This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
It's time to load up on cash games and restrict your GPP exposure to single-entry games as we hit another slim slate on Thursday.
PHI (-2.5) vs. BOS, O/U : 215.5
DET (-7) vs. CLE, O/U: 221
POR (-2.5) @ MIN, O/U: 224.5
HOU (-4) @OKC, O/U: 226.5
As you'll see, I'll make Houston and Philly the hallmark options today, and I'm not going to be as high on Boston, despite the public money leaning in that direction. Most of my lineups today are going to be incredibly balanced, with the bulk of my salary going to selections in the 6-7k range.
INJURY SITUATIONS TO MONITOR
Karl-Anthony Towns (knee) QUESTIONABLE
One has to wonder what 'day-to-day' truly means for Towns and his status, as he's held this tag for almost a month. Gorgui Dieng ($6,300) will continue to start in his place.
Joel Embiid (finger) OUT
Embiid will be out with a dislocated finger for at least one game. I'll identify one clear endorsement for this scenario in a later section, but I suspect Kyle O'Quinn ($4,900) will get the start, with Mike Scott ($4,000) filling in at the position as well.
Danilo Gallinari (calf) OUT
Darius Bazley ($3,500) will start for Gallinari once again. He won't have to do much to beat value here. Mike Muscala ($4,000) logged 17 minutes and racked up 19.5 DKFP with Gallinari out, so we may see more of him as well.
A double-dose of revenge is on tap as we look at the top of this slate. I'm usually a fan of this intangible, and tonight is no exception.
Russell Westbrook ($8,400) got the night off on Wednesday, so he'll be more than ready to tackle his former team on what was once his home turf. It should be an emotional night for players and fans alike as Westbrook sets foot on the court of Chesapeake Arena for the first time this season. He took them for 50 DKFP when he last faced them in Houston, and I expect another big stat line here. What do we do with James Harden ($12,200)? He didn't meet value (57 DKFP) when the Rockets last met the Thunder, and the Beard is coming off a huge 81 DKFP performance last night. I don't think they'll sit Harden, and there's little indication that a back-to-back situation affects his bottom line too much. He had 100% exposure for me last night as I rode a Harden/Young stack, but I will dial that down a little bit tonight and instead opt for a healthy dose of Westbrook.
On the other end, you have a slightly overpriced Chris Paul ($7,400), who you'd like to see rise to the occasion against the squad that dealt him for Westbrook. He couldn't get anything going in the first meeting of the two teams, and we'd need to see at least 35 DKFP for Paul to be worth the risk. He's eclipsed that total in six of the last 10 games, so it's kind of a toss-up for Paul in this scenario.
Andre Drummond, DET ($10,200) vs CLE
We've got some incredibly recent history here! Drummond laid down the hammer on Cleveland two days ago with a convincing 61 DKFP score and not much has changed in the game script that would indicate a deviation from that result. My knock on Drummond is that his past 10 games have been a bit of a mixed bag, with totals ranging from 26 DKFP (a Wizards blowout) to the aforementioned 61 on Tuesday. I can see the rationale for putting down an anchor elsewhere but I have to give him a little bit of coverage in hopes of getting at least 5x value from him.
Hassan Whiteside, POR ($9,300) @ MIN
Drummond is all fine and good but for $900 less, I think you could get equal and possibly greater output from Whiteside if Towns misses this game. He's put up a solid value-beating 52 DKFP average over his past five games, and has already blitzed the T-Wolves with a 63 DKFP score this season. I'm not a believer in a two-center stack tonight, but it's there if you want it.
EXPECTED CHALK AND OTHER TARGETS
It's time to drill down here and look at usage when Embiid is off the court, with a focus on per 48 numbers specifically. Harris sees a 2.3 percent usage bump and an increase of 9.02 DKFP per game, and Horford sees a 4.68 percent usage increase and a DKFP boost of 9.82 points. Need I say more? Interestingly, Ben Simmons regresses in the same scenario. I'm going to take these numbers to the bank tonight.
Andrew Wiggins, MIN ($7,000) vs. POR
Wiggins is due for a rebound after a couple of average games against Memphis and Cleveland. He'll have to contend with Carmelo Anthony ($6,600) for a good percentage of the game, an element Wiggins didn't have to face when he last faced Portland. I like them both in this game, and if they do end up opposite each other, it'll make for some good television.
Derrick Rose, DET ($6,500) vs. CLE
Rose proved to be effective against the Cavs two days ago, as he rang up 24 points and seven assists Rose doesn't show much deviation between home and away games, but he does shoot the three much better at Little Caesars Arena. Cleveland is among the league's worst in defending the three, so look for Rose to make a few more long-range shots tonight.
Dennis Schroder, OKC ($6,100) vs. HOU
Even though Schroder isn't starting, he's seeing 30 or more minutes off the bench on a consistent basis as he spells both Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Of course, both of the Thunder starting guards are excellent choices in their own right, but Schroder fits the bill from a price perspective. Paul and SGA are more than 1k away from Schroder's price and if we're talking about floor probability, there isn't much of a dropoff. In fact, Schroder sees more minutes than CP3 on occasion.
Robert Covington, MIN ($5,700) vs. POR
Covington continues to be a defensive standout, with 45 rebounds, 15 steals and six blocked shots over the past six games. I think his numbers will tick down a bit when Towns returns, but for the time being, I think Covington is favorably priced and a valuable add as we strive for balance on today's slate.
Jarrett Culver, MIN ($5,100) vs. POR
I think the battle between Culver and Josh Okogie for time at this position will continue to frustrate a bit, but right now the pendulum is definitely swinging Culver's way. He's hitting almost 7x value over his past five games with a 32.4 DKFP average and is beating out Okogie in minutes and production.
While there's value further down this list, I think that your framework is all here, and there isn't much need to dive too deep in the bargain bin. If you spent up at center or went for mid-range options like Clint Capela ($7,500) or Steven Adams ($6,900), you would probably need to sacrifice a couple of mid-priced guards. If that's the case, then guys like Shabazz Napier ($5,200), Darius Garland ($4,800) and Ben McLemore ($3,200) certainly come into play. Overall, tonight is based on balance and for the most part, Westbrook was my top salary buy in most of my lineups.