This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
Congrats folks, you've made it through the week and now it's time for some NBA action! We have 10 games on the docket to kick off the weekend, with the games set to begin at 7:00 PM Eastern time. We'll see some of the league's best on display throughout the night, including Giannis and LeBron. The last game of the night is between the Lakers and the Trail Blazers and is set to tip at 10:30 PM Eastern.
Here's another quick reminder that FanDuel has gone back to their old format, counting all nine of your player's scores within your lineup. With each selection counting towards your score, it'll be important to make each choice count.
Let's get to it!
Here are a few matchups to either target or avoid on this slate, based on FanDuel Sportsbook's projected scoring total. It can be beneficial to add players to your lineup who are expected to play in favorable scoring environments, especially if you're having a difficult time choosing between two value plays.
Denver Nuggets at Boston Celtics (Projected Total: 202.0)
This contest falls under the category of games to avoid, as it's expected to be one of the lowest-scoring affairs on the schedule. The Nuggets are averaging 106.1 points per game as a team, checking in at 23rd in the NBA. They'll also be playing the second half of a back-to-back and tired legs typically don't result in success. As for the Celtics, they boast one of the best defenses in the league and rank sixth in defensive efficiency. They do possess plenty of talent in Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. So if either of these teams breaks 100 points, Boston is likely the favorite to do so.
Los Angeles Clippers at Milwaukee Bucks (Projected Total: 232.5)
Featuring some of the top stars in the league, this showdown between the Bucks and Clippers is projected to rack up one of the higher point totals of the evening. Milwaukee leads the NBA with 121.1 points per game, and Los Angeles isn't far behind at 115.5. We also have the reigning MVP taking the court for the Bucks in Giannis Antetokounmpo, who's averaging 33 points, 11.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists over his last seven games. On the other side, Kahwi Leonard and Paul George are running the floor, and represent two stars in their own right. This matchup is likely to have at least a few solid value plays, such as George Hill ($3,800) and Patrick Beverley ($5,500).
With 20 teams set to see action Friday night, there will be plenty of opportunities to differentiate your lineups. Let's take a look at some of the options at each position.
PG: Damian Lillard enters as the top choice at point guard for $9,400, though he'll square off against one of the fiercest defenses in the league. If that's enough to scare you away, you'll find there are quality mid-tier options, such as Eric Bledsoe ($7,200) and Chris Paul ($6,900).
SG: Bradley Beal is the headliner at shooting guard, with Jimmy Butler priced right behind at $9,100. C.J. McCollum, Evan Fournier and Khris Middleton also represent quality options in the mid-tier range.
SF: You'll find plenty of star power at small forward, beginning with Giannis Antetokounmpo. LeBron James and Paul George are also available, making this one of the most stacked positions. In the event you want to save up, Jonathan Isaac is on the board for $7,500, and Luke Kennard could be considered a value play for only $5,500 - or 28.04 FD points per game.
PF: Anthony Davis (shoulder) and Kawhi Leonard are both up for grabs at power forward, though we also have plenty of value at this position. Kevin Love and Bam Adebayo are among the mid-tier choices, while Eric Paschall ($6,400) and Robert Covington ($5,800) are a few value plays to consider.
C: Karl-Anthony Towns is priced at $11,000, though he's probable with a right knee injury. Andre Drummond is right behind him for $10,600, followed by Nikola Jokic ($8,500). Brook Lopez and Myles Turner are a few low-priced players to take a look at lower down the list.
Injury Situations to Monitor
Tristan Thompson, CLE
Thompson is probable for Friday's matchup again Orlando due to illness. His availability should be cleared up closer to tip.
Markieff Morris, DET
Morris has been nursing a minor neck injury and is probable for Friday's game against Milwaukee.
Marcus Smart, BOS
Smart is being considered questionable due to illness and an oblique injury. His availability should clear up following morning shootaround. Brad Wanamaker should see more minutes if Smart is held out.
LaMarcus Aldridge, SAN
Aldridge is being considered a game-time decision for Friday's clash due to a right thigh injury. He's missed the last two contests while on the mend.
Kyle Kuzma, LAL
Kuzma is probable for Friday's game against Portland due to a mild left ankle sprain.
Anthony Davis, LAL
Davis is on the injury report due to a sore shoulder, though he's listed as probable. Expect the All-Star to take on his usual workload unless informed otherwise.
D'Angelo Russell, GS
Russell is expected to take the court against the Bulls after returning from a nine-game absence Wednesday, as the Warriors have likely added him to the injury report as a precaution. He'll presumably draw the start at point guard.
Justise Winslow, MIA
Winslow will be a game-time decision due to a strained lower back. How he feels during shootaround and pregame warmups will likely determine his status.
Andrew Wiggins, MIN
Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN
Towns is on the injury report due to a right knee injury but is expected to be cleared prior to tip.
Gary Trent, POR
Trent has been nursing a hamstring injury and will carry a questionable tag into Friday. He hasn't taken the court since Nov. 23.
Cory Joseph, SAC
Joseph will be a game-time decision after being added to the injury report Thursday evening with a back injury.
Marvin Bagley, SAC
Bagley is doubtful for Friday's matchup, so expect Nemanja Bjelica to hold onto his starting role for now.
We have five players on the board available for $10K or more Friday night: Giannis, LeBron, Anthony Davis (shoulder), Karl-Anthony Towns (knee) and Andre Drummond. Antetokounmpo will be a tough player to leave off out of your lineup despite his demanding price tag, as he's been of the most consistent and dominant stars in DFS play this season with 59.4 FD points per game. He'll draw an enticing matchup in what figures to be a high-scoring contest against the Clippers.
While the stars above are enough to make your mouth water, it doesn't mean that's all the elite talent out there. Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal and Jimmy Butler are three big names up for grabs in the backcourt, while Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Nikola Jokic comprise the elite frontcourt choices. These players can be scooped up for just under $10K apiece.
As is usually the case, the stars of the night are expected to be chalky plays within this slate. Giannis, LeBron, AD, KAT, and perhaps even Bradley Beal will likely be highly sought after.
Another good chunk of the expected chalk should come from the injury front. Brad Wanamaker ($3,700) may be a popular value play if Marcus Smart (illness, oblique) is unable to go. Moving to Minnesota, Keita Bates-Diop ($3,800) and Treveon Graham ($3,500) could see higher ownership than usual if Andrew Wiggins (thumb) is ultimately ruled out.
Nerlens Noel, OKC vs. MIN ($4,800):
Noel comes in as a solid value choice, as he's averaging 22.3 FD points per game this season and has racked up 20-plus FD points in each of his last three matchups. The Kentucky product isn't exactly a threat to put up big scoring numbers, but his defensive presence is typically what keeps him in the DFS conversation. Noel is averaging 7.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.4 assists over 19 games this season, contributing across the board on a nightly basis. He'll face a favorable matchup in the Timberwolves, who may be shorthanded with Andrew Wiggins' (thumb) status in question.
Lonnie Walker IV, SA vs. SAC($3,600):
Walker has watched his minutes rapidly increase over the last two contests, and he rewarded fantasy owners by producing 28 points along with four rebounds, three steals and a block over 34 minutes Tuesday against the Rockets. While he's not expected to hear his name called in the starting lineup, the Spurs are making a conscious effort to move him into a more prominent role. He's finished in double figures in all three of the games in which he's logged 10 or more minutes, making his 7.02 FPPG extremely deceiving. With the money you'd save by drafting Walker, guys like Giannis, Anthony Davis and LeBron James are far more attainable.