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FantasyDraft NBA: Thursday Picks

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.

We go from one extreme to the other Thursday, as there are just two games on the docket after 12 on Wednesday. Fortunately, both matchups offer intriguing fantasy options across the pricing scale, so let’s break down the best of the best on the short slate:

GUARDS:

Premium Option

Damian Lillard, POR vs. LAL ($18,900): Lillard exploded for a season-best 33-point, 10-rebound, eight-assist effort against the Jazz on Wednesday, leading to his third straight game with over 40 fantasy points and second over 50 this season. Despite the fact he’ll be on his third game in four nights, he shapes up as an appealing play against a Lakers defense that’s allowing the eighth most fantasy points (51.0) to point guards over the last five games. Factoring in Wednesday’s stellar outing, Lillard is also boasting a 32.5 percent usage rate and averaging 1.23 fantasy points per minute.

Mid-Tier

C.J. McCollum, POR vs. LAL ($15,900): Lillard’s backcourt mate is also in a very good spot Thursday, considering the Lakers allow the fourth most fantasy points (56.1), fifth most points (32.6), fifth most made three-pointers (4.3) and fourth highest shooting percentage (46.) per game to two-guards. McCollum has endured some shooting woes over his last two games, but he’s still scored over 30 fantasy points on four occasions and over 40 in another two contests out of seven games played this season.
Affordable

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, LAL at POR ($9,400): KCP is priced right on the other side of the matchup with McCollum, as the Blazers have allowed the sixth most fantasy points (55.5) per game to shooting guards over the last five. They’re also allowing the sixth most points (31.3) and fifth most rebounds (8.9) to the position on the season, while Caldwell-Pope has scored between 25.50 and 33.00 fantasy points in three of his first five games. His inconsistency makes him a tournament play only, but one that could provide a solid return given his four-figure price.

FORWARDS/CENTERS:

Premium

LaMarcus Aldridge, SA vs. GS ($15,000): Aldridge scored a season-low 23.75 fantasy points in his most recent contest against the Celtics on Monday, but he’d posted between 37.50 and 52.00 fantasy points in his first six games of the season. Kawhi Leonard (quadriceps) will be sidelined once again Thursday, which should allow Aldridge to continue building on the 29.7 percent usage rate he’s generated thus far without his teammate on the floor. The Warriors have been stingier against power forwards in the last couple of games, but they’re still allowing the seventh most fantasy points (50.0) and third most points (26.3) per game to fours, along with the ninth most rebounds (12.9) and second most steals (2.1). It’s worth noting that Aldridge also thrived in this matchup last season, averaging 21.5 points (on 50.0 percent shooting), 10.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.5 blocks over two games.

Mid-Tier

Larry Nance, Jr., LAL at POR ($10,900): Nance has been a revelation in his run as a starter to open the season, eclipsing 30 fantasy points on three occasions and 20 in two other contests. That upside makes him a viable mid-tier option in a matchup versus a Trail Blazers squad that’s surrendered the fourth most fantasy points (52.2), fourth most points (24.9), seventh most rebounds (12.9) and highest shooting percentage (54.0) per game to power forwards. Nance is also a threat for a double-double bonus any time he takes the court, already having accomplished the feat in three games this season.

Affordable

Kyle Kuzma, LAL at POR ($9,200): Teammate Julius Randle ($8,800) is also under consideration at this spot, but Kuzma’s scoring upside makes him a particularly appealing play for tournaments. The rookie draws the same favorable power forward matchup that was just detailed in Nance’s entry, and he checks in having scored between 22.25 and 32.50 fantasy points in four of his first seven games. He offers some double-double potential as well and is sporting a solid 21.0 percent usage rate on an average of 26.6 minutes per game.

Utility:

Stephen Curry, GS at SA ($17,800): Curry averaged 27.5 points (on 47.4 percent shooting), 7.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds in two games against the Spurs last season, and that was while often going against the much more experienced Tony Parker, who remains out with a quadriceps injury. He’ll draw second-year man Dejounte Murray on Thursday as a result, giving him a solid opportunity to build on the 47.43 fantasy points per game he’s already averaging this season. After posting 36.75 fantasy points in the opener versus the Rockets, Curry has scored no less than 42.75 in the subsequent seven games and is coming off a season-best 55.25 fantasy points against the Clippers in a Monday blowout win.

Dejounte Murray, SA vs. GS ($11,500): Murray makes for an intriguing option himself on the short slate, considering he’s scored between 30.25 and 42.00 fantasy points in three games and has also eclipsed the 20-point mark in two of his last three contests. The Warriors have allowed the third most fantasy points (54.2) per game to point guards over the last five contests, along with the fourth most assists (10.0) to the position on the season. Murray has been involved during his starting stint to open the season, posting a solid 22.2 percent usage rate that should serve him well in what is expected to be an up-tempo game for the Spurs.

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.