We only have a three game slate here for NBA on Thursday, so we don’t have a ton of options at some positions. I will try to break down all the relevant guys for you here, but the options are limited with only 6 teams playing.
Stephen Curry ($10800) – Steph Curry is arguably playing better basketball than anyone in the league right now. He either faces a hobbled Chris Paul or a very overmatched Austin Rivers in this game. He’s been putting up 50 fantasy points on a regular basis, so none of that really matters to me. Steph is always a solid option. It’s much tougher to fade a potential fifty point scorer on a small slate and still get to the top. You will need to find some value in order to make it work, but fading him does not seem like the best idea.
Rajon Rondo ($8700) – He was not on my radar originally based on his price increase, but upon further review of the game logs, All I can say is WOW. Rondo has 4 triple doubles in his last six starts. WOW. His floor over the last seven games is 33 and he has reached about 60 in 3 of his last 6. He has at least 10 assists in each of the last 6 games, with an average over 13 per game. He is also averaging 13 points and 9.9 rebounds over this stretch of six games as well. Rondo is one tenth of a rebound away from averaging a triple double and has returned an average over 50 points. When you look at the $2000 discount you get vs. Steph, he seems to be a guy who still makes a lot of sense.
Jerryd Bayless ($4800) – Injuries can affect teams in many different ways. Jerryd Bayless has been one of the beneficiaries of all the injuries to the bucks. With Jabari Parker out, Giannis slides over to the 4. That moves middleton to the 3 and allows Baykess to start at the 2. With OJ Mayo also out, Bayless has less competition for playing time. He still plays some point when MCW is out of the game, so he has the ball in his hands a lot. He has been putting up 30+ fantasy points with ease over the last few games, and I would expect him to keep playing big minutes and making plays as long as he is given the chance to stay in the starting lineup.
If you want to play D. Wade on this slate I guess he is the closest to a stud play. Wade, Klay, and Middleton may all be the top scorer at the position, but none really strike me as having the huge upside we want to go with.
Jamal Crawford ($4600) – Crawford is probably the guy I want to go after in this situation. He has the highest ceiling of the cheap options to consider on the day. If Chris Paul is out, he gets a huge bump up and will be my clear choice at this position. He put up just shy of 60 fantasy points in 40 minutes his last game and had just shy of 30 fantasy points the game before. While the last game might be a bit of a stretch, repeating the one before that is not asking too much. This play really hinges on Chris Paul and whether or not he is good to go. If he plays, Rivers might be the better cheap punt play from this game, but if not it’s all Crawford.
J.R. Smith ($4200) – Smith is fully recovered from the injury that forced him to miss a few games. He played 50 minutes of the overtime game two back and then came back for 36 minutes last time out. He scored in the mid to high 20s both games which is great value for a guy who is only $4200. Smith is a scorer, whether that is finishing plays or throwing up jumpers. JR always winds up with double digit shot attempts and now that he is getting minutes again, he is way to cheap to ignore.
LeBron James ($10100) – Shooting guard looks like a good spot to save, but small forward does not. LeBron is a good guy to target if you want the guy with the most upside at the position. LeBron has alternated between 40 and 60 point performances in recent games. He was pretty upset after the last game when talking to the media, so this could be a game he asserts his dominance. LeBron is that good that he can turn it on and come up with 60 anytime he needs to. This looks like one of the spots here where he is sufficiently motivated to put his stamp on this game.
Giannis Antetokounmpo ($7200) – Giannis has been seeing more minutes and playing a little better. What I really like about him is if he plays the 4 in this game. A start at SF matches him up with LeBron which is not ideal. If he plays the 4 though, Kevin Love is mch les active and a weaker defender. Giannis does not really get his fantasy worth through his scoring, he gets it with the rebounds, assists, and defensive stats he can offer. His price is a tad high, so he’s probably the third best choice at the day based on price and expected outcome.
Rudy Gay ($6900) – Gay is very dependent on real life points for his fantasy value. He is pretty cheap compared to his historical pricing, but he is also underperforming his normal values.Gay has thrown up some 30 point performances recently, but at $6900, that is not really enough out of him. They played a slow paced, defensive minded Miami team in this one, so he is no lock to have an upside game. While he is the cheapest of the three options, he is also the most volatile. Still it makes more sense to pay up for one of these guys at the position unless we get some value opened up by injury news.
DeMarcus Cousins ($10300) – Even though this is a a paced down game for the Kings, Cousins is still always in play. Very few guys have a 40+ point floor and a ceiling in the 70s. Cousins is one of those guys. I think I would still rather pay up for Steph or LeBron, but I won’t argue with anyone who goes Cousins way either. He is a threat for 20+ points and 15 rebounds every time he steps on the floor. He adds a few assist and an occasional block or steal as well.
Chris Bosh ($7300) – Bosh had a run of six games where his fantasy score was between 37.5 and 48. He snapped that with a 20 last time out, but he should be able to get back on track here. Bosh has started hitting the boards again this season. He has averaged just over 10 in his last 7 games. That streak has coincided with his run of 20+ point games and has been the reason for 4 double doubles over that run which has allowed him to score well into the 40s on more than one occasion. He plays on one of the few teams that is paced up on Thursday, so he has an above average chance of reaching his ceiling. With a floor that has been over 30 lately and a ceiling just shy of 50, he can return great value at his price tag. With five options that are all expensive and likely to be top performers, t makes no sense to really look too far down at the value guys here.
Hassan Whiteside ($8400) – I can not pay up for a scoring deficient DeAndre Jordan or Greg Monroe in a bad matchup. If I was going to pay up for anyone, it would be Mr. Whiteside. He has shown a floor of 32 in his last 5 games with an upside of 60 last out when he recorded a triple double with the third stat being blocks. He seems more like a guy who should be in the 40s as far as fantasy score, which would make him a 5-6 times value player on the day. It’s likely that Bosh sees Cauley Stein defense, which means that the active Whiteside gets the lazy Boogie Cousins watching him in this one. It’s not an easy matchup for Whiteside on the other end of the floor, but as long as Cousins wants to be a three point shooter, I’m less worried about the foul situation which has been what has killed Whiteside in his career. He is not cheap, but if you want to spend up there is no one else I would recommend in the price range.
Andrew Bogut ($5000) – Bogut came back a few games ago and has put up some erratic stat lines. When healthy and playing 30 minutes, he is a double double machine that can score 30 fantasy points with ease. The scary part is his minutes. they are a little bit erratic and that makes him a GPP only play for me. If this game stays somewhat close, Bogut will see plenty of run. The more time he spends on the court, the more confident I am that he will produce enough to pay off the price tag.