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NBA DFS Picks and Fantasy Basketball Building Blocks for Today, Thursday | 4/21/22

Eric MacPherson




Thursday, April 21, keeps the playoffs rolling with Game 3 action in the form of a three-game main slate tipping off at 7:30 p.m. ET on Yahoo, DraftKings and FanDuel. Let’s look at the player pool and discuss the top NBA DFS picks today for DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo lineups. As always, you can head over to the Awesemo NBA DFS & Fantasy Basketball home page for all the fantasy basketball content you need for any given slate.

NBA DFS Picks: Fantasy Basketball Building Blocks Today | Thursday, April 21

Yahoo Play of the Day — Donovan Mitchell: Utah Jazz vs. Dallas Mavericks

  • Awesemo’s Preliminary Point Projections: Yahoo and FanDuel: 43.54 | DraftKings: 45.24
    Awesemo’s Preliminary Rostered Projections: Yahoo 38.8% | FanDuel 25.5% | DraftKings 01.3%
    DFS Salary: Yahoo $37 | FanDuel $9,000 | DraftKings $8,400

Dallas was able to hang in and actually win Game 2 at home against Utah on Monday. Now there is a chance that Luka Doncic (calf) could return, which will really change the complexion of this matchup. Through the first two games, Donovan Mitchell averaged nearly 41 minutes with a 39% usage rate. From a raw stats perspective, this worked out to 29.5 field goal attempts, four rebounds, five assists and 33 points. For the last seven games, Mitchell has seen his salary hold steady at $37, which is a bargain considering that he is the primary option in the Jazz offense.

Ja Morant: Memphis Grizzlies at Minnesota Timberwolves

  • Awesemo’s Preliminary Point Projections: Yahoo and FanDuel: 45.68 | DraftKings: 47.15
  • Awesemo’s Preliminary Rostered Projections: Yahoo 25.9% | FanDuel 35.2% | DraftKings 30.7%
  • DFS Salary: Yahoo $43 | FanDuel $9,900 | DraftKings $9,800

Through the first two games of this series, Ja Morant has been a fantasy darling, averaging a tick over 51 fantasy points. The third-year guard has done this work in just 32.7 minutes per game. Minnesota continues to be an up-tempo opponent without a true shutdown defender capable of corralling someone as dynamic as Morant. This is an appropriate salary for Morant, though there still is a little room for upside if he is on the court for 35 or more minutes.

Centers of Attention

Nikola Jokic has been frustrated by the combination of Kevon Looney and Draymond Green, even drawing a pair of technical fouls in Game 2. The cavalry is not coming to the rescue, with Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray unlikely to return until next week at the earliest, which may be too late for Denver. Even though he has played 35 and 28 minutes in the two games this series, Jokic has racked up the fantasy production with 25.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, five assists and 3.5 combined blocks and steals. Of course, we really need more at his apex salary, but there is room for a 60-fantasy-point game and the Awesemo projections have him with a lofty 65-plus effort in this matchup.

Rudy Gobert comes at a significant discount, and he has a very safe fantasy floor with a strong likelihood of being right around 40 fantasy points. The challenge is that he has not been involved in the offense, with only six field goal attempts through two games. On a positive note, he has back-to-back 17-rebound games with five total blocks, but unless he lucks into some alley-oops and putbacks, what we have seen so far will likely be duplicated again on Thursday.

Karl-Anthony Towns nestles right in the middle of Jokic and Gobert with his salary and fantasy production. Foul trouble got the best of him in Game 2, but we saw his 50-fantasy-point upside in Game 1. Memphis pulled Steven Adams after he was whistled for two quick fouls on Tuesday, and he never returned to the game. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Xavier Tillman filled in at the five, while Brandon Clarke played his usual mix of frontcourt minutes. It is hard to trust Adams at this point, but hopefully coach Taylor Jenkins gives him one more shot at redemption, which would keep some of the attention off Jackson. Tillman is too hard to trust, but he does deserve to be speculatively sprinkled in for tournaments around lineup 20 or so if Adams gets one more start.

Yahoo Discount Dandies

Royce O’Neale – Utah Jazz vs. Dallas Mavericks ($10): This is definitely not chasing points, as fantasy gamers are well acquainted with the Royce O’Neale range of outcomes. Generally, he plays heavy minutes but is the last option on offense, and to be fantasy relevant he needs the rebounds to bounce his way while a few of his passes end up being assists. This season O’Neale averaged 31.2 minutes per game with just 5.8 field goal attempts. Those minutes are in line with the last three seasons, but shockingly this year was his career high in shot attempts. For perspective, in his last 210 regular season games, the 28-year-old wing has had double-digit field goal attempts just nine times.

Otto Porter Jr – Golden State Warriors at Denver Nuggets ($13): Veteran Otto Porter Jr. is far from an exciting play, but he should see 22 to 25 minutes in the rotation and his ability to get blocks and steals gives him upside in the Yahoo scoring system, where each one is worth 3 fantasy points.

Malik Beasley – Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Memphis Grizzlies ($10): Though he is better offensively than Patrick Beverley, the 32-year-old guard is still a better defender. The best way for Beasley to find a path to fantasy success aside from foul trouble or an in-game injury to Beverley is for him to get hot from behind the arc and earn more playing time, or if this game ends up with a lopsided outcome and he gets extra run in mop-up duty. Still at the Yahoo minimum salary, he is worth a dart throw here and there in tournaments.

Final Thoughts on NBA DFS Picks for the Thursday, April 21 Fantasy Basketball Slate

Two of the three matchups on Thursday are knotted at one game apiece. This should lead to some spirited action and hopefully fantasy goodness. The biggest variable will be the availability of Luka Doncic — though if he does play, there is no guarantee that he will be effective or ready for a full complement of minutes. Dallas may opt to give him a couple more days of rest since the Mavericks were able to get one victory at home.

Eric "EMac" MacPherson won the 2007 Fantasy Baseball grand prize (trip for two to the MLB All-Star game) in the Roto format on ESPN. He won again in 2008, this time in the H2H format. As one of the early adopters of daily fantasy sports, EMac has been providing content for baseball and basketball as well as both professional and college football since 2012 for a variety of websites including DraftKings Playbook, FanVice, RotoWorld, Daily Fantasy Bootcamp, and RotoGrinders. He is well into his third decade of fantasy sports and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Follow him on Twitter @EMacDFS or contact EMac by emailing [email protected].

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