This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We've got a lot to cover on a nine-game slate, so let's get right to the action, beginning with the Vegas Sportbooks.
CLE @ ORL (-5) O/U: TBA
CHA @ PHI (-9.5) O/U: 219
NYK @ ATL (-6) O/U: 222
OKC @ MIA (-8) O/U:213.5
BOS @ TOR (-3) O/U: 215
DAL @ HOU (-1) O/U: TBA
DET @ MIL (-14.5) O/U: 227.5
IND @ NOR (-1.5) O.U: 218
SAC @ GS (+2) O/U: 232
Games/Teams to Target: BOLD
Games/Teams to Fade: ITALIC
(odd provided by FanDuel Sportsbook and are subject to change)
BACK-TO-BACK TEAMS: Pistons, Mavericks, Warriors, Celtics
James Harden (ankle) - QUESTIONABLE
Harden missed Saturday's game against the Kings and there's no word on his status at time of publishing. We've seen enough from John Wall ($8,500) to give him the green light as a Harden pivot, and although Eric Gordon ($5,300) will see a boost as well, I like Wall a lot more if Harden sits. A look at the starting lineup before lock will be helpful, as the final piece of the starting five could be a bit of a surprise.
Luka Doncic (quad) - QUESTIONABLE
Doncic was a scratch from Sunday's game, and his situation is very similar to Harden's, with no word about his return. With Houston and Dallas facing each other on a Monday, it almost makes sense that the two teams would give their stars another day of rest, but I suspect that it will be an all-or-nothing scenario here. Jalen Brunson ($4,500) netted 31 points in Doncic's absence and would be an excellent value play again if Doncic is sidelined.
Darius Garland (shoulder) - QUESTIONABLE
It's a new injury for Garland, but since this is the first game on the slate, we'll know more before the first tip-off of the night. Dante Exum ($3,600) is the most likely starter if Garland is absent.
Josh Jackson (ankle) - QUESTIONABLE
Jackson left Sunday's game with an ankle injury. With only 24 hours to recover, it seems unlikely that the Pistons will take a chance with him. He's their most versatile utility player at the moment, so an absence would further hinder their chances on the back-to-back. Jerami Grant ($7,300) and Saddiq Bey ($3,900) would be candidates to absorb those minutes.
PJ Washington (thumb)- QUESTIONABLE
If his thumb contusion continues to be an issue, look for rookie Jalen McDaniels ($3,500) to make a significant impact.
Evan Fournier (back) - QUESTIONABLE
Like Garland, we will know more about Fournier before the slate begins. I like Terrence Ross ($5,700) as the man to step up here, even though he may not garner the start.
Tyrese Haliburton (wrist) - OUT
Haliburton was inching up the Kings' depth chart before this injury, and any number of players could step up as a second-unit guard. Until we hear more about the rotation, the situation may be too variance-ridden to gamble on.
ELITE PLAYERS ($9000-plus)
With the injuries to Doncic and Harden, the elite pool could be very diluted tonight. Without question, Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,400) has the potential to go off against the 1-5 Pistons, but blowout risk is a huge concern here. Vegas is giving this game one of the widest spreads we've seen (-14.5), so this could be a three-quarter affair for Giannis. He tends to disappear in the blowouts, so I'm not keen on spending up here.
Although I would have liked to see more from Joel Embiid ($9,900) against Charlotte on Saturday, the second game of the split against the Hornets may yield better results. He played 37 minutes in the first game. Jayson Tatum ($9,100) is probably my favorite guy in the 9k range despite the back-to-back for the Celtics. Although it's a long flight to Tampa, the Raptors are a little out of sorts and aren't adjusting well to playing away from home. I also like Stephen Curry ($9,500) and Trae Young ($9,400) as elite guards on the slate, and Christian Wood ($9,100) will get a lot of exposure from me if Harden and/or Doncic is out.
Ben Simmons, PHI ($8,700) vs. CHA
Simmons was brilliant in the first game against the Hornets, but it's still difficult to gauge how players are going to react to the 'series' format of the condensed schedule. It's probably as close to baseball as the NBA will ever get. It does allow us to use current metrics, which is a lot better than talking about a game that happened a month ago. Simmons went off for 48 FDFP, so I'm not particularly worried about the call, even with a slight salary increase.
Jaylen Brown, BOS ($8,500) @ TOR
Brown is as consistent as Rodgers-to-Adams in November. It would have been better to tie the Patriots to the simile, but, well... you know. He is lighting it up and will probably continue to produce even after Kemba Walker rejoins the team. Brown came way short of value against Detroit, but that series was a bit of an outlier for the Celtics. It's hard to look bad against the Pistons, but I think they can shake it off and be ready for the Raptors.
Nikola Vucevic, ORL ($8,300) vs. CLE
Vucevic's floor through the first two weeks is one of the best in the league, and I think you'll get your money's worth against the Cavaliers. While Andre Drummond is a force inside, recent games have shown that he's a bit overworked as he tries to control the paint, and the potential loss of Darius Garland tonight could hamper Cleveland's ability to move the ball around. Vucevic's taken a slight dip against guys like Joel Embiid and Bam Adebayo, but I don't put Drummond in that category, at least from a defensive perspective.
De'Aaron Fox, SAC ($8,000) @ GSW
It's a quick trip over to the Bay for the Kings, who should handle the Warriors. Except for James Wiseman in the interior, the Warriors have made no real upgrades on defense, although Draymond Green has found his way back onto the court. Green will be occupied with other duties, however. It's been a minute since Fox and Stephen Curry have had a chance to tangle, but with another year under his belt, Fox will have a much better chance to succeed. Curry may outgun him offensively, but Fox is arguably the better defensive player.
John Collins, ATL ($6,800) vs. NYK
Don't look now, but the Hawks lead the league in scoring, and this is a great time to scoop up Collins after his salary took a hit overnight. He's had an up-and-down season so far, but I like this matchup against Julius Randle. While they are on equal footing in almost every metric, Atlanta has a better chance of getting the ball in Collins' hands. Although I've liked Randle in many slates and don't mind him here either, the disparity between Mitchell Robinson and Clint Capela is vast. Collins can do what he does best (score) and leave the interior duties to a superior center. Randle doesn't have that luxury.
VALUE PLAYS ($6,667 and below)
The injury section is littered with potential value, but here are some other players that fall below FanDuel's median price.
Steven Adams, NOR ($6,000) vs. IND
Adams is enjoying his opportunities in his new home, and he's rattled off two straight excellent lines against the Thunder and the Raptors. With firepower like Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson around him, Domantas Sabonis should have his hands full, and Adams has a long history of success playing opposite Myles Turner. He should be able to use his bag of tricks to exploit that spot, and if Sabonis is forced to try and gum up the offensive engine on the wings, Adams will be free to do the dirty work down low.
Buddy Hield, SAC ($5,700) @ GSW
Hield shows up on a low percentage of rosters nightly, so the metrics suggest he's been the forgotten man in Sacramento's offense. He's one of the most dangerous three-point threats in the game, and he went 5-for-12 against the Rockets on Saturday. He seems to be pretty dialed in right now, and in a match where threes will be plentiful, Hield will probably heave up more than 10 long balls once again.
Eric Bledsoe, NOR ($5,100) vs. IND
I wrote the most recent note about Bledsoe, and it should tell you just about everything you need to know. If there was a 'bust' article to be found, you could bet that Bledsoe was on it. Per those writers, either he wasn't a good fit in New Orleans or was a significant downgrade from Jrue Holiday, and for the first couple of games, Bledsoe was proving them right. Now that he's settled in and is seeing more usage than he had in Milwaukee, he's racking up assists and coming through with a hot hand from beyond the arc, which we haven't seen from Bledsoe in recent years. If he keeps it up at this rate, I like him as a Most Improved Player candidate. He may not match Malcolm Brogdon in scoring tonight, but this up-tempo matchup will bring him close.
Tristan Thompson, BOS ($4,300) @ TOR
Now that I look, I wrote the most recent note for the former Cav as well, so my opinion is right there for you to read. As long as Kemba Walker is out, the Celtics will run with Thompson and Daniel Theis together in the right matchup. I would check to make sure that Thompson isn't taking a rest tonight, but I like his chances against Toronto if he plays. The Raptors are still trying to figure out who their center is, and I don't see Aron Baynes or Chris Boucher as candidates to neutralize Thompson.