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Yahoo DFS Basketball: Thursday Picks

Alex Rikleen

Rikleen writes the NBA column "Numbers Game," which decodes the math that underpins fantasy basketball. A certified math teacher, Rikleen decided the field of education pays too well, so he left it for writing. He is a Boston College graduate living in Delaware.

Six games makes for the busiest Thursday yet this season, so be aware that you should set your targets a little higher than most Thursdays. Most of the teams in action are relatively close to average opponents, with the exceptions being the Nets and the Mavericks, who are two of the worst defenses in the league, and the Magic, who have become one of the most effective defenses in the league this season.

GUARDS

Klay Thompson, GS vs. HOU ($29):
Early season concerns about Thompson can be discarded, as he is shooting 49.6 percent from the field over the last two weeks. Since Nov. 1, he has a three pointer in every game, and two in all but one. The Rockets are a bad defense, and Thompson has posted a profit in five of his last six games.

D.J. Augustin, ORL at MEM ($11): Augustin has started the last two games and played at least 25 minutes in three straight, averaging 8.7 points and 4.7 assists per game. He took Elfrid Payton’s starting spot before Payton rolled his ankle in Tuesday’s game. Augustin was netting fantasy profits with Payton healthy, and if Payton is less than 100 percent Thursday (he is questionable to play), Augustin would be in line for an even bigger workload.

Other suggestions: Andrew Harrison, MEM vs. ORL ($10); Wesley Matthews, DAL at CHA ($17); Josh Richardson, MIA at UTA ($16); Seth Curry, DAL at CHA ($17); Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL at BKN ($51)

Guard to Avoid

Stephen Curry, GS vs. HOU ($48):
His pricy is too high – it’s as simple as that. For $48, daily gamers are looking for a bare minimum of 50 fantasy points, and Curry has only hit that mark four times this year. His play has picked up recently -- his last week was his most productive this season -- but even during that time he had two games that were damaging to fantasy lineups at this salary.

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FORWARD

Serge Ibaka, ORL at MEM ($25):
Ibaka has played at least 31 minutes in each of the last six games and has scored at least 15 points and 32 fantasy points in five of those. He is noticeably better than his Grizzlies’ matchup, JaMychal Green. Ibaka was averaging a slight profit before this recent stretch, but during those five games he has been lineup-defining.

Andre Iguodala, GS vs. HOU ($10): Iguodala’s game is not well-suited to daily fantasy – he plays few minutes, and while he can contribute in any category, he doesn’t have a single statistical skill to provide him with a reliable floor. That said, his price is as low as possible, so the loss on a bad night is very small. On the other hand, he has scored at least 17 fantasy points in six of his last eight, and in more than half his appearances this season. His large workload (24 minutes per night) gives him plenty of opportunity to rack up stats, regardless of which ones they may be.

Other suggestions: Frank Kaminsky, CHA vs. DAL ($17); Dwight Powell, DAL at CHA ($10); Jabari Parker, MIL at BKN ($28)

Forward to Avoid

LeBron James, CLE vs LAC ($54):
Similar to the situation with Curry, the only major problem here is the price. James is practically a lock for 25 fantasy points (he hasn’t fallen below that mark this season), and he’s pretty likely to break 40 (he’s exceeded that in 80 percent of games). With a short slate of games, that stable floor would be tempting for $40, or maybe even $45. But at this price, James needs roughly 60 fantasy points to profit, and he has only done that once this season. If you aren’t really, really confident in your low priced players – and there are some great cheap options – then James just doesn’t provide nearly enough upside.

CENTERS

DeAndre Jordan, LAC at CLE ($27):
Jordan’s situation is the opposite of James’: his floor, roughly 20 fantasy points, barely hurts a lineup. His standard night, roughly 30 fantasy points, represents a small profit. And every once in a while he breaks loose and delivers fantasy points in the high 40s. His value comes almost entirely from points and rebounds, which are two of the steadier, more reliable categories. Finally, as long as J.R. Smith remembers not to wander off the court, the center position is probably the weakest part of the Cavaliers’ lineup

John Henson, MIL at BKN ($10): One of the most important factors to consider with minimum salary players is minutes. Henson has played at least 20 in five of his last six, and at least 17 in eight straight, when he's also scored at least 14 fantasy points. Henson is a strong rebounder and shot blocker, and an okay scorer, which is more than good enough for this measly salary.

Other suggestions: Andrew Bogut, DAL at CHA ($13); Clint Capela, HOU at GS ($23)

Center to Avoid

Hassan Whiteside, MIA at UTA ($43):
Whiteside was a solid play Wednesday, as the Nuggets miss more shots than anyone in the league. On Thursday, however, he faces the Jazz, who miss the fewest shots in the league. Jazz opponents rank near the bottom in rebounds per game, and rebounds make up a major portion of Whiteside’s value.
The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.