This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
Defense To Avoid
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Clippers
The Thunder may seem like somewhat of an odd call in this spot considering the Cavs are on the schedule, but OKC has played solid defense recently and will face off against a preseason version of the Clippers. Los Angeles has already announced that Chris Paul, J.J. Redick and DeAndre Jordan will all be rested, while Paul Pierce will miss another game with knee and ankle injuries. Meanwhile, the Thunder has held three of their last four opponents — the Spurs, Jazz and Pistons — under 93 points, and the lineup the Clippers will roll out Thursday won't begin to approximate the quality of those clubs.
Offense To Use
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Yup, it is indeed a double-dip with the Thunder, who aren't scheduled to rest any starters. If that holds true, they should have no trouble imposing their will on the likes of Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford and Cole Aldrich, who are likely to stand in for the Clippers' trio of resting starters. The only concern is that OKC could certainly take their foot off the gas in the second half with a formidable lead but even a second unit that includes the explosive Enes Kanter could conceivably do damage against what will be a very undermanned opponent.
Teams on Back-to-Backs
First game of a back-to-back: Nets, Cavs, Magic, Celtics
Second game of a back-to-back: Nuggets, Clippers, Pelicans
DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS
Isaiah Thomas, BOS at POR ($7,700): Thomas makes for a nice cap-savings pivot Thursday from the top two choices, who have blowout and matchup concerns. The Celtics guard will draw a Blazers defense that's surrendered the seventh-most fantasy points (54.4) to point guards over their last 10, as well as the fifth-highest field-goal percentage (44.2) to the position this season. Thomas dropped 30 points, four rebounds and two assists in just 30 minutes when the two teams met on Mar. 2 in Boston, and he has a chance for similar production again Thursday. He's also been on an excellent run over the last 10 games, scoring between 29.0 and 48.0 fantasy points over that span, including five games over 30 and three other over 40.
Other options: Russell Westbrook, OKC vs. LAC ($10,500); Damian Lillard, POR vs. BOS ($8,900); Kyrie Irving, CLE vs. BKN ($7,200); Elfrid Payton, ORL at IND ($5,900); Emmanuel Mudiay, DEN at NO ($5,700); Derrick Rose, CHI at HOU ($5,600); Toney Douglas, NO vs. DEN ($5,100); D.J. Augustin, DEN at NO ($4,700); Austin Rivers, LAC at OKC ($3,100)
Will Barton, DEN at NO ($5,300): Barton has caught fire off the bench and draws a matchup Thursday that's ripe for extending his recent stretch of strong play. The Pelicans' backcourt is thoroughly decimated with injury, and featured Jordan Hamilton and Toney Douglas as its starting duo Wednesday versus the Spurs. They are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points (43.5), second-most points (22.8), most rebounds (6.9), fourth-most three-pointers (2.7) and fifth-highest field-goal percentage (44.3) per game to the shooting guard position this season, and they should offer little resistance to Barton, who's scored 38.0 and 40.5 fantasy points over his last two games, respectively. He's also averaged a whopping 46.9 fantasy points per game against the Pelicans in their two previous meetings this season.
Other options: James Harden, HOU vs. CHI ($10,600); Victor Oladipo, ORL at IND ($7,400); Jimmy Butler, CHI at HOU ($7,000); C.J. McCollum, POR vs. BOS ($6,900); Monta Ellis, IND vs. ORL ($6,100); Evan Turner, BOS at POR ($5,600); Avery Bradley, BOS at POR ($5,000); Evan Fournier, ORL at IND ($4,700); Jamal Crawford, LAC at OKC ($4,300)
Al-Farouq Aminu, POR vs. BOS ($4,400): The Celtics have generally excelled at defending backcourts this season, but they have often struggled defending every other position. They are allowing the 10th-most fantasy points (41.0), fifth-most points (20.0) and fourth-most rebounds (7.5) per game to small forwards this season, while Aminu has scored over 30 fantasy points in three of his last four games, and over 20 in three others over the last 10. He's performed some excellent work on the glass, averaging 8.25 rebounds per game over his last four.
Other options: Kevin Durant, OKC vs. LAC ($10,100); LeBron James, CLE vs. BKN ($9,800); Paul George, IND vs. ORL ($8,500); Trevor Ariza, HOU vs. CHI ($5,000); Michael Beasley, HOU vs. CHI ($4,900); Luke Babbitt, NO vs. DEN ($4,100); Maurice Harkless, POR vs. BOS ($3,800)
Nikola Mirotic, CHI at HOU ($4,900): This call is largely based on the assumption that Taj Gibson will be given the night off to rest the sore ribs. Mirotic came off the bench Monday versus the Pacers and exploded for 48.5 fantasy points in 37 minutes. He'll draw an even better matchup Thursday, as the Rockets are allowing the most fantasy points (50.6) and points (23.0) per game to the position, as well as the highest field-goal percentage (49.9), this season. While Mirotic is not a traditional big bruiser down low, the Rockets are even near the bottom of the league in three-pointers given up to the position, ranking third-worst (1.6 per game). If Gibson sits, Mirotic should receive an ample load of minutes in a pivotal game for the Bulls' playoff hopes.
Other options: Kevin Love, CLE vs. BKN ($7,100); Thaddeus Young, BKN at CLE ($6,700); Kenneth Faried, DEN at NO ($5,800); Aaron Gordon, ORL at IND ($5,500); Serge Ibaka, OKC vs. LAC ($5,400); Ed Davis, POR vs. BOS ($4,500); Tristan Thompson, CLE vs. BKN ($4,400)
Ian Mahinmi, IND vs. ORL ($5,200): There are a couple of intriguing mid-tier options at center Thursday, but we'll give the edge to Mahinmi due to recent play and expected minutes. He's scored between 31.75 and 41.25 fantasy points over his last three games, while playing between 26 and 34 minutes. He's also played well against the Magic this season, having averaged 29.2 fantasy points against them over three games. Orlando has struggled without Nikola Vucevic (groin) in the lineup, having surrendered the sixth-most fantasy points over the last five (58.6) and fourth-most over the last 10 (56.7) to centers.
Other options: Pau Gasol, CHI at HOU ($7,300); Brook Lopez, BKN at CLE ($6,900); Dwight Howard, HOU vs. CHI ($6,600); Nikola Jokic, DEN at NO ($5,600); Jared Sullinger, BOS at POR ($5,100); Enes Kanter, OKC vs. LAC ($5,100); Mason Plumlee, POR vs. BOS ($4,700); Alexis Ajinca, NO vs. DEN ($3,700); Cole Aldrich, LAC at OKC ($3,000)
Nikola Vucevic (groin)
Ersan Ilyasova (collarbone)
Sam Dekker (back)
Montrezl Harrell (suspension)
Danilo Gallinari (ankle)
Jusuf Nurkic (illness)
Chris Paul (rest)
J.J. Redick (rest)
DeAndre Jordan (rest)
Paul Pierce (ankle/knee)
Blake Griffin (suspension)
Jae Crowder (ankle)
Jrue Holiday (eye)
Alonzo Gee (quadriceps)
Ryan Anderson (groin)
Anthony Davis (knee/shoulder)