The NBA Player Models are the lifeblood of our NBA product. They house our projections for each player, but that’s just the beginning of what you’ll find inside. You’ll also find our Trends and On/Off tool, Vegas Dashboard, and so much more.
Let’s dive into our models for NBA DFS going position by position, looking at guys with some of the highest ceiling projections and players standing out as values with our predictive Projected Plus/Minus metric.
Note: Projections and Leverage Scores/Ratings may change throughout the day as news comes out after this article is posted. Consult the Player Models directly for any updates.
Top Ceiling: Luka Doncic vs. Philadelphia 76ers – $11,900 DraftKings, $12,000 FanDuel
Thursday’s four-game slate comes packed with fantasy basketball potential, headlined by a head-to-head showdown of the top two ceiling options on the slate as Luka and the Mavs host Joel Embiid and the Sixers. Doncic has the highest ceiling projection, ahead of Embiid by about six DraftKings points and four FanDuel points.
Doncic always brings a high ceiling and has over 59 DraftKings points in four of his past five games. Over those five games, he has a usage rate of 36.5% and has averaged 1.64 DraftKings points and 1.61 FanDuel points per minute. Those numbers are very close to his season averages, so the arrival of Kyrie Irving has not slowed Luka’s fantasy production. Dallas has dropped five of their last six games, so the tandem hasn’t been winning games despite their good individual production.
Luka and the Mavericks have the second-highest Pace Differential on the slate in this matchup against Philly, and this will be the first time the two teams meet this season. Doncic usually brings his A-game to showdowns like this one, and his numbers haven’t taken a big hit in his new pairing. He makes sense as a pay-up consideration on this slate.
Top Value: Delon Wright vs. Toronto Raptors – $4,600 DraftKings, $5,000 FanDuel
With Monte Morris (back) already ruled out for a third straight game, Wright should get another start for the Wizards. As a result of his expanded role, he is in the top three in projected Plus/Minus at point guard on DraftKings and both point guard and shooting guard on FanDuel.
While his totals and usage haven’t been jaw-dropping, he has been a very solid midrange option and outproduced salary-based expectations in four of his past six games. He has scored at least nine points in five of those six games, averaging 24.5 DraftKings points and 25.3 FanDuel points at rates of 0.84 DraftKings points and 0.87 FanDuel points per minute.
He brings the highest projected Points/Salary on the entire slate at point guard on DraftKings and is behind only Tyrese Haliburton on FanDuel.
If you’re a fan of revenge game narratives, he will be facing his former team for the first time this season.
Top Ceiling: Jordan Poole vs. Los Angeles Clippers – $8,200 DraftKings, $7,600 FanDuel
Poole has the second-highest ceiling projection of all shooting guards on DraftKings and the fifth-highest ceiling projection on FanDuel.
He led the Warriors to their third straight win on Wednesday and seemed to finally be emerging from a bit of a shooting slump. He finished with 29 points, 43.75 DraftKings points, and 40 FanDuel points. He shot 42% from the field after posting a 28.3% shooting percentage over his previous three contests.
Hopefully, Tuesday’s win gets him back on the right track since he has been excellent this season, especially with Steph Curry (leg) off the floor. In that situation, he has increased his usage rate by +4.3% and produced 1.1 DraftKings points and 1.03 FanDuel points per minute. For as long as Curry remains sidelined, Poole will remain a top ceiling play, especially in games that are expected to be close, competitive, and up-tempo.
Top Value: Bennedict Mathurin at San Antonio Spurs – $4,800 DraftKings, $5,200 FanDuel
Of the four games on the slate, the matchup between the Pacers and Spurs looks like the best scoring environment. The Spurs have the worst Defensive Rating in the NBA, and the Pacers also rank in the bottom five. Both teams also rank in the top 10 in Pace, so it isn’t surprising that this game has the highest over/under on the slate. The Pacers have the highest Implied Team Total, so the top value options for the day are packed with Pacers.
Mathurin has had a strong rookie season overall for Indiana, averaging 25.5 DraftKings points and 24.4 FanDuel points in 28.2 minutes per game. He has been a key contributor off the bench recently, averaging 16.7 points, 27.0 DraftKings points, and 25.2 FanDuel points per game over his past seven games. He has played the third-most minutes on the team during that span and averaged 0.92 DraftKings points and 0.9 FanDuel points per minute.
Mathurin is a little higher risk than some plays since he isn’t starting, but he still has the fourth-highest projected Plus/Minus at shooting guard and the second-highest at small forward on FanDuel. On DraftKings, he has the highest projected Plus/Minus at shooting guard and the second-highest at small forward.
With such an active role and affordable price tag, Mathurin is a great value option at either of his eligible positions against San Antonio.
Top Ceiling: Kawhi Leonard at Golden State Warriors – $9,300 DraftKings, $10,000 FanDuel
Leonard and the Clippers head to Golden State in what should be a great late matchup. He brings the highest ceiling projection on both DraftKings and FanDuel at both forward positions.
There’s no question that Kawhi is fully ramped up after logging over 38 minutes in three straight games. He started that stretch with an impressive 44-point performance against the Kings, resulting in a ceiling game of 67.8 FanDuel points and 67 DraftKings points. He also had over 50 fantasy points when he and the Clippers beat the Warriors just before the All-Star break.
Leonard can stuff the stat sheet in any matchup. On the season, he has produced 1.23 DraftKings points and 1.22 FanDuel points per minute, and those numbers have been trending upward over the past month while he looks to carry the Clippers to a better seeding for the postseason. His minutes have also been trending up, so there’s plenty of ceiling here to target.
Top Value: Buddy Hield at San Antonio Spurs – $5,900 DraftKings, $5,600 FanDuel
Hield has the highest projected Plus/Minus of all small forwards on this slate by a significant margin on both DraftKings and FanDuel, and he seems especially underpriced in this ideal setup against the Spurs.
In his 11 games in February, Hield averaged 30.7 DraftKings points and 29.2 FanDuel points at a rate of 0.96 DraftKings points and 0.91 FanDuel points per minute. He has been turning in strong non-scoring numbers in his time on the floor while still providing good point totals with a 19.9% usage rate in February.
With Haliburton ailing and listed as questionable due to a calf strain, Hield could carry even more of the offensive workload. Keep a close eye on the news since Hield would move from a strong play to a must-play if Haliburton is ruled out.
Top Ceiling: Kristaps Porzingis vs. Toronto Raptors – $8,900 DraftKings, $9,100 FanDuel
Despite his reputation, Porzingis has been fairly durable this season and is not on the injury report after missing two games with knee soreness. In his return, he has the second-highest ceiling projection of all power forwards on FanDuel and the third-highest of all power forwards on DraftKings.
Before missing those two games, Porzingis had posted strong results around the All-Star break, averaging 45.0 DraftKings points and 43.4 FanDuel points over his past six games. His fantasy points per minute have also been trending in the right direction, averaging 1.32 FanDuel points and 1.36 DraftKings points per minute over the past month.
Top Value: Jalen Smith at San Antonio Spurs – $3,300 DraftKings, $3,900 FanDuel
The Pacers continue to be a top source of value as we look at power forward. Smith is priced under $4K on both sites and has the second-highest projected Plus/Minus at power forward on DraftKings and the third-highest on FanDuel. He’s also eligible at center on both sites and in the top five in projected Plus/Minus at that position as well.
Smith has posted back-to-back strong showings, finishing with seven points, seven rebounds, and five blocks against the Magic in a game that resulted in 26.25 DraftKings points and 30.4 FanDuel points. He followed that up on Tuesday with 11 points, nine rebounds, and a block for 25.25 DraftKings points and 24.3 FanDuel points in the Pacers’ win in Dallas.
When he gets minutes, Smith has shown he can produce points, boards, and blocks at a high rate. If he gets more than 15 minutes of work for a third straight contest, there’s a good chance he’ll be the best bargain on the board, especially given this matchup with the Spurs.
Top Ceiling: Joel Embiid at Dallas Mavericks – $10,800 DraftKings, $11,800 FanDuel
Embiid has the second-highest ceiling projection on the slate and comes over $1,000 less than Luka on DraftKings. He also has higher floor projections than Luka on both sites and a higher median projection on FanDuel. Depending on the rest of your roster construction and opportunity costs, I lean toward Embiid as the higher-priority play on this slate.
He sat out Wednesday with left foot soreness, so if you do build around him, be sure to watch the news carefully.
Over his 13 most recent games, Embiid has averaged an impressive 32.0 points per game and failed to score more than 27 points just once. He has added good non-scoring stats, averaging 1.59 DraftKings points and 1.58 FanDuel points per minute over 35.8 minutes per game over that span.
Embiid is in a great matchup against the Mavs, who have struggled against opposing big men all season. His Opponent Plus/Minus of +6.19 shows this should be a smash spot for Embiid if he’s ready to play after missing Wednesday’s game.
Top Value: Myles Turner at San Antonio Spurs – $7,400 DraftKings, $8,600 FanDuel
Turner has the highest projected Plus/Minus at any position on both DraftKings and FanDuel, so even though he’s more expensive than my usual value plays, he’s too good to pass up.
Turner has been lights out in his three games since the All-Star break, with over 40 DraftKings points and 41 FanDuel points in each. He went off for a massive 60.5 DraftKings points in his first game following the break on 40 points and 10 boards against Boston.
On the season, Turner has averaged 1.22 DraftKings points and 1.23 FanDuel points minutes, but those rates have increased to 1.34 and 1.33 over the last month. In his three games since the break, he has turned things up another notch, averaging 1.49 DraftKings points and 1.46 FanDuel points per minute. With so much momentum and a favorable matchup, Turner is a key piece to consider building around this Thursday.