There are people who want to compare the NBA’s daily seeding game schedule to Christmas. There are other people who get a March Madness vibe. Either way, all I know is it’s going to be fun to watch. Beginning on Friday and stretching for at least the next few weeks, we’ll essentially have basketball on all day long. It almost seems like the only fair retribution for having the season postponed by four-and-a-half months back in mid-March. It’s an exciting time down in the bubble.
Let’s go position-by-position and break down this six-game featured slate.
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Luka Doncic, DAL vs. HOU, $10,500 – Look, I don’t want to put too much stock into a pair of exhibition performances, but Doncic appears ready to pick up right where he left off back in March. After nearly completing a triple-double against the Pacers in less than 25 minutes on Sunday, the former lottery pick dropped 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting in the Mavericks’ final tune-up versus the 76ers on Tuesday. I’m still hesitant to say he’ll be logging his usual workload on Friday; however, Doncic has shown he doesn’t need all that much time to thrive. The sophomore is averaging an astounding 1.71 DKFP per minute played in 2019-20, the direct result of a Western Conference leading 37.0% usage rate. Add in an uptempo opponent in Houston and this is an undeniably amazing DFS spot.
Other Option: Ricky Rubio ($7,400)
Shabazz Napier, WAS vs. PHO, $5,700 – Obviously, we don’t have all that large a sample of Napier’s production without Bradley Beal (shoulder) as he’d only played 15 games with the Wizards prior to the shutdown; however, the numbers we do have are enticing. To wit, at 1.19 DKFP per minute across 222 possessions, no member of Washington’s roster was a more productive DFS asset than Napier with Beal sidelined this season. The 29-year-old has also shown a propensity to rise to the occasion in 2019-20, as he’s averaged 40.8 DKFP in the 11 contests he’s logged 30-plus minutes.
Other Option: George Hill ($3,800)
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Devin Booker, PHO at WAS, $8,800 – All season long, one of the most proven NBA DFS strategies was simply stacking against the Wizards. Why change course now? After 64 games, Washington was surrendering a whopping 115.0 points per 100 possessions, easily the worst defensive rating in the entire league. Those flaws were only amplified by an uptempo style of play, leaving the Wizards to concede 119.7 opponent points per contest. In a word: Yikes. This all works in the favor of Booker, who has sported a massive 32.1% usage rate with Kelly Oubre Jr. (knee) off the court in 2019-20.
Other Option: James Harden ($11,000)
Tyler Johnson, BRK vs. ORL, $3,200 – I haven’t actually counted, but I think the Nets come into the restart with about three-and-a-half healthy players, so I’m assuming Johnson is going to have to play a sizable role on this barren roster – especially with Jamal Crawford’s ($3,400) status up in the air for Friday. Also, while his time in Phoenix was a disaster, let’s us not forget that Johnson was a functional rotation player for a half-decade with Miami, one that could both create and space the floor. I’m willing to take a chance on that upside in this unique situation and at this bargain basement salary.
Other Option: Garrett Temple ($4,100)
Gordon Hayward, BOS at MIL, $6,800 – The matchup is horrendous, but with Kemba Walker ($7,100) reportedly on a 20-minute restriction on Friday, there’s an opportunity for Hayward to really take advantage of an opportunity against Milwaukee. The veteran has seen both his usage rate and his assist rate rise significantly when the point guard has been off the floor in 2019-20; plus, Hayward was simply playing at an incredibly high level prior to the shutdown. In fact, going back to Jan. 24, Hayward’s averaged 19.1 points per game with a fantastic 59.1% true shooting rate. He also exceeded 40.0 DKFP in 10 of those 18 games.
Other Option: Caris LeVert ($7,800)
Lonnie Walker, SA vs. SAC, $3,200 – It would be incorrect to say that Gregg Popovich doesn’t care about the final eight games on the Spurs’ schedule – as they’re technically just four games out of the eight seed – but I think we can all agree that he’s going to be leaning a little more heavily on the kids than the veterans in Orlando. In fact, with LaMarcus Aldridge (shoulder) absent and DeMar DeRozan ($7,700) sliding down to play the four, Walker’s started all three exhibition contests for San Antonio, even logging a team-high 29:45 minutes in Tuesday’s matchup with Indiana. If his role on Friday is anything close to that, Walker will have little issue reaching value.
Aaron Gordon, ORL at BRK, $7,200 – Does anyone remember what Gordon was accomplishing prior to the season’s postponement? Let me refresh your memory. In the 24-year-old’s most recent 11 games, he had been averaging a robust 44.4 DKFP per contest thanks to his sudden emergence as a point-forward. Yes, you read that right. Not only was Gordon putting up 17.3 points and 9.1 rebounds a night during this aforementioned stretch, but he also second on the Magic by dishing out 9.8 potential assists. Gordon participated in Wednesday’s practice and should be ready to tear apart Brooklyn’s G League roster.
Other Option: Giannis Antetokounmpo ($10,500)
Jaren Jackson Jr., MEM at POR, $4,900 – There’s a lot to like here. First and foremost, Jackson’s healthy. Yes, so is Brandon Clarke ($4,100), and that could create a minutes shortage in the Grizzlies’ front court, but I’m not too worried in this particular spot. Portland been an amazing matchup for power forwards all year long, surrendering the most DKFP per game to the position. Mostly, that’s due to the fact that the Blazers possess the Western Conference’s worst defensive rating (113.6). Also, this is the only the third time in 2019-20 that Jackson’s price has dropped below $5K. Combine all those things, and you’ve got an enticing DFS asset.
Jusuf Nurkic, POR vs. MEM, $5,900 – Here’s the thing: Nurkic is a much better player than Hassan Whiteside ($8,100). So, when push comes to shove in a game with huge eighth-seed implications, I think Terry Stotts is going to roll with the healthy Bosnian. I mean, it’s not like he hasn’t shown he’s healthy enough to play a significant role. In Saturday’s exhibition against Toronto, Nurkic logged over 28 minutes while scoring 17 points with 13 rebounds and five assists. In a contest that has the second-highest implied total on the slate, I’ll trust the big man.
Other Option: Nikola Vucevic ($8,500)
Thomas Bryant, WAS vs. PHO, $4,600 – This really just boils down to Bryant possibly being the best active player the Wizards have left on their roster. Bryant’s averaged 34.4 DKFP in the 16 games in 2019-20 where he’s logged in excess of 25 minutes, it’s just that he’s rarely been healthy enough to reach that threshold. Well, he’s good to go after a four-month break and his usage should see a bump with Beal and Davis Bertans (opt out) not available to play.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) 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.