The NBA (finally) returns to action on Thursday with a three-game schedule. As always with the short schedule, there will be some chalk picks on most teams but the key will be to hit on the value plays. You can't afford zeros, so let's try to hit the ground running…but keep in mind, this Thursday also has the potential complication of being the Trade Deadline, so any potential deal could completely change the landscape.
Derrick Rose, CHI at CLE ($6800): Rose was playing great basketball in the week before the All Star Break, averaging 43 fantasy points over three games before wearing down and having to sit out a game. The Bulls lean harder on Rose with Jimmy Butler out, and Rose should be refreshed after the week break, so look for him to be ready to go in prime time against the defending Eastern Conference champs.
Rodney Hood, UTA at WAS ($6000): Hood was strong down the stretch entering the break, averaging 23 points with 4.5 boards, 2.5 assists and 0.8 steals over his last four games. The Wizards have struggled all season in defending perimeter scorers, setting him up for a strong start to the stretch run.
Danny Green, SA at LAC ($4500): Green is getting much better minutes now after Manu Ginobili's horrifying injury. Over the last five games entering the break, Green averaged 12.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 2.0 combined steals and blocks in 32.2 minutes per game. His price hasn't yet caught up with his improved production.
Otto Porter, WAS vs UTA ($5300): Porter has been productive all season when he's been healthy. He had some injury issues last month, but was starting to get well before the break and has now had another extra week of rest. He has a reasonable match-up against a Jazz defense that is very tough overall, but is only 12th at production allowed to opposing small forwards as Gordon Hayward isn't a stopper.
Wesley Johnson, LAC vs SA ($4400): This one is risky, because the Spurs are the number one defense in the NBA against opposing wings. But, Johnson is a low-cost option that is coming off of five consecutive games of at least 20 fantasy points so he could be worth the risk even against the stifling Spurs.
Derrick Favors, UTA at WAS ($7400): Favors was rounding back into shape before the break after his long injury absence. In his last six games he averaged 16 points, 9.2 boards, 2.5 blocks, 1.7 assists and 0.8 steals in 34.8 minutes per game. The Wizards are a solid defense against power forwards, but so much of Favors' value is in his defense and rebounds that he is still a good play.
Tim Duncan, SA at LAC ($5800): Duncan sat out a couple of weeks leading into the All Star Break with a sore knee, but he did return in the game before the Break, producing 25.9 fantasy points in 18 minutes of action. After another week off, presumably Duncan should be closer to full speed heading into a Thursday match-up against a relatively vulnerable Clippers defensive frontline.