Scouting The NBA DFS - Thursday, February 23

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Plays of the Day

Value: Jusuf Nurkic stands out as a great option after dropping 13 points and 7 rebounds over 21 minutes in a tough matchup at Utah last week. Now he’s had eight days to practice with his new team and the Blazers will need his defensive presence tonight against Nikola Vucevic and the Magic. There’s definitely a reason they moved Mason Plumlee for Nurk and we should see him log big minutes sooner rather than later.

Fade: DeMarcus Cousins will draw lots of headlines as he makes his Pelicans debut tonight, but I don’t think we’ll see the same type of usage monster now that he’s playing alongside another superstar. The Rockets have done a decent job of containing opposing big men and they could frustrate Cousins a little as he learns a new offense on the fly.

Game Lines

  1. Sacramento Kings (+7) hosting Denver Nuggets (Over/Under = 221)
  2. New Orleans Pelicans (+3.5) hosting Houston Rockets (Over/Under = 227)

Point Guards

Two Studs

Stephen Curry (GSW) vs. LAC DK:$9,500/FD:$9,100

While Chris Paul (thumb) might return tonight for the Clippers, he’s likely to show at least a little rust while attempting to contain the unstoppable Curry. The Clippers have been vulnerable to opposing PGs with CP3 out over the past couple of months and Curry has destroyed the Warriors hated rivals to the tune of 30.3 PPG and 7.7 APG while shooting 53% from the field over 3 appearances. He’s only hit 12-of-33 attempts from long range during that span, which is likely to regress, as he’s shooting 46.2% from deep at home this season and just burned the Clips for 43 point and 9 three-pointers when the Warriors demolished LAC at home last month.

Ish Smith (DET) vs. CHA DK:$3,900/FD:$4,200

Reggie Jackson is one of the most likely players to be moved ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline and if he’s not active for tonight’s game due to a pending trade, Smith should immediately take over as the Pistons starting PG. He averaged 10.7 PPG and 5.9 APG over 17 starts in November before R-Jax became active this year and would obviously be in position to exceed value at this price tag if he plays starters minutes in a good matchup. The Hornets are giving up the fourth-most PPG (25.7) and tenth-most FPPG (44.36) to opposing PGs over the last month and have struggled defensively since December began.

Potential Value

Ty Lawson ($4100/$4600) should be much healthier coming out of the ASB and he’s bound to see more usage with DeMarcus Cousins gone.


While Ish is a great value play, he’ll have a tough time containing Kemba Walker ($7700/$7700) who is putting up some great numbers against Detroit so far this season.

Shooting Guards

Two Studs

James Harden (HOU) @ NO DK:$12,500/FD:$12,600

Boogie or Brow? Fire or Ice? It’s a question we’ll have to ask very frequently now that Cousins and Davis are on the same team, but the simplest decision might just be to target the opposing offense in what should be a very high-scoring game in New Orleans. Harden posted a 29-point triple double in a relatively easy win over the Pelicans earlier this year and now he’ll be asked to provide a herculean effort coming out of the break in order to match points with two of the top 5 big men in the NBA on the other side of the ball. He’s still the league leader in minutes played, FTs attempted, APG (11.3) and is in the midst of the most efficient shooting season of his career, so it’s very doubtful you’ll regret paying up for The Beard in a likely shootout.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (DET) vs. CHA DK:$4,900/FD:$4,900

With Reggie Jackson standing out as the most likely player to be inactive tonight due to a trade, KCP is also a great value option to consider. He’s sporting a 22.7% Usage Rate and averaging 0.80 FPs per minute with R-Jax off the floor this season and faces a Hornets team tonight that coughs up the fifth-most FPPG (39.07) to opposing SGs this season. KCP went through a pretty bad shooting slump in early February, which explains the drop off in his price, but he still managed to produce 20+ FPs in 5 of his last 6 appearances while logging 33.4 MPG over those contests leading into the ASB, making him a solid option with a good enough floor for any format.

Potential Value

If Derrick Rose is moved and Brandon Jennings (Achilles) isn’t ready to go, Ron Baker ($3000/$3500 as PG on FD) could become a great punt play, while Justin Holiday ($3200/$3500) might see more run if Courtney Lee (illness) is out as well.


It’s always risky to use a player on a brand new team, but Kings ownership loves Buddy Hield ($3600/$3500) and they should push for him to see heavy run right away. Ben McLemore ($4500/$4000) should also see a boost with Cousins gone.

Small Forwards

Two Studs

Kevin Durant (GSW) vs. LAC DK:$9,400/FD:$10,300

Durant’s price tag is a gift on DK once again, as he should meet value with ease with the potential for much, much more. Say what you will about the Clippers chances to actually win at Oracle Arena, but they’re certainly capable of covering a 12.5-point spread in a game with a 230-point Over/Under tonight, especially if Chris Paul returns. While they can score with anyone, the Clips can’t really defend the wing without a legitimate starting SF on the roster, and that’s why KD is averaging 21.7 PPG, 8 APG and 6.7 RPG over 3 meetings with the Clippers. Two of those games were blowout wins for the Dubs, so if tonight’s contest remains close for four quarters, we should see Durant and Curry put up great numbers relative to their price tags.

Aaron Gordon (ORL) @ POR DK:$4,900/FD:$4,500 as PF

Gordon fought through a foot injury to meet value in his last couple appearances before the ASB but he clearly wasn’t at full speed and we could see by his embarrassing and lengthy attempt to incorporate a drone into the dunk contest that he’s doing just fine by now. He’s looking at a huge increase in opportunity with Serge Ibaka shipped out of town, as he boasts a 22.4% Usage Rate and averages 0.75 FPs per minute with Serge off the floor this season. Tonight AG faces a Blazers team that gives up the third-most FPPG (46.15) to opposing PFs on the season and he’s back to his natural position with Ibaka gone.

Potential Value

Maurice Harkless ($4600/$4500) is looking at heavy run for the Blazers with Evan Turner (hand) and Al-Farouq Aminu (knee) ruled out tonight. Also love Andre Iguodala ($3800/$4400) as always for salary relief.


Marcus Morris ($5200/$5800) could get hot tonight for the Pistons in a plus matchup against Charlotte.

Power Forwards

Two Studs

Nikola Jokic (DEN) @ SAC: DK:$10,500 as C/FD:$10,900

The Kings should serve as a buffet of value plays tonight with DeMarcus Cousins gone, but the biggest beneficiary could be Nuggets big men such as Jokic. The Joker went into the ASB averaging 23.9 PPG, 11.8 RPG and 5.7 APG over his last 15 appearances and he’s facing a poor defensive team that should only become more vulnerable on the interior now that they’re tanking. Sacramento ranks 23rd in opponents FG shooting (.463%) and 23rd in total rebounding, while the Kings lose a player in Cousins who was sporting a 27.9% Defensive Rebounding Rate, leaving Jokic free to board up while piling up points and assists as per usual.

Blake Griffin (LAC) @ GSW: DK:$9,100/FD:$9,700

He might become very lightly owned if Chris Paul is indeed active tonight but Griffin is looking at a huge role in a high-scoring affair regardless. After getting over a week off to rest his ailing knees, Blake should be charged up for a rivalry game after dropping 31 points over 30 minutes the last time he faced the Warriors. Granted, Draymond Green missed that game with an illness, but Griffin has had plenty of success against Green in the past and perhaps the chippy nature of this game while light his competitive fire. He’s actually averaging more PPG (22.4) on the road this season and should benefit in the rebounding department from the fast pace of this contest.

Potential Value

Anthony Tolliver ($3900/$3600) becomes a strong nightly play with DeMarcus Cousins no longer in Sacramento.


Perhaps Ryan Anderson ($5100/$4800) will burn his former team as Davis and Cousins struggle to adjust to new defensive roles for the Pels tonight.


Two Studs

Jusuf Nurkic (POR) @ ORL: DK:$4,300/FD:$3,700

It’s certainly reasonable to pay up for a stud like Cousins or Anthony Davis in tournament formats tonight, but with all the unknowns surrounding that offense and so much value lower on the board, it makes sense to save on bigs tonight. Nurkic stands out as a great option after dropping 13 points and 7 rebounds over 21 minutes in a tough matchup at Utah last week. Now he’s had eight days to practice with his new team and the Blazers will need his defensive presence tonight against Nikola Vucevic and the Magic. Their only other options at center are skinny natural PFs Ed Davis or Noah Vonleh, or impossibly slow-footed Meyers Leonard, so there’s definitely a reason they moved Mason Plumlee for Nurk and we should see him log big minutes sooner rather than later.

Willie Cauley-Stein (SAC) vs. DEN: DK:$3,600/FD:$3,800 as PF

The most immediate beneficiary of Cousins departure might be Kosta Koufos, but he’s a very uninspiring DFS play and a pretty boring player in general. Not only is Cauley-Stein more dynamic as a playmaker and scorer, he’s much, much younger and the Kings should be entering a full-blown rebuild now and they could hand the keys over to WCS right out of the break. He recently went for 14 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists with Cousins suspended during a game in Boston and he put up a great line in garbage time with Cousins sitting in a blowout at Golden State, as he’s now averaging 0.91 FPs per minute with both Cousins and Gay off the floor this season.

Potential Value

Kosta Koufos ($3500/$3500) is boring sure, but he’s likely to meet or exceed value as the Kings starting center tonight. Clint Capela ($5400/$5000) should log heavy minutes as the Rockets best defensive option against Boogie/Brow.


I’ll be on Anthony Davis ($10,200/$10,600) over Cousins as a blow-up candidate tonight, since Big Cuz should defer a little bit in his first game with New Orleans.

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