This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Basketball series.
The NBA has five games on the schedule Thursday, but none of them really stand out as a marquee matchup. These are the nights when DFS excitement comes to the rescue. Here are some of the players you want to both target and avoid for your Yahoo entry.
Jimmy Butler, MIN vs. SAC ($41): There are some really frustrating coaches from a fantasy perspective as their rotations can change any given night. Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau is definitely not one of those coaches. Known to run his starters into the ground, Thibodeau is at it again with his studs in Minnesota. Butler has barely had time to catch his breath lately, playing at least 40 minutes in six straight games. He cashed in those minutes with at least 44.1 Yahoo points in five of those contests. Expect a lot of playing time and production from him again Thursday.
J.J. Barea, DAL at GS ($20): The Mavericks are still without starting point guard Dennis Smith, Jr. (hip), leaving an expanded role for Barea. He's heavily involved when on the floor as his 26.3% usage rate puts him inside the top 35 in the league. He scored 31.2 Yahoo points Tuesday against the San Antonio Spurs and should provide nice upside against the up tempo Warriors on Thursday.
Guard to Avoid
Lonzo Ball, LAL at CLE ($30): Ball has shown his potential of late, scoring at least 43.6 Yahoo points in two of his last three games. The problem is, performances like that are few and far between as he has scored 28.3 Yahoo points or less in four of his last seven games. Ball is the third-most expensive healthy guard on Yahoo for the evening, so paying that premium for him might not be worth it.
LeBron James, CLE vs. LAL ($60): The Cavaliers play a lot of close games, which is great news for James as he's been playing big minutes. With at least 62.9 Yahoo points in three of his last four games, he has been showing his tremendous upside more often than not. The Lakers play at the fastest pace (104.6) in the league, so look for James to get plenty of chances to be a major factor in this game.
Taj Gibson, MIN vs. SAC ($24): Coach Thibodeau has always been a fan of Gibson from their time together in Chicago, but he's playing him more than ever this season as Gibson is averaging a career-high 34 minutes per game. He had never averaged more than 29 minutes per game previously, so the increase in playing time has been dramatic. He has scored at least 28 Yahoo points in seven of his last nine games, making him someone you should consider at this price.
Forward to Avoid
John Collins, ATL vs. DET ($23): Collins (shoulder) is listed as probable for Thursday's game against the Pistons after missing the last six games. He has had some big performances already this year, scoring at least 30.1 Yahoo points eight times. Since he's been out so long, there is a chance he plays limited minutes. While he should be someone you want to consider for your entry in the coming days, it might be best to take a wait and see approach for Thursday.
Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN vs. SAC ($42): Towns has become less of a scoring option with Butler now in the fold as his 20.1 points per game average is exactly five points fewer than last season. He still provides tremendous value though, scoring at least 50.4 Yahoo points in three straight games. The Kings allow the second-most Yahoo points per game (54.5) to opposing centers, making Towns an excellent option for your entry.
Willie Cauley-Stein, SAC at MIN ($18): Cauley-Stein recently missed some time with a back injury, but played 30 minutes in his return Tuesday against the Phoenix Suns. With the Timberwolves playing Gibson and Towns so many minutes, the Kings might be forced to play Cauley-Stein more than usual. Cauley-Stein has scored at least 33.7 Yahoo points in five of the last six games where he played at least 28 minutes, giving him nice upside Thursday.
Center to Avoid
Julius Randle, LAL at CLE ($18): The Lakers have depth up front, causing Randle to average only 23 minutes per game this season. His upside is limited as he hasn't scored more than 29.8 Yahoo points in 11 of his last 13 games. With Cauley-Stein a safer bet for playing time at the same price on Yahoo, Randle might be someone to stay away from.