This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
Saturday's four-game slate is pretty straightforward, but there are come crucial injury situations to cover – let's get right to it!
Joel Embiid (rest) OUT, Jimmy Butler (wrist) DOUBTFUL: The Sixers will sit Embiid today, and while you'd think Mike Muscala ($4,200) would remain the natural pivot here, I wouldn't be surprised to see Jonah Bolden ($4,100) log a few extra minutes in Embiid's absence. As for Butler, I'd expect Ben Simmons ($9,600) and J.J. Redick ($5,600) to absorb a lot of that output, but usage bumps for Landry Shamet ($3,500) and Corey Brewer ($3,800) will also be in play.
Jamal Murray (ankle) QUESTIONABLE: Murray rolled his ankle on Friday, and although reports said he could've returned, he was seen leaving Phoenix in a walking boot. His status is up in the air and warrants a closer look at tipoff, but even if he takes the floor, I think you'll see a bit more from Monte Morris ($3,600) and Malik Beasley ($3,700) in this back-to-back game.
I should also put in my two cents regarding the Victor Oladipo (quad) injury. Worthwhile pivots will emerge over time, but I feel like slotting in options right now is a bit premature, unless you're looking for contrarian options in GPPs. Tyreke Evans ($5,200) will get the start, but I don't see Indiana using him as a long-term option. Bogdan Bogdanovic ($5,400) could very easily slide over to that spot, as could Cory Joseph ($4,100). I could also see a scenario where they put Joseph at the point and slide Darren Collison ($5,600) over to the two. I'm adopting a wait-and-see attitude for the time being.
That's it injury-wise for this slim slate. All other ongoing injury situations are static. The above conditions present substantial value opportunities and should be considered heavily in your lineup construction.
Kyrie Irving, BOS vs. GS ($9,300): I was surprised that these two teams haven't faced off yet. As a result, we can't use recent history between the two as a guide, but Irving is coming off of multiple days of rest. The Warriors are on a four-game road stretch where they've gone 3-0, but you have to expect that they are running on fumes by now, which is one reason why I favor Irving over Curry just a bit more. Additionally, Irving is averaging about 13 DKFP more per game than Curry over the past few games. You could also entertain sliding down to Damian Lillard ($8,900) for a slight discount, but we haven't seen Dame's ceiling in quite some time.
Trae Young, ATL at POR ($6,400): Young is a decent option at this price against Portland. Young's recent history from beyond the arc has been Young's Achilles heel, but the Trail Blazers currently rank 27th against the three, so that avenue could open up for the rookie. The options mentioned above for Indiana and Klay Thompson loom large at this price point, but when you consider the newsworthiness of the Oladipo injury and the potential ownership for Thompson, Young is a great mid-range pivot.
For the final guard pick, I think I've already mentioned one of them. Beasley, Morris, Redick, Shamet, the Indy options – there are plenty to choose from. Rather than picking one, I figured I would rank them from best to worst:
5. All Oladipo pivots (tip to Evans)
John Collins, ATL at POR ($8,000): We have so many teams that are meeting for the first time tonight. It makes analysis a tad more difficult and following your instincts about a matchup can play a more significant role. I'm not knocking the Portland frontcourt of Harkless, Aminu and Nurkic as they are one of the better rebounding frontcourts in the league, and that alone could be cause to fade Collins, but if he can snag 15 away from Whiteside, 10 off of Vucevic and nine over Embiid, I think Collins can handle this challenge.
Thaddeus Young, IND at MEM ($5,600): Young could be the guy who steps up with Oladipo out for the year, and his 56 DKFP game against Toronto on Thursday is indeed an encouraging sign. I don't think you're going to get nightly numbers in that range, but Young sees 30 minutes of floor time regularly, and he's responded with some excellent shooting, averaging 60 percent from the floor, a percentage he's matching from beyond the arc. Although he only had 26 DKFP against the Grizzlies in their last meeting, I'd expect Young to see more in this new game script.
Paul Millsap, DEN vs. PHI ($5,000): With Embiid out, the Nuggets catch a huge break in this back-to-back game. The Nuggets were able to give their starters a rest in the blowout of the Suns, so expect a well-prepared slate of starters for Denver. Millsap only played 22 minutes and posted a 20/9/2 line in limited action – all good news for the Denver interior.
Nikola Jokic, DEN vs. PHI ($10,700): You have to favor Jokic here, especially when you consider the free night of rest he received after a one-game suspension. The Sixers are also without Embiid, so as you can see, the intangibles continue to stack up in Jokic's favor tonight.he's coming into the game with a four-game average of 52 DKFP and I wouldn't be surprised to see a higher number on Saturday.
DeMarcus Cousins, GS at BOS ($6,200): I'm going to continue to go for Cousins while he's cheap as the Warriors' new toy could go off on any given night. It's been a while since Golden State has had a premier guy at the five who can stretch the floor with his perimeter shot one moment and crash the boards the next. Granted, Cousins will probably end up averaging 0.5 technicals per game for the remainder of the season, but it comes with the territory.
With such a small slate, it shouldn't be hard to spend up. I feel bad about it, but Cousins was the only Warrior I used in most of my lineups. I'm pretty happy about getting Irving, Simmons and Redick in my backcourts, although I gave indy some love in place of Redick in a few spots.