This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
Defense To Avoid
Toronto Raptors at Atlanta Hawks
Despite the fact that they'll be on the road, the Raptors may have the best matchup for a defense Thursday, considering the Spurs face off against the Warriors in Oakland. The Raptors held the Hawks to an average of 93 points per games during their three previous meetings this season, with their lowest scoring total (86 points) coming in the one previous meeting in Atlanta. Toronto has also held four out of their last six opponents to under 100 points, with the two exceptions in that stretch justifiably being a road game against the Spurs (102 points) and a tussle with the high-octane Thunder (119 points).
Offense To Use
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Sacramento Kings
The two defensively-challenged squads should encounter little resistance from each other in what could well be the highest-scoring game of the night. The Kings continue to give up the most points per game this season (109.1), while the Timberwolves give up the sixth-most (105.7). Minnesota also allows the third-highest field-goal percentage (47.0), while the Kings are not far behind (46.3). Both units also make a habit of setting up opponents for easy baskets in transition, as they rank in the bottom 10 of the league in turnovers committed per game; Sacramento (15.5) edges Minnesota (14.4) by just a few spots in that category. Given all of these numbers, there clearly should be no shortage of scoring at Sleep Train Arena on Thursday.
Teams on Back-to-Backs:
First game: Raptors, Heat, Spurs
Second game: Rockets
DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS
Seth Curry, SAC vs. MIN ($3,900): With Marco Belinelli (foot) doubtful to play Thursday, Curry figures be in for another start. Considering his price and matchup, he becomes the best value pivot on Thursday's short slate. He's scored 33.50, 27.25 and 31.50 fantasy points over his last three, respectively, and between 20.50 and 31.50 on four other occasions over the prior seven games. He's been doing a little bit of everything across the stat sheet and has been particularly proficient from three-point range. Meanwhile, the Timberwolves have given up the fifth-most points per game (22.0) to shooting guards this season and are tied with several other teams for sixth-most three-pointers surrendered (2.5) to the position.
Other options: Stephen Curry, GS vs. SA ($10,200); Rajon Rondo, SAC vs. MIN ($8,100); Kyle Lowry, TOR at ATL ($7,200); Ricky Rubio, MIN at SAC ($6,800); Goran Dragic, MIA vs. CHI ($6,700); Jeff Teague, ATL vs. TOR ($6,200); Darren Collison, SAC vs. MIN ($5,500)
Andrew Wiggins, MIN at SAC ($6,500): Wiggins is another potentially terrific value play from what could be the highest-scoring game of the night. He continued his outstanding second half of the season on Tuesday, scoring a whopping 54.75 fantasy points in Minnesota's shocking upset of the Warriors. That performance was preceded by respective fantasy point totals of 30.0 and 41.5 in the two prior games, and the common thread through all three has been the scorching hand Wiggins has had from the field. He's shot 56 percent (34-for-61) over that span, and had also scored between 30.25 and 50.25 fantasy points in five other games over the prior seven prior. He'll draw a Kings defense that's surrendering the fifth-most fantasy points (37.1), fourth-most points (20.7), second-most three-pointers (2.6) and sixth-highest field-goal percentage (44.7) to two-guards this season, furthering his appeal.
Other options: James Harden, HOU vs. PHO ($11,100); Jimmy Butler, CHI at MIA ($7,500); DeMar DeRozan, TOR at ATL ($7,400); Devin Booker, PHO at HOU ($7,000); Dwyane Wade, MIA vs. CHI ($6,700); Klay Thompson, GS vs. SA ($6,400); Zach LaVine, MIN at SAC ($5,700)
Luol Deng, MIA vs. CHI ($5,900): Deng takes another shot at his former Bulls teammates, against whom he's already averaging 29 fantasy points per game in three previous meetings this season. He's been one of the most dependable sources of offense for the Heat in Chris Bosh's absence, and he has scored over 30 fantasy points thrice and over 40 just as many times in the last 10 games. That span also includes three games with double-digit rebounds, as Deng has not been shy about mixing it up down low when the situation warrants it. He may have some extra responsibility in that regard Thursday, as Hassan Whiteside (thigh) remains a game-time call. A Bulls defense versus power forwards that ranks in the bottom half of the league in several categories, and that will likely be missing Taj Gibson (ribs) once again, also helps Deng's appeal.
Other options: Kawhi Leonard, SA at GS ($8,000); Rudy Gay, SAC vs. MIN ($6,500); Trevor Ariza, HOU vs. PHO ($5,500); Michael Beasley, HOU vs. PHO ($5,200); Mirza Teletovic, PHO at HOU ($5,000); P.J. Tucker, PHO at HOU ($4,700)
LaMarcus Aldridge, SA at GS ($7,800): In the second half of the season, Aldridge has often resembled the caliber of player he developed into over his years in Portland, yet his price continues to lag behind his considerable ceiling. He's eclipsed the 50-fantasy point mark thrice, the 40-fantasy point mark twice and the 30-fantasy point mark on another two occasions over his last 10 games. Part of the significant boost in Aldridge's fantasy production has been his outstanding work on the glass (five games with double-digit rebounds in the last 10), a category the Warriors' defense ranks in the bottom half of the league in with respect to power forwards. With Boris Diaw (adductor) out again, Aldridge should also continue getting plenty of minutes.
Jonas Valanciunas, TOR at ATL ($5,100): The Raptors' big man has quietly been providing some prolific fantasy production relative to his modest price over the last 10 games. He's scored between 23.75 and 50.00 fantasy points in nine games during that stretch, including four games over 30 fantasy points, and another with 49. In addition to some respectable scoring numbers, it's been solid work on the glass (five games with double-digit boards) and excellent defense (five games with multiple blocks, including three straight) that's gotten Valanciunas to a level of production that would normally warrant a price $1,500-$2,000 higher. He'll also draw a matchup ripe for continued success, as the Hawks defense versus centers is one of their weak spots, allowing the sixth-most fantasy points (48.0) per game, this season, and the sixth-most over the last five games (50.6). Just as important—particularly given Valanciunas' recent body of work—they're tied with the Sixers and Clippers for most rebounds allowed per game to centers (16.2).
Other options: Hassan Whiteside, MIA vs. CHI ($8,800); Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN at SAC ($8,600); Pau Gasol, CHI at MIA ($7,700); Al Horford, ATL vs. TOR ($6,300); Dwight Howard, HOU vs. PHO ($6,000); Alex Len, PHO at HOU ($5,600); Tyson Chandler, PHO at HOU ($5,000)
DeMarre Carroll (knee)
Tyler Johnson (shoulder)
Chris Bosh (calf)
Brandon Knight (sports hernia)
Sam Dekker (back)
Montrezl Harrell (suspension)
Kevin Garnett (knee)
Nikola Pekovic (Achilles)
Omri Casspi (hamstring)
Boris Diaw (adductor)
Kevon Looney (hip)