NBA Picks: Top Fantasy Basketball Targets, Values For January 3

After a busy start to the new year, the NBA has a more limited slate of fantasy basketball action this Thursday with just three games on the schedule. It’s a great set of games, though, including plenty of storylines and intrigue. The first matchup of the night is the return of Kawhi Leonard ($8,800) to San Antonio as he and the Raptors face former Raptor DeMar DeRozan ($7,800). That narrative-stuffed contest is followed pair of Western Conference matchups. The Nuggets visit the Kings in a matchup of two overachieving teams on the rise before established powers meet in Golden State as the Warriors host James Harden ($11,000) and the Rockets in a rematch of last season’s Western Conference Finals.

None of the six teams in action are finishing a back-to-back, so rotations should be fairly typical. As you dig in to each matchup  and consider your options, take a look at these top studs and values at each position. It’s also a good idea to always check back on the DK Live app or live.draftkings.com for any late-breaking news that changes things up as we approach tipoff.

Point Guard

Stud

Stephen Curry, GS vs. HOU, $9,500 — Curry has at least 48 DKFP in three straight games and in six of his past nine. He only needed 32 minutes to score 34 points to go with nine rebounds and four assists on his way to 54.25 DKFP on Monday in Phoenix in his most recent contest. Both the Rockets and Warriors should be well-rested after two days off, and Curry should be fresh for his matchup with Harden. While Harden has the higher ceiling and better recent form, Curry’s salary is significantly lower and could make fitting in another star more possible on this limited slate.

Other Options — De’Aaron Fox ($7,500), Jamal Murray ($7,300)

Value

Derrick White, SA vs. TOR, $4,700 — White finished 2018 with three strong performances against the Nuggets, Clippers and Celtics. He had at least 10 points and 30 DKFP in each contest and continues to play 28-30 minutes a night for coach Gregg Popovich. White is far from the focus of the offense but has been a solid secondary scorer while contributing solid counting stats lately.

Other Options — Fred VanVleet ($5,700), Monte Morris ($4,500)


Shooting Guard

Stud

James Harden, HOU at GS, $11,000 — Without Chris Paul (hamstring), Harden has been doing even more of the heavy lifting in Houston, and his usage rate continues to lead the NBA at 37.4 percent. It has been even higher at 43.4 percent over his past five games, and he has at least 39 points and 60 DKFP in each of those contests, including 71.25 DKFP against the Pelicans and 82.0 DKFP against the Grizzlies in his final two games of 2018. He’ll look to start 2019 with a win over the Warriors, who have not been blowing people out at home lately. If the game stays close, Harden should deliver good returns despite his hefty price tag.

Other Options — DeMar DeRozan ($7,800), Buddy Hield ($6,300)

Value

Bogdan Bogdanovic, SAC vs. DEN, $5,800 — Bogdanovic started the season late but has made up for lost time while establishing himself as a key piece of the Kings’ rotation. He still comes off the bench but has played at least 30 minutes in each of his past three games and produced 30.5, 36.75 and 38.25 DKFP. He has a nice ceiling for a player less than $6K and has scored at least 10 points in all but four of his 25 games this season, making him a solid and reliable play.

Other Options — Bryn Forbes ($4,400), Danny Green ($4,000)


Small Forward

Stud

Kawhi Leonard, TOR at SA, $8,800 — The narrative here is extremely obvious, but Leonard was so upset with the Spurs’ organization there should be extra motivation as he returns to San Antonio. He comes in with good form after dropping 45 points and 53.0 DKFP against the Jazz on New Year’s Day and has at least 47 DKFP in five of his past seven games. He has picked up a little more work without Kyle Lowry ($7,100; back, questionable) but hasn’t been quite as broad with his multi-category contributions as during his time with the Spurs. Given his form and role, Leonard would be worth a look at this price regardless of opponent, but when you add in the heaping helping of salt that came with his departure from San Antonio, he becomes the most interesting player on the slate.

Value

Danuel House Jr., HOU at GS, $4,300 — House has filled in nicely for James Ennis (hamstring), who remains out for this contest with the Warriors. House has played at least 25 minutes in five straight games and has at least 20 DKFP in each of his past four contests. He scored 15 and 16 points in his final two games of 2018 and will look to continue his modest but valuable contributions in the new year. He isn’t a go-to option with a high ceiling, but he can be a solid value option to help you spend up for a star in another spot.

Other Options — Nemanja Bjelica ($5,300), Torrey Craig ($3,700)


Power Forward

Stud

Pascal Siakam, TOR at SA, $6,200 — Siakam has come a long way from last season, when he was a regular in my bargain bin post that highlights the top four players under $4K each Wednesday and Friday. This season, he has stepped into a larger role and is averaging 14.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.7 blocks in 30.6 minutes per game. With Jonas Valanciunas (thumb) out, Siakam has stepped up even more. He had 20 points, 12 rebounds and 41.5 DKFP against the Bulls on Sunday and followed that with 44.5 DKFP against the Jazz on Tuesday, when he had 28 points and 10 boards. He’ll go for his third straight 20-10 night as he takes on the Spurs.

Other Options — Kevin Durant ($9,200), LaMarcus Aldridge ($7,400)

Value

Davis Bertans, SA vs. TOR, $3,800 — With Rudy Gay ($5,500; wrist, questionable) not expected to play, Bertans could enter the starting lineup or at least see a larger role off the bench. He had a great shooting night Monday against Boston, including five 3-pointers and finished with 27.25 DKFP and 17 points. He has been over 15 DKFP in six of his past eight games. He shot 57.1 percent from long-range during the month of December and will continue to serve as a source of 3-point production and floor spacing for the Spurs.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Gay (wrist) has been upgraded to probable for tonight’s game.

Other Options — Paul Millsap ($5,200), P.J. Tucker ($4,200)


Center

Stud

Nikola Jokic, DEN at SAC, $9,800 — After hovering on the edge of a triple-double for a couple weeks, Jokic finally put up an over-stuffed stat line on New Year’s Day against the Knicks. He had 19 points, 15 assists, 14 rebounds and three blocks for an impressive 69.5 DKFP. He has at least 50 DKFP in six of his past 10 games and gets a great matchup against the Kings, who were just demolished by Jusuf Nurkic. Jokic’s game is similarly well-rounded, and he should be set up for another monster stat line as long as the game doesn’t turn into a blowout.

Other Option — Clint Capela ($6,900)

Value

Jokob Poeltl, SA vs. TOR, $3,500 — Poeltl got the start in place of Gay on Monday but only produced 16.5 DKFP in 20 minutes against the Celtics. He is another one of the pieces of the Kawhi trade in a possible revenge spot and typically is an efficient option on a per-minute basis. He doesn’t have the scoring potential of Bertans but does have upside if he’s in the lineup against Siakam, Serge Ibaka ($5,600) and the rest of his former teammates.

Other Options — Serge Ibaka ($5,600), Kevon Looney ($3,900)


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.