) are listed as questionable. Curry was especially helping to pick up the slack with Doncic out and Wright would be a great bargain play if he’s healthy enough to give it a go. If both are out, Barea could be the primary backup behind Jalen Brunson ($6.400) and Tim Hardaway ($5,300), which would potentially open up an opportunity for him to be a great value play at the minimum salary.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.