This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
The NBA slates on DraftKings are sure to see a dip in popularity now that the baseball season is about to start, but we've still got two weeks to hit the jackpot, beginning with the eight-game slate we have tonight.
Let's get one pick out of the way right off the bat. Damian Lillard will be out to be with his family and since I'm not a big fan of C.J. McCollum's play of late, I am giving Shabazz Napier ($3,800) all the love tonight. McCollum is a logical pivot for Lillard and I'm not advocating against him, but Napier will almost certainly draw the start and has crazy value against the Grizzlies.
Next, we can look to the Timberwolves as they try to stay in the playoff conversation. You have to wonder if the Timberwolves have any concept of what a second unit is. Minnesota is desperately thin everywhere and even the players have been speaking up about it. This might end up being a cakewalk against the Hawks, but the usage numbers of the first unit are hard to ignore, and guys like Jamal Crawford ($3,900) and Tyus Jones ($3,800) should be good values along with cast of usual suspects in the starting lineup.
LeBron James ($11,600) is our only 10K-plus player on the slate, and the Cavs-Hornets matchup tops all games with an Over/Under of 229.5. The Hornets are only getting 1.5 points in this game and I think you need to sound an upset alert here. I have a feeling Kevin Love (face) could be a scratch tonight due to concussion concerns, which will leave the Cavs vulnerable inside. Larry Nance Jr. is still creeping back from injury and while he's a great scoring threat, his defense needs work. I don't have a problem adding James tonight, but I think guys like Kemba Walker ($8,500) and Dwight Howard ($8,600) are in ideal spots to light it up on Wednesday.
Finally, the Clippers are up against it, as every game they play now has playoff implications as they try to sneak past the Timberwolves for the final playoff spot. This game against the Suns is certainly a blowout consideration but with the exception of Wesley Johnson I really have no problem with any of these starters, with Austin Rivers ($6,000) listed at a great price and Tobias Harris ($7,300) looking like a reasonable value as well.
I'll now highlight three players at each position along with a list of players in each spot that hold equal weight in my predictions. If I gave any of the above players a salary designation, they should also be considered as good targets on Wednesday (did I mention Napier?).
Lonzo Ball, LAL vs. DAL ($8,000): Ball has successfully gotten his skeptics (including me) to shut up, as the future face of the Lakers franchise has delivered in the latter half of the season, with 30 DKFP performances becoming routine. Who doesn't like playing the Mavericks? The "tanking-but-not-tanking" Mavs shouldn't give Ball much resistance.
Nicolas Batum, CHA vs. CLE ($6,600): Batum's injury caused his price to fall to a place that is difficult to resist, and I am fairly sure he'll be back to playing a few more minutes each night. If he sees 30 minutes, I think he's a cinch to hit value at this price.
Markelle Fultz, PHI vs. NY ($3,800): Why not, right? If I ran the Sixers I'd be wanting to kick the tires and see what Fultz can really do. The home crowd also wants to witness what they got with the first pick in the draft, and it gives other guys an opportunity to rest. At this price, I'm compelled to take a flier on him, though there's certainly a chance that his workload is capped in the range of 15 minutes again.
Aaron Gordon, ORL vs. BKN ($8,300): Some might find Gordon a little too cost-prohibitive, but when you consider his floor and the potential ceiling you're getting, his price makes a lot more sense. He'll limit your options if you roster him, but with the cheap players I have at guard I think he's worth using as one of your reliable anchors.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, LAL vs. DAL ($6,300): I'm using him at the forward spot as a pivot if Kyle Kuzma stays out with a sprained ankle. Brandon Ingram is also going to be out – or limited, at best – so I will be keeping an eye on this spot to see how it shakes down.
Caris LeVert ($5,100), BKN at ORL ($5,100): While Brooklyn rotates players in and out at a fast and furious pace, LeVert gets a lot of looks as long as he's healthy. Wednesday is a spot where I don't have a problem with Nets exposure, and at this price LeVert is one of my favorites.
This is a spot where you could go a bunch of different ways at different price points, and honestly, I'm torn between several different spots. As a result, I'm going to do things a little differently for the first two spots.
Karl-Anthony Towns ($9,500) or Joel Embiid ($9,400)?: If you've managed to go cheap elsewhere, this will be a big question for a lot of folks. Towns is a bit flummoxing because despite the blowout potential, the Wolves don't have much to offer beyond Towns and they desperately need this win. So, my money is on Towns over Embiid tonight.
Dwight Howard ($8,400) or DeAndre Jordan ($8,400)?: In terms of versatility you have to give the nod to Howard, who is also facing a weak Cleveland interior. That being said, Jordan is facing an even weaker Suns defense, and they are scraping the bottom of the barrel for wins here. I'll always favor the team in a playoff race, so I give Jordan the slight edge.
Dirk Nowitzki, DAL at LAL ($5,300): Three cheers for Nowitzki! He finally makes an appearance in one of my articles. With Dwight Powell nursing a knee injury and Nerlens Noel out completely, it opens up an opportunity for Nowitzki to put up good numbers. The same could also be said for Maxi Kleber ($3,100) and Salah Mejri ($3,100), but these are guys you only want to put in your tournament lineups.
Other centers to consider:Nikola Vucevic, ORL vs. BKN (7,800)