The NBA season is officially in full-swing, and tonight we have a two game slate to work with. Both games appear to be good on paper, with the first featuring the Bucks/76ers and the second featuring the Lakers/Clippers. The strategy tonight will likely be similar to the opening night DFS slate where a stars and scrubs build paid off. Below you’ll find a complete overview of the best pay-up options and value picks for tonight.
If you played the opening night slate a couple days ago, you’ll know that getting to a few pay-up options was key. Pay-up options are players with a high salary who are usually accompanied by a high fantasy point projection. On two game slates like tonight, it’s imperative to get to players that are likely to score the most raw points. On such a small slate, the chance of these players being optimal is a lot higher.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – $10,700 DK
Giannis is projecting as the top play tonight across many projection providers. Despite being the most expensive option on the slate, Giannis is still a decent value given his ability to score 60+ fantasy points each night. His dual position eligibility on DraftKings is a major plus, especially because his opposition Joel Embiid can only be played as a center.
When we factor in the Vegas side of things, Giannis is expected to record 30 points and have upwards of 12 rebounds. In terms of player prop lines, no other player is coming close to Giannis tonight. This is promising for DFS play because it backs up the notion of him being the highest projected player.
The point total of 224 is promising for the pace of this game. Expect a difficult yet productive matchup between Giannis and Embiid. Giannis has recorded 68 and 62 DraftKings points respectively in his last two outings against the 76ers.
Joel Embiid – $10,300 DK
Embiid was seen as a must-play for the opening night two-game slate, and he kind of underperformed. Fans erupted on social media claiming Embiid looked tired and not at the top of his game. This might result in a lot of people fading Embiid tonight, but it’s all the more reason to give him a chance in GPPs.
Regardless of what you think about Embiid’s first game of the season, he still managed to record 53 fantasy points. He’s also still one of the top projected plays for tonight, and on a two game slate it’s hard not to mention him. Embiid will likely come out more motivated to play than he did in the first game, especially considering his matchup against Giannis.
Joel Embiid projects slightly lower than Giannis tonight, but Embiid’s ceiling makes him a great play no matter what. One downside is that he’s only available at the center position on DraftKings, but this shouldn’t be too much of an issue on a two game slate. Consider playing both Giannis and Embiid in your lineups for potential leverage.
LeBron James – $9,300 DK
At this point in his career, LeBron seems to always have a questionable tag, but we still can’t overlook him. LeBron went nuclear in his first game back, dropping a staggering 61 fantasy points. The Lakers were blown out by the Warriors in their first game bag, but their superstars flashed signs of hope in terms of DFS.
Quite frankly, this is just too cheap of a price tag for LeBron James on DraftKings. If he manages to score 60+ fantasy points again, his sub-10k price tag will likely make him part of the optimal lineup tonight. The only issue, however, is we don’t know what version of LeBron to expect tonight. This will be the case as long as he deals with the lingering foot injury he has.
Best Value Plays
NBA pricing is very soft at the beginning of the season, so it’s important to take advantage of some of the great value being put out. The winning lineup on opening night featured a few players that were priced under $5,000 on DraftKings. We only mention that because tonight’s slate is very similar in nature.
Patrick Beverley – $4,100 DK
Beverley isn’t exactly a smash play when it comes to his fantasy production, but $4,100 is a laughable price-tag. For some reason, DraftKings just keeps pricing Beverley down further despite being a key role player for the Lakers. He played 25 minutes in the season opener, and we can expect a similar, if not greater role tonight.
Given his statistics from last season, Beverley averages 0.98 fantasy points per minute. This gives him a projection of 25 fantasy points tonight which equates to 6x his value at $4,100. Although unlikely, Beverley is one of a few players who can get to 10x value tonight based on his production. He’s definitely worth considering in cash games until DraftKings decides to raise his price.
Russell Westbrook – $7,000 DK
Westbrook was pretty much unplayable for most of last year, but he did well in the Lakers’ season opener. At $7,000 we’re talking about a career 1+ fantasy point per minute player who can easily break a slate. Although it might not be comfortable getting there, Westbrook must be considered on a two game slate.
Teammates Anthony Davis and LeBron James currently have a questionable tag going into tonight’s matchup. Although they’re both probable, we don’t know how much they’ll push it this early in the season. If anything happens to limit Davis or LeBron, expect Westbrook to become a usage monster and rack up plenty of fantasy points.
DeAnthony Melton – $3,800 DK
Melton showed some promise for the Memphis Grizzlies last season, and he’s off to a good start this year. Despite a lackluster performance in the season opener, he played well through the preseason and showed fantasy upside. He’s coming off the bench for the 76ers and is likely to get anywhere between 16-22 minutes tonight.
Melton scores 1.09 FP/min which allows us to project him somewhere between 16-23 fantasy points for tonight. We have him on the lower end of this range which puts him a little bit over 4x value. Regardless of the outcome, a $3,800 salary for a productive player is worth considering.
Lineup Building Approach
There’s really only two ways to build lineups for NBA, and those are stars/scrubs or a balanced build. Both approaches are viable tonight, although it seems like the former is more likely to be optimal. We’ll give a brief overview of who you can target for each approach.
Stars and Scrubs
Taking this approach means taking any two or three high-salary players in your lineup. There’s plenty of stars and scrubs paths tonight, but you’ll likely start with a combination of the following stars:
- Giannis ($10,700)
- Embiid ($10,300)
- LeBron ($9,300)
- Harden ($9,000)
- Anthony Davis ($8,600)
- Paul George ($8,900)
One strategy might be to mix and match Giannis with each of the players below him. Thanks to the cheap salaries to start the season, it’s even possible to play three of these guys in the high $8-9k range. How you build your lineups is completely up to you, but focusing on the highest projected players is imperative on a small slate like tonight’s.
If you’re unfamiliar, “scrubs” refers to players with cheap salaries that can exceed their value. In this case, guys like Melton and Beverley would be considered scrubs you want to look at.
A balanced build is very self-explanatory. You don’t want to draft overly expensive players, yet you don’t want to touch anyone that’s the minimum salary. A balanced build should technically establish a higher floor for your lineup because you’re drafting exclusively from the midrange.
Players that fit the balanced build tonight include:
- Tobias Harris ($5,500)
- Tyrese Maxey ($5,200)
- Jrue Holiday ($7,900)
- Russell Westbrook ($7,000)
- Bobby Portis ($5,400)
There’s a lot of value in NBA DFS to start the season, so you don’t necessarily have to spend up for the stud players. Some salaries are way too cheap, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see a balanced build take home all the marbles tonight.