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 six-game slate:
Defense vs. Position
Point Guard MatchupsBEST
Boston Celtics vs. Sacramento Kings, 30th
Denver Nuggets vs. Dallas Mavericks, 23rd
Orlando Magic vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, 18th
Plenty to go on here to pay up or target value. Kyrie Irving ($8,900) has been terrific lately for Boston. He exceeded value in two of the three games he played on the Celtics’ West Coast trip but missed the game against the Kings. D.J. Augustin ($4,400) has topped 20 DKFP in five straight, including 30 DKFP just a night earlier against Washington. Monte Morris ($3,500) has gone 10x value in back-to-back games, seeing more minutes with Isaiah Thomas ($3,100) cut from the rotation.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Indiana Pacers, 1st
Los Angeles Lakers at Toronto Raptors, 3rd
Sacramento Kings at Boston Celtics, 7th
I’m planning to fade these spots, and that includes Russell Westbrook ($10,900). Fading Russ can lead to trouble, but coming off a monster triple-double Wednesday, he finds himself in a difficult matchup. I’ll buy into the narrative of Paul George ($9,700) playing back in Indiana, which also could limit Westbrook’s upside.
Shooting Guard MatchupsBEST
Toronto Raptors vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 29th
Indiana Pacers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, 28th
Los Angeles Lakers at Toronto Raptors, 27th
These matchups don’t feature a ton of great plays to target, but Bojan Bogdanovic ($6,200) just has been so consistent for the Pacers. He essentially has reached value in six consecutive outings, playing no fewer than 30 minutes while flashing a 50-plus DKFP ceiling. It’s a good spot to catch him at home against OKC on the second leg of a back-to-back.
Minnesota Timberwolves at Utah Jazz, 2nd
Orlando Magic vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, 4th
Sacramento Kings at Boston Celtics, 6th
I’m not really interested in any of these situations. I think Denver and Indiana make for great spots to target value at both guard spots. I’ll lean on those spots and pay up elsewhere.
Small Forward MatchupsBEST
Utah Jazz vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, 27th
Dallas Mavericks at Denver Nuggets, 23rd
Orlando Magic vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, 22nd
Again, these matchups don’t do a good job of highlighting top plays. Utah is mostly overpriced because it just got some healthy bodies back. Aaron Gordon ($6,500) is playing pretty well, surpassing 30 DKFP in eight straight. AG averages more than 35 DKFP in two games against Cleveland this season, leaving him with some upside. Dorian Finney-Smith ($3,400) is playing a ton of minutes for his salary — 35 minutes and 23.25 DKFP in his most recent game. Those minutes at this price are worth considering.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Indiana Pacers, 2nd
Los Angeles Lakers at Toronto Raptors, 3rd
Cleveland Cavaliers at Orlando Magic, 7th
There are better SF plays on this slate (I’m mostly looking at Boston and Toronto), but Paul George ($9,700) should look to put on a show back in Indy. He’s a solid consideration.
Power Forward MatchupsBEST
Sacramento Kings at Boston Celtics, 25th
Oklahoma City Thunder at Indiana Pacers, 23rd
Indiana Pacers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, 22nd
Sticking with a Pacers team that’s had some strong mid-tier plays, Thad Young ($6,000) stands out here. PF could be weaker on the slate, but that same value from Boston and Toronto is available at SF/PF. That said, Young’s a safe play, having seen 33-37 minutes in each of his past five.
Minnesota Timberwolves at Indiana Pacers, 1st
Dallas Mavericks at Denver Nuggets, 4th
Toronto Raptors vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 8th
Kawhi Leonard ($8,700) is cheaper than we’re used to, which is great against this abysmal Laker defense. He only played 58 total minutes in his past two games but shot 25-for 39 from the field. This could be a breakout game with bigger minutes against the Lakers. Maxi Kleber ($3,700) has seen his minutes rise in three straight, playing more than 30 minutes in consecutive games. He’s a value play if he stays in his current role.
Minnesota Timberwolves at Utah Jazz, 27th
Boston Celtics vs. Sacramento Kings, 24th
Toronto Raptors vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 22nd
Just like yesterday, I think we can target all three centers in these matchups. Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,200) is listed as probable, but assuming he goes, he’s a great play. KAT averages 57 DKFP against Utah this season and has five games of 67 or more DKFP in his past eight. Al Horford ($6,300) just dropped 50 DKFP on the Kings last week, while Marc Gasol ($5,900) has seen his role grow with Toronto. He averaged more than 35 DKFP against the Lakers during his time in Memphis this season.
Sacramento Kings at Boston Celtics, 4th
Orlando Magic vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, 5th
Oklahoma City Thunder at Indiana Pacers, 6th
Nikola Vucevic ($9,200) is the only play I’m willing to spend on here. Vooch has been rock-solid lately and averages 48 DKFP in a pair of matchups against Cleveland this season.
Lineup Quick Hits
Superstar Worth Paying ForKarl-Anthony Towns ($10,200)— I’ll take the hot player in a matchup he’s dominated this season. I gave you all the numbers in the center matchups, and I expect KAT to continue to be a flamethrower. He’s cheap enough, and we have the type of value plays where you can fit a Kyrie or Kawhi-type play alongside him.
Save The Big Bucks By Drafting …Marc Gasol ($5,900) — This is the perfect matchup for Gasol to have his breakout game with Toronto. It’s a matchup he’s comfortable with and a pace that should favor fantasy points.
Next Man UpMonte Morris ($3,500) — It was the right move for the Nuggets to bump IT from the rotation, and that’ll be a big help to Morris’ value. His minutes almost have doubled over the past two games, but his salary hasn’t come close to catching up with his production.
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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.