This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We have a final pair of games Thursday before the NBA heads into the All-Star break, which will make it a particularly intriguing night of DFS action. With just four teams in action, we'll naturally have to navigate high ownership. Luckily, the injury report is extremely light, and only one big name, Brandon Ingram, is in legitimate danger of sitting out.
As usual, we'll proceed to break down the positional outlook below, along with possible chalk plays and some likely under-owned bargains that could help you round out your lineups with a couple of superstars.
Before delving into the slate, a reminder that FanDuel has reverted to its previous format of NOT dropping the lowest scoring in lineups after a one-year experiment with that feature. Therefore, it will be important to be prudent with each selection, as each player's total will count toward your final score.
Without further ado, let's take a more comprehensive look at Thursday's slate!
Here's a closer look at the two games on Thursday's slate:
Oklahoma City Thunder at New Orleans Pelicans (Projected total: 232.5 points)
The elevated total here is somewhat of a surprise when considering all three prior meetings between the teams have finished with combined totals of 219 points or less. However, Zion Williamson wasn't available for any of those contests, and the Pels have scored 117 points or more in seven of the nine games the first overall pick has played. Brandon Ingram (ankle) could miss Thursday's game, however, but New Orleans has averaged 130.5 points in the last two contests without the star forward. The Pelicans are averaging the third-most points of any team on its home floor (118.4) as well, and both teams will come in with plenty of healthy pieces even if Ingram sits.
Los Angeles Clippers at Boston Celtics (Projected total: 227.0 points)
These two teams combined for a modest 211 points in an overtime game in their one prior meeting this season. However, the Clips check in with both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard healthy, and they're averaging the fifth-most points (115.6) per contest. Meanwhile, the Celtics are averaging nearly seven points more per game at home (115.9, compared to 109.1 PPG on the road), and both squads have also been more vulnerable defensively of late. Los Angeles is allowing 114.7 points per game over the last three (compared to 109.7 for the season), while Boston is surrendering 111.3 per contest over their last three, a sharp uptick from the 105.7 per game they're allowing on the campaign.
Point guard will once again be without Patrick Beverley (groin), but otherwise, there's a clean bill of health. The position also features three players at the top – Chris Paul ($7.8K), Kemba Walker ($7K) and Lonzo Ball ($6.6K) – that could provide very strong returns on their current salaries.
Shooting guard is in even better shape than point guard, as there are no injuries whatsoever blemishing the player pool. Jrue Holiday ($8K) could prove to be a bargain as the top option, especially if Brandon Ingram (ankle) sits out, while Josh Hart ($5K) could also offer excellent value if he draws another spot start for Ingram.
The story at small forward is Ingram's questionable status. If he misses, Paul George ($8.3K) becomes the clear-cut top option at the position, while Danilo Gallinari ($6.1K) and Marcus Morris ($5.2K) could be strong value plays.
Power forward is also in fine shape as far as health, and the Kawhi Leonard-Jayson Tatum-Zion Williamson trio up top is an impressive one. The position also features today's two potentially low-owned value selections (detailed further in article).
Center is where DFS players go to save Thursday, as there's no pricier option than Montrezl Harrell ($5.6K). However, "safe options" are at a premium, with only Steven Adams ($5.4K) and Derrick Favors ($5.1K) arguably fitting that description.
Notable Injury Situations to Monitor
NOTE: Injury reporting is especially fluid in the NBA, where the status of multiple players can change during the course of a day. Therefore, although the following serves as a foundation for the latest injury report as of the time the article is written (usually late morning Eastern time), check back throughout the course of the day with RotoWire for the latest news regarding the status of all players on that night's slate.
Patrick Beverley, LAC
Beverley will remain out with a groin injury.
Jaylen Brown, BOS
Brown is probable due to a calf injury.
Brandon Ingram, NOP
Ingram is questionable with an ankle injury that's cost him the last two games. Josh Hart would likely draw another start at small forward if Ingram misses again, while the usage of the remainder of New Orleans' starting five would also see a significant bump.
There are no five-figure salaries on the slate with only four teams in action, as Kawhi Leonard qualifies as the most expensive option at a "bargain" price of $9.9K. There's a sharp drop-off from that point to Jayson Tatum ($8.8K), while Paul George ($8.3K), Jrue Holiday ($8K), Chris Paul ($7.8K) and Zion Williamson ($7.7K) are all capable of outpacing their current salaries.
In terms of top-shelf options that could have more appeal due to positional scarcity, Paul and George (if Brandon Ingram misses with his ankle injury) would arguably qualify. Paul is the most expensive option at point guard and has been considerably more productive than second choice Kemba Walker ($7K) in recent games, while the next most expensive options below George at small forward is Gordon Hayward down at $6.8K.
There will be no shortage of chalk Thursday with just two games on the slate. All of the elite options just mentioned in the previous section should see plenty of ownership, and the likes of Jrue Holiday and Zion Williamson could really see their astronomical percentages if Brandon Ingram (ankle) misses another contest. Due to the elevated scoring expectations, I'd also expect to see more cumulative ownership on the Thunder-Pelicans game than Clippers-Celtics, although the difference may not be drastic.
As customary, I've also put together a specific list of sub-$6K value plays that should find themselves in plenty of lineups – some due to injury situations on their respective teams – and have included those below the next section.
Key and Likely Underowned Values
Nerlens Noel, OKC at NOP ($4,200)
Noel's occasional propensity for foul trouble can sometimes wreak havoc on his production, with the four whistles he earned over just eight minutes against the Spurs on Tuesday serving as the most recent example. Noel posted just 1.2 FanDuel points in that contest, and he also scored 13.1 and 14.0 FanDuel points over two other games over his last four. Those types of dips may help keep his ownership down Thursday, at least by two-game slate standards. Despite the aforementioned downturns, Noel also has tallies of between 22.1 and 31.9 FanDuel points in four other games since Jan. 27, offering a glimpse at the upside he brings at his current salary. Then, consider Noel is averaging 26.3 FanDuel points over three prior games against the Pelicans this season, and New Orleans comes in allowing the seventh-highest offensive efficiency rating (44.6) to second units as well.
Nicolo Melli, NOP vs. OKC ($4,000)
Melli could be even more valuable if Brandon Ingram (ankle) misses a third straight game, but he's been seeing a recent uptick in opportunity even with Ingram healthy. Melli has logged at least 22 minutes in three straight, and he's scored 20.7 to 27.3 FanDuel points in his last four overall. The Thunder comes in ranked in the bottom half of the league in shooting percentage allowed to power forwards (46.4) and team rebounding rate (49.6 percent). Additionally, OKC has seen a sharp downturn in their defense against fours of late, allowing 47.5 FanDuel points per game to power forwards over the last 10, including the second most (60.0) over the last five.
Other likely higher-owned value plays to consider: Montrezl Harrell, LAC ($5,600); Lou Williams, LAC ($5,500); Steven Adams, OKC ($5,400); Marcus Morris, LAC ($5.2K); Derrick Favors, NOP ($5,100); Josh Hart, NOP ($5,000); JJ Redick, NOP ($4,500); Landry Shamet, LAC ($4,300): Enes Kanter, BOS ($4,100)