After a couple of opening contests and a massive 11-game slate on Wednesday night, Thursday night features a limited three-game slate as the last few teams get their season underway. The Hawks, Warriors, Rockets and Bucks are all playing for the first time while the Pistons finish a back-to-back and the Clippers play their second game after an off-day Wednesday.
As you take a look at those six teams and try to find the best plays, take a look at these top studs and values at each position. As we approach tip time, make sure to check out the DK Live app or live.draftkings.com for any late-breaking news that should impact your lineup.
StudStephen Curry, GS vs. LAC, $9,400 — Curry will have to carry the load for the Warriors this season with Klay Thompson (knee) sidelined and Kevin Durant in Brooklyn. He should be up to the challenge in the first game after finishing the preseason with 32 points, six assists, one rebound and one block in 33 minutes in his final game which the Warriors used as a dress rehearsal. Curry had over 44 DKFP in each of his three regular-season matchups against the Clippers last season, but Los Angeles has a very different look after a transformational offseason. Curry and the Warriors will look to show they still can contend by making a statement against the Clippers.
Other Options — Russell Westbrook ($8,900), Trae Young ($8,600)
ValueGeorge Hill, MIL at HOU, $3,300 — Hill is expected to be the primary backup PG for the Bucks this season but could be in store for more work than usual with Eric Bledsoe ($6,300; ribs) potentially limited after fracturing the cartilage between two of his ribs earlier this month and missing most of the preseason. Hill got extra run this preseason but didn’t do much with the extra minutes. Since he’ll get so much time, though, he should be able to do enough to return a good investment on this minimal salary. With so many big-name PGs, there are limited affordable guard options.
Other Options — Derrick Rose ($5,400), Patrick Beverley ($4,600)
StudJames Harden, HOU vs. MIL, $9,700 — The Rockets moved on from Chris Paul and added Russell Westbrook ($8,900), but it has been clear this preseason that the offense is still all about Harden. The Beard played all six preseason games for Houston and averaged 28.8 minutes and producing 31.2 points, 9.0 assists, 6.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals. He continues to pile up immense counting stats every time he’s on the floor, so a matchup with the Bucks in what could be an NBA Finals preview should have him fired up for a big opening night. If you can work his salary under your cap, he’s actually under-priced at under $10K, and likely won’t be this affordable again for a while.
Other Options — D’Angelo Russell ($7,800), Lou Williams ($6,700)
ValueWesley Matthews, MIL at HOU, $3,500 — Matthews may have the unenviable task of chasing around Harden since he’ll be starting at SG for the Bucks for this contest. He is expected to be in a committee with Pat Connaughton ($3,200) and Kyle Korver ($3,200), but it’s a great sign for his short-term bargain value that he’ll get the start. Matthews averaged over 20 DKFP per game in over 30 minutes a game last season with the Mavericks, Pacers and Knicks. At such an affordable price, Matthews’ balanced production across the stat sheet should allow him to be a nice value.
Other Options — Eric Gordon ($4,300), Bruce Brown Jr. ($3,400)
StudKawhi Leonard, LAC vs. GS, $9,100 — After carrying the Raptors to a title, Leonard picked up where he left off on Tuesday night. In his debut with the Clippers, Leonard dropped 48.5 DKFP on 30 points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block. He dominated the Warriors in last year’s NBA Finals and will look to continue his strong start. He’s a relatively safe play as long as he’s healthy, especially while Paul George (shoulders) is still sidelined and Kawhi is carrying more of the load.
Other Options — Giannis Antetokounmpo ($10,300), Khris Middleton ($6,900)
ValueLuke Kennard, DET vs. ATL, $4,700 — Kennard came off the bench in the Pistons’ win on Wednesday night, but he still was a key to them getting past the Pacers. He scored 30 points in 28 minutes, hitting 6-of-9 3-pointers and totaling 39.25 DKFP. He has another tasty matchup against the Hawks, who struggled to defend opposing wings last season. Kennard proved he has the potential firepower to help make up for the absence of Griffin and keep the Pistons competitive. He’s not the bargain he was Wednesday, a contest in which he only cost $3,300, but Kennard is still a very solid play given his matchup and extremely high ceiling.
Other Options — Moe Harkless ($4,000), Cam Reddish ($3,600)
StudJohn Collins, ATL at DET, $7,300 — The Pistons are a little thin up front without Griffin, which let the Pacers big beat them up on Wednesday. Collins will try to get his third season in the NBA off to a good start by continuing that trend. Last season, he averaged 36.9 DKFP on 19.5 points and 9.8 boards in 30.0 minutes per contest. He battled the flu late in preseason, but as long as he’s 100%, he’ll be a nice option near the top of the PF pile.
Other Options — Draymond Green ($7,100), Montrezl Harrell ($6,100)
ValueJaMychal Green, LAC vs. GS, $4,400 — Green didn’t start for the Clippers but did produce 21 DKFP in 19 minutes off the bench. It will be tricky to figure out how Doc Rivers will use his “sliding” starting lineup, but Green definitely seems to be one of the key options in the rotation. He had 12 points and six rebounds against the Lakers and should be a solid value play if you go cheap at one of your forward spots.
Other Options — Markieff Morris ($4,200), P.J Tucker ($3,900)
StudAndre Drummond, DET vs. ATL, $8,300 — Drummond opened the season on Wednesday with an impressive 32 points, 23 rebounds and 78.25 DKFP in 41 minutes against Indiana. Even though he may get fewer minutes on the second night of a back-to-back, he’ll be in a great matchup against the Hawks and will again have to carry the load with Griffin sidelined. He doesn’t have to go off like he did to be a good investment at this salary, but another 20-20 night is definitely a possibility, giving him a high ceiling.
Other Options — Clint Capela ($7,500), Brook Lopez ($5,800)
ValueKevon Looney, GS vs. LAC, $5,100 — Looney is expected to be ready to go for the Warriors’ season opener despite a hamstring issue that kept him out of the preseason. With Willie Cauley-Stein nursing a foot injury that is expected to keep him out a month, Looney will be needed for all the minutes he can handle against the solid frontcourt of the Clippers. Looney will be one of several Warriors who will need to step up and emerge if Golden State wants to be able to remain a playoff contender after their roster shakeup this offseason. Looney showed flashes of potential and brings plenty of upside into the season if he can stay healthy.
Other Options — Alex Len ($5,500), Ivica Zubac ($3,500)
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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.