This article is part of our FantasyDraft NBA series.
Thursday offers a compact but intriguing five-game slate that includes a Celtics-Bucks rematch and DeMarcus Cousins renewing acquaintances with his old Kings teammates in a late-night showdown. Without further ado, let's break down who's worthy of consideration Thursday:
Kyrie Irving, BOS at MIL ($14,900): Irving has been as steady as they come over his first four games in a Celtics uniform, scoring between 32.00 and 50.50 fantasy points. The Bucks check in as a bottom-10 unit in fantasy points (54.6), points (24.5), rebounds (6.9) and made three-pointers (2.9) allowed to point guards, while Irving sports a team-high 36.5 percent usage rate and averages 1.32 fantasy points per minute.
Justin Holiday, CHI vs. ATL ($12,800): Holiday is making the most of his starting opportunity while Zach LaVine (knee) remains sidelined, scoring between 27.00 and 37.50 fantasy points over the Bulls' first three games. Playing time has been abundant as well, as he's logged no fewer than 34 minutes. Holiday is capable of contributing in more than just scoring, as he's brought in four rebounds in each game. Meanwhile the Hawks check in allowing 47.4 fantasy points per game to two-guards, along with a league-high 9.7 rebounds per contest.
Buddy Hield, SAC vs. NO ($9,100): Hield is still scuffling somewhat with his shot, but he's managed to score between 25.00 and 33.75 fantasy points in three of his first four games while sporting a 26.2 percent usage rate. He draws an excellent matchup against his old squad, as the Pelicans have allowed the most fantasy points (56.0), points (29.3) and made three-pointers (4.8) per game to two-guards, along with a league-high 53.8 percent success rate from the field.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL vs. BOS ($21,400): Antetokounmpo has made 60 fantasy points the norm over his first four games, as he's tallied no less than 62.75 in any contest thus far. That figure came against the Celtics in Milwaukee's opener, a game in which the Greek Freak put together a 37-point, 13-rebound double-double. Boston is allowing 51.2 fantasy points, 26.1 points and 15.0 rebounds per game to power forwards, numbers that all further Antetokounmpo's case.
Blake Griffin, LAC at POR ($16,400): For those needing to conserve some cash, Marc Gasol ($15,500) is also an appealing play in the second game of a home-and-home series against a Mavericks squad that he dominated Wednesday. However, Griffin is in a very good matchup in his own right against a Trail Blazers defense that's allowed 50.3 fantasy points, 24.1 points (on 48.9 percent shooting) and 12.0 rebounds per game to power forwards. Griffin has seen an unsurprising boost in usage this season with Chris Paul out of town, as he sports a 34.4 percent usage rate and is averaging a whopping 1.48 fantasy points per minute.
Lauri Markkanen, CHI vs. ATL ($10,900): Markkanen has been a bright spot in the early going of what is expected to be a dismal season for the Bulls, as he's scored between 28.50 and 32.50 fantasy points in his first three contests. The rookie has been excellent on the glass as well, hauling in no less than eight boards. Meanwhile, the Hawks have allowed 50.6 fantasy points, 20.0 points, 12.2 rebounds and a league-high 2.7 blocks per game to power forwards in the early going.
DeMarcus Cousins, SAC vs. NO ($21,900): An already tantalizing matchup could become even more appealing if Anthony Davis is forced to miss Thursday's game with his knee injury. Cousins should have an extra dose of motivation against his old club, while the Kings have allowed 52.0 fantasy points to centers, along with the fifth-most rebounds (18.5) and third-highest field-goal percentage (63.6). Cousins has been trampling opposing frontcourts with or without Davis on the floor, too, as he's scored between 58.50 and 67.50 fantasy points in his first four contests.
John Collins, ATL at CHI ($10,000): Collins has been impressive off the bench in the early stages of the season, scoring between 25.25 and 34.25 fantasy points in three of his first four contests. He's posted back-to-back double-doubles, and with Ersan Ilyasova (knee) questionable again Thursday, he could see an elevated workload if the latter misses. He'll encounter a plum matchup when he's on the floor, as the Bulls are allowing the most fantasy points (64.8) and most points (31.0) per game to fours, along with a robust 13.1 rebounds.