After the busiest night of the week in the NBA on Wednesday, there are just four games on Thursday’s fantasy basketball slate. There are some intriguing matchups on the board starting with the Celtics hosting the 76ers in a matchup of two teams hoping to claim the Eastern Conference crown. The rest of the slate includes more of a Western Conference focus as the Spurs host the Cavs and the Mavs take on the Pistons in Mexico City before slate concludes with a fun matchup from the Mile High City, where the Blazers take on the Nuggets. Of the eight teams in action, it’s definitely worth noting that the Celtics and Cavs are on the second night of a back-to-back while the 76ers are the only team that also has a game scheduled for Friday.
As you lock in your lineup, check out my top studs and values at each position, and make sure to check out the DK Live app or live.draftkings.com for any late-breaking news that should impact your lineup.
StudKemba Walker, BOS vs. PHI, $7,700 — Walker went off for a season-high 44 points and 64.75 DKFP against the Pacers on Wednesday adding in seven assists three rebounds and two steals. He now has at least seven assists in four of his past five games and over 38 DKFP in each of those four contests. Walker costs significantly less than Luka Doncic ($11,400) and even Damian Lillard ($8,500) but showed he can offer the same upside when he’s at the top of this game. Walker can run hot-and-cold, but usually, his hot streaks last a few games, and he has had no trouble with keeping things going in back-to-back games so far this season. He’s a solid way to get elite upside for a salary under $8K.
Other Options — Damian Lillard ($8,500), Ben Simmons ($7,600)
ValuePatty Mills, SA vs. CLE, $4,100 — Mills has had a strong start to the season in the Spurs’ second unit and has especially kicked things up on San Antonio’s current homestand. He had nine points, six assists, six rebounds and 26.0 DKFP in the Spurs upset of the Rockets, and then he followed that up with 13 points, five assists and 25.0 DKFP as the Spurs edged the Kings. Mills’ time on the floor has varied widely from game-to-game, but he played over 33 minutes in both those two contests and seems to be very involved when the team is playing some of its best ball. The Cavs are a great matchup, so if Mills keeps getting extended run, he’ll continue to be a nice value option at either guard spot.
Other Options — Derrick Rose ($5,700), Anfernee Simons ($3,900)
StudDeMar DeRozan, SA vs. CLE, $7,300 — DeRozan’s shot hasn’t been quite as dialed in as usual lately, but he has been making up for it in other ways with multi-category production. In his past five games, he is producing 39.05 DKFP on 18.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.6 steals. DeRozan usually carries a pretty heavy workload for the Spurs unless they’re getting blown away early, which doesn’t seem to be a likely scenario against the Cavs. Like Kemba, DeRozan has elite-level upside but comes at a mid-range salary.
Other Options — CJ McCollum ($6,800), Jaylen Brown ($6,600)
ValueMatisse Thybulle, PHI at BOS, $4,000 — Even the return of Josh Richardson ($5,300) couldn’t slow down Thybulle, who continued to build on his recent strong run of results with 24.25 DKFP in 26 minutes on Tuesday against Denver. While Richardson was out with his hamstring issue, Thybulle stepped up and seemed to find a nice role for the Sixers. He usually piles up defensive stats and can play a wide variety of positions coming off the bench. The rookie has at least 20 DKFP in four of his past five contests, highlighted by 36.0 DKFP against Toronto last Sunday, a game in which he scored a career-high 20 points to go with three steals, three assists and a blocked shot. Even when J-Rich gets rolling, Thybulle’s defensive presence off the bench should keep him involved enough to be a solid play at $4K.
Other Options — Tim Hardaway Jr. ($5,200), Jordan Clarkson ($4,400)
StudLuka Doncic, DAL at DET, $11,400 — Doncic has cooled off a little bit recently but still brings tremendous upside to Mexico City, where the NBA will hope he showcases his game as the next-gen NBA superstar. Doncic is averaging 60 DKFP per game this season with impressive averages of 30 points, 9.8 rebounds, 9.2 assists and 1.3 steals. He posted below those numbers across the board in each of his past three games but also probably benefited from having three days off since playing last Sunday. Doncic undoubtedly has massive upside and should have no trouble tearing up the injury-depleted Pistons’ backcourt. While he hasn’t hit for a massive number lately, his production has been consistent, and the sophomore now has 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in 19 straight games, which is enough to set an NBA record for consecutive games reaching that level of production.
Other Options — Jayson Tatum ($7,100), Will Barton ($6,300)
ValueKevin Porter Jr., CLE at SA, $3,600 — If you’ve avoided watching the trainwreck that has been the Cavs lately, I won’t question your NBA fanhood. However, you don’t want to miss Porter’s emergence as someone who can save you some salary and still produce nice results. Porter has been featured in my bargain picks the past couple of editions and has continued to offer nice production and stay very affordable. The rookie has logged at least 20 minutes off the bench in each of his past five games, averaging 12.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.6 steals and 24.25 DKFP per contest. He has at least 18 DKFP in seven of his past eight contests and is coming off a career-high 24 points and 39.0 DKFP on Wednesday night against the Rockets. Even in blowouts, he still gets enough work to be a viable option since the Cavs are doing all they can to give the 19-year-old first-round pick from USC every chance to develop.
Other Options — Kent Bazemore ($4,800), Rudy Gay ($4,700)
StudKristaps Porzingis, DET vs. DAL, $6,400 — Porzingis isn’t scoring at the same rate as when he was in New York since he’s the second option behind Doncic in the Dallas offense. He hasn’t reached 20 points in seven straight games but has continued to be a steady producer. He has at least 24.5 DKFP in 13 straight games, so even his down games aren’t total disasters. He has at least six rebounds in each of those 13 games including double-digit boards in seven contests. He has a high ceiling if he gets double-digit rebounds and is a nightly double-double threat. He does also have elite upside if he really gets going south of the border.
Other Options — LaMarcus Aldridge ($7,000), Blake Griffin ($6,700)
ValueJerami Grant, DEN vs. POR, $3,900 — Grant has been inconsistent off the bench for the Nuggets in his first year in Denver, but he could be lined up for some extra run in a great matchup against the Blazers. No team in the NBA has been more generous to opposing PF than Portland, and Grant could get more work depending on the status of Paul Millsap ($4,900; foot, questionable). Millsap has started all 22 games this year for Denver, so it isn’t certain who would get the bump in minutes if the veteran is out or limited. Grant would definitely be a candidate, though, and has at least 17 DKFP in five of his past seven games including three games with at least 15 points and even a game with 31 DKFP against the Wizards. If he gets extra minutes, Grant will be a great play under $4K, so watch to see Millsap’s status throughout the day.
Other Options — Carmelo Anthony ($5,800), Larry Nance Jr. ($4,100)
StudJoel Embiid, PHI at BOS, $9,500 — Embiid missed a game early in the month with a bruised hip but has looked fine in his two games since returning. While he didn’t go off against the Raptors in his return, he did have 22 points, 10 boards, six assists and 49.0 DKFP in just 31 minutes against Denver on Tuesday. He should stay very aggressive in a good matchup against the Celtics, who he always seems to post big numbers against. He had 15 points, 13 rebounds and 42.75 DKFP against them in the season opener despite playing just 23:15 in the blowout. Embiid should be locked in for another double-double with plenty of upside for a monster performance. Other Options — Andre Drummond ($9,600), Hassan Whiteside ($8,100)
ValueDaniel Theis, BOS vs. PHI, $4,000 — Theis has started 19 of his 20 games this season with Boston and the third-year big man does find plenty of ways to contribute. He has scored double-digit points in each of his past two games and produced at least 19 DKFP in three of his past four. He is averaging 7.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.2 blocks for 20.7 DKFP per contest over his past 11 games and has been getting more minutes with Robert Williams ($3,000; hip) missing time. Since Enes Kanter ($3,700) is such a defensive liability, Theis should get all the minutes he can handle against Embiid and be a solid value play as a result.
Other Options — Al Horford ($5,900), Maxi Kleber ($3,700)
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players
and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.