NBA

FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Thursday 7/30/20

After a 4.5-month hiatus, the 2019-20 NBA season is finally returning.

If you're new to daily fantasy basketball -- maybe you started your DFS journey during the MLB or NFL seasons, or maybe basketball is your sport and this will be your first year giving it a shot -- you're in for a treat. The NBA scene changes on a week-to-week, day-to-day, and -- depending on injury news -- even a minute-to-minute basis, making every slate a unique one that requires an ever-changing approach -- and that's especially the case now..

With so much changing so quickly, we're here with plenty of tools to help you out. We have daily projections, a matchup heat map, a lineup optimizer, and a bunch of other great resources to help give you an edge.

Daily fantasy NBA is very reliant on opportunity, so you'll need to make sure that you're up-to-date with key injuries. Our projections update up until tip-off to reflect current news, we have player news updates, and the FanDuel Scout app will send push notifications for pressing updates regarding your players.

We'll also be coming at you with this primer every day, breaking down a few of the day's top plays at each position.

Let's take a look at who you should target on Thursday's two-game slate.

The Slate

The NBA returns with the New Orleans Pelicans (-2) facing the Utah Jazz at 630 PM ET -- that game currently has a total of 221 per FanDuel Sportsbook. The main event will be the Los Angeles Lakers (-4) squaring off against the Los Angeles Clippers -- that total is sitting at 216.5.

Injuries to be aware of: Zion Williamson recently rejoined the team and is set to be cleared ahead of the opener. Anthony Davis sat out practice on Tuesday because of an eye injury. Bojan Bogdanovic is out for the season with a wrist injury. Lou Williams will miss the first two games after violating quarantine rules, Montrezl Harrell (personal reasons) will miss the opener as well, and Patrick Beverley is a "maybe". Both Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley won't play for the Lakers.

(All matchup data is provided via FantasyPros)

Point Guard

Mike Conley ($5,700) is one who stands to benefit from Bodanovic's absence. Conley needs 28.5 points to reach 5X value (or 5.0 FanDuel points per $1,000 in salary) -- that's a number he's exceeded in 8 of his last 13. He's also scored under 25.3 just once in those 13 contests. As an added bonus for Conley, New Orleans allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing points guards prior to the hiatus.

At his cheap salary, Patrick Beverley ($4,600) needs to be considered (if he's active), especially with Williams inactive. Our model has Beverly projected for 25.1 points, making him the best value at the position. Alex Caruso ($3,500) could get some run with Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley out of the lineup. Caruso's ceiling is limited, but he could be a safe option at his price.

Beverley's teammate, Reggie Jackson ($3,800), is a great option if you're looking to load up on studs. Jackson needs just 19 FanDuel points for 5X.

Shooting Guard

With Bogdanovic off the court, the player that sees a big boost in usage is Jordan Clarkson ($4,300). At his price, Clarkson needs 21.5 points to achieve 5X -- our model has him projected for 27.2, making him the best value on the slate. On the season, the Pels were top-seven in real-life points, three-pointers made, steals, and fantasy points surrendered to opposing shooting guards -- making this an ideal matchup. All of that also makes Donovan Mitchell ($7,200) a potentially solid play. Mitchell scores an additional 0.07 fantasy points per minute with Bogdanovic off the court this season. He needs 36 points for 5X, and he's reached or surpassed that in more than half of his games this season.

Paul George ($7,400) is one stud numberFire's algorithm really likes. A projection of a lofty 44.0 fantasy points puts him at 5.94X value, second-best on the two-game slate. Jrue Holiday ($8,300) doesn't come cheap for a guy who's so hit-or-miss, but it is worth noting that he posted 58 FanDuel points in his lone matchup with Utah this season.

As a salary-saver, you can do worse than J.J. Redick ($4,000), who our model projects for 22.5 points.

Small Forward

At small forward, our model likes Brandon Ingram ($7,300) as the best value. Ingram needs 36.5 to reach 5X. He surpassed that in 9 of his 15 games prior to the hiatus. He's an especially enticing option if Zion is limited in any fashion.

I don't particularly love either of the high-priced studs, but if I had to pick one, I'd go with Kawhi Leonard ($9,500). Kawhi is price $1,900 cheaper than LeBron James, and that extra cash could come in handy. James would need 57 points to return 5X, and he reached that in just 7 of his 60 games (11.7%) prior to the league suspension.

If you're looking for a bargain-bin option, look no further than Joe Ingles ($5,500).

Power Forward

You need to anchor your lineup with at least one stud, and for me, that'll be Anthony Davis ($10,400). Davis comes in a full $1,000 cheaper than LeBron, and needs just 52 for 5X -- he's scored more than 52 in 10 of his 55 contests (18.2%). Davis didn't score less than 44.7 in any of his three matchups with the Clippers. He's out model's top projected scorer on the slate, at 54.7 points.

If you paid up for Kawhi or LeBron and can't afford Davis, Zion Williamson ($7,100) becomes an option to consider. Zion was only recently cleared to return, so if he plays, he could see restricted minutes. Williamson did top 40 points in 5 of his 11 contests prior to the hiatus, so the upside is there. However, only one of those 40-plus-point performances came in his final six games prior to the league suspending play. Marcus Morris ($4,200) should see an uptick in usage with both Williams and Harrell off the court.

Royce O'Neale ($4,900) and Kyle Kuzma ($4,700) are two cost-saving options, though our model has them returning just 4.03X and 4.26X value. Of the two, I prefer Kuzma's ceiling, especially with the Lakers missing Rondo and Bradley.

Center

If you're loading up elsewhere, Ivica Zubac ($4,500) is a great option. Zubac exceeded 20 points in half of his games prior to play suspending, and he needs just 22.5 for 5X. Zubac totaled 34.4 FanDuel points in his lone outing with Harrell inactive this season.

If you can afford him, Rudy Gobert ($8,200) is the play at center. Gobert needs 41 points for 5X -- a number he's exceeded 26 times this season. According to RotoGrinders, the Pelicans are the second-most generous team to opposing centers.