DraftKings NBA: Thursday Cheat Sheet
DraftKings NBA: Thursday Cheat Sheet

This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.

TEAM ANALYSIS

Defense To Avoid

Milwaukee Bucks at Miami Heat: Despite the fact the Bucks are on the road and playing the second game of a back-to-back set, they're taking on one of the most offensively challenged teams in the league. The Heat rank ahead of only the Magic and Mavs in points per game (94.4) and shooting percentage (42.2). Miami has also dropped three straight at home and have scored under 100 points in six consecutive games. Meanwhile, the Bucks are shooting a solid 45.5 percent from the field and have shown some offensive upside in the earlygoing, scoring between 117 and 125 points in three games.

Offense To Use

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Philadelphia 76ers: The Timberwolves are packing plenty of offensive punch these days with their Big Three of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, and are also getting improved play from Ricky Rubio. They're currently sporting the eighth-highest field goal percentage in the league at 46 percent, while their 107.9 points per game ranks sixth in the league. The Sixers have also been very accommodating on the defensive end, surrendering 108.3 points per contest (sixth-highest) while giving up the second-highest field goal percentage (46.8), as well.

Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Trail Blazers
Second game of a back-to-back: Bucks, Wizards, Knicks, Rockets, Sixers

DraftKings.com DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS

James Harden, HOU vs. POR ($12,400): Despite slogging through a 4-of-16 shooting night Wednesday, Harden still totaled 46.25 fantasy points, rounding out his stat line with 13 assists, seven rebounds and three steals. A player of Harden's caliber isn't likely to remain in a pronounced shooting slump for long, and the Trail Blazers could well be a quick cure for what ailed him against the Thunder on Wednesday. Portland is surrendering the seventh-most points (24.0) to point guards per game, while Harden's aforementioned fantasy-point total against OKC was actually his lowest of the season, as he's already been over 60 fantasy points in five games and over 70 once.

Ricky Rubio, MIN vs. PHI ($6,300): Rubio has been filling out the stat sheet the last three games, scoring 24.5 to 37.0 fantasy points during that span. While he's taken limited shot attempts in each of those contests, his assist and rebound numbers have more than made up for the lack of scoring. He'll draw a matchup ripe for more of the same against the Sixers, who surrender the sixth-most fantasy points (56.6), eighth-most points (23.8), and most importantly with regards to Rubio, the most assists (9.7) per game to point guards.

Malcolm Brogdon, MIL at MIA ($3,300): Brogdon has been coming on in recent games and is serving as the primary backup to Matthew Dellavedova at shooting guard. The rookie out of Virginia has played at least 20 minutes in seven straight games and has scored 16.75 to 31.0 fantasy points in five of those contests. While there's always some risk with a bench player, Brogdon's seemingly consistent playing time and near-minimum price make him a viable cost-saving option on this abbreviated slate.

Jimmy Butler, CHI at UTA ($8,400): Butler is underpriced relative to recent production, which has included tallies of between 43.25 and 66.5 fantasy points in four of the last five games. The surprisingly high-scoring Bulls offense is largely running through Jimmy Buckets this season, as evidenced by his 166 shot attempts and 28.8 percent usage rate, both team-highs. This makes him a highly viable cash or tournament play, despite the less-than-ideal road matchup against the stingy Jazz defense, particularly on a small slate. Additionally, despite limiting small forwards to a modest 17.2 points per game, Utah is tied with the Heat for the fifth-most rebounds (8.7) surrendered to the position, while Butler is averaging 10 boards per game over the last two contests.

Andrew Wiggins, MIN vs. PHI ($7,300): Wiggins' significant leap forward on offense this season has included a current, five-game stretch in which he's scored 32.5 to 58.5 fantasy points and 22 to 47 actual points on 47.4 percent shooting. He's leading the Timberwolves in both shot attempts (191) and usage (32.4 percent) and now draws a juicy matchup against a Sixers squad that's surrendered the most fantasy points (50.1), second-most rebounds (10.1) and fourth-most assists (4.3) to small forwards.

Trey Lyles, UTA vs. CHI ($4,100): Derrick Favors has already been ruled out of Thursday's contest, giving Lyles another start at power forward. The second-year big man brings a nifty outside shooting touch in addition to providing solid work down low, and he scored 31.25 fantasy points on Monday against the Grizzlies. The Bulls are also allowing the seventh-most fantasy points (48.8), seventh-most rebounds (12.4) and second-most assists (3.8) to power forwards, furthering Lyles' case as a player priced way too low considering his temporary starting role.

Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN vs. PHI ($8,600): Towns is a no-brainer as the top center option, given his talent, matchup and the small Thursday slate. He's scored no less than 32.75 fantasy points in any game this season and has scored 43.25 to 48.0 fantasy points in three of the last four games, with double-doubles in all of those contests. The Sixers also surrender the fifth-most fantasy points (50.9) and highest field goal percentage (60.7) to centers, setting up Towns for a potentially huge return.

Joel Embiid, PHI at MIN ($6,100): Despite his typical 24-minute playing time restriction, Embiid is a highly appealing option on the other side of the Timberwolves-Sixers matchup. As good as Towns has been offensively, he's been deficient on the other side of the floor, as Minnesota gives up the most fantasy points (53.2), most points (25.2), second-most blocks (2.8) and fourth-highest field-goal percentage (58.8) to centers. Embiid has scored over 30 fantasy points in three of his seven games, and over 40 in two others, despite not having played over 26 minutes in any of those contests.

John Henson, MIL at MIA ($3,100): Henson continues to hold down the starting center job for the Bucks, although his minutes have been limited. He's proven capable of providing solid returns at his near-minimum price, however, scoring 20.25 and 17.75 fantasy points in his last two games, respectively, while also having scored as many as 34 fantasy points already this season. He'll draw an intriguing matchup against Hassan Whiteside, who, despite his rim-protecting proficiency, has played a major role in the Heat allowing the sixth-most fantasy points (50.6) and fifth-most rebounds (15.9) to centers.

INJURY REPORT
For the latest news on injured players heading into the games, check out our Injury Updates page.

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. Juan Carlos Blanco plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: jcblanco22, FanDuel: jc_blanco22, DraftPot: jc_blanco22, FantasyDraft: jc_blanco22, OwnThePlay: jcblanco22.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Juan Carlos Blanco
Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for close to 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, and the NFL for Rotowire.com, including serving as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' beat writer. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports.
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