This article is part of our DRAFT NBA series.
Thursday's five-game slate and Friday's nine-game ledger offer us plenty of players to choose from when drafting a team. Below, I'll be taking a look at some of the most favorable matchups on the two days to help you construct a winning lineup.
Mario Hezonja, ORL vs. ATL
Aaron Gordon is slated to sit out a sixth straight contest Thursday, vaulting Hezonja into DRAFT relevance. In the last five games Gordon has missed, Hezonja is averaging 26.9 fantasy points on the back of 15.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists across 27.3 minutes per game. The Hawks represent a good matchup for Hezonja, who occupies most of his time at power forward. Over the past 10 games, Atlanta has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to the position.
Michael Beasley and Kyle O'Quinn, NYK at TOR
With Kristaps Porzingis suffering a torn ACL, Beasley will play a significant role for the Knicks going forward, whether it be off the bench or in the starting five. In games that Porzingis has missed this season, Beasley is averaging 29.2 fantasy points across 28.9 minutes per game, while seeing his usage bump up from 10.6 to 19.1 percent. The Raptors are relatively stingy when giving up fantasy points to power forwards, allowing the 11th-fewest fantasy points to the position over the past 10 games. Regardless, he's still a strong candidate to outperform his Average Draft Position on the day.
With Enes Kanter (mouth) sidelined as well and the team trading away Willy Hernangomez for two second-round picks while Joakim Noah is away from the team, O'Quinn is essentially the only center the team has available for Thursday's contest. Per 36 minutes, O'Quinn averages a sky-high 41.6 fantasy points. There's no guarantee he'll hit that minutes benchmark, but he deserves consideration in a number of DRAFT formats.
Terry Rozier, BOS at WAS
With Marcus Smart out for the last four games and Kyrie Irving missing three of those, Rozier has stepped up, averaging 40.1 fantasy points across 32.2 minutes per game over that stretch. Irving's return Thursday certainly drops Rozier's value, but by how much?
Shane Larkin will be out for the contest, nearly ensuring Rozier will still see significant run in a depleted backcourt. Plus, Rozier's mark of 1.24 fantasy points per minute over the past four games suggests that even if he sees only 24 minutes Thursday, he would be on track to still hit 29.8 fantasy points. The matchup is favorable as well, with the Wizards allowing the third most fantasy points to point guards over the past 10 games. The Celtics play again on Friday against the Pacers in the second half of a back-to-back set. That matchup is less favorable, as the Pacers have given up the eighth-fewest fantasy points to point guards over the past 10 tilts.
Paul George, OKC at LAL
If Carmelo Anthony, who sprained his ankle during Tuesday's contest, is limited in any way, George should vault up the draft board. Anthony has missed just one game this season, but in that tilt, George saw his usage spike from 19.1 to 27.7 percent. In the process, he dropped 57.1 fantasy points via 37 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals in 42 minutes. He should be a quality play regardless of Anthony's limitations, however, as the Lakers have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to small forwards over the past 10 contests.
Dennis Schroder, ATL vs. CLE
Cleveland will be checking in allowing an absurd 64.0 fantasy points per game to point guards over the past 10 games -- a mark that's a full 12.2 fantasy points higher than the fifth-worst team over that stretch (Minnesota) and 21 fantasy points more than the 15th-ranked team (Utah). Schroder has been in a bit of a rut over the past seven games, averaging just 27.4 fantasy points per game. That may cause him to drop down the draft board in arguably the best opportunity for him to have a bounce-back game. Selecting him is certainly a risk, but the matchup is hard to pass up.
Chris Paul, HOU vs. DEN
The Nuggets enter Friday giving up the second-most fantasy points to point guards over the past 10 games (behind Cleveland), putting Paul in a prime position to succeed. He's torched the Nuggets once already this season, dropping 51.4 fantasy points on the back of 23 points, 12 assists, three steals and two rebounds in only 28 minutes. Paul certainly doesn't need much time to rack up stats, as he's averaging 1.34 fantasy points per minute this season. He's seen 30.3 minutes per game over the past three tilts since returning from a one-game injury absence. Taking those two numbers into account, if Paul sees 30 minutes, his expected output is 40.2 fantasy points -- and that's without even factoring in the matchup.
Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN at CHI
Towns is averaging 40.0 fantasy points over the past seven games and is in a great spot to eclipse that in Friday's matchup. The Bulls have allowed the most fantasy points to centers over the past 10 games, including the most points, third-most rebounds, second-most assists and fourth-most threes. Towns has an undoubtedly high ceiling, passing the 60-fantasy-point mark on five occasions this season, and he's capable of carrying an otherwise-underperforming team to a victory.