Welcome back! It's been over four months since we've been able to partake in some NBA DFS action. While we only have a limited two-game slate Thursday, there is still money to be won. Let's discuss some players to target and avoid as you craft your entry.
Donovan Mitchell, UTA at NO ($31): The Pelicans are by far the worst defensive team on this slate, allowing an average of 117 points per game. That should make the Jazz a popular team to stack with Mitchell among the best options. He's torched the Pelicans in three previous meetings, averaging 34 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and a whopping five three-pointers per contest. Having fully recovered from testing positive for COVID-19 months ago, Mitchell is primed to start things off on the right foot.
Jordan Clarkson, UTA at NO ($15): The Jazz are going to be without one of their key offensive weapons in Bojan Bogdanovic (wrist), who was averaging 20.2 points per game. Joe Ingles should move into the starting lineup moving forward, further weakening the Jazz's second unit. Their best scorer off the bench now is without question Clarkson. He's already played a key role since being acquired from the Cavaliers, averaging 15.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.1 three-pointers across 34 games. With added scoring opportunities on tap, Clarkson could provide value despite not normally contributing much in the way of assists and defensive stats.
Guard to Avoid
LeBron James, LAL vs. LAC ($51): The Lakers' main goal is to get through the rest of the regular season healthy. They have a six-game lead in the loss column over the Clippers for the top seed in the Western Conference, which is a lead that is likely too much to overcome. Keeping that in mind, it would not be a surprise to see James play limited minutes considering how long they have been out of action.
Joe Ingles, UTA at NO ($16): Ingles has seen his production take a step backward this season with Mike Conley Jr. now in the fold. Still, he's provided contributions across the board with averages of 9.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 0.9 steals and 1.9 three-pointers a night. He's been even better in a starting role with averages of 11.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 2.2 three-pointers across 37 games. With the Pelicans playing at the second-fastest pace in the league, Ingles should receive plenty of opportunities to provide value.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, LAL vs. LAC ($10): The Lakers are going to be thin at guard with Rajon Rondo (thumb) injured and Avery Bradley opting out of the restart. They did add some depth by signing Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith, but Caldwell-Pope is expected to start in place of Bradley. He's averaged 11.1 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.7 three-pointers across his previous 20 starts, making him a viable option to at least consider at the minimum price.
Forward to Avoid
Kawhi Leonard, LAC at LAL ($44): Leonard has been subject to load management once again this season, which is no surprise given his history and the Clippers' championship aspirations. It's difficult to envision him logging his normal allotment of minutes after not playing in over four months. At this lofty price, he's awfully risky.
Rudy Gobert, UTA at NO ($31): Gobert was the first player to test positive for COVID-19, which resulted in the season being put on pause. He's obviously had plenty of time to recover and has looked good in scrimmages, recently posting 20 points and seven rebounds across 22 minutes Monday versus the Nets. Like Mitchell, he's also had success against the Pelicans this season, averaging 13 points, 16.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 blocks across two games.
Ivica Zubac, LAC at LAL ($11): The Clippers will be shorthanded at center with Montrezl Harrell (personal) out for this game. They did add Joakim Noah for depth, but expect Zubac to see an increase in playing time until Harrell can return. He's averaged 9.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks across 22 games in which he has logged at least 20 minutes this season, so he could provide significant value at near the minimum price.
Center to Avoid
Derrick Favors, NO vs. UTA ($16): Favors has a tough matchup against the defensive-minded Gobert, so he's not exactly an overly appealing option. If Zion Williamson (personal) is ruled out, then Favors could still be a viable target despite this unfavorable matchup. However, if Williamson is cleared to play, staying away from Favors could prove to be a wise decision.