This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
As we look at Friday's seven-game slate, the two late-night contests are where we should be narrowing our focus. The Warriors will head to the Staples Center to face the Clippers, and while the spread leaves a little to be desired (Warriors -6), the Over/Under is an eye-popping 241.5, which is among the highest lines we've seen yet this season. The Pelicans and Trail Blazers have a similarly explosive line with a 233 O/U. No other matchup comes close to the implied pace of these two games.
We've also got a clean slate free of any new injuries. The injury situation for Utah's backcourt is still the headliner on the list of ongoing injuries, and Donovan Mitchell ($8,900) should still find himself continuing his roll. He's put up an average of 46.5 DKFP over the past six games. Although he posted a paltry 30 DKFP against the Cavs, this game was just before all the guards went down, so the game script will be markedly different in this matchup.
So, where do we go tonight?
Let's be ludicrous for a moment and suggest hitting all of our headliners, Anthony Davis ($11,700), Stephen Curry ($10,100) and Kevin Durant ($10,000). Playing all three would leave you an average of $3,640 per player. Not great. Even though I think The Brow will have an explosive night against Portland, the Warriors face a much weaker defense, so I'm inclined to leave Davis on the shelf tonight and go with the Warriors.
A Durant/Curry stack leaves us an average in the $5K range, and I think I can probably bump that average up slightly with some low-cost value plays, so I'll begin my build there, with the prerogative to pivot down if I think I can replicate that value for less money. I won't be listing these plays below, so keep the Warrior elites in mind as I give you the rest of my endorsements at each position.
Damian Lillard, POR vs. NO ($8,600): There aren't many players who can come close to Curry's production tonight. I think Lillard, Kyrie and Donovan Mitchell are the most likely candidates to come close, and I'm singling out Lillard in this potentially high-scoring affair. Of the three guards, Lillard possesses the least amount of variance, but his ceiling is generally capped. His last performance above 50 DKFP was in late December. I think Kyrie is trapped in a slow-paced game, and Mitchell has pop but not as much reliability, so Lillard finds a place in my cash slate tonight over the risk-reward scenarios just above him.
Lou Williams, LAC vs. GS ($6,700): Sweet Lou's got Golden State's number, as his totals versus the Warriors are among the best he's posted this season. Ove the two contests he's averaged 40 DKFP per game. He's also been on point at home, averaging about three more DKFP per game at the Staples Center. The assist category is where he shined in both of the previous contests, so if he can couple some rebound and three-point production with that level of dime-dropping, we could see Williams vault into the high 40's with little problem.
Terrence Ross, ORL vs. BKN ($5,400): I'm almost certain someone below this price point will explode, but Ross is definitely worth the money after his recent success. He is tearing it up from three-point range, averaging 42 percent on 50 total attempts over the last five games. He's not going to give you much in other categories, but when you consider Brooklyn's ranking versus the three (23rd in defensive efficiency against 3-pointers), you have to like Ross's chances at this price. He's also getting all the minutes he can handle off the bench, averaging about 29 minutes per game over the past five contests.
Blake Griffin, DET vs. MIA ($8,700): At a 3K discount over Davis and a 1.3K discount over Durant, I think Griffin is the best candidate to ride with if we're looking for a price break over our original targets. Griffin turned in a masterful 55.8 DKFP double-double performance in his one game against the Heat. His totals have bounced around a bit in recent weeks, going as high as 70 DKFP versus the Clippers and as low as 26 DKFP versus the Lakers. There's no doubt about it – Griffin suffers when Andre Drummond has a better night on the boards. This is the primary risk you'll carry if you roster Griffin.
Draymond Green, GS at LAC ($6,700): I think if I end up letting Curry or Durant go I have to find a spot in this game on the Warriors side, and though Tobias Harris ($7,100) is a favorable target in this range, I like Green's outlook tonight. Draymond has a respectable 34.5 DKFP per-game average against the Clippers, but a closer look at these gamed clearly shows an ability to put up high numbers in every category. In tonight's fast-paced game I wouldn't be surprised to see Green get close to the rare assist/rebound double-double.
Kelly Olynyk, MIA at DET ($3,700): This is a bit of a GPP flier, but a closer look at Olynyk reveals a tendency to show up against tough games in the paint. He eclipsed 30 DKFP against the duo of Griffin and Drummond and put up similar numbers against Towns, Gobert and Anthony Davis. When Whiteside has needed assistance, Olynyk is there to assist. The risk here is obvious, but you could do a lot worse at this price point.
Nikola Vucevic, ORL vs. BKN ($9,400): Vucevic is the most likely candidate to get me off Durant tonight. Starting a center versus the Nets is almost always a chalk prospect, and Vucevuc is practically a lock for a double-double in this matchup tonight. Vegas expects this game to be competitive, which should keep Orlando's starters on the floor all night. He comes at a hefty price, but he's a bit cheaper than Durant and can replicate his numbers.
Rudy Gobert, UTA vs. CLE ($8,800): I realize I stayed a little costly here, but what is Cleveland's answer for Gobert without Tristan Thompson (foot) and Larry Nance (knee)? Enter Ante Zizic ($3,700), who is our low-cost pick in this category, so I might as well mention him in the same paragraph. For both of these guys, it's all about opportunity – Gobert faces an unseasoned player, Zizic is the only significant option for Cleveland. These picks almost play themselves. Gobert is also on a six-game tear where he's averaging 50.3 DKFP pr game. That's tough to beat.
Other centers to consider: Jarrett Allen, BKN at ORL ($6,100)
In conclusion: I did ultimately get off Durant and kept Curry, choosing to utilize Vucevic in some lineups and the Gobert/Zizic combo in others. Combos of guys like Gordon, Randle, Lillard and Green saw the most exposure with those avenues.