After another massive and hugely entertaining slate Wednesday night, the NBA focuses down to a more limited four-game set for Thursday night’s fantasy basketball contest. The Mavericks are the only team finishing up a back-to-back since the other seven teams on the board had Wednesday off. The slate definitely skews to the West with six of the eight teams from the Western Conference and only the Magic-Bulls matchup at Arena Ciudad de Mexico in Mexico City featuring Eastern Conference teams.
As you prepare your roster for the international events Thursday, take a look at my top studs and values at each position. It’s also a good idea to check back on the DK Live app or live.draftkings.com before tip-off for any injury or availability updates that may impact the slate.
StudChris Paul, HOU vs. LAL, $8,600 — Paul had a big fantasy night Tuesday despite shooting a woeful 2-for-12 from the field and finished with 51.75 DKFP on 11 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and three steals. CP3 hadn’t hit double digits in rebounds or assists in any of his previous three games, but he notched his first triple-double against the Blazers. He’ll look to continue his strong homestand as the Rockets host the Lakers, who he has a history of terrorizing from his time with the crosstown Clippers. He had 55.25 DKFP against them earlier this season on 28 points, 10 assists and seven boards.
ValueJalen Brunson, DAL at PHO, $4,300 — I’m not jumping off the Brunson burner just yet. The rookie PG has started the past three games for the Mavericks while Dennis Smith Jr. (wrist; $5,500) has been out. He was a letdown to those who played him as a bargain Wednesday, finishing with just 10 DKFP in 23 minutes against the Hawks. If he gets another start, though, I think he’ll bounce back in a great matchup against the Suns. In his three previous games before Wednesday’s dud, he had 28.5, 23.5 and 28.75 DKFP. He could also get more time after J.J. Barea (ankle; $4,400) was forced to leave early Wednesday with a sprained ankle that required X-rays.
Other Options — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($4,700), Tyrone Wallace ($3,200)
StudJames Harden, HOU vs. LAL, $10,900 — Harden continues to lead the NBA in usage at 36.1 percent after dropping 29 points against the Blazers on Tuesday. His fantasy production was down in that game with just 39.25 DKFP since he only grabbed one rebound to go with four assists compared to his season averages of 5.3 rebounds and 8.1 assists. His scoring has been surging, and he has at least 29 points in four of his past five games and at least 50 DKFP in seven of his past nine. He had 57.75 DKFP on 36 points, seven rebounds and five assists the first time the Rockets met the LeBron’s Lakers. Other Options — DeMar DeRozan ($8,500), Zach LaVine ($7,400)
ValueDe’Anthony Melton, PHO vs. DAL, $4,900 — The Suns haven’t had much to enjoy this season, but Melton has been a rare bright spot since he joined the team following the release of Isaiah Canaan and injury to Devin Booker (hamstring). Melton has scored double-digit points in four of his past five games and has at least 33 DKFP in three of those contests. He had 17 points, seven rebounds, six assists and 37.75 DKFP in 33 minutes against the Spurs on Tuesday. Since the Suns don’t have many other options, his role and playing time are secure regardless of gameflow making him a nice play against the sometimes defensively challenged Dallas backcourt.
Other Options — Bryn Forbes ($4,300), Marco Belinelli ($3,500)
StudLuka Doncic, DAL at PHO, $7,700 — The Suns were one of two teams that passed on Doncic in the NBA draft, which could add a little fuel to the rookie’s fire as the Mavericks visit Phoenix. He has been getting more usage without Smith and has at least 35 DKFP in each of his past three games and seven of his past 10. Doncic had 24 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and 50 DKFP on Tuesday against the Hawks, showing he has an elite ceiling when he’s at the top of his game. Other Options — LeBron James ($11,000), Aaron Gordon ($7,800)
ValueKentavious Caldwell-Pope, LAL at HOU, $3,900 — Caldwell-Pope had been getting increased run, usage and production in the four games since Brandon Ingram (ankle) was injured. KCP has hit multiple 3-pointers and scored double-digit points in each of those games while chipping in enough non-scoring stats to average 21.5 DKFP over those four contests. He has found a decent role as part of Los Angeles’ second unit, but there are rumors KCP will end up with the Rockets after he can be traded starting Dec. 15. He’ll get a chance to audition in Houston in this matchup.
Other Options — Harrison Barnes ($5,900), Trevor Ariza ($5,000)
StudKyle Kuzma, LAL at HOU, $7,600 — Kuzma also has benefited from Ingram’s absence, although he already was emerging as one of the Lakers’ most complementary pieces to LeBron James ($11,000). He led all scorers with 33 points Monday against the Heat and finished with 43.25 DKFP. He has more than 40 DKFP in six straight games and has made multiple 3-pointers in each of those half-dozen contests. He has played at least 39 minutes in three of the four games since Ingram’s injury, and is a low-risk, high-upside play against the Rockets. Other Options — LaMarcus Aldridge ($7,500), Rudy Gay ($6,200)
ValueBobby Portis, CHI at ORL, $5,300 — Portis returned Monday and played 19 minutes against the Kings. He had nine points, eight rebounds and 22.5 DKFP in his return and should be ready for increased work after a couple days off. The Bulls and Magic meet in Mexico, and Portis has a chance to take advantage of the favorable matchup since he has proven in the past that he can put up good numbers in limited minutes.
Other Options — T.J. Warren ($5,800), Dorian Finney-Smith ($3,700)
StudNikola Vucevic, ORL vs. CHI, $8,900 — The Bulls have given up double-double’s to Daniel Theis, Willie Cauley-Stein, Steven Adams and Myles Turner their past four games and have been a great matchup for opposing big men all season. Vucevic will try and take advantage of the matchup and put together his sixth straight game with at least 10 rebounds. He struggled with his shot and was just 4-of-15 on Monday against the Mavericks and has been limited to fewer minutes than normal in his past two games because Orlando got blown out. He should be in a great spot to bounce back and could go off with a monster game if things go his way in Mexico. Other Options — Deandre Ayton ($7,200), DeAndre Jordan ($7,000)
ValueBoban Marjanovic, LAC at SA, $4,000 — It’s the return of the Boban in San Antonio as Marjanovic faces the team he started his NBA career with back in 2015. Like during his time with the Spurs, Marjanovic has turned in great per-minute production this year with the Clippers but continues to see inconsistent playing time. He has at least 20 DKFP in three of his past four games and had 18 points, seven boards and 26.25 DKFP in the Clippers’ most recent game Tuesday. He continues to lose minutes to Marcin Gortat ($3,600), but the scene seems to be set for Boban’s revenge narrative.
Other Options — Jakob Poeltl ($4,100), Richaun Holmes ($3,800)
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.