Thursday, March 24, brings a five-game main slate tipping off at 7:30 p.m. ET on Yahoo, DraftKings and FanDuel. Let’s look at the player pool and discuss the top NBA DFS picks today for DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo lineups. As always, you can head over to the Awesemo NBA DFS & Fantasy Basketball home page for all the fantasy basketball content you need for any given slate.
NBA DFS Picks: Fantasy Basketball Building Blocks Today | Thursday, March 24
Yahoo Play of the Day — Fred VanVleet: Toronto Raptors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
- Awesemo’s Preliminary Point Projections: Yahoo and FanDuel: 39.15 | DraftKings: 40.74
- Awesemo’s Preliminary Rostered Projections: Yahoo 33.2% | FanDuel 27.7% | DraftKings 19.1%
- DFS Salary: Yahoo $30 | FanDuel $7,800 | DraftKings $8,200
Fred VanVleet has been working through a sore knee, though he is not on the injury report and it has been 72 hours since the Raptors last took the court. This is a key game as Toronto is only one game behind Cleveland for the sixth best record in the Eastern Conference. The team with the seventh-best record will, of course, be relegated to the top of the Play-In Tournament. Between now and the final four days of the season, coach Nick Nurse does not have to worry about any back-to-back game sets.
The Cavaliers have seen their defense slipping without Jarrett Allen and over the last 10 games they have allowed 117.1 points per 100 possessions which is in the bottom-quartile of the league. Gary Trent Jr. is questionable after missing the last game with a toe issue. Malachi Flynn is out through the weekend as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury. Though OG Anunoby is getting close to a return after dealing with a fractured finger for the last month, he is not expected to debut until Saturday at the earliest. That means VanVleet should be in line for plenty of run tonight and it would not be a surprise for the league leader in minutes to be right around his 38.2 per game average. If for some reason VanVleet is out, Pascal Siakam would move from a top tournament option to a core play in all formats.
Darius Garland: Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors
- Awesemo’s Preliminary Point Projections: Yahoo and FanDuel: 39.67 | DraftKings: 42.89
- Awesemo’s Preliminary Rostered Projections: Yahoo 25.2% | FanDuel 14.7% | DraftKings 12.3%
- DFS Salary: Yahoo $37 | FanDuel $,9500 | DraftKings $9,700
The Yahoo salary algorithm has finally given Darius Garland his due and proper. Today’s salary marks the highest of his career and it is nearly 10% more than it was the last time he took the court, as well as being almost 25% higher than it was just three weeks ago. Toronto boasts the fifth best defensive efficiency over their last 10 games allowing 109.9 points per 100 possessions, which is on par with Boston during this timeframe. Garland is doing everything right now for the Cavaliers, so his minutes and usage should be able to counter act most defensive looks. Since returning from back spasms, Garland has been a phenomenal fantasy producer in his last 11 games. During this stretch he is averaging 39.7 minutes, 26.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 11.5 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.1 blocks. This has culminated in 47.7 fantasy points per game.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Washington Wizards
Tonight Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee) will be joining Khris Middleton (wrist) on the sideline as Milwaukee hosts Washington. This means Jrue Holiday should be a key part of all lineups along with Bobby Portis. Looking at NBA WOWY, in 389 minutes this season when Antetokounmpo and Middleton are off the court, Holiday has averaged 1.47 fantasy points per minute. Portis also sees almost a 10% boost in his production, plus there does seem to be a bit of an edge to his game when he is playing former teams. Pat Connaughton, Grayson Allen, Serge Ibaka and Brook Lopez are all viable tournament options.
Sadly local DC area sports pundits had been keeping hope alive that the Wizards were still interested in attempting to qualify for the Play-In Tournament. Clearly that is not the case as seven losses in their last eight games has all but eliminated the franchise from postseason contention. Kyle Kuzma (knee) is out for a third straight game and as good as Kristaps Porzingis has been this week, he cannot carry the load by himself. Porzingis looks like a tremendous option on Yahoo with his $32 salary and he is a solid play on DraftKings ($8,400) and FanDuel ($8,300). Rui Hachimura is shaping up to be one of the most popular discount dandies tonight and teammates Deni Avdija, Raulzinho Neto, Ishmael Smith, Tomas Satoransky and Corey Kispert should be in the mix as well. Daniel Gafford loses out since he is only eligible at center and there are several better selections in the player pool from a point per dollar perspective. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope certainly will take his fair share of 3-point attempts tonight, but his spotty accuracy and increasing salary make him rather risky.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Indiana Pacers
These two teams met on Tuesday of last week in Indianapolis where the Grizzlies dropped a 135-102 drubbing on the Pacers. Both squads also played last night, so we will need to keep an eye on the injury report throughout the day. Ja Morant (knee) has missed three of the last four games and if he is out tonight, Tyus Jones will be a tremendous source of salary relief. Memphis has been installed as double-digit home favorites, so there is no reason for them to rush Morant back into action with their eyes locked on the postseason. Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr., Dillon Brooks, De’Anthony Melton and Steven Adams are all solid selections if Morant remains out.
Malcom Brogdon has not played in either of the last two games and he is questionable tonight. Rookie Chris Duarte (toe) has missed three of the last four tilts and Jalen Smith is dealing with an illness having sat last night while Isaiah Jackson is dealing with headaches and only played limited minutes yesterday. Depending on who and how many players are available, Indiana could be a cornucopia of value. Goga Bitadze, Buddy Hield, Tyrese Haliburton and Oshae Brissett would see the biggest benefit if we have the same roster as last night. In the event Brogdon starts, he should be penciled in for a standard 28-30 minutes with a handful more in readily attainable upside.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Chicago Bulls
The Chicago defense has really slipped when compared to the first six weeks of the season when it looked like they were going to be a juggernaut. While they did suffer from the absence of Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, it turns out they also took advantage of a very pedestrian set of opponents on their early schedule. During their last 10 games, the Bulls are allowing 117.8 points per 100 possessions which is the sixth worst rate in the league.
CJ McCollum has seen his fantasy totals sliding over the last handful of games, though that seems to be a result of rebounds not bouncing his way. During his time with New Orleans, McCollum is averaging a solid 1.28 fantasy points per minute without Brandon Ingram on the court on the strength of a 50.3% field goal conversion rate and a 32.4% usage. Jonas Valanciunas is one of the few centers that has an upside that could rival the standard production of Nikola Jokic, but at nearly an 80% salary cap savings across the DFS sites. Jaxon Hayes, Herbert Jones and Jose Alvarado should be in the main slate tournament pool, before moving into prominence on the late slate.
Look to McCollum in this matchup against the Bulls in the NBA player prop market. Currently he has a 5.5 over/under on his assist prop, and the Awesemo NBA player projections have him for 7.1, which gives him a 70% probability of surpassing the over. McCollum has recorded six or more assists in eight of his last 10 games.
DeMar DeRozan (adductor) has been ruled out for tonight. Zach LaVine (knee) is questionable, though expected to play. The return of Caruso has taken minutes away from Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu and Javonte Green. However, with DeRozan out, that three slides back into late-slate consideration and can be used as main slate tournament dart throws. Caruso, LaVine and Nikola Vucevic are the Chicago core plays on Thursday.
Final Thoughts on NBA DFS picks for the Thursday, March 24 Fantasy Basketball Slate
Tonight has a compressed schedule with four of the five games tipping off within the first 30 minutes of lock. Then there is a one-hour gap until the NBA TV featured nightcap between the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns.