There are five games on Thursday night, making this a relatively sparse schedule but still with enough options to differentiate your team. The position holding the most weight on Thursday is point guard, with Damian Lillard leading five front-end and several other value play point guards into action. The position with the least depth is small forward, as Kawhi Leonard faces a tough Grizzlies team, T.J. Warren looks solid, and then there is a drop-off from there. The distribution of talent, and which positions you decide to make your foundation, will give the personality for your team and ultimately decide how your Thursday will go. Let’s look into it.
Damian Lillard, POR vs NY ($9,900): Lillard has been on a scoring tear of late, scoring at least 27 points in seven straight games. In that stretch, he has averaged 45.8 fantasy points with a median of 47.2, a min of 32.8 and a max of 56.7. Based on these numbers, Lillard would have an expected value in the upper 40s of fantasy points on Thursday, against a Knicks defense that has allowed the 12th-fewest fantasy points to point guards in the last 10 games.
Devin Booker, PHO at BKN ($6,900): The top-3 scoring shooting guards on Tuesday all have warts. DeRozan just detonated for 64.4 fantasy points on Tuesday, but he had scored between 17.6 and 31.4 fantasy points in six of the previous eight. McCollum has similarly scored between 14.6 and 30.5 fantasy points in three of his last five. Booker sat out on Sunday with ankle soreness, and has scored between 18.3 and 24.6 fantasy points in the three games around it. But, he has had some time for his ankle to get stronger, his price tag is lower than the other two best options, and he has a good match-up against a Nets defense that has allowed the third-most fantasy points to shooting guards this season.
J.J. Barea, DAL vs LAC ($4,100): Barea is slowly taking on a larger role in the backcourt as he returns to health. His production has gone up-and-down in his last four games, from 27.9 to 15.2 to 33.7 to 14.6, and his minutes also peaked at 27 during those games. Barea is risky, but he is also the least expensive guard option that has the best chance to score over 30 fantasy points on Thursday.
Kristaps Porzingis, NY at POR ($7,000): Porzingis has scored 36.2 and 36.4 fantasy points in his last two outings, since he missed a game last Thursday due to injury. He now has scored between 36.2 and 43.2 fantasy points in the last four games that he played full minutes, and has a solid matchup against a Trail Blazers defense that has been average against opposing big men in the last 10 games.
T.J. Warren, PHO at BKN ($6,600): Warren has averaged 32.6 fantasy points with a min of 22 and a max of 41.3 over his last eight games. On Thursday, he faces a Nets defense that has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to small forwards in his last 10 games.
Marquese Chriss, PHO at BKN ($5,100): Chriss has scored between 25.4 and 39.4 fantasy points in each of his last four games. The Suns have fully committed to the youth movement, sitting veteran Tyson Chandler for the rest of the season. Chriss has taken advantage, and has a solid match-up on Thursday against a Nets defense that has allowed the 12th-most fantasy points to power forwards in the last 10 games, but the second-most on the season.
Hassan Whiteside, MIA vs TOR ($8,900): Whiteside has a finger issue, but is probable to play on Thursday. He enters Thursday’s game playing at a high level, having averaged 44.8 fantasy points with a min of 37 and a max of 51.2 in his last five games. He faces the same Raptors team that he scored 12 points with 14 rebounds and four blocked shots against a bit less than two weeks ago.
Jusuf Nurkic, POR vs NY ($7,600): Nurkic has played at a high level since becoming the starting center for the Trail Blazers, but lately he has found more consistency. Over the past 11 games he has averaged a very high-variance 36.6 fantasy points per game, with a min of 7.6 and a max of 77. However, in his last four games he has averaged a similar 38.2 fantasy points, but with a min of 33.3 and a max of 41.8. On Thursday, he faces a Knicks defense that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to centers in the last 10 games.
Alan Williams ($5,700) or Alex Len ($5,100), PHO at BKN: Williams scratched on Tuesday without warning due to illness, and is listed as questionable for Thursday. When he plays, he has been a walking double-double for weeks now. But in Williams’ absence on Tuesday, Alex Len stepped up with a 12-point/11-rebound double-double of his own plus four blocks. If Williams can go full speed, he is the more likely to produce on Thursday. But if he sits, Len makes a solid alternative against a Nets defense that has allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to centers this season.