This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
It's a slim slate tonight, but there's plenty of opportunity to be had. As the injuries begin to pile up, the value bin inflates in size. Let's dive in.
PHI (-8) vs. NY, O/U: 211.5
IND (-9.5) vs. POR, O/U:218.5
OKC (-7) vs. SAC, O/U: 222;5
LAL (-11.5) @ GS, O/U: 224.5
As you'll see below, value abounds, especially with the Lakers and the Sixers. I love the Thunder tonight as well and am largely staying off the Kings. The Knicks weren't really on my radar either.
INJURY SITUATIONS TO MONITOR
I won't mention ongoing injury situations to Ben Simmons, Damian Lillard and other long-term situations, but the notes of these players (provided by RotoWire) should point you in the right direction for pivots if you need a refresher.
LeBron James (groin) OUT
The Lakers can afford to give James the night off against a weak opponent. The only question here is how we take advantage of his absence. Due to his presence aa a ball distributor, my first instinct is to fire up Rajon Rondo ($3,500), but it might ultimately be better to ride with Kyle Kuzma ($3,900) or even the newly-acquired Markieff Morris ($3,100).
Joel Embiid (shoulder) QUESTIONABLE
Embiid is getting an MRI done today, so unless he feels ok and a clean bill of health is issued, I think Embiid's presence is in serious doubt. Al Horford ($5,200) is the safe pivot here, with Kyle O'Quinn ($3,000) as a bargain add if Embiid is out. With Ben Simmons also out, we should give their adjusted lineup a look before loading up on them.
Anthony Davis, LAL ($10,300) @ GS
Without LeBron on the floor, Davis is about as obvious as you'll get on a slate, but I wonder if we'll see some ownership backlash on this pick. In a moment I'll name who some might view as the ideal contrarian pick at this position, but a more 'meta' mindset about this lineup build is that sharps may move off Davis based on an assumption of huge ownership percentages. I have no problem endorsing him as a cash play, but he doesn't come in as high for me in GPP lineups.
Domantas Sabonis, IND ($9,100) @ POR
Sabonis is the contrarian pick I'm speaking of. The Trail Blazers rank dead-last in defense versus the center position, and despite falling short of value in three of his last 10 games, Sabonis is an ideal tournament grab. We can make up the kind of output we might get from AD without taking on huge ownership numbers. While ownership will still be high, it won't be as high as Davis.
CJ McCollum, POR ($9,000) vs. IND
Despite his inflated price, it still makes sense to back to the well with McCollum as long as Damian Lillard is out. The guard instills the kind of understated leadership the team sorely needs in the backcourt, and they need to kick things in gear if they have any hope of making the playoffs. He's giving it all he's got, as his three-game average of 60.7 DKFP is pretty remarkable.
Chris Paul, OKC ($7,900) vs. SAC
With all the injuries at the top, CP3 sticks out like a sore thumb on this slate, and we're lucky that he doesn't have a sore anything. Paul's been able to prove that he actually can stay healthy, and a look at his recent numbers show his ability to surpass 5x value at his current price. While his two-game average against the Kings sails just under that threshold, the Thunder have won four straight and are really starting to kick things into gear as the postseason approaches.
EXPECTED CHALK AND OTHER TARGETS
Tobias Harris, PHI ($7,500) vs. NY
As you might expect, Harris sees boosts in usage and production when Simmons and Embiid are off the floor. His usage goes up almost 3 percent, and he scores an average of 10 more points per 48 minutes when they are both on the bench. If we want to get really specific, those numbers against the Knicks are through the roof – Harris scores about 41 DKFP MORE on average against the Knicks without the Philly All-Stars. So, yeah. Great spot.
Andrew Wiggins, GS ($7,200) vs. LAL
The Warriors might actually have a shot to keep things close without LeBron James on the court, and Wiggins will be the difference-maker who can make that happen. After a red-hot start with his new team, Wiggins is starting to feel the effects of the overall downgrade in talent that surrounds him, and I don't think we'll see his true potential in San Francisco until Steph Curry returns. While he's no Kevin Durant, he's a solid core player who could give the Warriors a chance to stay competitive next year. Tonight is a night where he could show flickers of that future success.
Also consider: Steven Adams, OKC ($6,8000) vs. SAC
As per usual, the best values on the slate are in the injury section. I would seriously consider Horford, Kuzma and Rondo, along with the following low-cost plays.
T.J. Warren, IND ($6,000) @ POR
With Jeremy Lamb (knee) out for the season, Warren figures to be the biggest beneficiary going forward, and Victor Oladipo's struggles to get healthy further magnify his value. We've seen glimpses of big totals throughout the year, and I think we should see them soon, even as soon as tonight against Portland. While the O/U total is lower than I'd like, I'm willing to take a bet on Warren to beat value at just below the DK median price.
Josh Richardson, PHI ($5,300) vs. NY
Shake Milton, PHI ($4,700) vs. NY
I just scanned past a headline that read 'Sixers on the brink of disaster.' I think that's a bit extreme. While we don't know Embiid's future status, the team will get Simmons back in a few weeks. In the meantime, the squad has enough talent to stay relevant. I put Milton and Richardson together because they both represent a desired outcome for the backcourt that they now own in the short term. While I wouldn't stack them, there's ample evidence that both players have something going for them in this matchup. Milton is proving to be solid in Simmons' place, and Richardson is due for a big night from beyond the arc. The Knicks are 29th in opposing three-point percentage, so tonight might be the ideal night for him to get open and drop some bombs.
Dwight Howard, LAL ($4,100) @ GS
As we scan the usage numbers for the Lakers minus LeBron, none other than Dwight Howard shows up with a 3 percent usage boost and a 7 DKFP increase in production, trailing only Davis and Kuzma in those categories. He also fares much better than JaVale McGee, who only sees a modest usage bump and a decrease in average production. If you're one to put faith in the numbers, tonight could be a night to go deep and throw a hail-mary with Howard.
Also consider: Danilo Gallinari, OKC ($6,300) vs. SAC