For most days with a decent slate of games I’ll provide best options to return value using my basic DFS strategy, which was described here. We’ll look at Vegas totals for some guidance, but advanced NBA stats will help us find candidates from (anticipated) lower scoring games as well.
The recommended players will be sorted by FanDuel NBA salary tiers, which will enable me to present a recommended lineup or two, as well as thoughts regarding tournament (GPP) vs. cash game viability based on the number of elite players in action and the strength of their match-ups.
After a 14-game bonanza, things cool off again on Thursday with only three games on the docket as TNT has their usual doubleheader taking center stage.
The first game features the lowly New York Knicks taking on an Atlanta Hawks team that was surprisingly overwhelmed by the retooled Detroit Pistons squad on opening night, so perhaps the off-season changes will make the matchup closer than it would have been last season.
Game two has the Dallas Mavericks visiting the Los Angeles Clippers, but other than the inevitable focus on DeAndre Jordan (the first time he visits Dallas should be more entertaining), this game looks to be a blowout in the making, given the fact that the Mavericks will be limping into L.A. after a tilt in Phoenix the night before, while the Clippers seemingly have it easier as they will have taken on the Sacramento Kings upstate.
The game TNT eschewed is probably another mismatch on paper, as the Memphis Grizzlies travel to Indianapolis to face a restructured Pacers team that now features Paul George at power forward.
While his game vs. the Raptors on Wednesday appeared ideal for PG-13 as a stretch 4, the intimidating frontcourt for the Grizz should overpower the Pacers’ new small-ball setup, as both teams will have played the previous evening in different cities.
The Mavericks-Clippers tilt has the highest opening total of the night at 210.5; the other two games are below 200 (Indiana-Memphis is particularly low at 186). The problem with selecting players from the anticipated score-fest is trying to predict what will happen if/when the game gets out of hand.
The Clippers often pounded their opponents at the Staples Center, as they averaged 106.0 PPG while allowing just 98.0. The eight-point spread may not seem like much, but when you consider that they lost 11 home games and still had that margin, it makes more sense that the net differential would be negatively skewed.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Grizzlies only allowed 95.1 points per game last season, which was second among all NBA teams. This figure inflated slightly to 97.0 on the road, so the Pacers catch a miniscule break in that regard.
That said, the lone meeting between the two teams last season at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (the newer appellation still feels weird to say) was a 97-89 victory this past Halloween in which Indiana native Zach Randolph starred with 22 points and 13 boards.
Granted, the Pacers’ lineup was much different a year ago, but it feels as though Z-Bo is capable of similar numbers given the smallish nature of the “new” Pacers and the notion that both teams may have tired legs from playing elsewhere the night before (more lazy shots = more rebounds).