The NBA gets the weekend started this Friday night with a massive 11-game fantasy basketball slate. There will be plenty of star power on the court, including 10 players with salaries of at least $9K. Whether you’re building around a big-man like Andre Drummond ($10,500), Joel Embiid ($10,400), Anthony Davis ($10,100) and Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,300) or one of the two dynamic forwards at the top of the salary structure, Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,500) and LeBron James ($10,600), you’ll need to save some salary at other spots to help compensate for their hefty salaries.
As you search for the best value plays from the bargain bin, take a look at my top four plays under $4K for this Friday night.
PF/C KELLY OLYNYK, MIA at LAL, $3,800
The Heat won’t have Justise Winslow (concussion) on Friday night in Los Angeles, and Derrick Jones Jr. ($3,200) had to leave Thursday’s game with a hip flexor injury. The Heat could be thin at PF, but Olynyk has been picking it up lately and will look to continue his strong start to November.
After starting the season in a shooting slump and shooting just 28% in his five games in October, Olynyk has hit 50% of his shots in each of his past three games. He has at least 21 DKFP in four straight games after finishing with 21.25 DKFP on seven points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals in 24 minutes Thursday in Phoenix. Olynyk has offered some nice spark off the bench and seems to be finding his rhythm. His multi-category production makes him a relatively low-risk option Friday in Los Angeles.
PG QUINN COOK, LAL vs. MIA, $3,600
On the other side of the Heat-Lakers matchup, Cook could have a big role again depending on the availability of Avery Bradley ($3,800; leg, questionable). With Bradley and Rajon Rondo (calf, out) both sidelined, Cook played a season-high 26 minutes Tuesday against the Bulls. The fourth-year guard from Duke scored the second-most points on the team with 17 while chipping in four rebounds, two assists and 30 DKFP.
Cook will be a great play if Bradley remains out Friday night, especially against the Heat and their young backcourt. If Bradley returns, though, he could end up in a more reduced role. Cook showed during his stint with the Warriors that he can step up when given an expanded role, so take advantage if he gets more minutes against Miami.
PG/SG ANFERNEE SIMONS, POR vs. BKN, $3,300
Simons has served as the primary backup for Damian Lillard ($9,000) and CJ McCollum ($6,000) this season but also has been playing important crunch-time minutes as his role increases and coach Terry Stotts starts to trust him more. Simons has scored at least 13 points and had at least 19.75 DKFP in three straight contests.
The 20-year-old doesn’t offer a ton of non-scoring numbers but has been chipping in a few assists and rebounds. If he keeps playing 20-plus minutes, he’ll be a solid option for Portland and his fantasy owners since he definitely has scoring ability. The Trail Blazers took him with the No. 24 overall pick in last year’s draft and are very optimistic about the role he can play this season and going forward.
C BRUNO FERNANDO, ATL vs. SAC, $3,300
With John Collins (suspension) sidelined, the Hawks’ trio of centers should get every opportunity to step up over the next few weeks. Alex Len ($4,000) has been starting but not producing much while Fernando and Damian Jones ($3,000) are each playing double-digit minutes off the bench. The first of the three to put up a big game was Fernando, who the Hawks took with their second-round pick in this year’s draft out of Maryland.
Fernando had 10 points, six boards, two assists and 21.5 DKFP against the Bulls on Wednesday. He played a season-high 21 minutes, while Len played just 11 and Jones logged 14. It makes sense to give the youngest option the biggest bump in minutes while Collins is out to see what he can offer. If Fernando keeps getting over 20 minutes of run, he’ll be a nice value option with a salary this affordable this Friday.
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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.