Kawhi Leonard

Among the three games on the docket in the NBA on Thursday is a matchup between two Western Conference teams with playoff aspirations in the Spurs and Clippers. It will be no easy task for the Spurs to pull out the win on the road, but it should be a fun game none the less. This matchup also brings another opportunity to play the DraftKings Showdown contest, so let’s discuss how things might play out.

Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.


FIVE BETTING TRENDS

— The underdogs have won 12 of the last 16 games between the Spurs and Clippers at Staples Center.

— DeMar DeRozan has scored 23-plus points in each of his last nine road appearances against Pacific Division opponents.

— Lou Williams has scored 21 or more points in each game for the Clippers this season.

— Each of the Spurs’ last six games at Staples Center have gone OVER the total points line.

— The Clippers have failed to cover the spread in 10 of the last 12 home games on the second leg of a back-to-back.

Stats provided by DraftKings Sportsbook


SHOWDOWN STRATEGY

Spurs

Make no mistake about it, the Spurs are only going to go as far as the duo of LaMarcus Aldridge ($9,800) and DeMar DeRozan ($9,400) can take them. Aldridge has been about as consistent as it gets and is coming off of an impressive 2018-19 campaign in which he averaged 21.3 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.3 blocks. He’s on that same path again this season with averages of 21.3 points, eight rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.7 blocks across three games. After a quiet performance in the Spurs’ season opener, DeRozan has bounced back to score at least 37.3 DKFP in back-to-back games. He produced a 27.9% usage rate last season and will once again be one of the focal points of their offense.

A player who is quickly emerging as the next best player on the team behind their star duo is Dejounte Murray ($8,200). He missed all of last season with a torn ACL, but he is healthy now and has the ability to contribute in multiple areas. Case in point, he’s averaging 14.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, six assists and two steals through three games. At a slightly more budget-friendly price, he’s extremely appealing.

After Murray, it’s a steep drop off to the next best players on the Spurs. In terms of price, Rudy Gay ($5,600) is the next most expensive. However, he’s serving in a reserve role and has logged 20 minutes or fewer in two of three games, which limits his upside. The same can be said for Derrick White ($5,400), who has logged 22 minutes or fewer two times. While he did score 21 points on his way to 31.8 DKFP in his last outing against the Blazers, he shot 8-for-11 from the field. That success rate obviously isn’t sustainable. One player who might be appealing at a cheap price is Bryan Forbes ($4,800). He’s logged at least 29 minutes in all three games, scoring at least 23.8 DKFP each time. Although his usage rate is just 18.3%, he’s 9-for-21 from behind the arc.

Once you get past Forbes, the rest of the players on the Spurs are mostly dart throws. Trey Lyles ($3,800) has been starting at power forward, but he has 11 total shot attempts for the season. Even though Jakob Poeltl ($3,400) is one of their primary big men off the bench, he hasn’t played more than 16 minutes in a game so far.


Clippers

The most expensive player by a country mile on this slate is Kawhi Leonard ($12,400). While he didn’t play Wednesday against the Jazz, that was just a matter of sitting him for one half of the Clippers’ back-to-back set. He’ll play in this matchup and has scored at least 40.8 DKFP in all four games this season. He will continue to be their offensive leader with Paul George (shoulders) out.

The players with the highest upside on the team after Leonard are actually a duo who come off the bench. Lou Williams ($9,000) has still been one of the focal points of their offense, scoring at least 21 points in all five games. Despite struggling against the Jazz on Wednesday, Montrezl Harrell ($8,800) has once again played well with averages of 18.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists.

Patrick Beverley ($6,600) is on this team to play defense, not to score in bunches. He has limited upside, as a result, evident by the fact that he hasn’t scored more than 24.8 DKFP in a game so far. Landry Shamet ($5,800) starts and is averaging 33 minutes a game, but he’s been barely involved offensively with his 12.5% usage rate, so it’s tough to justify spending this much to put him into your entry. I’d much prefer to go with Forbes, who is $1,000 cheaper and has more upside.

One risky option is Ivica Zubac ($4,600), who has scored at least 23 DKFP in three of his last four games. However, with Aldridge starting at center for the Spurs, the Clippers might be better off playing Harrell even more minutes, possibly leaving Zuba with a limited role despite his starting status. Moe Harkless ($3,600), Patrick Patterson ($3,000) and JaMychal Green ($2,800) have all been splitting time at power forward with George out, but that leaves each of them as inconsistent sources of production.


THE OUTCOME

I’d like the Spurs’ chances to pull out the upset more if this game was in San Antonio, but since it’s in Los Angeles, the Clippers are likely to emerge victorious. In terms of the Captain’s spot Leonard ($18,600 CP) is probably the safest bet. However, he’ll also hamstring your budget. With the Clippers being an excellent defensive team on the perimeter, the Spurs might have to rely heavily on Aldridge ($14,700 CP) down low, making him someone to also consider at a more cost-effective price.

Final Score: Clippers 118, Spurs 106


Favorite Prop Bet

Dejounte Murray, 21.5 total points + rebounds + assists: Over (-110)

Murray might only be averaging 23 minutes a night, but that hasn’t stopped him from putting up some gaudy numbers. He’s been highly productive in all three of these categories, averaging 14.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and six assists. His last outing against the Blazers was his worst performance of the young season and he still finished with seven points, seven rebounds and eight assists.

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mbarner51) 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.


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