Fantasy Basketball Picks: Top Targets For Thursday's Five-Game Slate


For the second night in a row, the NBA gives us a five-game slate for fantasy basketball with some solid matchups. Unlike last night’s contest, tonight’s five-game slate is overflowing with star power. Of the 10 teams taking the floor, only the Los Angeles Lakers are playing on the second night of back-to-back games. As yesterday reminded us, a lot of factors can change between now and tip-off, so stay tuned to the DK Live app for late-breaking news and lineup notes. To start your lineup construction on this Thursday, here are the targets and values that I think deserve consideration:

Point Guard


Russell Westbrook ($10,200) – Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder have dropped three straight, but he has posted at least 45 DKFP in each of those losses despite shooting a combined 24-66 (36.4 percent). He should be able to turn his shooting around tonight in Denver and could be set up for a huge night. Not counting the final game of the season, when he played under 20 minutes, Westbrook had over 80 DKFP in all three meetings with the Nuggets last season. Even if he doesn’t quite get to that level, he should at least be worth his salary, which has dropped to just above $10K.

Ben Simmons ($9,000) – Simmons has lived up to his billing so far in his delayed rookie season, averaging 17.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, 8.0 assists, and 1.7 steals per game on his way to 47.4 FPPG. He has more than 51 DKFP in each of his last three games, and he still has room in improve his shooting and be even better. He gets a great matchup tonight in Sacramento, so he should be able to keep things rolling.

Other Options – John Wall ($9,500), Kyle Lowry ($7,000)


Dwyane Wade ($4,700) – Wade has found a nice rhythm coming off the bench for the Cavaliers and is outplaying J.R. Smith, who continues to slump in the starting lineup. Wade played 32 minutes and 27 minutes in Cleveland’s last two games posting 51.25 DKFP and 23.75 DKFP, respectively. He had a vintage D-Wade game against the Hawks with 25 points, 11 rebounds and six assists on Sunday and followed that up with a solid game against Milwaukee. He has a high ceiling tonight against the Rockets in an up-tempo, high-scoring contest.

Jordan Clarkson ($4,400) – Clarkson continues to be a great play at his affordable salary and has posted at least 30 DKFP in each of his last three games and at least 20 DKFP in six straight. He consistently scores double-digits in L.A.’s second unit while adding in solid assists, rebounds and usually a couple of steals.

Other Options – De’Aaron Fox ($4,900), Jameer Nelson ($3,900)

Shooting Guard


James Harden ($10,700) – In Harden’s first action since Sunday, when he hung 56 points and 83.5 DKFP, The Beard and the Rockets host King James and the Cavs. Harden has been carrying the Houston offense all season while Chris Paul (knee) has been out, and he has at least 50 DKFP in each of his last four games and six of his last seven. The Cavs’ defense hasn’t offered much resistance this season, so Harden should have another big game tonight.

Bradley Beal ($7,800) – Beal had 28 points and 45.5 DKFP against the Lakers earlier this season, and he also had 45+ DKFP in three straight games before settling down on Tuesday against Dallas and only finishing with 32.0 DKFP. He is averaging a solid 38.6 FPPG on the season and is logging well over 30 minutes in most games.

Other Options – DeMar DeRozan ($7,200), Eric Gordon ($6,500)


Will Barton ($5,700) – Barton’s playing time and involvement fluctuates from game to game coming off the bench for Denver, but he has a high ceiling if he gets it going like he has in each of his last two games, playing over 30 minutes and producing 38 and 41 DKFP, respectively. Barton can be boom-or-bust, but he has attractive upside and contributes in multiple categories.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($4,500) – Caldwell-Pope is averaging 32.4 minutes per game in the Lakers’ starting lineup and is a steady producer, averaging 24.3 FPPG. He had right on that number last night against Boston and has at least 22 DKFP in five straight.

Other Options – Buddy Hield ($4,600), Norman Powell ($3,900)

Small Forward


LeBron James ($10,800) – James has had to do all the heavy lifting for the Cavs, who have struggled to start the season. As a result, he has produced over 55 DKFP in four straight games — highlighted by a ridiculous 92.25 DKFP against the Wizards last Friday in Cleveland’s last road game. James clearly still can find another gear and carry the team, but there is a question how long “Playoff LeBron” can be around this early in the season.

Carmelo Anthony ($6,600) – Anthony returns to his old stomping grounds at the Pepsi Center tonight to face the Nuggets. Anthony enters the game after an ice-cold shooting night in Sacramento, where he hit just four of his 17 shot attempts. Even in that game, he had 30.75 DKFP and has at least 30+ in all but one of his 10 games this season. He’s low-risk with enough revenge-game upside to consider.


Brandon Ingram ($5,900) – Ingram hasn’t been nearly as consistent as the more expensive plays at forward, but he does have upside tonight against the Wizards, who he had a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds against earlier this season. He had 39.5 DKFP in that matchup and has at least 28 DKFP in three straight and five of his last six.

P.J. Tucker ($3,700) – Tucker gets plenty of run for the Rockets due to his defensive intensity, and he could get even more work if Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (knee, questionable) is out tonight. Tucker only has scored three points in each of his last three games and has struggled shooting the ball, but he gets rebounds, assists and defensive numbers that have allowed him to produce at least 16 DKFP in four straight and seven of his last eight. He always has the potential to get hot, but even if he doesn’t, his other contributions limit the downside to playing Tucker at this cheap price.

Other Options – J.J. Redick ($4,600), E’Twaun Moore ($3,900)

Power Forward


DeMarcus Cousins ($11,200) – Of all the stars in play tonight, Boogie has averaged the most FPPG so far this season, checking in at an impressive 62.5. He has at least 59 DKFP in six of his last seven games and has shown he can post sick numbers even when playing next to Anthony Davis ($11,000). The two big men take on Toronto tonight.

Paul Millsap ($6,800) – Aside from a clunker against the Warriors, Millsap has at least 30 DKFP in seven straight. He has fit in well next to Nikola Jokic ($8,600), and he has a few of the balanced, multi-category games that made him a stud during his time with Atlanta. Tonight’s matchup with the Thunder should be a good one for him, although he isn’t as reliable as the more expensive PFs on the board.

Other Options – Anthony Davis ($11,000)


Robert Covington ($5,500) – Covington has been a huge part of the Sixers’ early-season success, and he has at least 34 DKFP in each of his last three games, mostly due to shooting 14-25 from 3-point range. He had a nice double-double in Utah on Tuesday with 14 points, 12 rebounds and 34.5 DKFP. He will look to continue his strong run of results in a great matchup against the Kings tonight.

Julius Randle ($4,800) – Randle continues to be a solid sub-$5K play while helping to fill in for Larry Nance Jr. Last night, he had 16 points and 12 boards against the Celtics for 37.0 DKFP, and he had a nice 29.25 DKFP when the Lakers faced the Wizards earlier this season. His playing time is still uncertain coming off the bench, but Randle has loads of upside.

Other Options – Ryan Anderson ($4,400), Jerami Grant ($3,400)



Nikola Jokic ($8,600) – After a slow start to the season adjusting to his new lineup, Jokic — aka The Joker — has hit his stride with at least 50 DKFP in three of his last four games and at least 46 DKFP in six of his last seven. He had a career-high 41 points on Tuesday against the Nets on his way to a double-double with 74.5 DKFP. He has a tougher matchup tonight against Steven Adams and the Thunder, but he should still be a solid play if you can make his salary work at your center spot.

Clint Capela ($6,400) – Capela has had a couple of down games, playing just 22 minutes apiece against the Hawks and Jazz in his last two contests. Before that, though, he had at least 33 DKFP in four of his previous five games, and he should be able to dominate the Cavs, who still are without Tristan Thompson, leaving them thin in the frontcourt.

Other Options – Joel Embiid ($8,000), Kevin Love ($7,400)


Steven Adams ($5,800) – While Adams will have to try and slow down Jokic on defense, he should be a pretty safe play himself because he has at least 28 DKFP in seven of his last eight games and is averaging 30.2 FPPG in his 10 games this season. He usually finishes with around 10 points and 10 rebounds while throwing in good enough defensive numbers to make him a solid mid-range play.

Other Options – Serge Ibaka ($4,700), Willie Cauley-Stein ($4,300)


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.