This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We have just three games on a typically light Thursday slate, but there's a couple of pieces of good news on the DFS front. One is the fact all three games have projected totals well north of the 220-point threshold, implying there could be plenty of players in favorable scenarios. Another is a light injury report, one that sees two of its biggest names in Kyrie Irving and Hassan Whiteside listed as probable.
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 on Thursday's slate:
Washington Wizards at Cleveland Cavaliers (Projected total: 230.5 points)
The Wizards continue to both score (114.7 PPG) and give up (NBA-high 120.1 PPG) plenty of points, while the Cavaliers surrender 113.9 points per contest as well. The two teams combined for a more modest 213 points the one previous time they met this season back on Nov. 8, but Washington's defense has gotten increasingly worse as the season has gone on.
Dallas Mavericks at Portland Trail Blazers (Projected total: 229.0 points)
The Trail Blazers have allowed the fourth-most points per home game (114.2), and they've yielded 121.0 points over their last three games overall. The Mavericks are also the NBA's most prolific road team (118.6 PPG), and the two squads have combined for 240 and 232 points in their first two meetings this season, respectively. This game should be a showcase for Damian Lillard and Luka Doncic in particular and could be the most popular DFS spot of the night.
Los Angeles Lakers at Brooklyn Nets (Projected total: 228.0 points)
The Lakers are scoring the fifth-most points per game of any road team (114.0), and although the Nets have played appreciably better defense at home (109.4 PPG, compared to 114.0 points allowed per road game), Los Angeles is at full strength. Brooklyn is also playing at the sixth-fastest pace (106.9 possessions per contest), which ups the Lakers' offensive expectations even further.
With Kyrie Irving expected to return from a one-game absence due to a hamstring injury Thursday, point guard essentially enjoys a clean bill of health and has viable large-field tournament value below the $4K range (Isaiah Thomas, Jalen Brunson).
Shooting guard is an intriguing spot, as C.J. McCollum ($7.7K) is the most expensive option, although he remains a game-time decision with his ankle injury. If he sits, Bradley Beal ($7.5K) is priced very reasonably for his ceiling and finds himself in an excellent matchup against the Cavaliers.
Small forward, like point guard, is also free of any notable injury designations and features LeBron James up top before a drop to a mid-tier and value level that includes Carmelo Anthony ($6.2K), Tim Hardaway ($5.5K) and Troy Brown ($4.8K).
At power forward, there's a strong trio up top with Anthony Davis, Kristaps Porzingis and Kevin Love, while Maxi Kleber (with a possible starting center assignment), Davis Bertans and Larry Nance Jr. representing some strong sub-$5K value plays.
Finally, at center, Hassan Whiteside does carry a probable tag up top due to a groin injury, but otherwise, DeAndre Jordan (finger) is the only other short-term injury of note. Dwight Powell is unfortunately out for the season with his Achilles tear, but that also makes Boban Marjanovic ($5K) much more viable than usual.
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.
Kyrie Irving, BKN
Irving is probable with a hamstring injury that cost him Monday's game.
C.J. McCollum, POR
McCollum is questionable with an ankle injury that's cost him the last two games.
Hassan Whiteside, POR
Whiteside is probable with a groin injury.
Anzejs Pasecniks, WAS
Pasecniks is likely to be listed as questionable at best with an ankle injury.
Nicolas Claxton, BKN
Claxton is doubtful with a shoulder injury.
DeAndre Jordan, BKN
Jordan is questionable with a finger injury.
Brandon Knight, CLE
Knight is likely to be considered questionable at best with the knee soreness that's already cost him four games.
John Henson, CLE
Henson is probable with a back injury.
Notable Longer-Term Injuries/Absences: Moritz Wagner, WAS; Rui Hachimura, WAS; Garrison Mathews, WAS; Kevin Porter Jr., CLE; Dylan Windler, CLE; Jusuf Nurkic, POR; Skal Labissiere, POR; Zach Collins, POR; Dwight Powell, DAL; Ryan Broekhoff, DAL
We have three five-figure players on the modest slate, with Luka Doncic ($11.2K), LeBron James ($10.7K) and Anthony Davis ($10.5K) in that category. Given the generally shallow player pool, all three players take on extra importance, and it's certainly conceivable to fit two of the three stars into your lineup while surrounding them with some of the viable mid-tier and value plays that are also available.
In terms of deciding between James and Davis, it's the former with the better positional matchup by far, considering Brooklyn has allowed the third-highest offensive efficiency rating (28.7) to point guards and 48.3 FanDuel points per game to the position. And finally, Damian Lillard ($9.3K) sports a very reasonable salary relative to his ceiling, which could make him even more popular than usual following his eye-popping 61 points against the Warriors on Monday.
With such a small slate, we should see plenty of attention focused on the three five-figure mega-stars on the ledger – Luka Doncic ($11.2K), LeBron James ($10.7K) and Anthony Davis ($10.5K). Damian Lillard ($9.3K) should also see plenty of clicks on his name, considering his most recent performance and the fact C.J. McCollum (ankle) could be sidelined once again.
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
Thomas Bryant, WAS at CLE ($4,500)
Bryant has remained on the second unit since returning from an extended absence due to a foot injury, but he's already been back over 20 minutes in one of first five games back and has posted 19.7 and 22.2 FanDuel points over his last pair of contests, respectively. Thursday, he draws a matchup against a Cavaliers team that's given up the second-highest offensive efficiency rating to second units (47.2), along with the third-highest shooting percentage (47.3). Moreover, the Cavs have also surrendered the most points in the paint per game (54.1), while Bryant is scoring nearly 60.0 percent (58.7) of his points in that part of the floor. The big man has already enjoyed success against Cleveland once this season as well, posting 23 points, eight rebounds, four assists and one steal (41.6 FD points) back on Nov. 8.
Seth Curry, DAL at POR ($4,000)
Curry is enjoying a steady role off the Mavericks bench, as he's averaging 22.5 minutes per game, the second-highest total of his career. The veteran sharpshooter has been particularly effective in recent games, shooting 49.3 percent, including 42.1 percent from three-point range, over his last seven contests. He's exceeded 20 FanDuel points on three occasions during that span, and he scored 19.7 in another contest. He'll draw a strong matchup with which to generate similar production, as the Trail Blazers check in allowing the fourth-highest offensive efficiency rating to second units (46.9), as well as the sixth-highest three-point percentage (36.4).
Other likely higher-owned value plays to consider: Tristan Thompson, CLE ($5,900); Dwight Howard, LAL ($5,200); Ian Mahinmi, WAS ($5,100); Boban Marjanovic, DAL ($5,000); Jordan McRae, WAS ($5,000); JaVale McGee, LAL ($4,900); Ish Smith, WAS ($4,900); Maxi Kleber, DAL ($4,800); Davis Bertans, WAS ($4,500); Larry Nance, CLE ($4,200);