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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, including serving as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' beat writer. He has previously written for and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports.

Thursday night brings a compact three-game slate that allows for plenty of flexibility, considering there’s only one player (LeBron James) priced about $20K. With Kawhi Leonard already ruled out with a shoulder injury and both Blake Griffin (concussion) and Kyle Lowry (back) also potentially set to sit, the number of elite options narrows even further. However, there’s still plenty of appealing selections in the mid-tier, and a number of injuries – including those previously mentioned -- that also open up some value plays. With plenty to consider, let’s dive right in:


Premium Option

DeMar DeRozan, TOR vs. CLE ($16,700): Naturally, Lou Williams ($15,200) is very much worthy of consideration as well at this level, particularly after his career-high scoring haul Wednesday. However, DeRozan is likely to be playing another game without Lowry alongside him, a scenario that led to him putting up a whopping 29 shot attempts against the Heat on Tuesday. While he wasn’t at his sharpest that night, he’ll be in a highly favorable matchup Thursday, considering the Cavaliers have allowed the most fantasy points (51.5) to shooting guards on the campaign, along with the most assists (7.5) and most made three-pointers (4.3). Meanwhile, DeRozan has scored between 51.25 and 75.25 fantasy points in three of his past five games, providing a glimpse at his vast ceiling when his shot is on.


Delon Wright, TOR vs. CLE ($11,200): Both Isaiah Thomas ($11,600) and De’Aaron Fox ($11,400) also hold appeal for those that have the extra cash, but Wright is in a favorable spot if he does indeed draw another start in Lowry’s stead. He parlayed such an opportunity into 32.25 fantasy points on Tuesday, and he’ll face off against a Cavaliers defense that’s allowed 53.5 fantasy points to point guards over the last five, a notable uptick from the 44.0 they’ve surrendered to the position on the season. They’re also allowing the third-most made threes (3.6) to ones over the former span, while Wright is shooting an impressive 50.0 percent from behind the arc over his last five contests.


Tyrone Wallace, LAC at SAC ($7,400): Wallace has been a pleasant surprise since being signed to a two-way contract last Friday, as he’s eclipsed 20 fantasy points once and the 30-mark on another occasion over his first three games in a Clippers uniform. Both Austin Rivers (heel) and Milos Teodosic (foot) will remain out Thursday, which should enable him to enjoy a decent amount of playing time against a Kings squad that’s allowed the fourth-most fantasy points (60.1) to two-guards over the last 10, along with the second-most made three-pointers (5.4).



Kevin Love, CLE at TOR ($16,500): DeAndre Jordan ($15,700) makes for a fine alternative for those who need to save a few hundred, but Love is in a deceptively good spot himself and could be a bit lower-owned than usual in tournaments. Like many of his teammates, Love turned in an absolute clunker against the Timberwolves on Monday night, posting just 6.00 fantasy points over 20 minutes. However, he’d scored between 32.25 and 60.00 fantasy points in eight of his previous nine games, and he’ll have the luxury of not having to deal with the suspended Serge Ibaka down low Thursday. The Raptors have been vulnerable to power forwards overall anyhow, as they’ve allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to fours on the season (46.8), including the most over the last 10 (59.9).


Willie Cauley-Stein, SAC vs. LAC ($12,800): Cauley-Stein may have finally turned the corner in his third season, as he’s posting career bests in scoring (11.7), rebounds (6.3) and assists (2.2). He’s also seeing a solid 26.6 minutes per contest and has scored between 30.75 and 41.25 fantasy points in seven of his previous nine games, impressive returns on his current price. The Clippers have been stingy against centers this season, but Cauley-Stein just compiled 37.25 fantasy points against them on Dec. 26 and should also encounter less resistance down low if Blake Griffin is forced to sit out another contest.


Montrezl Harrell, LAC at SAC ($7,600): Pascal Siakam ($7,900) and Tristan Thompson ($7,500) are also viable tournament plays above and below Harrell, but the energetic second-year forward is a solid option in his own right, particularly if Griffin does indeed sit out another game. Harrell has flashed some impressive upside in recent games, scoring over 20 fantasy points on three occasions and 37.50 in another contest over his last eight. He logged 26 minutes Wednesday due to Wesley Johnson’s foul trouble, but he’s demonstrated an ability to put up plenty of shots in more modest amounts of playing time on multiple occasions. The Kings could also be willing facilitators, considering they’ve allowed the most fantasy points on the season (49.3) and over the last five (66.4) to power forwards, along with league-worst or bottom-five figures in multiple other categories to the position.


LaMarcus Aldridge, SA at LAL ($15,500): The Lakers have been almost as porous
against fours as the Kings, as they’ve yielded the second-most fantasy points (47.3) to power forwards on the season, along with the most rebounds (12.5). Aldridge boasts a 30.4 percent usage rate and averages 1.18 fantasy points per minute with Kawhi Leonard (shoulder) off the floor on the campaign, and Leonard has already been ruled out for Thursday’s game. Aldridge has also scored between 44.00 and 55.00 fantasy points in the last four games and has racked up three straight double-doubles, allowing him to consistently outproduce his current price.

Dwyane Wade, CLE at TOR ($9,400): Wade is underpriced for a player that’s scored between 24.25 and 32.75 fantasy points in four of the last five games, and at least 20.75 in 10 of his last 12 overall. He’s seen a solid 24.2 minutes over the last 20 contests as well and draws a strong matchup against a Raptors squad that’s allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to two-guards (47.5) on the season, along with the seventh-most points (27.2) and fourth-most made three-pointers (3.8).

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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.