This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
Here we go with a five-game NBA slate on Thursday, January 17.
It seems that Sacramento is usually featured in this "fantasy game of the day section". That's the case yet again while the Kings travel to Charlotte with a slate-high 229.5 over/under. Sacramento truly provides a strong DFS opportunity for opponents while ranking second in pace, 25th in team defensive efficiency and 27th in rebound rate. On the other hand, Charlotte isn't much better while ranking at 24th in overall team defensive efficiency. Players like Kemba Walker, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Willie Cauley-Stein and Jeremy Lamb are all firmly in DFS consideration this evening.
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:
Kawhi Leonard is questionable. He doesn't usually play in back-to-back sets. If he's out, guys like Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka would see a boost. Stay tuned for clarity on Leonard's status.
These notable players will continue to miss time: Cody Zeller, Jonas Valanciunas
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.
As mentioned earlier, Monte Morris ($3,600) would be on the value radar if Garry Harris is ruled out.
Kemba Walker, CHA vs. SAC ($8,700): If you read through the introduction, then you aren't surprised by this pick. As mentioned in that spot, this is the best fantasy game environment of the night with a 229.5 over/under. Charlotte is hosting a Sacramento team that ranks second in pace and 20th in defensive efficiency against the point guard position. Walker has seemingly plateaued over the past few weeks, but he bounced back with an impressive 52.5 FP outing at San Antonio on Monday. He'll carry that momentum into tonight's promising draw.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, SAC at CHA ($5,500): The Kings and Hornets met just this past weekend in Sacramento. Bogdanovic ended up with a steady 32.5 FP performance with 22 points, six boards and two assists. I'm considering that his baseline tonight with obvious potential beyond that. Charlotte ranks 28th in defensive efficiency against the shooting guard spot, and Bogdan's salary is $700 cheaper than this time last week.
Jeremy Lamb, CHA vs. SAC ($5,700): I wasn't messing around when I mentioned Charlotte-Sacramento as the best fantasy environment of the night. I'm leaning towards Bogdanovic over Lamb for a similar salary, but you could conceivably roster both mid-range guards in the same lineup. After all, Lamb is looking at a confident draw against this fast-paced Kings squad that ranks dead last in defensive efficiency vs. opposing shooting guards. Lamb is coming off a solid 34.25 FP effort at San Antonio on Monday, and it's not hard to imagine similar output in this exceptional matchup.
Paul George, OKC vs. LAL ($9,800): George is one of my priority expenditures on tonight's slate. He checks in with a significantly cheaper salary than guys like Russell Westbrook, Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid. On top of that, he has a beautiful home matchup vs. a Lakers team that ranks fifth in pace and 22nd in defensive efficiency to the small forward position. George has been on fire with 46-plus fantasy points in six of his past ten, which includes an impressive 54 FP outing against the purple and gold on January 2.
Kyle Kuzma, LAL at OKC ($6,900): The last time Kuzma faced Oklahoma City (Jan. 2), he only played 16 minutes before leaving with a back injury. His salary is actually suppressed due to that abbreviated performance, which is something DFS investors can take advantage of tonight. Kuzma has regained full health while notching 44-plus fantasy points in two of his past four games. He'll retain a heavy usage rate with LeBron James and Rajon Rondo still out. How heavy you ask? The uptick is substantial when considering the jump from 23.3% with James/Rondo to 27.6% without them.
Marvin Williams, CHA vs. SAC ($4,800): Here we go again with another recommendation from the Kings-Hornets game. Williams isn't necessarily a must play on this slate, but he's a viable filler with an economical salary. The matchup looks good too while facing a Sacramento team that ranks 22nd vs. power forwards and 27th in rebound rate. Williams was able to post 30 fantasy points against the Kings on Saturday, and that's a realistic expectation for tonight's rematch.
Willie Cauley-Stein, SAC at CHA ($6,500): Cauley-Stein checks in as the best "per dollar" center on tonight's slate. He was able to post 40 fantasy points in 32 minutes on Saturday against the same Charlotte team he'll see tonight. In fact, Cauley-Stein has hit 40-plus FP in three of his past four. The Hornets rank 24th in defensive efficiency allowed to opposing centers, which certainly opens the door for Cauley-Stein to do his thing. Things look even more promising when considering that the Hornets rank 29th in that category over their past ten games. It's not a coincidence that big man Cody Zeller has missed seven of those contests – he'll remain sidelined this evening as well.
Bobby Portis, CHI at DEN ($4,600): The matchup isn't great, but this seems like the perfect storm for Portis to see more playing time. Wendell Carter will miss time moving forward and Robin Lopez is being phased out of the rotation. As a result, Portis should see a substantial uptick in playing time. He had a rough shooting night on Tuesday at Los Angeles (1-for-11), but I'm expecting that to normalize while Portis sees plenty of opportunities to provide a solid return. Go ahead and look to him as a bargain play through all formats tonight.