The NBA has four games lined up for fantasy basketball this Thursday night, and there are some interesting options to consider especially with some of the biggest stars on the sidelines. LeBron James (groin), Damian Lillard (groin), Ben Simmons (back) and Steph Curry (hand) have already been ruled out, and Joel Embiid ($10,700) is scheduled for an MRI on a shoulder injury that limited him to seven minutes Wednesday. Anthony Davis ($10,300; elbow) is probable but expected to play, as usual. With so much usage available from the absence of the big names, there are lots of value plays to consider deploying alongside the right big-name studs. As you get your team together, 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.
StudCJ McCollum, POR at IND, $9,000 — With Lillard out, McCollum has been carrying the Trail Blazers offense. He has at least 27 points and at least 10 assists in each of his past three games posting 50 DKFP, 76.25 DKFP and 55.5 DKFP against the Pelicans, Pistons and Celtics, respectively. He’ll have to continue his increased usage as the Blazers head on the road to Indiana to face the Pacers, who he had 39.25 DKFP against earlier this season on 28 points and five boards. For as long as Lillard’s sidelined, McCollum will be an elite produced for Portland.
Other Options — Chris Paul ($7,900), De’Aaron Fox ($7,100)
ValueRajon Rondo, LAL at GS, $3,500 — LeBron has played in all but two of the Lakers’ 56 games this season, so it’s a little tricky to pinpoint exactly where all the usage will fall with the King taking the night off. There should be plenty of value on the Lakers’ roster, though, and one of the best cheap plays of the night should be Rondo. In the last game LeBron missed, Anthony Davis was sidelined as well and Rondo went off for 21 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and 51.0 DKFP. He also started the other game James sat and had a solid 27.5 DKFP in that contest. Rondo played well against the Celtics on Sunday and had 22.75 DKFP but barely got any run against the Pelicans on Tuesday when he totaled just 6.25 DKFP. With James not available to run point, Rondo should be on the ball a lot in a great matchup against the Warriors, so he should easily return great value at only $3.5K.
Other Options — Aaron Holiday ($4,800), Shake Milton ($4,700)
StudShai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC vs. SAC, $7,400 — After coming to the Thunder in the Paul George trade, SGA has continued his development into a top fantasy player who contributes all across the stat sheet. He has averaged 19.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 35.8 DKFP per game this season but has been even better lately. Over his past 10 games, he has produced 38.2 DKFP on 18.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.0 blocked shot per contest. He has over 44 DKFP in each of his past two games and posted 42.75 DKFP against the Kings in a 20-point Thunder victory at the end of January in the most recent meeting between these two teams. If you have your values in place and can get to the upper-midrange, Gilgeous-Alexander makes since he comes with a high ceiling and relatively low risk since he is consistent in multiple categories.
Other Options — Andrew Wiggins ($7,200), RJ Barrett ($5,800)
ValueAlex Caruso, LAL at GS, $3,400 — Another Laker who will get more work with LeBron out is Caruso, who is coming off a nice game Tuesday against New Orleans, when he had eight points, eight assists and 29.25 DKFP in just 17 minutes. Caruso has over 18 DKFP in each of the past six games in which he has played over 15 minutes, so look for the Bald Eagle to step up in a good matchup against the Warriors and deliver a big stat line and good value.
Other Options — Aaron Holiday ($4,800), Furkan Korkmaz ($4,400)
StudBuddy Hield, SAC at OKC, $6,100 — Hield moved to the Kings’ second unit 13 games ago and has thrived in his role off the bench. He has averaged 20.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 34.5 DKFP in 27.6 minutes in those contests. He has dropped over 53 DKFP in two of those 13 contests after reaching that level three times in his first 44 games as a starter. The streaky shooter always has a high upside if he gets it rolling and should be motivated to put up a big game in Oklahoma City, where he played his college ball. This will be his first trip back this season, but he had 34 points and 50.25 DKFP when he played them last year at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Hield always comes with volatility due to his streaky production, but he has a very high ceiling in a Narrative St. matchup that I’m buying into this Thursday.
Other Options — Tobias Harris ($7,500), T.J. Warren ($6,000)
ValueJustin Holiday, IND vs. POR, $4,800 — Holiday and his brother Aaron Holiday ($4,800) will both likely be in line for increased roles after Jeremy Lamb (knee) was lost for the season. Victor Oladipo ($6,200; back) is also questionable, and if he needs another game to recover, Holiday will be even busier. He stepped up nicely on Tuesday against Charlotte with 16 points, three rebounds, three assists and 31.25 DKFP in 23 minutes. He typically fills in multiple categories across the stat sheet and gets a good matchup against the Blazers. He’s usable even if Oladipo can play but has a higher ceiling if VO is a no-go.
Other Options — Bojan Bogdanovic ($5,200), Jordan Toscano-Anderson ($3,900)
StudDomantas Sabonis, IND vs. POR, $9,100 — Sabonis fell just one assist shy of a triple-double in his most recent game, finishing with 54.75 DKFP on 21 points, 15 boards and nine assists in just 31 minutes against the Hornets. He has three straight double-doubles and has reached over 40 DKFP in six of his past nine contests. Sabonis gets a great matchup against the Blazers, who have been the best matchup for PFs in the NBA most of the season. He went off for 27 points, 14 boards, 11 assists and 66 DKFP in the first meeting between these two teams this season and comes into the rematch red-hot and carrying more of the offense with Lamb out and Oladipo ailing.
Other Options — Julius Randle ($7,800), Danilo Gallinari ($6,300)
ValueKyle Kuzma, LAL at GS, $3,900 — Kuzma struggled against the Pelicans on Tuesday, playing only 12 minutes and shooting 4-for-10 from the field on his way to 12.25 DKFP. He played 27 minutes the previous game against Boston and had 16 points, four boards and 22.5 DKFP. He should get a big bump in usage with LeBron out and put up 46.25 DKFP on 36 points against the Thunder the most recent time James was out. He had 16 points and 26.5 DKFP in the Lakers’ other game without LeBron, and he should be able to reach a solid value return with much more usage coming his way in a good matchup against Golden State.
Other Options — Nemanja Bjelica ($5,300), Bobby Portis ($4,100)
StudAnthony Davis, LAL at GS, $10,300 — Davis would be close to a lock even if LeBron was playing given his recent production, but he moves into “must-play” territory with the extra usage that is likely to come his way. In his three games since the All-Star break, Davis has averaged 27 points, 13.3 rebounds, 5.0 blocks, 3.3 assists and 60.3 DKFP per contest. He comes into this matchup with a depleted Warriors’ frontcourt with seven straight double-doubles and at least 54 DKFP in six of those seven contests.
Other Options — Karl-Anthony Towns ($8,900), DeAndre Jordan ($7,000)
ValueAl Horford, PHI vs. NY, $5,200 — Overall, Horford has been a letdown in his first season with the Sixers, but he could be in such a prominent role in this matchup that he makes a lot of fantasy sense. He came off the bench for a few games earlier this month but returned to the lineup in Philadelphia’s past two contests, producing 26.5 DKFP and 30.25 DKFP. He played 34 minutes and had 10 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals in an expanded role after Embiid’s injury Wednesday. If Embiid is ruled out for the second game of their back-to-back, look for the Sixers to turn to Horford in the middle and give him all the minutes and usage he can handle.
Other Options — Mitchell Robinson ($5,000), Dwight Howard ($4,100)
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