FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Thursday 2/9/23
Since it's much simpler to predict than baseball or football, daily fantasy basketball would get plenty of votes as the best sport to play on FanDuel. Players usually stick to the same minutes and produce at roughly the same rate. Sounds easy, right?
As a result, NBA daily fantasy is highly reliant on a player's opportunity, so you'll need to ensure that you're up-to-date with key injuries. Our projections update up until tip-off to reflect current news, we have player news updates, and the FanDuel Scout app will send push notifications for pressing updates regarding your players.
With so much changing so quickly, we're here with plenty of tools to help you. We have daily projections, a matchup heat map, a lineup optimizer, and a bunch of other great resources to help give you an edge.
We'll also come at you with this primer daily, breaking down a few of the day's top plays at each position.
Let's break down today's main slate on FanDuel.
The Slate and Key Injuries
With just eight teams in action, we still had the main slate nuked by today's NBA trade deadline. More impactful news could be on the way, too.
The Lakers fired the opening salvo, and their only impact will be the extra minutes and usage available from trading Russell Westbrook. Per today's injury report, LeBron James (ankle) is questionable for them, too. One would think he's potentially more likely to sit after breaking the scoring record. Joe Ingles (knee) will rest for the visiting Milwaukee Bucks.
Phoenix stole the show late last night, though. They acquired Kevin Durant from Brooklyn, and Durant's on the shelf -- and has been -- with a knee issue. That doesn't impact the slate as much as Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, and Jae Crowder were sent to the Nets, opening plenty of playing time tonight in Atlanta. Devin Booker (groin) is also resting Thursday.
None of the Lakers' new pieces (D'Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt) are expected to play Thursday. The same can be said for Brooklyn's new pieces and T.J. Warren, who was acquired by Phoenix with K.D.
As for normal injuries, the Nets have Seth Curry (thigh) listed out, and Yuta Watanabe (back) and Day'Ron Sharpe (foot) are questionable. It's a mess. The visiting Bulls have DeMar DeRozan (hip) listed as uncertain on the other side.
The lone non-trade-impacted game to this point is in Orlando, where Jamal Murray (knee) is questionable for Denver after having missed Tuesday's game. The Magic have Gary Harris (groin) listed as questionable.
The Suns' three-point defense was excellent, allowing the third-fewest attempts per game (31.4), but two of their key defensive pieces just got shipped out the window.
As a result, I'm more open to Trae Young ($9,400) at a friendly salary. At the very least, Young has eclipsed 38 FanDuel points in 13 of his last 14 games for a semblance of a floor on this wonky slate. Teammate Dejounte Murray ($8,800) is really the only other high-salaried option here.
Opposite them, Chris Paul ($8,100) is projecting well. He'll see a bump in work without his usual cast of wings, so that checks out. Damion Lee ($3,900) should see a nearly full role and might even start for the shorthanded Suns in this one. Saben Lee ($4,200) could also see extra work.
We'll see what Spencer Dinwiddie brings to the Nets tonight. He's salaried at his full workload in Dallas without Luka Doncic, and he definitely won't have the 30.2% usage rate in Brooklyn that he had there. I'm inclined to wait and see with him.
Dennis Schroder ($5,600) and Patrick Beverley ($4,800) are guaranteed plenty of court time with Russ now out of town for the Lakers. Paul, Lee, and the Lakers' pair lead our projections here today, but Jrue Holiday ($7,800) and Markelle Fultz ($6,500) also grade out decently well.
This slate is just me searching for pieces to pair with Giannis Antetokounmpo ($12,500).
The Lakers' dreadful defense won't change on Thursday, and it's held an ugly 116.9 defensive rating (ninth-worst in the NBA) during February. The 240.0-point total is also the best on this four-game slate for good reason, and it's LeBron James ($10,500) on the other side.
James would also become a priority if he's confirmed active. With the scoring record ceremony over, that's a real doubt for me. Because of this, I'll likely -- and dangerously -- be underweight despite the friendly salary and pristine environment.
Zach LaVine ($7,600) averages 40.2 FanDuel points per 36 with DeRozan off the floor, so he'd leap up the priority list if we got word on DDR before lock.
On the other side, this might actually be the best spot to play Cam Thomas ($7,300) in tournaments since this run of 40-point games started. With Dinwiddie back and a higher salary, more might be hesitant to pull the trigger on Cam expecting a drop in usage, but I don't see Thomas ceding any of his slate-best 41.3% usage rate (during this stretch) until he cools off.
This position is where the bulk of the value lies. Torrey Craig ($4,500), Josh Okogie ($3,700), and Ish Wainright ($3,700) should see extended run for the Suns, and mixing and matching them with stars from Bucks-Lakers will be my default strategy today. Craig is the safest to start and see 30-plus minutes.
Others projecting well at wing include Franz Wagner ($6,000), Patrick Williams ($5,100), and Pat Connaughton ($4,400).
Ceding the 11th-most FanDuel points per game to centers, the Magic will likely struggle with Nikola Jokic ($11,700). He'll be a contrarian way to spend salary given the Bucks-Lakers total, and Jokic could be down a star teammate.
However, I also feel it'll be more contrarian to roster Anthony Davis ($10,900), and I'd like to do so given the environment. Much was made of Davis' performance as LeBron broke the record, but he's also been ceding work leading up to the record. With a return to the normal offensive hierarchy, it's easy to forget A.D. is averaging 56.7 FanDuel points per 36 minutes on the year.
Nikola Vucevic's salary is elevated following his monster showing without DeRozan on Tuesday; I'll likely pass into the defense of Nic Claxton ($8,400) anyway. Claxton is numberFire's second-highest protected center per dollar of salary, so he could be sneaky behind Jokic.
We've got one more Phoenix value here, and Dario Saric ($4,200) might be the best one. He'll certainly start and draw 30-ish minutes, averaging 33.0 FanDuel points per 36 minutes as is this year.
Wendell Carter Jr. ($6,500) and John Collins ($5,800) are two others projecting well for value at these spots, and Rui Hachimura ($5,100) should see his best role for the Lakers so far with Russ no longer in charge of the second unit.