For a night with only two games going on, the NBA certainly managed to cram plenty of fantasy relevant players into Thursday’s action. There are only four teams playing, so remember, when you read below, not all of these guys are recommendations – it’s basically just a discussion of every available option. Cavs v. Warriors and Thunder v. Suns – good games, good players, plenty of fantasy options – since when was Thursday a big NBA night? Well, it is tonight! Good luck.
POINT GUARD TARGETS
- Russell Westbrook @ PHO ($11,300) – There is really not a lot left to say, and with KD out for at least another week, his usage rate is going to be even higher than usual, which is crazy. It has been two-and-a-half weeks since he’s scored fewer than 45 fantasy points. And before that, it was another long string of 50+ point games, punctuated by the occasional 60 or 75 point exclamation point.
- Stephen Curry @ CLE ($9,800) – Curry is what he is. But the Warriors are in the process of making a season-long stake on being the best team in the league, and for one reason or another, a road win in Cleveland is just about the biggest statement game possible against an Eastern Conference team (sorry, Atlanta). They are going to want this one, and Curry is going to be how they do it.
- Kyrie Irving vs. GS ($7,700) – Kyrie has a LOT of upside for $7,700. But the problem is, who knows when it’s coming? He is a lock for high twenties to mid thirties, though, so if you want to save a little at PG to spend on some more point elsewhere, it could certainly pay off. You wish his assist totals were higher, but with the cast of scorers around him, that could change in a moment. It’d be nice to be there for it.
- Brandon Knight vs. OKC ($6,200) – There used to be a glut of point guard talent on this team… and now there isn’t. Knight is going to have his hands full dealing with the OKC backcourt on both ends of the floor, so you might want to think twice about starting him in this one, but he has all of a sudden found himself in a very favorable situation. Playing good minutes, the ball in his hands all the time, tons of chances for points and assists – I can see this price tag going up.
SHOOTING GUARD TARGETS
- Eric Bledsoe vs. OKC ($7,900) – Bledsoe, you’d imagine, would benefit from the clearing out of Phoenix’s backcourt, but he was already getting a ton of minutes and a ton of shots. It feels like it will be more of that, but with the ball in his hands even more – he has 16 assists in the two games since all the movement, which is only going to help boost his fantasy value even more.
- Klay Thompson @ CLE ($7,800) – There is one big problem with Klay as a fantasy option – all he does is score. It doesn’t seem to be much of a problem for the Warriors, but it does mean that if a team has a good perimeter defense (check) and/or if Steph is really going off (likely check), he just doesn’t get the chance to provide all that much value to your fantasy team in other ways.
- J.R. Smith vs. GS ($5,000) – The problem is minutes. He scores and produces in other categories, and tends to do it in bunches, so the potential for fantasy value is definitely there. But Smith is dynamic enough to take over the Cavs offense when he on the floors with bench players, and steady enough to knock down open shots and stretch the floor when he is out there with the starters. So far, it looks like a good fit in Cleveland.
- Dion Waiters @ PHO ($4,100) – Who would have thought he’d land in OKC and immediately increase his # of opportunities per game. He has taken 48 shots in his last three games, and as OKC looks around for offense with KD down, that could easily continue. Westbrook can’t, actually, do EVERYTHING.
SMALL FORWARD TARGETS
- LeBron James vs. GS ($10,300) – OK, he’s good. Got it? Got it. But I really do have to say, even the most ardent LeBron hater has got to be impressed with his game this season. The assists are just proof that this guy can do whatever he wants on the court. The Heat lacked size, so he played big. The Cavs have size, but lack the crisp ball-movement that defined the Heat when they could get out in transition. So, he rebounded for Miami, and he moves the ball for Cleveland, and he plays defense and gets his own for both. The guy is a beast.
- P.J. Tucker vs. OKC ($5,400) – I mean, really? LeBron to P.J. Tucker? Let’s just say this: if you don’t take LeBron at SF tonight, and someone else does, you’re going to be at a disadvantage.
- Harrison Barnes @ CLE ($3,800) – He’s getting 30 minutes in Golden State, running at the three and as a small four at times, which will gives him plenty of opportunities to stay on the floor. But the upside is definitely limited. You are basically locking yourself into a play that’s going to come through with fewer than 30 fantasy points. But on the bright side, he’ll probably get you 20.
- Kyle Singler @ PHO ($3,000) – If you’re going to pick someone other than LeBron, why not go all the way? Singler is getting the starts for KD right now, although not even close to all the minutes. He is the continuation of a trend that started with Waiters: KD going down didn’t make anyone else immediately GOOD, but it did nudge up the values of several players, who could all make for interesting targets tonight.
POWER FORWARD TARGETS
- Kevin Love vs. GS ($7,800) – He has not been playing as well this season as you might have hoped. But a 16-16 two games ago, followed up by a 24-9 on Tuesday certainly gives one reason for optimism. He is used to battling with these West Coast teams, so this is an intersting one to watch, for him specifically.
- Draymond Green @ CLE ($6,700) – He is just such a great fit for this team. Sure, tonight, he will be tasked with some tough assignments on defense, which doesn’t necessarily help his chances at a solid fantasy night himself
- David Lee @ CLE ($4,400) – He can rebound, and work the pick and roll. And he plays a lot, which is nice. But Love can also rebound, and that alone might be enough to remove any semblance of fantasy relevance for Lee.
- Mitch McGary @ PHO ($3,900) – $3,900? This guy just produces. He is averaging 18 minutes a game in his last three, and in those same three, just over 26 fantasy points. Three times in a row over 20 fantasy points in fewer than 20 minutes. I want to be on this train when it gets rolling for real.
- Enes Kanter @ PHO ($5,900) – Well, he is the best option tonight. Which is nice, because it means you can just plug and play the best option at center, and not even spend that much to do it. He has had double-digit rebounds in every game except the last one with the Thunder, which makes him a threat for a double-double every night. Not bad for under six grand.
- Timofey Mozgov vs. GS ($5,300) – Also not bad for the price, Mosgov plays a lot when the matchup calls for it, and is… serviceable. Tonight, the matchup doesn’t really call for it. Unless you think the Warriors plan on featuring Andrew Bogut.
- Andrew Bogut @ CLE ($4,400) – Oh. Did I cover this already? I guess I did, yeah.
- Nick Collison @ PHO ($3,400) – If you’re not drafting Canter, Collison might as well be second on your list. Save yourself some real money and just take Kanter’s backup. He will likely only get you 20 or so minutes and maybe 20 or so fantasy points, but that’s all the other guys are doing, too, and for more money.