We have a small slate of three games for Thursday action, so almost everyone playing a lot of minutes makes the list today. Some positions have a clear stand out or two and others are a little more complex. Here are some thoughts on potential plays for Thursday night.
Chris Paul ($9600) – Chris Paul is the best point guard on this slate by a large margin. He is the likely top scorer at the position and the only real question is whether or not he does enough to return value at $9600. This game is the highest total by far, but it also has a high spread that keeps climbing since they posted it. My only concern is a fourth quarter blowout that either sees Paul on the bench or Paul chewing clock and letting his teammates get the shots. If it was not the second night of a back-to-back I would not fear it as much, but that is a big concern for me with the game script that could play out here.
George Hill ($6000) – Hill picked up right where he left off last year with a huge game in the opener. He had 19 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a blocked shot while playing 37 minutes of action. He faces what many consider to be a solid defense, but the Grizzlies were embarrassed in their opener by the Cavs. Hill is playing huge minutes and looking to be more aggressive this season. At only $6K, he offers a big savings to Chris Paul and a better chance to reach value in what should remain a much closer game.
Dennis Schroder ($4700) – Schroder has been good off the bench for Atlanta. He is talented enough to start on at least half of the teams in the NBA right now. What was most interesting is that he was not only the primary ball handler and scoring option with the second team, but he saw some court time alongside Teague, Horford, Korver, and Millsap as well. He scored 20 actual points in the opener, which is almost enough by itself to justify his price tag. At only $4700, he does not need a huge game to make value and the increased minutes he has seen are a good indication he might be able to do it often.
NONE – I am supposed to write up a stud play at each position or two, but the slate is so bad for shooting guards that I think it would be more beneficial to tell you why not to play these guys. Monta Ellis is the most expensive at $7100 and he is not 100% yet. He played just shy of 30 minutes which was promising, but he was only able to get 9 points on 3 of 11 shooting. That is not going to get it done at his price. Wes Matthews is also banged up and playing limited minutes, so he is out too. Kyle Korver and J.J. Redick are both pure shooters who do little else. If scoring and 3-pt bonuses are the only two categories you fill up, then it will not be easy to make value. That basically takes away the top option who would be in play on each team. Hence whyI said that we really do not have a stud SG to target on Thursday’s 3 game slate.
Jamal Crawford ($4500) – Crawford is still pretty cheap here to start the season. He is the sixth man for the Clippers, but plays a lot of minutes and actually benefits from being on the second unit. Crawford is asked to carry the scoring when he is on the floor with the back ups and he also gets a few minutes to run with the starting five throughout the game. Crawford is an offensive weapon who is able to score in a variety of ways. He rarely racks up a ton of stats across the board, but he can make value on points and a few assists with a price this cheap.
C.J. Miles ($3600) – Miles had one of those typical Miles games where he put up a decent scoring line based on a volume of shots and few other stats to go with it. Still he did play 35 minutes in this one and is still only $3600. He is probably the #1 value option on the slate tomorrow because of the minutes and low price. The fact that he is available for this price is a big reason why I can not endorse paying up for other options.
Lance Stephenson ($3200) – Stephenson is in the starting five for LA this year. The Clippers do have a rotation of guys to run out at the forward spot, but it looks like Stephenson will see the most of it. I am not arguing that he is a top stud option or anything near there. He is an uber talented player though and for $3200 and a probably 25 minutes or so from him, we could see him make value as well and open up room for some expensive options to be sprinkled onto your rosters.
Carmelo Anthony ($8700) – Melo did not have a great opening game, but he was rested a lot since he was not needed in the fourth quarter of this one really. That was very likely to help keep him fresh, especially because they were winning the first game of their back-to-back by a wide margin. This game with Atlanta should be much closer here and that would mean a full allotment of runs and possible shots for the main cog in that NY offense.
Paul George ($8200) – Paul George was widely considered one of the best in the league at his position before getting hurt in Olympic ball and having to sit out most of last season. He quickly answered his doubters here as he finished with 18 points, 12 boards, 8 assists and a few steals as well. George is a top 10 NBA player when he is healthy and it looks like he is healthy here. That’s bad news for the rest of the league as the Eastern Conference Pacers have their swagger back with a healthy superstar.
Derrick Williams ($3200) – I know what many of you are thinking. Is this the same Derrick Williams that was a high draft pick and stunk before being let go. It is one in the same and he has proven to be very erratic in his thoughts and actions. He had 15 real life points on Wednesday in one half. At a price tag of about $3K, that means he made value just on his first half points with rebounds, assists and steals to go with it. I am not saying he is a safe guy to roll out there, but He is not the worst minimum salary option to choose from.
Blake Griffin ($9500) – With the savings at other positions, you can afford to pay up for big men here. The one who is likely to score the most real life points is Blake Griffin. Blake is a beast and plays as the favorite in the highest total game. He is asked to shoulder a lot of the scoring load and he is not shy to shoot the ball. He is impossible to stop when running the floor due to his power, speed, and size. The drawback is his price, which is very high for a guy who does not usually pound the glass as hard as you would expect. He is content to let DeAndre Jordan do a lot of the rebounding, which really hurts his fantasy score. In order to pay up that high for a guy, we need him to do more than just put the ball in the basket. Griffin may end up with the most fantasy points at the position, but it may not be enough of a margin between him and the other guys here to justify it on a value scale.
Paul Millsap ($7800) – Millsap is often a great cash game play, because he consistently scores about 35-40 fantasy points. That would be right around the value you need for cash games at his price of just under $8K. Millsap can score, but he also adds stats across the board. The problem with him is he rarely goes off in a second category besides points. Sure he will have some stats i every other spot, but the truth is that he tends to fall short of monster numbers which really limits his upside. Millsap is one of the top cash game plays here, but it is unlikely he reaches 50 fantasy points and gives you the upside you may need to win a tournament.
Marc Gasol ($8300) – Gasol should bounce back with a solid game here against a very weak interior for the Pacers. He has a huge size advantage on Jordan Hill and a huge skill advantage on Ian Mahini. Gasol and the rest of the Grizzlies were really bad against the Cavs on Wednesday, so you have to take that one with a grain of salt. The good news is they did not play big minutes with the game getting 0ut of hand, so they are rested enough to play big minutes in this one. Gasol’s skill set allows him to contribute in the blocks, rebounds, assists, and points categories and that tends to add up to a big overall score. With a good match up, a close game expected, and a fired up Memphis team off a blowout loss, I think we have the makings of a nice bounce back game here for the Grizzlies big man.
DeAndre Jordan ($7700) – Jordan Struggled a little offensively on Wednesday, but he was concentrating his efforts on the defensive end to slow down Boogie Cousins in that game. He still finished with 12 rebounds and 4 blocks to go with his 6 points scored, which left him short of value. The Match up in this one against Zaza Pachulia is a much better spot to expect a big game from Jordan. He did not play huge minutes last game due to foul trouble, so he should be rested and ready to go here. A double double is almost a lock for him in this game, and if he can add his usual blocks and steals then he could be the top scoring option at the position.
Ian Mahinmi ($3900) – If you decide to punt the position or are looking for a cheap utility play, Ian Mahini may deserve some consideration. He is not a huge upside guy, so expecting forty points from him seems out of line. He is a starting center who should see a lot of minutes though and despite the foul trouble which ended his opener early, he still had good production when he was on the floor. He finished with 10 points, 8 rebounds, and a couple stats in every other category to push him over 20 fantasy points. He was one of the better value returns at the center position and will remain that way as long as his price stays low and he continues to see a lot of minutes.