This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We have a five-game slate on tap Thursday night, heightening the importance of both price sensitivity and prudent roster construction overall. The injury report is fairly extensive for a smaller slate, and as of late Thursday morning, there are plenty of health-related question marks surrounding multiple big names.
As usual, we'll proceed to break down the positional outlook below, along with possible chalk plays and some likely under-owned bargains that could help you round out your lineups with a couple of superstars.
Before delving into the slate, a reminder that FanDuel has reverted to its previous format of NOT dropping the lowest scoring in lineups after a one-year experiment with that feature. Therefore, it will be important to be prudent with each selection, as each player's total will count toward your final score.
Without further ado, let's take a more comprehensive look at Thursday's slate!
Here's a closer look at the three games with the highest projected totals on Thursday's slate:
Phoenix Suns at New York Knicks (Projected total: 225.5 points)
The Suns are one of the better scoring home teams in the league (114.4 PPG), while the Knicks are allowing 115.0 points per game on the road, helping explain this elevated total. These two teams combined for 232 points the first time they met as well, and even with Marcus Morris (neck) potentially set to miss another game for New York, offensive expectations should be high.
Utah Jazz at New Orleans Pelicans (Projected total: 225.5 points)
The Jazz typically suppresses scoring, but the Pelicans facilitate it to an extent that this still projects as a shootout. Further supporting the notion of an elevated score is the fact the two clubs have combined for 248 and 254 points the first two times they've met this season. And, even though Jrue Holiday will miss another game for New Orleans with his elbow injury, the latter total just cited was achieved in a game that Holiday missed as well.
Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks (Projected total: 223.0 points)
The Bucks are essentially at full health and remain the highest scoring team in the league overall (119.4 PPG) and at home (120.7 PPG). The Celtics are a much less prolific team on the road (107.8 PPG, compared to 114.5 PPG at home), but the two teams combined for 221 points the first time they met. The one concern here with Boston being able to keep up its end of the bargain are the iffy health statuses of Jayson Tatum (knee) and Jaylen Brown (thumb).
We have a very unusual situation at the top of the point guard pool Thursday, as Kemba Walker checks in as the most expensive option with a price tag of just $6,700. If Jayson Tatum (knee) and/or Jaylen Brown (thumb) that could make Walker one of the best and most popular bargains of the night. Then, even with Jamal Murray's (ankle) likely absence, there's still some solid mid-tier options in Ricky Rubio, Eric Bledsoe, Elfrid Payton and Markelle Fultz. Additionally, Monte Morris ($4K) could be another high-ownership value play if Murray misses as expected.
At shooting guard, we have already have a confirmed Jrue Holiday (elbow) absence, while Evan Fournier (quadriceps), Gary Harris (groin) and J.J. Redick (hamstring) could all end up sitting out as well. Therefore, the position could ultimately be one of the thinner ones of the night when also factoring in the relatively small slate.
Small forward will be missing some star power, as Paul George (hamstring) and Kelly Oubre Jr. (concussion) are both already confirmed out, while Brandon Ingram (knee), Jaylen Brown (thumb) and Marcus Morris (neck) all carry questionable tags. Therefore, Giannis Antetokoumpo ($11.5K) may ultimately be the only choice for those who wish to pay up, but there is a solid group of mid-tier options that include Will Barton, Gordon Hayward, Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles.
Power forward could end up in relatively solid shape Thursday, even if Jayson Tatum (knee) misses another contest. Kawhi Leonard and Julius Randle are a solid duo up top, while Draymond Green ($5.9K) and Aaron Gordon ($5.7K) could end up as strong sub-$6K options.
Given all the injury concerns elsewhere, center is in the best shape of any position. There are no true injury concerns, and the trio of Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert and Nikola Vucevic are an excellent trio up top for those who are willing to pay up.
Notable Injury Situations to Monitor
NOTE: Injury reporting is especially fluid in the NBA, where the status of multiple players can change during the course of a day. Therefore, although the following serves as a foundation for the latest injury report as of the time the article is written (usually late morning Eastern time), check back throughout the course of the day with RotoWire for the latest news regarding the status of all players on that night's slate.
Paul George, LAC
George will not play due to the hamstring issue that's already cost him three games. Kawhi Leonard should be the primary beneficiary in terms of increased usage.
Jayson Tatum, BOS
Tatum is likely to be considered questionable at best with the knee injury that cost him Wednesday's game. If Tatum were to miss, the remainder of the Celtics' starting five should rise, while Semi Ojeleye and Grant Williams could see some extra opportunities at power forward.
Jaylen Brown, BOS
Brown is likely to be listed as questionable with the thumb sprain he sustained during Wednesday's game. Marcus Smart could be the direct beneficiary of a starting opportunity if Brown misses.
Kelly Oubre Jr., PHO
Oubre will not play due to a concussion. Mikal Bridges should see extra minutes in his stead, while the usage of the rest of the Suns' starting five should see an appreciable increase.
Marcus Morris, NYK
Morris is questionable due to the neck injury that's already cost him the last five games. Kevin Knox II should be the primary beneficiary if Morris misses.
Mitchell Robinson, NYK
Robinson is probable with a sprained toe.
Reggie Bullock, NYK
Bullock is probable with neck soreness.
Frank Ntilikina, NYK
Ntilikina is questionable with a groin injury. Kadeem Allen would be set for the majority of backup point guard minutes if Ntilikina misses.
Wesley Matthews, MIL
Matthews is probable with a finger sprain.
Donte DiVincenzo, MIL
DiVincenzo is probable with a finger sprain.
Jrue Holiday, NOP
Holiday will miss his sixth straight game due to an elbow injury.
JJ Redick, NOP
Redick is considered questionable with a hamstring injury.
Derrick Favors, NOP
Brandon Ingram, NOP
Ingram is probable with the knee injury that cost him Monday's game.
Jahlil Okafor, NOP
Okafor is probable with a back injury.
Jamal Murray, DEN
Murray is likely to sit out due to the ankle injury he sustained during Wednesday's game. Monte Morris would be set for a spot start in his place should he sit.
Gary Harris, DEN
Harris is likely to be listed as questionable at best with the groin injury that cost him Wednesday's game. Torrey Craig could be set for another start if Harris misses again.
Paul Millsap, DEN
Millsap is likely to be considered questionable at best with the knee injury that's already cost him four games. Jerami Grant could be set for another start if Millsap misses.
Jacob Evans, GSW
Evans is likely to be considered questionable at best due to the facial injury he sustained in Tuesday's game against the Mavericks.
Evan Fournier, ORL
Fournier is likely to be considered questionable at best due to the quadriceps injury that cost him Wednesday's game.
D.J. Augustin, ORL
Augustin is likely to be considered questionable at best with the knee injury that cost him two of the last three games.
Notable Longer-Term Injuries/Absences: Mike Conley, UTA; Jonathan Isaac, ORL; Al-Farouq Aminu, ORL; Robert Williams III, BOS; Zion Williamson, NOP; Darius Miller, NOP; Dennis Smith, Jr., NYK; Frank Kaminsky, PHO; Kevon Looney, GSW
With only 10 teams in action, there are just a pair of five-figure players on Thursday's slate – Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11.5K) and Kawhi Leonard ($10.2K). Besides their usual level of high appeal, Antetokounmpo could be the last man standing as far as top-tier small forwards Thursday, while Leonard stands out even more since Paul George (hamstring) will miss another game.
Meanwhile, in the $9K range, Nikola Jokic ($9.4K) could also take on plenty of extra usage if some or all of Jamal Murray (ankle), Gary Harris (groin) and Paul Millsap (knee) sit out. And, although he's priced just below at $8.8K, Devin Booker is also likely to enjoy even more usage than usual with Kelly Oubre (concussion) set to miss.
Depending on the outcome of some of the many injury concerns Thursday, there could be multiple chalk plays across the pricing scale Thursday. That includes the healthy members of the Celtics' and Pelicans' first units, with both of those teams potentially set to play without multiple starters (as detailed in the Injuries section).
As customary, I've also compiled a list of multiple sub-$6K value plays that should be particularly popular, – many of them also due to injuries on their team – and have listed them underneath the next section.
Key and Likely Underowned Values
Jordan Clarkson, UTA at NOP ($4,300)
Clarkson seems to have quickly adapted to his new team, as his high-usage backup role is essentially the same as the one he's filled at his previous stops. Thursday, he'll be a part of the game with the highest projected total on the slate, and he'll draw a strong matchup against a Pelicans team that's tied for fourth-highest offensive efficiency rating (45.7) allowed to second-unit players, along with the third-highest shooting percentage (46.9) and second-highest three-point percentage (38.2). Clarkson also checks in with tallies of 29.8 and 33.9 FanDuel points in two of his last three games, respectively, while New Orleans is surrendering the fourth-most FanDuel points per game (57.1) on the season, including 62.3 per contest over the last five.
Kadeem Allen, NYK at PHO ($3,700)
Allen had spent most of his season in the G League prior to January, but he's now logged 17 and 24 minutes, respectively, in the last two. Dennis Smith, Jr. (oblique) remains out Thursday, while Frank Ntilikina (groin) is questionable. That means Allen should be in for a solid workload under any scenario, especially considering he's posted 19.9 and 25.6 FanDuel point over his last pair of contests. The Suns also make for appealing targets, considering they check in allowing the sixth-highest shooting percentage (46.4) to opposing second units, including the second-highest three-point percentage (38.2). Allen is capable of contributions in rebounds and assists as well in his point guard role, and with a price just $200 away from minimum, a 5x return at minimum certainly isn't inconceivable if he sees a similar amount of opportunity Thursday as he has in the last two games.
Other likely higher-owned value plays to consider:
RJ Barrett, NYK ($5,900); Aaron Gordon, ORL ($5,700); Bojan Bogdanovic, UTA ($5,700); Joe Ingles, UTA ($5,600); Markelle Fultz, ORL ($5,500); Brook Lopez, MIL ($4,800); Terrence Ross, ORL ($4,600); Mikal Bridges, PHO ($4,500); Daniel Theis, BOS ($4,400); E'Twaun Moore, NOP ($4,200); Josh Hart, NOP ($4,100); Monte Morris, DEN ($4,000)