The first full work week of 2020 is a busy one for the NBA, and it gets started this Monday with a nine-game fantasy basketball slate. None of the 18 teams in action are playing on the second night of a back-to-back but the Nets, Thunder and Kings will turn around and play on Tuesday after getting the week started tonight. There are a handful of elite options priced over $9K to consider led by the amazing Luka Doncic ($12,200) and Giannis Antetokounmpo ($10,900), who is probable while battling back soreness.
Whether you’re paying all the way up for those stars with five-figure salaries or building around other expensive plays, you may need to save some salary at the end of your roster. If you have to dive into the bargain bin looking for value, check out my top four options in play for under $4K.
WHERE TO FIND VALUE
NBA BUILDING BLOCKS
PF/C OMARI SPELLMAN, GS at SAC, $3,900The Warriors have been a great source of value since they’ve had so many unknowns stepping into larger roles due to injury. Sometimes the value has been a little tricky to predict, but lately, it has been Spellman who has stepped up and should continue to get that chance with Draymond Green (ankle), Kevon Looney (abdomen) and D’Angelo Russell (shoulder) listed as out for Monday night’s game.
Spellman showed flashes of potential during his rookie year with the Hawks, and the Warriors grabbed him in a trade this offseason. He has been on the fringe of the rotation most of the year and scored fewer than 10 points in his final eight games of 2019. He has turned the corner so far in 2020, though, with 10 points, five rebounds and 17.25 DKFP against the Timberwolves last Thursday. He was even better than that Saturday against the Pistons, dropping 23 points to go with five boards and four steals on his way to an impressive 42.25 DKFP. While Marquese Chriss ($4,800), Willie Cauley-Stein ($4,400) and Eric Paschall ($3,700) are still around to share time with him in the frontcourt, Spellman should have earned 20-plus minutes against the Kings with his strong play recently. I think he’ll continue his strong start to the new year, especially with Green out this Monday.
SF/PF THADDEUS YOUNG, CHI at DAL, $3,700If you want a more proven and seasoned option, although with a lower ceiling, take a look at Young, who should be lined up for major minutes against the Mavs. Lauri Markkanen ($5,900; ankle) was listed as doubtful, which should open up playing time for Young. He ended up with 27 minutes on Saturday to help compensate for Markkanen’s departure and could be around that number again.
Young has played over 25 minutes three times in his past 11 games and has scored in double digits with over 20 DKFP in each of those three outings. He had 20.5 DKFP against Boston on Saturday and showed he still can have a high ceiling with 40.75 DKFP on Dec. 11 against the Hawks when he played 33 minutes. If Markkanen is out as expected, Young will be one of the top bargains to use to save salary.
C ANZEJS PASECNIKS, WAS vs. BOS, $3,600Pasecniks could be left as basically the last man standing in the Washington frontcourt, depending on the status of Ian Mahinmi ($4,500; finger, questionable). With Thomas Bryant (foot), Rui Hachimura (groin) and Moritz Wagner (ankle) already out, Pasecniks has been sharing time with Mahinmi since signing with the Wizards on Dec. 17. He has only played 10 career games, but he seven-footer has shown he can be a serviceable fantasy bargain.
In his 10 games, he has averaged 20.9 minutes per game with 7.8 points, 6.5 rebounds 1.1 assists and 18.27 DKFP. He has produced over 20 DKFP in three of his past four contests and has at least eight rebounds in four straight games. In Mahinmi is ruled out, Pasecniks will need to absorb as many minutes as possible in the middle, and he has shown he can return value even if Mahinmi is able to play.
SG/SF LONNIE WALKER IV, SA vs. MIL, $3,400The Spurs have been high on Walker for a while but have kept him in a very limited role while giving him time to develop in the G-League. That’s starting to change, though, and the 21-year-old got his first NBA start on Saturday night against the Bucks.
Walker wasn’t at his best and shot just 3-of-12 from the field while contributing two steals, two rebounds, an assist and 15.0 DKFP. The game before that he flashed more of his upside with 16 points, seven rebounds and 27.25 DKFP in 21 minutes off the bench. Walker’s best game of the season was on Dec. 3 when he had 28 points, four rebounds, three steals and 42 DKFP in 35 minutes off the bench when the Spurs upset Houston. While it doesn’t look like Walker’s ready to contribute at that level on a nightly basis just yet, it does show his high ceiling. If he gets a second straight start against Milwaukee, I think he’ll perform much better and continue to show why Spurs’ fans are very excited about his future in their backcourt.
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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.