This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
Charlotte at Atlanta (-7.5)
Washington at Toronto (-1.5) (o/u 212.5)
New Orleans (-2) at Houston (o/u 221)
Injuries have significantly altered this slate, as will be noted throughout the article. Charlotte is the most affected due to a few players landing in COVID protocols Saturday. The Hawks could also be without a trio of their top performers, and Houston is missing Kevin Porter. There's a lot of value on the slate, which may actually make things quite difficult because cash games may be decided by one or two differentiated players.
One way to potentially go against-the-grain is to game-stack Pelicans-Rockets as it projects to both be competitive and fast-paced. Given the way the slate has fallen, New Orleans players could get less attention than deserved.
Injury Situations to Monitor
LaMelo Ball, CHA (COVID-19 protocols)/Status: OUT
Terry Rozier, CHA (COVID-19 protocols)/Status: OUT
Both Ball and Rozier landed in protocols. The most obvious beneficiaries will be Ish Smith and Cody Martin (who is likely to play), but the key absences will open up value throughout Charlotte's rotation.
Mason Plumlee, CHA (COVID-19 protocols)/Status: OUT
P.J. Washington ($5,700) has seen an increased with Plumlee out and that should continue.
Cody Martin, CHA (illness)/Status: QUESTIONABLE
Martin practiced Friday and should be available. Look for news about a potential minutes limit, but he could be a strong value play if back at full strength.
Trae Young, ATL (quadriceps)/Status: QUESTIONABLE
Cam Reddish, ATL (illness)/Status: QUESTIONABLE
Kevin Huerter, ATL (quadriceps)/Status: QUESTIONABLE
If one or both of Reddish or Huerter is out, the primary effect will be opening up usage at other positions. For example, Danilo Gallinari ($4,700) and John Collins ($7,100) could benefit from increased usage. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot ($3,100) has drawn starts with Reddish sidelined, but has only managed 6.25 and 3.25 DK points.
Josh Hart, NOP (knee)/Status: QUESTIONABLE
Garrett Temple ($3,400) has started each of the last two with Hart sidelined. Given the salary, he's a decent play if Hart continues to miss time having posted 14 and 27.25 DK points. However, there are likely to be safer value options on the slate given other injuries.
Kevin Porter, HOU (thigh)/Status: OUT
Other Notable Injuries:
Bogdan Bogdanovic, ATL (ankle)/Status: OUT
De'Andre Hunter, ATL (wrist)/Status: OUT
OG Anunoby, TOR (hip)/Status: OUT
Khem Birch, TOR (knee)/Status: OUT
Jalen Green, HOU (hamstring)/Status: OUT
Trae Young ($10,300) is the only player above 10K at any position who has a chance to play. His viability at that salary will likely depend on whether Huerter and/or Reddish are able to take the floor. Last season, Young had a usage rate of 36.2 percent across 335 minutes with both Bogdanovic (already ruled out) and Huerter off the floor – over three percent higher than his rate over the full season. In turn, he averaged 1.48 DK points per minute. Though Young has posted gaudy point totals of late with 54 DK points across five appearances, his salary has also topped 10K for the first time this season.
Fred VanVleet ($9,200) has likewise seen his salary rise from $7,800 on Nov. 24. That's the definition of buying at the peak, not necessarily something we want to do in DFS. However, in eight games without Anunoby, VanVleet has topped 40 points on five occasions. He isn't a great GPP option because he's valued at his ceiling, but becomes a strong cash game option thanks to his floor.
Mikal Bridges ($8,400) represents the top forward on the slate. He hasn't been able to pay off, though considerable usage has been opened up with both Rozier and Ball sidelined.
Like VanVleet, Scottie Barnes ($8,000) has been valued extremely aggressively. He's exceeded 40 DK points in two of his last three games, but there are better directions to go at the position given the absences in Charlotte and Houston.
Christian Wood ($9,600) has been on fire of late having ripped off 63.5, 60.25 and 50 DK points in his last three full outings. His salary is steep, but is a solid option given the matchup is likely to be competitive and the Rockets will be missing several of their high-usage players.
This is a unique slate due to the limited number of games and because most of the teams are without some of their top options. However, the Hornets are likely to see the most significant roster rates. Ish Smith ($4,800) and P.J. Washington ($5,700) are the most likely candidates to be chalky, though Kelly Oubre ($6,100), Gordon Hayward ($7,000) and Cody Martin ($4,900) could also be very popular.
Given the small schedule, it's nearly impossible to avoid Charlotte as a whole regardless of contest type. In tournaments, it'd be advisable to either go extremely heavy on them or light relative to the field. In cash, play the best projected players on the team. Oubre, Washington, and Smith currently fit that criteria, but check in throughout the day for updated projections.
As was covered, many Hornets will present value. With those options already discussed, let's look at other options.
With Kevin Porter and Jalen Green sidelined, Eric Gordon ($5,200) should be in a strong position to keep up his recent form. He's attempted double-digit shots from the field in each of his last four games while reaching 35 DK points twice.
Armoni Brooks ($3,700) should also emerge into a bigger role in the absence of Porter. He's currently penciled in for 29 minutes, which should be plenty of opportunity to pay off his minimal salary.
Danilo Gallinari ($4,700) is reasonably valued given his recent level of production. He would become a stronger play should Huerter or Reddish miss out.
Similarly, Delon Wright ($3,600) is a name to keep in mind pending injury news throughout the day. If two of three of Reddish, Young and Huerter are sidelined, Wright should handle a big role. Check back on the projections once injury news becomes clearer, but he could become a very strong punt play.
Herbert Jones ($3,900) has locked in a significant role with New Orleans. There are likely to be similar safer value plays for cash contests, but he could be a way to get different in GPP.