This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
Here we go with a three-game NBA slate on Thursday, Jan. 3.
Looking within that, we have some pretty intriguing games on the docket. Kawhi Leonard will take on his former team in San Antonio with one of the biggest motivational angles of the season. However, the red-hot likes of James Harden, Stephen Curry and Nikola Jokic are begging for your attention as top dollar picks as well. We'll cover how to approach that dilemma while also finding plausible bargains to make the expensive stars work.
Per usual, we have several injuries to monitor with potential for more while moving closer to tip-off. You'll want to stay in the loop with Rotowire's NBA News Feed before setting your final lineups. As of Thursday morning, these are the situations we are looking at:
Rudy Gay is questionable but not expected to play. Gay missed Monday's game vs. Boston, and Jakob Poeltl was granted the start. However, Davis Bertans was the main beneficiary with 27.25 fantasy points in 31 minutes.
These notable players will continue to miss time: Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry (questionable but not expected to play), Eric Gordon, Jonas Valanciunas, Will Barton, Marvin Bagley
With that, I'll be breaking down the best fantasy choices on DraftKings for Thursday. The following write-ups contain a blend of cash game staples, bargain fillers, and tournament pivots.
James Harden, HOU at GS ($11,000): It's so hard to go against James Harden at the moment. He has notched 60-plus fantasy points in each of his past six games, fresh off back-to-back 71 and 82 FP performances against New Orleans and Memphis, respectively. On top of that, Harden is actually $400 cheaper than the last time he was available on DraftKings. We can expect another monstrous usage rate with Chris Paul and Eric Gordon still out. This should be a high-scoring tilt at Golden State, and Harden will be the main driving point within that.
Derrick White, SA vs. TOR ($4,700): White is a solid bargain selection to help fit the salary of Harden and other expensive picks. He's seeing minutes in the upper-20s, which has translated to 31-plus fantasy points in three straight. While that is certainly on the high side of his fantasy range, it's nice to know that White is playing with confidence and fully capable of posting a solid return. He's a relatively strong bargain through all formats given the brevity of tonight's slate.
Bryn Forbes, SA vs. TOR ($4,400): Speaking from a fantasy perspective, Forbes is basically a clone of teammate Derrick White. Forbes typically sees more playing time while averaging 33 minutes and 25 fantasy points over the last ten days. His opponent, Toronto, ranks below average in defensive efficiency against point guards over the last ten games. Eight of those came without Kyle Lowry, and I don't believe the drop is a coincidence. Go ahead and look towards Forbes and White as realistic bargains in the same lineup.
Pascal Siakam, TOR at SA ($6,200): Siakam is coming off a career-high 28 point performance last game vs. Utah. As if that wasn't impressive enough, he also pulled in 10 rebounds for a total of 44.5 fantasy points in that tough matchup. That marks two straight games above 40 fantasy points for Siakam, and he's a strong mid-range pick through all formats tonight. San Antonio ranks 28th in defensive efficiency against opposing power forwards, and Siakam could keep seeing more offensive responsibilities with Lowry out and Fred VanVleet struggling to fill his shoes.
Davis Bertans, SA vs. TOR ($3,400): As mentioned earlier, Rudy Gay is highly questionable for tonight's game. If he's out, Davis Bertans makes for a nice value pick near minimum salary. Bertans logged 31 minutes in Gay's absence vs. Boston on Monday, hitting 27.25 fantasy points along the way. Including that game, Bertans has seen 25-plus minutes in three of his past eight games while noticing a subsequent uptick of 26 FPPG over that span. That could be his baseline if Gay misses another contest.
Danuel House Jr, HOU at GS ($4,300): There's admittedly some risk associated with this pick, as James Ennis is scheduled to return for Houston. House has been very efficient while filling in with an average of 28 minutes and 24 fantasy points over his past four. There's a good chance that House has earned himself an established role even with Ennis back in the mix, but that's far from a guarantee. If House can log somewhere in the neighborhood of 25-30 minutes, he should post a solid return as a steady value. That's the risk/reward situation he presents.
Nikola Jokic, DEN at SAC (9,800): This is where things get interesting. You obviously won't be able to fit Harden alongside both Kawhi Leonard and Nikola Jokic. It's difficult to shy away from Leonard in this revenge spot, but Jokic's matchup looks outstanding. I'm leaning towards the Denver center of the two, assuming I have the extra salary to make that happen. Jokic is participating in a high-scoring, competitive game at Sacramento. The Kings rank second in pace, 26th vs. centers and 27th in rebound rate this season. Surely you can understand my enthusiasm for "The Joker" while considering the draw.
Clint Capela, HOU at GS ($6,900): In the event that you don't have enough salary to make Jokic work, Capela is a reasonable backup plan at this surprisingly attainable salary. Capela has been strong with 39-plus fantasy points in four of his past five, and Golden State ranks 21st in defensive efficiency against opposing big men this season.