This article is part of our FantasyDraft NBA series.
Thursday's five-game slate shortens our options considerably, but there's still value to be had across the salary scale. Moreover, we have some potentially big returns from injury to spice things up a bit, as Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Hassan Whiteside and John Wall could all be back in action tonight. Without further ado, let's review where the getting is good at each price tier:
Victor Oladipo, IND at SAC ($15,600): With it being a small slate, Russell Westbrook ($21,000) may or may not fit into your budget due to less value plays than usual to choose from, but he's certainly worthy of consideration if you're inclined to go that route. Meanwhile, Oladipo comes in much cheaper and offers some nice upside relative to price in his own right, having scored 37.50 to 45.00 fantasy points in his last four contests. That stretch includes four tallies of more than 20 actual points, a 29.5 percent usage rate and an average of 1.03 fantasy points per minute. The Kings also continue to give up the highest percentage of scoring from three-pointers (34.5) – including 38.4 over the last three – and the fourth highest offensive efficiency rating (22.5) to the position on the season as well.
Eric Bledsoe, MIL at GS ($13,400): The Warriors are likely to get Kevin Durant (ribs) and Draymond Green (illness) back Thursday, which should make for a much more competitive affair than this game would have potentially been otherwise. That puts Bledsoe in play at a price that remains reasonable relative to recent production. The veteran point guard has scored 34.75 to 45.00 fantasy points in six of the last seven games, a stretch during which he's been filling out the stat sheet. He'll have a good dance partner Thursday in the Warriors with respect to both pace and individual matchup – Golden State is still generating the fifth-most possessions per game (103.0) despite all the injuries, and they're also allowing 50.5 fantasy points to point guards over the last 10, a sharp spike up from their 38.9 season figure.
Frank Mason III, SAC vs. IND ($7,900): The Heat's Dwyane Wade ($10,400) and the Wizards' Tomas Satoransky ($10,400) are two other interesting options if you have more to spend at this level, although there is a chance that John Wall makes a return for the Wizards in a limited capacity Thursday. Meanwhile, Mason has been seeing plenty of minutes of late and offering solid production relative to current price. The rookie second-round pick has scored 21.00 to 39.25 fantasy points in five of the last six games, taking more than two shot attempts per game (9.7, as compared to 7.4) over his season figure during that stretch. The Pacers have been more vulnerable to point guards of late as well (45.3 fantasy points allowed to the position over the last 10), and Mason should see plenty of run once again as coach Dave Joerger continues to develop his young players down the stretch.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL at GS ($19,500): Antetokounmpo is another Buck that certainly stands to benefit from the bump in pace the Warriors should bring to the table, and his individual matchup also serves him well. Golden State has allowed the third-most fantasy points (55.2) to power forwards over the last 10, and Antetokounmpo will enjoy a four-inch height advantage on the returning Draymond Green that he should be able to exploit frequently. Moreover, the Warriors come in allowing a robust 46.8 points in the paint per game this season, while the Greek Freak logs 58.2 percent of his scoring (15.9 points per game) in that area of the floor. His recent game logs make a strong case as well – Antetokounmpo has scored 45.50 to 72.00 fantasy points in five of the last six games.
James Johnson, MIA vs. CHI ($12,900): Johnson has kicked it into another gear as the Heat fight for a playoff spot, scoring 29.75 to 60.75 fantasy points in six of his last seven games, a stretch during which he's sporting a 21.0 percent usage rate and averaging 1.15 fantasy points per minute. He's also shooting a red-hot 50.0 percent on his 10.4 shot attempts over the last five, and he's hauling in almost three more rebounds per game than his season figure during that span (7.6, as compared to 4.9). The Bulls have been inept at defending frontcourts all season, and they come into Thursday allowing 50.2 fantasy points to power forwards over the last 10, along with the second-highest offensive efficiency rating (27.8) to the position on the season. Moreover, they're allowing the second-highest percentage of scoring from three-pointers on the season (32.5) – including the most over the last three (41.3) – while the floor-spacing Johnson is shooting 50.0 percent from distance over the last five contests.
Kelly Oubre, Jr., WAS at DET ($10,600): If you need to save further, options like Marcin Gortat ($8,800) and Kosta Koufos ($8,700) are also viable as tournament flyers. Meanwhile, Oubre's development has been something to behold this season, and he comes into Thursday having scored 21.25 to 41.50 fantasy points in his last five games. He's seen less than 26 minutes only once during that stretch, as he continues to enjoy a robust second-unit role. The Pistons shape up as a solid target as well, as they've allowed the fifth-most fantasy points (36.9) and seventh-highest offensive efficiency rating (21.2) to small forwards on the season. It's also worth noting that Oubre's usage has been on an uptick, as the 12.4 shot attempts he's averaging over the aforementioned five-game sample is a notable increase over his 9.7 season figure.
Andre Drummond, DET vs. WAS ($17,300): Drummond is averaging 12.3 points, 16.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.3 steals across 35.3 minutes in three games against the Wizards this season and he's scored 42.50 to 63.50 fantasy points in five of the last seven games as the Pistons continue pushing for a playoff spot. The Wizards also rank in the bottom half of the NBA in points in the paint allowed (45.6), while Drummond logs 77.9 percent of his scoring in that area of the floor. He's been a virtual lock for the double-double bonus, especially recently, and with it being yet another must-win scenario for Detroit, he should be highly involved for all four quarters.
Thaddeus Young, IND at SAC ($12,200): Young's price hasn't moved much despite his penchant for out-producing it lately, as he comes into Thursday having scored 30.00 to 48.75 fantasy points in five straight, and in seven of the last eight overall. Those represent excellent returns on his price tag, and the Kings' frontcourt vulnerabilities should only facilitate more of the same. Sacramento comes in allowing the seventh-most fantasy points (39.7) to power forwards on the season, along with bottom-10 figures in multiple other categories to the position. It's also worth noting that Young enjoyed a solid game against the Kings in his only other meeting with them this season, posting 15 points, four rebounds and four steals over 27 minutes.