The Slate Starter is a daily first look at NBA DFS strategy to get your daily fantasy basketball lineup-building process started before lock tonight. Each day, we will go through some of the best NBA DFS picks, top stacks and optimal lineup construction for DraftKings and FanDuel. Be sure to check our NBA Starting Lineups page, as it will be updated throughout the day as the NBA injury reports are released and breaking news surfaces today. Wednesday featured 11 games to choose from, but Thursday’s slate is much smaller. There are only six teams in action tonight, so you are going to have to dig a bit deeper on each squad.
NBA DFS Picks & Optimal Lineup Construction | Oct. 21
Giannis Antetokounmpo or Luka Doncic?
No disrespect to Stephen Curry or Paul George, but the battle for the top stud on Thursday’s slate comes down to Giannis Antetokounmpo or Luka Doncic. Giannis was spectacular in his first game this season, finishing with 66 DraftKings points, while Doncic is coming off an excellent postseason. He averaged 1.77 DraftKings points per minute during his three tune-ups, representing a sizable increase from his mark of 1.58 last year.
There are no wrong choices in this equation. It is like choosing between lobster and prime rib at a Michelin-Star restaurant; you are going to be satisfied regardless of what you choose.
You can go with the surf and turf and play both players together, but Giannis gets a slight edge if choosing one. He posted a 42.6% usage rate on opening night, and he also looked vastly improved at the free-throw line. Giannis is already the best fantasy player in the league in terms of racking up peripherals, so adding some additional scoring upside to his profile is too tempting to pass up.
You can also check out how these players size up against each other using our NBA Projections.
Changes from Opening Night
Two of Thursday’s six teams have already played, so unsurprisingly, some of their prices have changed since opening night. Three players saw a bump of at least $700 on DraftKings — Nemanja Bjelica, Jordan Poole, and Jordan Nwora — but which are legit?
Bjelica saw the most considerable bump of $1,200, and he surprisingly played as the Warriors’ top big man off the bench. That said, he feels like an easy fade at his elevated price tag. Bjelica is a solid per-minute contributor — he averaged 0.94 DraftKings points per minute last year — but he is not going to play big minutes regularly. He benefitted from Draymond Green picking up some early fouls, and he also shot a nearly perfect 6-for-7 from the field. It is worth exploring any unders on Bjelica in the prop market using the NBA Player Prop Tool.
Poole and Nwora feel more sustainable. Poole will be a factor in the Warriors’ rotation all year, while Nwora has a bona fide offensive game. The Bucks will be without a host of bench players again on Thursday, so his role should be safe for the time being.
Unleash the Unicorn?
Kristaps Porzingis looked like his old self during the preseason. He averaged a stout 1.60 DraftKings points per minute while providing his unique combination of rim protection on defense and 3-point spacing on offense. The buzz around Porzingis has been building steadily, and he has the potential to destroy his price tag in the Mavericks’ first game of the season. Talent has never been the issue for him, and he averaged 37.5 DraftKings points in 19 games with a comparable salary in 2019-20. This could be the only chance to buy somewhat low on him, so keep an eye on Projected Ownership.
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View our DraftKings NBA ownership projections, our Yahoo! ownership projections and our FanDuel ownership projections. Looking for more NBA DFS strategy and the best free NBA DFS tools? We also have DraftKings NBA rankings, Yahoo! NBA rankings and FanDuel ownership rankings for today's slate. Check out our DFS NBA rankings for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own most accurate NBA DFS projections. Our NBA projections DraftKings are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks.
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