This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
As usual, Sunday's NBA games take place throughout the day, so we'll exclude the early games and focus on DraftKings' featured four-game slate.
ORL (-6.5) vs. WAS O/U: 223
DEN (-6.5) @ MEM O/U: 212
NO (-4.5) vs, GS O/U: 227.5
LAL (-13.5) vs. ATL O/U: 218.5
(Odds provided via DraftKings Sportsbook and are subject to chsnge)
With a slate this small, I won't identify a specific target or fade candidate, but there's one situation worth featuring.
The NBA schedule can be brutal, but the Staples Center one-two punch has to be one of the most daunting scenarios you'll find. While visiting teams will enjoy some warmer weather, the idea of facing the Clippers and the Lakers (especially in a back-to-back) is a chilly prospect. We've already seen what it can do to the Raptors, and now the Hawks are feeling it in the worst way by kicking things off with a whopping 49-point loss to a Clippers team that fought without Kawhi Leonard. They'll now face the Lakers, who are riding a three-game winning streak and a day of rest in Los Angeles. While Trae Young ($9,400) is practically matchup-proof, you have to consider fading the Hawks in general. They ultimately gave up on the game entirely and limited most of their starters to under 30 minutes, but the psychological effect of such a decisive beatdown is a critical factor when considering an Atlanta add.
The same can be said of the Warriors, who are getting what looks like some preferential treatment from the oddsmakers with such a narrow line against the Pelicans. With D'Angelo Russell (thumb) sidelined, what you have left is a patchwork lineup of rookies and journeymen led by Draymond Green. Granted, the Pelicans have their own injury concerns, but I think the 4.5-point spread is way off here.
INJURY SITUATIONS TO MONITOR
D'Angelo Russell (thumb) OUT
If we take a look at sage numbers with Russell and Curry off the floor so far this season, it looks like Alec Burks ($5,900) will be the guy to enjoy the biggest boost in Russell's absence, but there is also an uptick in production from Glenn Robinson III ($4,500), with Ky Bowman ($3,000) coming in as a decent GPP flier candidate.
Brandon Ingram (knee) QUESTIONABLE
Derrick Favors (back) QUESTIONABLE
Lonzo Ball (hip) QUESTIONABLE
Josh Hart (knee/ankle) QUESTIONABLE
J.J. Redick (toe) QUESTIONABLE
Frank Jackson (neck) QUESTIONABLE
Jahlil Okafor (ankle) QUESTIONABLE
I mean, come on. How can anyone predict this mess? OK, let's whittle away at this conundrum. Out of the group, I think Redick, Jackson and potentially Favors are your top candidates to return with both Ball and Hart as my favorites to stay sidelined. Ingram is the big question mark, and any reliable estimates of production are wholly dependent on Ingram's presence or absence. Perhaps the best route is to focus on who IS healthy, which thrusts Jrue Holiday ($8,400) right to the forefront. Kenrich Williams ($5,400) has also been dependable during this injury drought. Our slate kicks off at 6 PM ET, and this game begins at 7 PM, so my best advice is to just FADE most of the team and then BUILD accordingly once more information comes in. Another way to go is to build with more Lakers and then switch them out once you hear more news, as that game doesn't begin until 9:30 ET.
Will Barton (adductor) - QUESTIONABLE
Barton's playing exceptional ball of late, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him sit this one out as his value has spiked considerably over the first month of the season. A quick look at usage statistics indicates Monte Morris ($4,500) and Michael Porter Jr.($3,000) see both a usage and FP boost when Barton is off the floor. Malik Beasley ($3,000) also sees a five percent usage boost, but actually trends downward in production.
As I've already stated, we could see a blowout looming in this game. As a result, we should perhaps temper our expectations a bit with this duo when you consider their overall usage - especially in the second half. If you look at the three biggest blowouts of the season, James has dipped below 30 minutes of production in two of them. Additionally, in games with wins of 15 points or more, James has registered one 52 DKFP pop against Golden State, but the rest of those totals hover somewhere in the low 40s. So, is James worth the price tonight? The numbers say no. Assuming a 45 DKFP total, $237 per point and a little over 4x value just don't make the cut. As for Davis, well, it's interesting. When you think Davis, the word 'rest' almost immediately comes to mind, but he's actually been a more consistent presence in these lopsided games. If you plug in a similar DKFP outcome with Davis' salary, it's a lot more favorable. While I think you could conceivably fade both of them, Davis is the better value according to the data.
I don't have a problem rostering Bradley Beal ($9,600), as he's resurrected his shot and put up some big totals recently, but I'm not a huge fan of the matchup. The Magic are currently the stingiest team versus off-guards, and a look at Beal's historical data shows he underperformed projections in three of his four games against Orlando.
EXPECTED CHALK AND MID-LEVEL TARGETS
Nikola Vucevic, ORL ($8,200) vs. WAS
In analyzing the stable of centers available on Sunday, Vucevic stands out as a worthwhile addition to most of my lineups - although he's been falling into the Utility spot due to some budget picks further down the list. The Wizards rank a league-worst 30th versus starting centers, and one look at how big men have fared recently against Washington illustrates their struggles. Towns, Thompson, Sabonis and Drummond have all racked up huge numbers against this frontcourt, so I look for Vucevic to also take advantage.
Jamal Murray, DEN ($6,700) @ MEM
Murray's shot was dismal against the Nets in his last game. He went 1-of-11 from the floor, resulting in his worst DKFP total of the season. The Nuggets are coming off multiple days of rest and I think Murray likely found some time to work on fixing that issue in practice. He should be a bit more dialed-in against a forgiving Grizzlies' defense.
Ja Morant, MEM ($6,500) vs. DEN
Denver's excellent defense forces me to push some Grizzlies out of my head on Sunday, but Morant's floor has stabilized over the course of the month to a point where this price is totally reasonable. Interestingly enough, the Nuggets have been weakest in defending the point (24th). So if anyone should benefit for the Grizzlies on Sunday, it's their backcourt - and possibly the wing if Will Barton is absent.
Kyle Kuzma, LAL ($5,400) vs. ATL
I can't help but root for Kuzma to finally get his starting role back. I don't see it happening anytime soon thanks to Danny Green, but I think it's likely we'll see more time from him in this lopsided affair. He saw a season-high 30 DKFP in a blowout against the Warriors, so the data suggests that a boost for Kuzma is a distinct possibility.
Willie Cauley-Stein, GS ($4,900) @ NO
Cauley-Stein was the budget center I was mentioning earlier. The Pelicans' question marks at center persuade me to go this route. Even if Favors and/or Okafor play, they'll still have their injury issues to deal with. They aren't the strongest rebounding squad, so if the former King can get close to 10 rebounds and put up enough shots, he should be able to beat value at this price.
E'Twaun Moore, NO ($4,000) vs. GS
I should have mentioned him in the injury section earlier, but Moore is a guy you need to start thinking about if the inactives start to pile up for the Pelicans. He most recently played 40 minutes in a loss to Miami where he netted 34 DFKP, which is an excellent value at this price. As long as Ingram is out, I like Moore in this spot.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, LAL ($3,700) vs. ATL
Both Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso ($4,000) are vying for Avery Bradley's (leg) minutes. And, so far, KCP has seen the biggest boost. You could conceivably see them opting for their second option if the game gets out of hand, because Caruso has actually seen the most usage. You could almost consider this play a toss-up between the two, but I like KCP just a bit more for $300 less.
If you plan on playing this slate, it's imperative you take the necessary steps to find out what's happening in New Orleans. I think a slight overload on Lakers is a great way to go, as you'll be able to switch out some options if news breaks late. As always, we'll be a reliable source for that info, so check back with our expected lineups page for the most up-to-date information.