Daily fantasy basketball is finally back on Thursday night, when NBA DFS gamers are graced with a fun six-game schedule. There was a fun NBA All-Star game contest at FanDuel on Sunday, but otherwise everyone has had to deal with a week away from the NBA DFS grind.
It’s been a beating, but finally you can return to daily fantasy basketball and leave your attempts and dominating NHL, soccer, MMA and the like behind you.
I personally am excited for the 2018 daily fantasy baseball season to arrive, but having NBA DFS back in my life is more than enough at the moment. There are a lot of directions to go in on Thursday, but I’ll piece together my favorite lineup for GPPs and you can decide which studs and value picks you agree with me on. Let’s get to it:
PG: Russell Westbrook – Oklahoma City Thunder ($12k)
I need to use Russ on this small slate. He’s one of two studs I have to have and I think he’s quite necessary. Stephen Curry and Kemba Walker do serve as potentially elite pivots, but Curry has been very spare lately and I never trust an overpriced Kemba.
Westbrook is the best point guard play on the board, regardless. He’s been super safe (50+ fantasy points in 7 of his last 9 games) and always carries 70+ fantasy point upside. Against a bad Kings team, he certainly could deliver something close to that. I think he’s worth the price tonight and I don’t want to be caught in a GPP without him.
PG: Kris Dunn – Chicago Bulls ($6.4k)
I do have some interest in paying up at both point guard spots, but I ultimately will go in the middle tier at this second spot. Spencer Dinwiddie ($7k) and Tomas Satoransky ($5.9k) are worth a look, but the best value is Dunn.
I know he’s had issues with returning from a concussion and there has been a minutes cap, but I think he’s safe to play after a week away from basketball. Dunn is way under-priced based on his talent and past production, while he actually dropped 38 fantasy points on the Sixers the last time he faced them.
As long as news doesn’t break about a strict minutes cap, I love him tonight. In fact, the possibility that others will get off of him because of minutes concerns helps make him a great contrarian try in tourneys.
SG: D’Angelo Russell – Brooklyn Nets ($6.1k)
I always love getting D’Lo at a low price. I don’t love the idea of targeting Nets players on the road in Charlotte, but Russell can pop off in any situation and is hovering around the 30-minute range right now. He worked out for me the last time I vouched for him, too, while he’s now safely topped 34+ fantasy points in two of his last three games.
Charlotte can be a tough matchup defensively, but Russell has always had the green light to fire away. He’s also had success in this matchup, dropping 23-9 and 15-5 lines on the Hornets last year as a member of the Lakers. I like the price here and I’m not into paying nearly $10k for Bradley Beal.
SG: Lou Williams – Los Angeles Clippers ($7k)
I could pay down at shooting guard twice, as there are a lot of interesting cheap options. Klay Thompson, Nicolas Batum, Tim Hardaway Jr., J.J. Redick and even J.R. Smith all look appealing in different ways. I’m fine with those guys, but I don’t want to spend up to get Beal and I feel like fading Sweet Lou is a mistake.
Williams remains a key cog in L.A. and he has absolutely shredded the Dubs (over 30 points per game against them) across three meetings this year. I don’t know if you can demand that again here in a game that could easily turn into a horrifying blowout, but the upside and value are easy to see.
Even if Lou doesn’t go nuts, I still like his floor. He’s been quite steady, posting 28+ fantasy points in 25 straight contests. I will take that floor all day and in this fast-paced setting, I see his floor more around 40 tonight.
SF: LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers ($11.6k)
Kevin Durant is a fine pivot off of King James and I’ll be pretty annoyed if Paul George wrecks, but this feels like a LeBron James slate. I love the idea of paying up for both James and Westbrook on this slate and I don’t really mind if that’s a popular starting point.
Durant went nuts (50 actual points) in his last game, but he’d been quiet prior to that and I won’t be shocked to see him drop back down on Thursday. The same goes for PG-13, who can obviously go nuts but doesn’t offer the same upside that he did when Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony were sidelined with injuries.
I am also not loving the value at small forward, so I’ll just pay up for James and be done with it. The trades Cleveland swung have him pretty dialed in, as he’s topped 50+ fantasy points in every game since and seems to be jolted in a positive way. I see that trend rolling through Thursday, while he’s specifically had a lot of success (76 fantasy points per game!) across two meetings with Washington this year.
SF: David Nwaba – Chicago Bulls ($3.5k)
You can probably be pretty contrarian if you pay up at both SF spots on FanDuel, but I’ll eat the chalk and use Nwaba, who finds himself starting on Thursday. Chicago is going with a youth movement and Nwaba is a fine two-way player that they’ll want to scout the rest of the way.
Nwaba isn’t a lock to pan out even if he logs 30+ minutes, but he looks like an elite value play. I think he’ll get at least 25 minutes and due to his versatility, 20+ fantasy points seems like a logical floor.
PF: Carmelo Anthony – Oklahoma City Thunder ($6.1k)
The Thunder are collectively at risk of blowing out the Kings, but I still want a hand in this game. Russ is one hand, so make it two with a cheap Melo. Anthony has been pretty disappointing on the year, but he’s fared well (34 fantasy points per game) in two showdowns with Sacramento.
Power forward is very weak on this slate, but since I’m spending for true elites, I can’t make room for Ben Simmons, Aaron Gordon or Draymond Green. All of those guys are viable, but I’ll just drop down to Melo so I can spend my salary cap elsewhere. I think he’s a safe bet to approach 30 fantasy points and I’ll be crossing my fingers he registers closer to 40.
PF: Frank Kaminsky – Charlotte Hornets ($3.6k)
I’m rolling the dice on Nwaba and since this is the GPP life, I’ll do so again on Frank the Tank. He was awful (just 10 minutes) against Orlando in his last outing, but he had actually been rock solid in terms of minutes before that. Kaminsky should snap back to his usual role tonight and if so, he has a dream scenario against a bad Brooklyn defense.
Kaminsky is a fine GPP try across the board, but the beauty here is the price. He does not need to be a gem to pay off here, but if the former Badger can deliver around 30 fantasy points, I certainly won’t be sad about it.
C: Cristiano Felicio – Chicago Bulls ($3.5k)
I’ll take one more deep dive to piece together what feels like a very fun NBA DFS GPP roster. Felicio will do the trick, as center is extremely top heavy. I hope Joel Embiid is a late scratch and/or Felicio’s recent shift into Chicago’s starting give grants him enough minutes to crush this price tag.
I can’t safely vouch for that, but Felicio averages 25 fantasy points per 36 minutes without Lopez on the court. If the Bulls hand him the run they seem ready to, a matchup with Embiid could force him to stay on the floor even longer than anticipated. Either way, he’s dirt cheap and starting. If he can just churn his way to a modest double-double, I’d be very pleased.
Overall, I’m going straight up GPP mode here, as I’m pairing my two favorites studs and taking some calculated dives.
This is undoubtedly a risky daily fantasy basketball lineup, but it carries a lot of upside. If you want some elite and likely contrarian plays, consider paying for Kemba Walker, Joel Embiid and Paul George tonight. Whatever you do, I hope my FanDuel NBA DFS picks help you come away a winner on Thursday. Good luck!