DraftKings NBA: Thursday Cheat Sheet

DraftKings NBA: Thursday Cheat Sheet

This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.


Defense To Avoid
Toronto Raptors
vs. Atlanta Hawks
With no clear-cut mismatch on Thursday's short slate (considering the Lakers will be home and have recently shown considerable offensive improvement), Toronto shapes up as potentially being in the most advantageous position. The Raptors have won 13 of their last 14 games at home, and continue to rank as a top 5-unit in terms of fewest points allowed per game (98.3). They'll face off against a solid Hawks team that nevertheless commits the seventh-most turnovers per game (14.8), and that they held to 86 points in their previous meeting Dec. 2.

Offense To Use
Denver Nuggets
vs. Phoenix Suns
The Nuggets get to take aim at the Suns' 29th-ranked defense (107.7 points allowed per game) on the second game of a back-to-back, and in the Denver altitude that often bogs down opposing squads. Phoenix is also coming off a 128-point shellacking on Wednesday at the hands of the Knicks that likely has a Nuggets offense averaging 115.8 points per game over their last four licking their chops.

Teams on a Back-to-Backs:
First game: Bulls
Second game: Suns, Cavs


Point Guard
Kyrie Irving CLE at LAL ($7,700): On a short slate like Thursday's, sometimes the optimal selection is the most obvious combination of price, matchup and potential ceiling. Such is the case with Irving on Thursday, as he'll take his shot against the worst defense in the league against point guards. The Lakers surrender the most fantasy points (55.4), second-most points (24.2), most assists (8.6) and third-highest field-goal percentage (45.6) per game to point guards this season, and rank in the bottom 10 in several other categories as well. Meanwhile, Irving continues to roll along against anyone put in front of him, scoring 39.75 fantasy points Wednesday versus the Kings, and over 40 fantasy points in five of the previous nine games as well.

Other options: Kyle Lowry, TOR vs. ATL ($8,700); D'Angelo Russell, LAL vs. CLE ($7,200); Emmanuel Mudiay, DEN vs. PHO ($6,500), Jordan Clarkson, LAL vs. CLE ($6,200); Jeff Teague, ATL at TOR ($6,000); D.J. Augustin, DEN vs. PHO ($3,800)

Shooting Guard
Gary Harris, DEN vs. PHO ($5,000): Thursday's slate is an interesting one for shooting guards, with DeMar DeRozan shaping up as the top choice for those with cash to spend. For those seeking a bargain, Harris makes a nice, cap-saving pivot down from Devin Booker ($5,600), who is likely to be higher-owned. Harris' matchup against Booker shapes up nicely, as the Suns have surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points (42.3) per game to shooting guards, and seventh-most over the last 10 (44.8). They also rank in the bottom 10 in points (22.0) and three-pointers (2.5) given up per game to the position, and Harris comes into Thursday having scored between 24.25 and 35.50 fantasy points over his last four. At a price that could facilitate a 5x-7x return, he shapes up as a potentially excellent value play in what should be a high-scoring game.

Other options: DeMar DeRozan, TOR vs. ATL ($7,700); Will Barton, DEN vs. PHO ($5,700); Devin Booker, PHO at DEN ($5,600); J.R. Smith, CLE at LAL ($4,800)

Small Forward
Kawhi Leonard, SAS vs. CHI ($8,400): Leonard's pedigree and the matchup make it worth paying up for him Thursday. The Bulls already rank in the bottom 10 in fantasy points allowed per game to small forwards (40.9) and have been increasingly vulnerable lately, giving up 46.6 per game over their last five. Meanwhile, game log watchers shouldn't be dissuaded by Leonard's rather lackluster 26.25 fantasy points against the Timberwolves on Tuesday, as they were generated in just 25 minutes. A look at the previous nine games is much more telling, a span in which the All-Star scored between 35.50 and 59.75 fantasy points over a much more typical allotment of minutes.

Other options: LeBron James, CLE at LAL ($9,800); Kent Bazemore, ATL at TOR ($5,000)

Power Forward
Kenneth Faried, DEN vs. PHO ($6,700): Faried shapes up as a solid play in what could be one of the highest scoring games on the short slate, and he continues to be priced below recent production. He's scored over 30 fantasy points thrice, over 40 twice and over 50 on one other occasion over the last seven games, and he has averaged a whopping 49.25 per game over his last two. He'll catch Alex Len and the Suns on the second game of a back-to-back as well and should benefit from facing a Phoenix defense allowing seventh-most fantasy points per game to power forwards this season.

Other options: Kevin Love, CLE at LAL (7,200); LaMarcus Aldridge, SAS vs. CHI ($7,100); Julius Randle, LAL vs. CLE ($6,400); Tristan Thompson, CLE at LAL ($4,900); Jason Thompson TOR vs. ATL ($3,200)

Tim Duncan, SAS vs. CHI ($4,400):Alex Len ($6,900) is certainly in play in this slot as well considering his matchup at power forward against Faried, but Duncan checks in at a significant savings for those looking to try and fit in two of the studs on the short slate. The minutes are always a concern when rostering the 19-year veteran, but he should see a solid share in what should be a generally competitive matchup. Duncan rested Tuesday against Minnesota, meaning he'll come in fresh for a home matchup against a Bulls defense that's surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points per game (51.9) to centers this season, and the sixth-most rebounds per game as well (15.4). He's also been very productive recently, particularly relative to his very modest price points, in games over the last 10 when he's played at least 20 minutes. Duncan has scored between 19.75 and 37.25 fantasy points in six of the last seven contests in which he's received that allotment of playing time, and also posted 26.75 fantasy points in just 18 minutes against the Magic on Feb. 10.

Other options: Pau Gasol, CHI at SAS ($8,300); Alex Len, PHO at DEN ($6,900); Al Horford, ATL at TOR ($6,800); Nikola Jokic, DEN vs. PHO ($6,100); Jonas Valanciunas, TOR vs. ATL ($5,300)


DeMarre Carroll (knee)
Jimmy Butler (knee)
Danilo Gallinari (ankle)
Mo Williams (knee)
Timofey Mozgov (illness)
Lou Williams (hamstring)

Game-Time Decision
Bobby Portis (orbital)
Cameron Bairstow (back)
Tony Parker (toe)
Kobe Bryant (shoulder)

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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Juan Carlos Blanco
Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for over 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, NFL, CFL and Arena Football for Rotowire.com, including serving as the beat writer for teams in multiple sports. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports as well.
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