Finally, huh? NBA action returns on Thursday. OK, so fine, there are only two games. NBA action (kinda) returns on Thursday! Not quite the same ring. Oh well, maybe the big return is on Friday, but for tonight, consider yourself lucky – the NBA gave you a trial run, a way to ease your way back into it without feeling overwhelmed by your options. Good luck.

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POINT GUARD TARGETS

Studs

  • Russell Westbrook vs. DEN ($10,600) -What can I say? He is averaging 60 fantasy points a night for his last six games, with no games under 41. He was the best player on the floor Sunday, on a floor littered with really, really good players. If you don’t draft him, someone else will, and you’ll be scared.
  • Chris Paul vs. SA ($9,800) – Just the fact that these two options exist means PG is loaded, on a night with only two teams playing. He’s another one who has more than 41 fantasy points in each of his last four, which isn’t likely to slow down. Sure, having Griffin helped him get a few extra dimes here or there, but he’ll find someone to pass to, so if he is looking for his own offense a little more, that is going to be a boon for fantasy owners.

Values

  • Rajon Rondo @ OKC ($6,600) – Coming off an injury, facing off against Westbrook, listed a questionable, possible minutes restriction – I get why you wouldn’t go in this direction. But he seems like the type, and always has, who likes to prove a point. Tonight is an opportunity for him to show he’s back, Dallas is a contender, and he still belongs in the conversation for being one of the most intriguing talents in the league.
  • Tony Parker @ LAC ($4,900) – He’s getting 30-ish minutes, consistently. Good value for the price, and there is no reason to think he would see reduced time out there just when he is feeling fully juvenated.

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SHOOTING GUARD TARGETS

Studs

  • Monta Ellis @ OKC ($7,400) – He was a guy who really needed a break. He was all sorts of banged up, and will come out of this weekend looking to start drilling three’s once again. It’s a simple equation sometimes. Westbrook might end up focusing here on the defensive end, though, instead of on Rondo, so you’ll just have to hope his hip is healed up enough for him to burst through those screens hard.
  • Jamal Crawford vs. SA ($5,400) – Does this pick here tell you clearly enough that SG is a wasteland tonight? Well, it is. But Crawford is consistently getting 30+ minutes, and consistently scoring 25+ fantasy points. Sometimes, that’s all you can ask for.

Values

  • Danny Green @ LAC ($4,700) – If it was tough to find studs at this position tonight, how hard do you think the values were? But Green, at least, has upside. The guy can shoot. And 3 or 4 treys go a long way on a guy who costs under $5K.
  • J.J. Redick vs. SA ($3,300) – Another guy who at least in theory could get hot and hit some threes. The matchup is not exactly ripe for that, though, and man, does he have a low floor. Who would have thought when he was at Duke that his biggest value as an NBA player would be his defense?

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SMALL FORWARD TARGETS

Studs

  • Kevin Durant vs. DAL ($10,600) – Durant was the best player in fantasy basketball last year. The best. So far this year, he’s been second best on his own team, but that could change in a heartbeat. Amazingly enough, there is room for this price tag to swell after one or two 40-point outings. The first could be tonight.
  • Kawhi Leonard @ LAC ($7,500) – He is the kind of guy you would just love to root for if he was on your favorite team. And talk about spreading risk around – he had 8 points and 6 rebounds in his last game… and still had 33 fantasy points! Four steals, two blocks and a pair of assists count for something too.

Values

  • Chandler Parsons @ OKC ($6,600) – His production is all over the place. But that means upside. And upside + good matchup = logical choice.
  • Matt Barnes vs. SA ($4,300) – Options are super limited tonight, and he is inexpensive, but still gets 30+ minutes most nights. It’s an opportunity that’s hard to pass up, and could easily be the piece that makes the rest of your lineup choices fit together so nicely.

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POWER FORWARD TARGETS

Studs

  • Tim Duncan @ LAC ($7,400) – If there was ever a day you just KNEW Pop would give him the full complement of minutes, it’s today, right?
  • Dirk Nowitski @ OKC ($6,700) – Dirk is on the list because there are only four power forward options tonight. He scored 40 fantasy points last time out with an unusually high rebounding total, but don’t bank on that – that was just a veteran giving his team a lift with Chandler out. Chandler is back, and he handles the rebounding responsibilities in Dallas. Understandably so.

Values

  • Serge Ibaka vs. DAL ($6,600) – He’s listed as questionable, but don’t be fooled by that – he returned to the game last time out, after incurring the injury (which was a cut on his nose). This should not impact him at all in this one, at least not as much as having to contend with Chandler down low.
  • Mitch McGary vs. DAL ($3,800) – The first of three players on this list who are here because they might possible replace Steven Adams’ minutes for the Thunder. Three is too many. McGary made some noise for the first couple of nights Adams was out, but his minutes dipped in favor of Nick Collison last time out. And Kendrick Perkins is starting. Choose wisely.

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CENTER TARGETS

Studs

  • DeAndre Jordan vs. SA ($7,800) – Let’s be clear, again. DeAndre Jordan is the primary beneficiary of the Blake Griffin injury. This much is clear. His coach, and many other people, felt he was completely snubbed for the big game this past weekend. In other words, here you have a beast of an athlete, motivated to prove people wrong, getting a ton of looks on offense to go along with his monstrous rebounding numbers and defensive stats, and, oh yeah, the best passer in basketball getting him the rock in all the right spots.
  • Tyson Chandler @ OKC ($6,700) – Expected to play Thursday, here is another guy benefiting from a few days off to recuperate. But against a weak rebounded OKC team that’s also missing it’s starting center, he could easily have 15+ rebounds in this one, even in just 25-30 minutes.

Values

  • Spencer Hawes vs. SA ($3,900) – This is how the Blake Griffin injury impacted Hawes: he is a little more useful than before. But you are still comparing his usefulness now to his usefulness before – which means really any usefulitude at all would be an exponential, basically infinite increase.
  • Nick Collison vs. DAL ($3,000) – What do you know, another backup big man in OKC! He played the most minutes last time out, so… yeah. I don’t know. Personally, I am avoiding the whole mess, and spending on a better option than this collection of journeymen for both PF and C tonight.