This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Basketball series.
Thursday's four-game NBA slate shouldn't lack for high-quality basketball, with three of the league's top five teams in action. The one game not featuring one of these elite squads could actually prove to be the most fantasy friendly, as the young Suns and Nuggets both have exploitable defenses. Chances are limiting yourself to only players from that game wouldn't be a winning strategy, though, so it's important to consider all of the below value plays when attempting to set your optimal lineup.
Devin Booker, PHO at DEN ($20) - Booker has regained his confidence after a prolonged slump, knocking down 2.3 3-pointers per game en route to 25.0 PPG and 6.3 APG averages over his last three contests. The young Suns will continue to rely on their prized rookie out of Kentucky for significant scoring and ball-handling contributions, and Denver's 20th-ranked defense is ill-equipped to stop him.
Marcelo Huertas, LAL vs. CLE ($10) - Huertas has been seeing a healthy 28 minutes per game in four contests since Lou Williams went down with a hamstring injury, and the Brazilian's passing ability has helped him make the most of the increased playing time. His 6.3 APG over that span has propelled Huertas to 21.0 fantasy points per game, making him a terrific value at the minimum price. The Cavaliers just got trounced by a backup point guard playing increased minutes when Mario Chalmers put up 17 points and seven assists against them Monday, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Huertas follow in his footsteps.
Guard to Avoid:
Danny Green, SA vs. CHI ($15) - Green has alternated strong and weak performances his last seven games, each time following a game with more than 20.0 fantasy points with one less than 15.0. He just went for 27.0 Tuesday against the Timberwolves, so the pattern suggests a letdown is to be expected Thursday. Green is averaging just 5.3 PPG over his last six games, so those using him will be relying on hustle stats, which are unpredictable and hard to accrue consistently.
Kenneth Faried, DEN vs. PHO ($24) - Faried has lived up to his Manimal nickname over the last seven games, with six double-doubles for a 19.0 PPG average over that span. He's in an ideal matchup at home against Phoenix's 29th-ranked defense and is a strong contender to finish as the night's top value play.
Alex Len, PHO at DEN ($19) - Len has been on an absolute tear lately, recording at least 46.7 fantasy points in three of his last five games. The Maryland product has received north of 34 minutes in each of those five games, and the Suns have no reason to reduce the young big man's minutes down the stretch as they attempt to develop talent with an eye on next season. His combination of scoring and rebounding upside is unmatched by any other player less than the $20.
Forward to Avoid:
Will Barton, DEN vs. PHO ($27) - A home matchup against the Suns looks promising on paper, but Barton has failed to deliver many explosive performances lately after playing so well earlier in the campaign. He has failed to break 30.0 fantasy points in any of his last five games, despite facing the atrocious Lakers and struggling Knicks in that span. Until Barton finds his range from deep again, he's a dicey play regardless of opposition.
Roy Hibbert, LAL vs. CLE ($10) - There aren't many centers to choose from, and those looking to go the safe and inexpensive route at the position can't go wrong with hibbert at the minimum price. He is averaging 16.3 fantasy points per game over his last five, and would be a good return on investment if he could just once again match that total. His ability to contribute in some capacity in points, rebounds and blocks gives Hibbert a diverse portfolio that separates him from other low-priced options.
Center to Avoid:
Pau Gasol, CHI at SA ($41) - Gasol has carryied the Bulls on the offensive end lately, but that may not be a positive trait against a Spurs team that excels in shutting down the opposition's top option. Considering he costs more than twice as much as the next-highest center, any small mitigating factor should give owners second thoughts about Gasol. Facing the league's best defense on the road is more than just a small factor.