Defense To Avoid
Miami Heat vs. Los Angeles Lakers: The Heat give up the seventh-least points (101.6), while the Lakers commit the fifth-most turnovers (15.5) per game. Although the Lakers can put up points on occasion, they can also be affected by a team that slows down the pace as the Heat can do. Miami is also the home defense with the best matchup Thursday, furthering their case.
Offense To Use
Golden State Warriors at Brooklyn Nets: The Celtics and Pacers are liable to do their fair share of lighting up the scoreboard as well Thursday, but the Warriors are the most potent offense in the league, and draw a tantalizing matchup. The Nets give up the most points (114.4) in the league, as well as a 46.3 shooting percentage that ranks in the bottom 10, as well. They also commit the second-most turnovers (16.1) per game, which spells disaster against a fast-break squad like the Warriors.
Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Celtics, Warriors, Nets, Magic, Lakers, Heat, Spurs, Clippers
Second game of a back-to-back: None
DraftKings.com DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS
Isaiah Thomas, BOS at IND ($8,000): Stephen Curry ($8,100) is just fine, as well, against a Nets squad that gives up the most fantasy points to point guards, but Thomas has a favorable matchup himself and has taken his offensive game to another level this season. He exploded for a season-high 65.75 fantasy points against the Grizzlies on Tuesday on the strength of a career-high 44 points, but his selection isn’t just about chasing that performance. While Curry could find himself playing somewhat-abbreviated minutes if the Warriors build a sizable lead, the Celtics are much more likely to be engaged in a back-and-forth affair. Thomas is also sporting a team-leading 33.1 percent usage rate and has scored no fewer than 31.5 fantasy points in his last 10 games, while the Pacers give up the eighth-most fantasy points (55.7), sixth-most points (23.4) and fifth-most assists (9.3) to ones on the season.
Klay Thompson, GS at BKN ($6,500): Avery Bradley ($6,100) and Evan Fournier ($6,000) are also very viable at this level, but Thompson provides you some affordable exposure to the Nets, who’ve yielded the fourth-most fantasy points (43.9) on the season to two-guards, along with the sixth-most points (22.5) and 3.0 made three-pointers per contest. While he can certainly underwhelm at times, Thompson brings an immense ceiling when he gets hot, and has averaged a solid 32.7 fantasy points over the last five games.
Nick Young, LAL at MIA ($4,400): Sean Kilpatrick ($4,500) is at one of his lowest price points in some time and is worthy of consideration in what should be a fast-paced affair versus the Warriors, but Young continues to impress in what has been a resurgent season. He’s gone for 45.0 and 28.5 fantasy points, respectively, over the last two games, shooting a stellar 56.7 percent (21-of-37) over that span. While I expect the Heat to play solid defense overall as mentioned earlier, Young is one of the Lakers’ most consistent offensive forces, and has a strong chance of providing at least a 5x return on a very affordable price.
Kevin Durant, GS at BKN ($9,000): On a small slate, Durant is the clear-cut choice for those able to pay up at forward, especially at his lowest price of the season. He played only 25 minutes against the Jazz on Tuesday, which led to a modest 29.25 fantasy points, but rattled off 49.5 and 60.75 fantasy points, respectively, the previous two games. The Nets also give up the fifth-most fantasy points (44.6), most points (22.1) and second-most rebounds (8.6) to small forwards, along with the third-most three-pointers (2.4) and fourth-highest field-goal percentage (46.1).
Carmelo Anthony, NY vs. ORL ($7,700): Draymond Green ($7,800) also makes for an excellent option as yet another member of the Warriors with a great matchup, but we’ll highlight Anthony, who’s in a good situation himself and has been hot as of late. The perennial All-Star has gone for 39.5 and 53.5 fantasy points, respectively, over the last two games, while also tallying over 40 twice and over 50 on one other occasion in the last 10 contests. The Magic give up a robust 42.6 fantasy points to small forwards per game, along with the fifth-most three-pointers (2.2). Anthony has also been particularly productive at home, averaging 39.6 fantasy points and 23.6 actual points on 45.4 percent shooting overall and 40.9 percent from three-point range.
James Johnson, MIA vs. LAL ($4,200): There’s a number of appealing choices in the affordable tier at forward Thursday, including Johnson’s teammate Justise Winslow ($5,100) on the higher end of that scale, and tournament options such as Bojan Bogdanovic ($4,400), C.J. Miles ($4,100), Marcus Smart ($4,000) and for those looking to really go under-the-radar at a significant savings, Joe Harris ($3,400). We’ll land in the middle with Johnson, who, despite increasingly improved health for the Heat as of late, has continued to receive significant playing time and produce with it. Johnson has scored 23.75 to 31.5 fantasy points in four of his last five games, and is averaging 24.4 minutes over that span. The matchup could hardly be better, as the Lakers surrender the most fantasy points (47.4) on the season, as well as over the last five (55.1), and the highest field-goal percentage (48.7) to the position as well.
Hassan Whiteside, MIA vs. LAL ($9,200): Whiteside draws a Lakers defense against centers that’s given up the fifth-most fantasy points (51.2) and fourth-most blocks (2.7) to the position, with the latter figure particularly relevant to Whiteside’s potential production. The big man has averaged a whopping 49.1 fantasy points in 15 home games this season, and has scored 50.25 to 63.75 fantasy points in three of his last four games. With his immense ceiling, he stands a good chance of still returning at least 5x value despite one of his higher price points of the season.
Nikola Vucevic, ORL at NY ($6,400): The mid-tier at center offers a number of appealing choices Thursday, including DeAndre Jordan ($6,900), Al Horford ($6,800) and Myles Turner ($6,600). However, Vucevic checks in as the least expensive of the bunch, and with just as much potential upside. He’s gone for 50.5 and 49.5 fantasy points in two of the last three games, and also boasts a six-game streak of 30-plus fantasy points within his last 10. The Knicks also continue to struggle defending centers, as they’ve yielded the fourth-most fantasy points (51.9), most points (23.2) and second-most blocks (2.9) to the position.
JaVale McGee, GS at BKN ($3,300): Kyle O’Quinn ($4,000) makes for an interesting tournament play in the affordable tier as well, but McGee may well be the best fantasy-point-per-dollar value at the position Thursday. Even with Zaza Pachulia’s recent return to the lineup, McGee has continued producing, scoring 20.25 to 22.5 fantasy points over his last three games. Those are excellent returns at McGee’s price, which incidentally, actually dropped $500 from the $3,800 tag he sported against the Jazz on Tuesday. While his minutes won’t exceed the teens, he’s proven fully capable of maximizing his floor time in recent games.
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