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DraftKings NBA: Thursday Cheat Sheet

Juan Carlos Blanco

Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for close to 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, and the NFL for Rotowire.com, including serving as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' beat writer. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports.

TEAM ANALYSIS

Defense To Avoid
Miami Heat vs. Phoenix Suns
The Heat’s defense is in the best situation of any on the abbreviated slate, facing off against a Suns team that often looks like it’s waving the white flag by halftime. In addition to the advantageous matchup, Miami sports a top-tier defensive unit regardless of opponent, checking in as the second-stingiest in the league with only 96.9 points allowed per game. Meanwhile, the Suns rank in the bottom half of the league in points scored (100.5), commit the second-most turnovers per game (16.3) and have only scored between 78 and 93 points in their last five road games, all losses.

Offense To Use
Dallas Mavericks vs. Sacramento Kings
The Mavs’ offense has caught fire in four of the last five games, and now draws a matchup that’s sure to further stoke those flames. Dallas scored 129, 122, 128 and 121 in those four contests, respectively, and will face a Sacramento defense Thursday that ranks in the bottom five in points allowed (107.1 per game) and bottom 10 in field-goal percentage allowed (.462). The Kings also play at an accelerated pace and turn the ball over at the third-highest clip of 16 times per game, providing their opponents with plenty of extra possessions. One of the Mavs’ hottest players during the recent stretch, Wesley Matthews, also draws one of the best individual matchups for two-guards in the league in the form of Sacramento’s third-worst defense versus the position.

Teams on a Back-to-Backs
First game: Heat, Suns
Second game: Spurs, Pelicans, Kings, Thunder

DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS

Point Guard
Goran Dragic, MIA vs. PHO ($6,700): Dragic gets to tee off against his former squad following a seven-game stretch when he’s scored between 27.50 and 46.75 fantasy points, including four games with more than 40.00. The Suns have also surrendered the second-most fantasy points per game to point guards on the season (55.00) and have been even worse lately, yielding a whopping 63.50 per game over their last five. While the threat of a blowout is certainly real, Dragic figures to spend enough time on the court to provide a nice return for those looking to save some cash and spend up elsewhere on the superstar-laden slate.

Other options: Russell Westbrook, OKC at GSW ($11,200); Stephen Curry, GSW vs. OKC ($10,800); Rajon Rondo, SAC at DAL ($8,200); Deron Williams, DAL vs. SAC ($5,800); Tony Parker, SAS at NOP ($5,200)

Shooting Guard
Wesley Matthews, DAL vs. SAC ($4,900): Matthews has scored between 23.5 and 34.75 fantasy points in his last five games, including multiple three-pointers in four of those contests. Additionally, the Kings surrender the third-most fantasy points (43.0) and second-most points (22.3) per game to shooting guards, and are tied with the Pelicans for most three-pointers (3.0) allowed to the position per game this season. At his sub-$5K price, Matthews also provides a significant cost savings that could certainly open things up elsewhere.

Other options: Klay Thompson, GSW vs. OKC ($7,900); Dwyane Wade, MIA vs. PHO ($7,100); Devin Booker, PHO at MIA ($4,600)

Small Forward
Kawhi Leonard, SAS at NO ($7,700): While Kevin Durant is as close to a sure thing as there is in NBA DFS and a terrific option in a showdown with Golden State, Leonard offers the potential for a handsome return at a significant savings. He aptly demonstrated that in Wednesday’s tough matchup versus Marcus Morris and the Pistons, totaling 46.00 fantasy points on the strength of 27 points, six rebounds and five assists. He has scored between 40.00 and 47.25 fantasy points in seven straight and figures to play a full allotment of minutes in what could be tough road game.

Other options: Kevin Durant, OKC at GSW ($10,300); Chandler Parsons, DAL vs. SAC ($6,800); Luol Deng, MIA vs. PHO ($6,300); Joe Johnson, MIA vs. PHO ($5,700); Mirza Teletovic, PHO at MIA ($5,700)

Power Forward
Draymond Green, GSW vs. OKC ($8,900): For those looking to pivot down from the DeMarcus Cousins/Anthony Davis level, Green presents a viable alternative, especially if Stephen Curry is held out with his ankle injury. Green took charge in Curry’s absence during Golden State’s battle with Atlanta on Tuesday, scoring 54.75 fantasy points in a near triple-double performance. The game prior, with Curry in the lineup the majority of the contest, Green somehow put together a whopping 60.5 fantasy points against this same Thunder squad while going 0-for-8 from the field. He’s highly unlikely to come up empty again, and has already proven he can do plenty on the glass against the normally-formidable defense of Serge Ibaka.

Other options: DeMarcus Cousins, SAC at DAL ($10,700); Anthony Davis, NOP vs. SAS ($9,800); LaMarcus Aldridge, SAS at NOP ($6,600); Dirk Nowitzki, DAL vs. SAC ($6,200); David Lee, DAL vs. SAC ($4,300)

Center
Alex Len, PHO at MIA ($5,600): The big man on the other side of the court Thursday, Hassan Whiteside, is the no-brainer call for those with the cash to spend. For those looking to save, Len is a mid-tier option that runs contrary to the suggestion to avoid the Heat defense, but for whom there is a case to be made regardless. The one Suns player who’s looked interested for all four quarters lately has been the third-year big man, who’s capitalizing on the extra minutes at power forward now that Markieff Morris is in Washington. He’s amassed 30 boards over the last two games while also scoring in double digits in five straight. Len has also scored between 29.00 and 50.00 fantasy points in four of those five contests, and has received a solid allotment of minutes lately even in lopsided losses. Len’s size advantage over Luol Deng (7-foot-1 to 6-9) on Thursday at the four should also help him rack up a few extra rebounds and put-backs that would facilitate a solid return on his modest price.

Other options: Hassan Whiteside, MIA vs. PHO ($8,300); Zaza Pachulia, DAL vs. SAC ($5,400); Tim Duncan, SAS at NOP ($4,800)

INJURY REPORT

Out
Brandon Knight (groin)
Tyler Johnson (shoulder)
Chris Bosh (calf)
Manu Ginobili (groin)
Omer Asik (ankle)
Eric Moreland (foot)

Game-Time Decision
Stephen Curry (ankle)
Andre Iguodala (hamstring)
Rudy Gay (shoulder)
Seth Curry (foot)

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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.