This Thursday features a fantastic and focused four-game fantasy basketball slate, and we should get great games if everything goes according to plan. The Celtics visit the Sixers in the first matchup of the night while at the same time the Cavs and Pistons meet up in a game that could give us some nice value. The other two games are from the Western Conference as the Trail Blazers visit the Timberwolves as a warmup for the real headliner which is Russell Westbrook ($8,400) and Jame Harden ($12,200) leading the Rockets into Oklahoma City where both started their careers.
Even with only eight teams in action, there are lots of potential targets to consider at each position and price point. Here are my favorite plays of the day:
NBA BUILDING BLOCKS
StudRussell Westbrook, OKC vs. HOU, $8,400 — This will be Westbrook’s first game in OKC since being traded to the Rockets, and he sat out Wednesday’s game to be ready to play in this contest. When he faced the Thunder earlier this season he fell one assist short of a triple-double with 21 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists and 50.5 DKFP. While James Harden ($12,200) has been masterfully carrying the load for Houston, Westbrook continues to put up good numbers, as well. He had over 44 DKFP in seven straight before finishing with just 39.25 DKFP in his most recent contest. Harden put in a lot of heavy lifting last night, so Westbrook could step in and be the main man in his return to OKC. Given the extra narrative motivation, I’m surprised he’s priced so affordably since he comes with an astronomical ceiling.
Other Options — Chris Paul ($7,400), Derrick Rose ($6,500)
ValueDarius Garland, CLE at DET, $4,800 — Garland continues to struggle with efficiency, but he still carries good fantasy value since he gets such a heavy volume of work that his countable stats end up at good levels. Garland has started every one of the Cavs’ 37 games this season and has played over 34 minutes in each of his past five games with double-digit shot attempts in 11 of his past 12. He has averaged 13.8 points, 3.8 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 0.9 steals over that stretch resulting in 24.5 DKFP per contest. He had 27.5 DKFP on 14 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals against Detroit when these two teams played on Tuesday. Garland should continue to get all the minutes and usage he can handle, especially with the absence of Kevin Porter Jr. (knee) and Danté Exum (illness).
Other Options — Jarrett Culver ($5,100), Anfernee Simons ($3,800)
StudShai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC vs. HOU, $7,100 — Gilgeous-Alexander has continued to grow and flourish this season since joining the Thunder in the Paul George trade this offseason, and he has been especially effective over his past 11 games. During that span, he is averaging 24.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.8 steals and 39.5 DKFP. With Danilo Gallinari (calf) out, SGA should continue to get enough usage to offer a high ceiling at barely over $7K.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Gallinari has been upgraded to questionable for tonight’s game.
Other Options — James Harden ($12,200), Jaylen Brown ($6,500)
ValueShabazz Napier, MIN vs. POR, $5,200 — Even with Jeff Teague ($5,200) back from injury, Napier has remained the team’s starting PG. He slipped a bit in his last game with just 17.25 DKFP in 24 minutes against Memphis but was rolling before that with over 36 DKFP in four straight games while averaging 21.8 points, 6.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 39 DKFP per contest. Napier had 18 points, four assists, four boards, three steals and 35.5 DKFP against Portland in a game prior to that recent surge, and I think he’ll be ready to bounce back in another matchup with the Blazers, who he spent two years with earlier in his career.
Other Options — Collin Sexton ($5,900), Svi Mykhailiuk ($4,200)
StudBen Simmons, PHI vs. BOS, $9,000 — Simmons only had 25.5 DKFP the last time the Sixers played the Celtics, but he’ll need to step up and turn in better numbers with Joel Embiid (finger) ruled out for this matchup. Simmons has been doing just that recently with over 49 DKFP in three of his past four games including an impressive 78.25 DKFP with 29 points, 13 boards, 11 assists, four blocks and three steals against the Rockets last Friday. He has double-digit rebounds in each of his past three games and should be set up for another well-balanced big game since he’ll have to carry more of the offensive load.
Other Options — Tobias Harris ($7,300), Jayson Tatum ($6,700)
ValueSekou Doumbouya, DET vs. CLE, $5,800 — Just a week ago, Doumbouya had only played seven games and under 25 minutes in his NBA career. Since then, though, the Pistons have unleashed Dr. Doum for four straight starts, and the promising 19-year-old has played over 27 minutes in each contest, scoring in double-digits in each game and averaging 27.4 DKFP per contest. Doumbaya put Tristin Thompson ($6,400) on a poster when the Pistons visited the Cavs on Tuesday, and he’ll look to be even more productive than the 23 DKFP he ended up with when he plays his first home game as a starter in the rematch Thursday. Doumbaya should get plenty of playing time going forward since Blake Griffin (knee) is out indefinitely and the Pistons are starting to look more toward the future as their season sinks.
Other Options — Danuel House Jr. ($4,200), Mike Scott ($4,000)
StudCarmelo Anthony, POR at MIN, $6,600 — Melo has been a great fit for the Trail Blazers and has shown he still has plenty left in the tank. Since missing a game with a slight knee issue in mid-December, he has returned with a solid seven games, averaging 15.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 32.8 DKFP. He has at least 30 DKFP in three of his past four games and is coming off a season-high 28 points against the Raptors on Tuesday, which included the game-winning shot and 44.25 DKFP. Minnesota should be a good matchup for Melo to keep things rolling.
Other Options — Kevin Love ($7,700), Al Horford ($6,000)
ValueDaniel Theis, BOS at PHI, $4,000 — Theis isn’t nearly the offensive option that some of the other big men are on this slate, but his steady, multi-category production is enough to make him a viable way to save some salary. He has averaged 9.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 22 DKFP over his past eight games and has posted at least 22 DKFP in five of those contests. He has over 25 DKFP in three of his past four and usually finds enough ways to contribute to be worth $4K.
Other Options — Kyle O’Quinn ($4,900), Christian Wood ($4,400)
StudAndre Drummond, DET vs. CLE, $10,200 — There are so many great center options at the top of the salary structure even on a day with only eight teams in action. Drummond leads the way, though, in a great matchup against the Cavs, who he just crushed for 61.5 DKFP on Tuesday with 23 points, 20 boards, five assists and two blocked shots. He had 58.5 DKFP on 17 points and 14 rebounds in their first meeting of the season, and he should continue to dominate a Cavs’ frontcourt that has no answer for the Big Penguin. He’s a relatively safe play if you can get his $10K salary to work with the rest of your roster.
Other Options — Hassan Whiteside ($9,300), Clint Capela ($7,500)
ValueP.J. Tucker, HOU at OKC, $4,100 — Prior to Wednesday’s game against the Hawks, Tucker had only attempted two shots in 71 minutes over two games and missed them both. However, he was much more incorporated in the offense and finished with an impressive 37.75 DKFP with 17 rebounds, eight points, two assists, two steals and a blocked shot. Tucker always seems to find ways to chip in and did very well against the Thunder with 17 points, nine rebounds and 36.25 DKFP when he faced them earlier this season. He always plays a lot of minutes for the Rockets and has good upside even though his usage on offense can be sporadic.
Other Options — Enes Kanter ($5,400), Naz Reid ($3,400)
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.