Following a day off Tuesday and a five-game Christmas showcase, the NBA finishes out the work week with back-to-back six-game slates for fantasy basketball before a massive 14-game extravaganza on Saturday. None of the 12 teams playing on Thursday played on Christmas, meaning every one of these teams has had at least the past two days off.
The marquee matchup of the night is probably the Mavericks hosting the Spurs, especially if that game features the return of Luka Doncic ($11,800; ankle, questionable). Elsewhere on the schedule, the Pistons host the Wizards, the Nets and Knicks clash in Brooklyn, and the Grizzlies head to OKC to face the Thunder. The final two games feature a pair of Western Conference matchups as the Kings welcome the Timberwolves and the Blazers head to Utah to try and tune out the Jazz.As you dig through the twelve teams in action to find the best matchups, check out my top studs and values at each position. It’s also critical that you stay up to date on any late-breaking news, so stay locked into the DK Live app or live.draftkings.com leading up to tip-off.
StudDe’Aaron Fox, SAC vs. MIN, $7,000 — Fox has been limited to just 13 games this season after missing six weeks with an ankle sprain. He looks like he’s getting back to full speed, though, and is available at a great price against the Timberwolves, who rank in the top 10 in the NBA in DKFP allowed to PG. Fox has played four games since his return and has at least 37 DKFP in three of those four outings. He returned to the starting lineup Saturday in Memphis and had 22 points and 37.25 DKFP. He followed that with an even better game on Monday against the Rockets, posting 52.25 DKFP on 31 points, nine rebounds and six assists while playing 36 minutes. Since he looks to be fully recovered and has had a few days off, he makes a nice option at PG and can bring an elite ceiling while only setting you back $7K. Other Options — Damian Lillard ($8,500), Ish Smith ($6,100)
ValueElfrid Payton, NY at BKN, $5,300 — Elfrid may not even be the most popular Payton at his position after Gary Payton II ($5,800) made quite the splash in his Wizards debut on Monday. However, Elfrid has moved into a big role with the Knicks and has become coach Mike Miller’s starting PG for the past two games. Payton had six points, 10 assists and 34.25 DKFP against the Bucks in his first start and built on that with five points, 12 assists and 35.25 DKFP against the Wizards Monday. Payton has posted what would be almost 7x value without even reaching double-digit scoring. If he gets his scoring game in gear in an uptempo contest against Brooklyn, he could be lined up for a monster performance.
Other Options — Gary Payton II ($5,800), Jordan Clarkson ($4,100)
StudSpencer Dinwiddie, BKN vs. NY, $8,700 — Dinwiddie has stepped up to carry the load for the Nets while Kyrie Irving (shoulder) has been sidelined. Dinwiddie has scored over 30 points and posted over 45 DKFP in three straight games. He had 39 points, six assists, six boards and 57 DKFP against the Hawks last Saturday in his most recent contest. His matchup against the Knicks is a good one, so pay up for Dinwiddie if you have the salary for it. Other Options — Bradley Beal ($9,900), Donovan Mitchell ($8,100)
ValueShabazz Napier, MIN at SAC, $3,300 — Napier is officially questionable for Thursday’s game in Sacramento after missing Monday’s game with an illness. It was either the best or worst possible timing depending on your perspective since he had just moved into the starting lineup and had his best game of the season. Napier’s 18 points and 35.5 DKFP in 30 minutes last Saturday showed he has a high ceiling if he gets expanded work, but his absence Monday kept his salary ultra-affordable for this slate. If he gets cleared and starts, he’ll be a great play at this price despite the risk if he’s less than 100%.
Other Options — Tim Hardaway Jr. ($5,600), Svi Mykhailiuk ($3,700)
StudDeMar DeRozan, SA at DAL, $6,500 — Derozan has quietly had a solid season for the Spurs and is averaging 20.9 points and 36.6 DKFP per game. He had an eve-better 51.25 DKFP on Monday with 26 points on 10-of-11 shooting from the field and his first double-digit assist game of the season. He usually isn’t quite that efficient but has shown he can light up the Mavs, scoring 36 points to go with eight boards on his way to 53.5 DKFP in their first meeting this season. DeRozan offers great upside for a mid-range play and makes sense in lots of lineups due to his positional flexibility at either guard or forward. Other Options — Troy Brown ($6,200), Joe Ingles ($6,200)
ValueTrevor Ariza, SAC vs. MIN, $4,000 — Ariza has been playing significant minutes for the Kings off the bench and usually returning decent fantasy production for so low a salary. He had 33.5 DKFP and 24.5 DKFP in his two most recent matchups against the Grizzlies and Rockets and has found a nice rhythm filling in multiple categories across the stat sheet. He doesn’t have an ultra-high ceiling since he isn’t scoring a ton of points, but he is a solid way to fill a forward spot for only $4K.
Other Options — Dillon Brooks ($5,000), Admiral Schofield ($3,600)
StudKristaps Porzingis, DAL vs. SA, $8,300 — The uncertainty around Luka’s potential return makes the Mavs a bit of a riddle at this point, but Porzingis has been playing well enough to be too good to pass up at this price regardless of Doncic’s status. Porzingis has at least 44 DKFP in each of his past five games, averaging 51.0 DKFP on 22.4 points, 13.8 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 1.6 assists. Even if Doncic returns, Porzingis could stay the focus of the offense while Luka ramps up, so I like the Unicorn a lot against the Spurs, who give up the fifth-most DKFP to PFs in the NBA. Other Options — Julius Randle ($6,800), Danilo Gallinari ($6,600)
ValueCarmelo Anthony, POR at UTA, $5,800 — Anthony missed one game with a knee contusion but returned on Monday and logged 37 minutes against the Pelicans. He matched his season-high with 23 points in that game and fell just one rebound short of a double-double on his way to 38.75 DKFP. Melo has at least 35 DKFP in each of the past four games he has been able to complete, and he has picked up even more work with the season-ending injury to Rodney Hood (Achilles). The Trail Blazers have struggled so far this season but Anthony’s addition and success have been one of their few bright spots.
Other Options — Marcus Morris Sr. ($5,400), Darius Bazley ($3,700)
StudAndre Drummond, DET vs. WAS, $10,000 — With Blake Griffin ($6,800) playing through a knee injury, Drummond has been carrying more of the offensive load for the Pistons and racking up great numbers. The real board man leads the NBA in rebounding with 16.1 per game which is almost two rebounds ahead of Clint Capela in second place. Drummond fell one rebound short of a double-double Monday but had 27 points to get to 44.25 DKFP. He has over 50 DKFP in six of his past nine contests and had 58.5 DKFFP on 15 points and 24 rebounds the first time he played against the Wizards. With Washington’s frontcourt devastated by injury, Drummond should be able to take full advantage with a monster game at home in this contest. Other Options — Hassan Whiteside ($7,700), LaMarcus Aldridge ($7,400)
ValueRichaun Holmes, SAC vs. MIN, $5,800 — Even with Marvin Bagley ($5,300) back, Holmes has remained steady in Sacramento’s starting lineup. He has posted back-to-back double-doubles in his past two games and has 10 on the season. He had 18 points, 12 rebounds and 41 DKFP against Memphis and followed that with 12 points, 13 rebounds and 37.75 DKFP against the Rockets. He has over 33 DKFP in three straight and gets a great matchup against the struggling Timberwolves frontcourt.
Other Options — Ian Mahinmi ($4,800), Skal Labissiere ($3,600)
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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.