This Thursday night is the lightest fantasy basketball schedule of the week with four NBA games on tap. The return of Kemba Walker ($9,300) to Charlotte starts the night off followed by the Thunder visiting the Spurs and the Heat heading to Phoenix to face the Suns. In the nightcap, Kawhi Leonard ($9,600) is expected to return from load management last night and lead the Clippers against the Trail Blazers.
With those four games giving us eight teams to consider, take a look at my top studs and values at each position. To keep up with the latest in breaking news and injury availability, make sure to check out the DK Live app or visit live.draftkings.com.
StudDamian Lillard, POR at LAC, $9,100 — Despite the potential revenge game narrative for Walker, Lillard is the high-priced PG I prefer. He has been impressively consistent this season with at least 50 DKFP in six of his seven games and an average of 52.9 DKFP on 31.1 points, 7.3 assists and 5.0 rebounds per contest. Lillard and the Trail Blazers have dropped two in a row to the Sixers and Warriors, so they should be motivated to try and bounce back against the Clippers, Lillard typically takes a ton of shots and carries the offensive workload, so I think he has a higher ceiling and has been a more consistent contributor to this point in the season. Other Options — Kemba Walker ($9,300), Ricky Rubio ($6,700)
ValueKendrick Nunn, MIA at PHO, $5,200 — Nunn has continued to start for Miami and take a high volume of shots in his first seven NBA games. He started out on fire, scoring at least 17 points in each of his first five games, including three games with at least 24 points. However, in his past two games, his shot has gone cold, and he has gone just 6-for-24 (25%) from the field. He should be in a good spot to bounce back against the Suns, though, and his heavy workload gives him a high ceiling for a player priced barely over $5K.
Other Options — Bryn Forbes ($4,300), Patty Mills ($3,700)
StudJimmy Butler, MIA at PHO, $7,200 — Butler has been limited by a bruised foot early in the season and also missed time on the paternity list. He has played in only four of Miami’s seven games but has been effective when available. He struggled with his shot from the field in Denver in his most recent contest but got to the free-throw line enough to still post 33.25 DKFP. He has at least that many in each game he has played and has the upside to go off like he did against Houston in his first matchup this week, producing 50.75 DKFP and filling up each column in the box score. Miami has built its team around Butler, so he’ll have a huge workload when he’s back to full strength. Other Options — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($7,100), CJ McCollum ($6,100)
ValueDennis Schroder, OKC at SA, $5,300 — Schroder was rolling right along until shooting a woeful 2-for-11 from the field Tuesday against the Magic and only finishing with five points and 9.75 DKFP. Prior to that rough outing, he had more than 34 DKFP in three of four contests, highlighted by 48.0 DKFP against the Warriors. Schroder has been giving the Thunder’s second unit a nice boost in scoring and typically gets a big enough workload to be worth this salary despite continuing to come off the bench behind Chris Paul ($6,500).
Other Options — Marcus Smart ($5,700), Rodney Hood ($3,800)
StudGordon Hayward, BOS at CHA, $7,300 — In his most recent game, Hayward had a huge night against the Cavaliers, scoring 39 points to go with eight assists and seven rebounds on his way to 59.25 DKFP. Hayward looks to be much healthier this season and has at least 34 DKFP in each of his past three games. On the year, he has averaged 37.9 DKFP on 20.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. He has taken on a larger part of the Celtics’ offense with Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn and seems to have gelled well with Walker. Hayward has shown his elite upside with at least 50 DKFP in two of his past three games and will look to help Kemba get a win in his return to Charlotte. Other Options — DeMar DeRozan ($7,500), Danilo Gallinari ($6,100)
ValueMario Hezonja, POR at LAC, $4,100 — Hezonja should be in store for a bigger workload while Zach Collins (shoulder) is out. He started Collins’ first game on the sideline and played 37 minutes against the 76ers on his way to 37.5 DKFP. He returned to the bench Monday, when the Blazers lost to the depleted Warriors and Super Mario had 20.75 DKFP in 26 minutes of play. While Collins remains out, Hezonja should get more than 25 minutes of work a night, which gives him plenty of upside since he is known as a streaky shooter and producer. The Blazers could get him back in the lineup as well as they visit the Clippers, but either way he should have a good shot at returning nice value at just over $4K.
Other Options — Justise Winslow ($5,200), Dario Saric ($4,600)
StudKawhi Leonard, LAC vs. POR, $9,600 — Despite the NBA ruling Leonard is “not a healthy player” and therefore can be rested like he was last night, Kawhi has been tearing up opponents when on the floor this season. He has at least 50 DKFP in four straight games and had a season-high 38 points, 12 rebounds and 63 DKFP in his most recent game following a rest game. Kawhi has scored at least 30 points in four of his six games and continues to fill out all the other categories in the box score very nicely. He should be ready to carry the load in his return after his teammates lost a close game to the Bucks on Wednesday. Other Options — LaMarcus Aldridge ($6,900), Danilo Gallinari ($6,100)
ValueDarius Bazley, OKC at SA, $3,600 — If you have to go cheap at forward, Bazley is a solid option to consider since the 19-year-old has earned himself a significant role for the Thunder. He had 17 points and 26.25 DKFP against the Pelicans on Saturday and played 24 minutes Tuesday while producing 10 points and 24.0 DKFP. Bazley was a pleasant surprise in the Summer League and preseason and should continue to offer nice bargain value coming off the Oklahoma City bench.
Other Options — P.J. Washington ($5,900), Frank Kaminsky ($4,000)
StudAron Baynes, PHO vs. MIA, $5,800 — Baynes has been very impressive as the Suns’ starting center while filling in for the suspended DeAndre Ayton. He has at least 32 DKFP in four of his past five games and posted an impressively balanced 38.75 DKFP on 15 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two blocks as the Suns knocked off the Sixers on Monday. Baynes will have a tough matchup with Bam Adebayo ($7,000), who also offers nice upside, but at this salary the Aussie is a relatively safe pick to return nice value in the middle this Thursday. Other Options — Bam Adebayo ($7,000), Montrezl Harrell ($6,200)
ValueSteven Adams, OKC at SA, $5,400 — Adams returned Tuesday from a knee injury that caused him to miss a pair of games and posted a solid 11-point, 11-rebound double-double against the Magic, finishing with 32.25 DKFP. Adams has at least 11 boards in all but one of his five games this season and needs to step up as the Thunder try to figure out their new offense without Russell Westbrook. Now healthy, Adams should settle in as a reliable rebounder with decent scoring upside and double-double potential on a nightly basis.
Other Options — Meyers Leonard ($4,700), Skal Laibssiere ($3,300)
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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.