The NBA Cheat Sheet is an article that will come your way five days a week all season with the goal of breaking down the best and worst fantasy basketball matchups/spots at each position.
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Here’s what stands out on Thursday’s four-game slate:
Defense vs. Position
Point Guard MatchupsBEST
Golden State Warriors at Washington Wizards, 28th
Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns, 27th
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 25th
The PG position is loaded for such a short slate, and each of the three studs here are in play. I would rank them in reverse of how the matchups are listed above, leaving Russell Westbrook ($10,700) as the top option against a fast-paced New Orleans squad playing on the second night of a back-to-back. Damian Lillard ($8,400) is in a strong spot against the Suns, but a questionable tag due to a hand injury means you’ll need to follow his status. Stephen Curry ($9,100) and the rest of the Warriors are all viable options, but blowout potential leaves some risk.
Washington Wizards vs. Golden State Warriors, 8th
Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers, 9th
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, 11th
The Wizards are the team I’m looking to fade here, but injury situations keep options alive on the Lakers and Timberwolves. Rajon Rondo ($5,200) is a potential option if he returns for the Lakers.
Shooting Guard MatchupsBEST
Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers, 29th
New Orleans Pelicans at Oklahoma City Thunder, 27th
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 26th
Andrew Wiggins ($5,600) finally had a bounce-back game Tuesday against the Suns, scoring more than 30 DKFP and exceeding value. Somehow his salary’s continued to decline entering a matchup he’s smashed already this season against the Lakers. In a pair of games against the Lakers this year, Wiggins is averaging more than 40 DKFP, leaving him in an ideal spot to capitalize on a high ceiling at one of the cheapest price points you’ll find him.
Washington Wizards vs. Golden State Warriors, 4th
Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns, 5th
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, 15th
Bradley Beal ($8,900) carries a little too much risk for my interest here. His upside is obvious, but the most recent time he faced the Warriors, he played just 19 minutes — although he wasn’t a complete bust with 35 DKFP. C.J. McCollum ($6,300) is the name to pay attention to, as he’d become one of the slate’s top plays if Lillard sits out.
Small Forward MatchupsBEST
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, 30th
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 29th
Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers, 26th
This gives you another spot to slot Wiggins, but I prefer him at SG because of the strength of SF. Paul George ($9,600) has been the OKC star that’s given the Pelicans problems this season, averaging more than 52 DKFP against them in two contests (close to 10 more per game than Westbrook). But Kyle Kuzma’s ($6,900) 20-DKFP dud against the Warriors created some value for him on this slate. His salary’s down $700 heading into the top SF matchup in the league, with a pair of 50-DKFP games in his past three.
Golden State Warriors at Washington Wizards, 2nd
New Orleans Pelicans at Oklahoma City Thunder, 12th
Washington Wizards vs. Golden State Warriors, 14th
Kevin Durant ($9,000) isn’t a fade because of the spot, but there are just better studs to pay up for. The Warriors have less value when they’re fully healthy, and the hometown narrative for KD here doesn’t really apply — he scored 45 DKFP in his game in Washington last season. The other side of the matchup carries a little more value in the hot, but underpriced, Otto Porter Jr. ($6,100). The matchup is average on paper, but the blowout potential is what can limit Porter’s floor.
Power Forward MatchupsBEST
Golden State Warriors at Washington Wizards, 25th
New Orleans Pelicans at Oklahoma City Thunder, 21st
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, 19th
Julius Randle ($7,800) is the play I’m focusing on here. He hasn’t seen as much production as we thought since Anthony Davis (hand) went down but still is managing more than 40 DKFP per game in just over 30 minutes. As long as the Pelicans can remain competitive in this one, Randle should remain a strong play with his salary taking a $600 dip in just a day. Nikola Mirotic (calf) has been ruled out for the Pelicans, so the PF minutes should be dominated by Randle in this one.
Washington Wizards vs. Golden State Warriors, 2nd
Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns, 3rd
Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers, 6th
I’ll be fading these spots, but a value to consider is Jake Layman ($3,200). If you’re really pressed for salary, Layman had scoring 20-plus DKFP in three straight games, prior to a letdown against OKC.
Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns, 30th
Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers, 26th
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 22nd
Jusuf Nurkic ($8,000) and Steven Adams ($6,600) are both extremely solid plays on this slate. But the center that will garner all the attention should be Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,200) in Los Angeles. KAT’s already scored more than 60 DKFP in each of his games this week and averages 54.5 DKFP in three matchups already this season versus the Lakers. I have no issue stacking Wiggins and KAT in a GPP or cash.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, 3rd
New Orleans Pelicans at Oklahoma City Thunder, 11th
Phoenix Suns vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 12th
No AD for the Pelicans has led to the emergence of Jahlil Okafor ($4,900). The former No. 3 overall pick from Duke’s been riding the bench all season, but in the past two games has posted averages of more than 40 DKFP and 33 minutes. He’s double-double’d in both efforts, and while the matchup is tough against OKC, there’s still too much value to pass on right now.
Lineup Quick Hits
Superstar Worth Paying ForKarl-Anthony Towns ($10,200)— KAT slightly edges out Russ here for me. The Wolves project to be in a much closer game than the Thunder, and KAT’s smashed this matchup all season. That said, this slate could offer the type of value to get both these studs in your lineups.
Save The Big Bucks By Drafting …Andrew Wiggins ($5,600) — The continuous decline in salary on Wiggins just doesn’t make sense to me, and it couldn’t come at a better time. Wiggins has performed very well against the Lakers this season, which is an especially good sign considering that matchups can tend to carry a lot of weight as to which spots he breaks out in.
Next Man UpJahlil Okafor ($4,900) — Okafor should be one of the most popular values on the slate, and the big point spread against the Thunder shouldn’t make much of a difference. Okafor’s been seeing his minutes when the game’s close and remaining in there for garbage time, so he carries a nice floor either way. Garbage time could even be more beneficial to him so that he’s matched up with Adams less.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) 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.