The Slate Starter is a daily first look at 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 Awesemo’s NBA Starting Lineups page, as it will be updated throughout the day as the NBA injury reports are released and breaking news surfaces. There are some critical injuries heading into Thursday’s six-game slate, so let’s dive into some of the biggest beneficiaries.
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Nikola Jokic, C, Denver Nuggets
Jokic has gotten very pricy across the industry. He is up to $12,000 on DraftKings and $11,600 on FanDuel, but it is hard to argue against him. He has put together a massive season, averaging 26.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, and 6.3 assists, and he has averaged 1.84 DraftKings points per minute. He is coming off 69 DraftKings points in his last contest, and he has scored at least 66.75 DraftKings points in three of his past four games.
Jokic has been forced to carry a monster workload given the team’s injury situation. Jamal Murray is expected to miss most of the season while recovering from knee surgery, while Michael Porter Jr. is out indefinitely with a back injury. The team will likely be even thinner on Thursday, with Will Barton currently doubtful with a lower back injury. Jokic has increased his usage rate to 38.6% and averaged 1.91 DraftKings points per minute with Barton and Porter off the court this season, so he is primed for another monster performance. Expect him to lead all players in terms of raw points projections.
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Scottie Barnes, SF/PF, Toronto Raptors
Barnes already plays a prominent role for the Raptors, but he could be looking at an even more significant workload on Thursday. OG Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa, and Chris Boucher are all listed as questionable, and their absences would leave the team without many viable forwards.
Achiuwa and Boucher both missed the Raptors last game, and Barnes and Anunoby each played at least 39.5 minutes. Barnes has averaged 0.92 FanDuel points per minute this season, so he can do plenty of damage with that much playing time. He is underpriced at $6,700 if any of those players are ruled out, but he will likely check in with significant ownership.
Eric Bledsoe, PG/SG, Los Angeles Clippers
Bledsoe is someone who has burned a lot of DFS players in the past, but he has displayed plenty of upside so far this season. He has scored at least 32 DraftKings points in three of his past five games, and he has the potential to pick up a few additional minutes on Thursday. Nicolas Batum is currently listed as doubtful, while Terance Mann is questionable. The Clippers are already playing without a host of wing players, so they do not have many options to pick up the slack.
Bledsoe can score fantasy points in a bunch of different ways, resulting in an average of 0.93 DraftKings points per minute. His versatility also makes him an appealing target in the player prop market. Make sure to utilize the Awesemo Player Prop tool to take advantage of the most profitable props each day.
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Our best NBA DFS projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. View our FanDuel ownership, our DraftKings ownership projections and our Yahoo! ownership projections. Check out our DFS rankings NBA for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own best DFS NBA projections. Looking for more NBA DFS lineups and the best free NBA DFS tools? We also have FanDuel rankings, Yahoo! rankings and DraftKings NBA rankings for today's slate.
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