NBA DFS Picks & Building Blocks: Kawhi Leonard is Once Again a Fantasy Stalwart (February 2)

Thursday’s NBA action features a robust seven-game main slate beginning at 7 p.m. ET on both DraftKings and FanDuel. There are several options in the player pool worth analyzing to find the top NBA DFS building blocks and NBA DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel lineups, including Kawhi Leonard, who is rounding back into All-Star form.

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NBA DFS Picks: Thursday, Feb. 2

Core Play of the Day — Kawhi Leonard: Los Angeles Clippers-Milwaukee Bucks

It would appear that Kawhi Leonard is finally back to his fantasy form from his first year in Los Angeles. However, DFS gamers do not seem to have realized this development. That makes sense considering Leonard has essentially not played on consecutive days dating back to his late San Antonio days and, of course, he missed all of last season.

In his last six games, five of which were on the road, Leonard is averaging 37.1 minutes and 18.7 field goal attempts with a superb 59.8% success rate. This has contributed to 30.5 points per game, along with 6.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 2.8 combined blocks and steals. Tonight will be just the second game in five days for Leonard, and the Clippers will not see another back-to-back game set until early March. Paul George, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, Ivica Zubac, Grayson Allen and Pat Connaughton are also viable options in this fantasy-friendly matchup boasting a 230.5 point total.

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Nikola Vucevic: Chicago Bulls-Charlotte Hornets

Nikola Vucevic looks like a strong tournament option tonight against one of the weaker rebounding teams in the league. Typically centers are plentiful and one of the best point-per-dollar positions in NBA DFS. Tonight is a little different, as there is not quite as much opportunity cost with Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets being major home favorites against a watered-down Warriors squad and uncertainty, at least this morning, with playing time for the discounted options.

Across his last dozen games, Vucevic has been a steady producer with 36.7 minutes, 16.0 field goal attempts and a sublime 54.7% conversion rate. This has culminated in 20.3 points, 13.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.6 combined blocks and steals. The upside is there as well with four 50-fantasy-point performances in this stretch. Yes, his one dud in this timeframe did come against the Hornets, but we can chalk that up as noise. A 15/15 game is very much in play for the 32-year-old veteran of a dozen NBA seasons.

Additional NBA DFS Building Blocks Pick – Sports Betting Opportunities

LaMelo Ball is an interesting option with an 8.5 total for his assist prop. On the season, the third-year guard is averaging a career-high 8.3 assists and 8.6 per 36 minutes. Only three times in his last nine games has the budding superstar dished nine or more dimes. This wager is likely to have us on the edge of our seats until the final buzzer sounds.

The NBA Bet Pro projections have Ball earmarked for 7.4 assists and 35.4 minutes of action. This wager has an expected win rate of 67%, which gives it a healthy 9% expected ROI relative to the nearly even-money odds on BetMGM.

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Golden State Warriors-Denver Nuggets

Tonight is a back-to-back for the Warriors, who dropped a 119-114 overtime game to the Timberwolves in Minnesota. Klay Thompson is not playing on consecutive days this season, and we have already seen Golden State head coach Steve Kerr hold out his key players on the second leg of road back-to-backs. Considering that Stephen Curry (43), Draymond Green (39) and Andrew Wiggins (35) all played heavy minutes, it would not be a surprise if we get word they will be watching from the sidelines tonight.

Less than two weeks ago, after a road overtime loss in Boston that saw the Golden State stalwarts logging heavy minutes, the next night Curry, Wiggins and Green all received the night off in Cleveland. In an ironic twist, Ty Jerome, Donte DiVincenzo and Jordan Poole led the understudies to a 120-114 victory over the Cavaliers, who were without Donovan Mitchell.

That same trio should see ample opportunity tonight for increased fantasy production. It is likely that Kevon Looney will move back into the starting lineup to match up with Nikola Jokic, though in his last three back-to-back games, he has averaged just 28 minutes. Once the dust settles, we should have further clarification on the playing time for Anthony Lamb, JaMychal Green, Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga, but for now they are just placeholder value on the main slate that could be usurped by options from other teams with more certain roles.

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Denver is favored by a dozen points tonight, and this is the beginning of a busy four-day stretch. This weekend, they host the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday before heading to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves Sunday night. Then they resume play on Tuesday in Denver against the T-Wolves.

Considering that the Nuggets have the best record, along with a three-game lead in the Western Conference, there is no need to run their starters into the ground tonight. Plus, Jokic has been inactive for three of the last six games, so it would stand to reason that coach Mike Malone is going to have a quick hook tonight. Of course, Jokic can still roll up a triple-double in 30 minutes, but his ceiling is likely curbed tonight based on the extenuating circumstances.

Aaron Gordon has been dealing with an ankle issue, and while it has not cost him any games, this would be the perfect time to get him some rest or limit his minutes. The other wild card is Bones Hyland, as the Nuggets are looking to deal him for a defensive stopper. If either of this duo is out, Bruce Brown Jr., Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jeff Green would be the most likely Nuggets to see an uptick in opportunities.

Final Thoughts on NBA DFS Picks Building Blocks Today

It looks like the two late games may have some unanswered questions as we head into lock for the featured slate. Get all the latest analysis and information by tuning in to the Stokastic Deeper Dive and Live Before Lock shows at 5 p.m. ET on YouTube, courtesy of No House Advantage.

Eric MacPherson
Eric "EMac" MacPherson won the 2007 Fantasy Baseball grand prize (trip for two to the MLB All-Star game) in the Roto format on ESPN. He won again in 2008, this time in the H2H format. As one of the early adopters of daily fantasy sports, EMac has been providing content for baseball and basketball as well as both professional and college football since 2012 for a variety of websites including DraftKings Playbook, FanVice, RotoWorld, Daily Fantasy Bootcamp, and RotoGrinders. He is well into his third decade of fantasy sports and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Follow him on Twitter @EMacDFS or contact EMac by emailing [email protected].

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