This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We have a modest five-game slate on tap Thursday, but it's one that replete with star power. Some of the biggest stars in the league happen to be in action, and with the exception of Russell Westbrook – who sports a questionable tag due to a thumb injury – they're all in good health. Additionally, four of the five games on the slate are projected well over 220 points, notably enhancing the appeal of the slate from a DFS perspective.
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 with the highest projected totals:
Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers (Projected total: 237.0 points)
Neither of these two teams lacks for offensive firepower, and accordingly, they combined for 239 points the first time they met this season. There are two big names on the injury report in the form of Russell Westbrook (thumb) and Anthony Davis (shoulder), but Davis will play and Westbrook has a 50/50 shot to do so. Both squads are also ranked in the top 10 in points per game, and the Rockets are also yielding the third-most points per road game (117.4).
New Orleans Pelicans at Chicago Bulls (Projected total: 231.0 points)
The Pelicans continue to play at a breakneck pace (107.9 possessions per game, second highest in NBA) and are allowing the third-most points per game (117.2). The Bulls have played strong defense at home, but they've yielded 125.7 points per contest over the last three. Moreover, New Orleans is racking up 114.9 points per contest, and they've bumped that up to 118.7 over their last three games.
San Antonio Spurs at Portland Trail Blazers (Projected total: 229.0 points)
Both of these teams have struggled with defense throughout the season, making the projected total understandable. Portland is allowing 115.0 points per contest, while San Antonio isn't far behind them in surrendering 114.1 per game. San Antonio has been even more vulnerable on the road (115.8 PPG allowed), and both teams are ranked right next to each other in the top 10 in points scored per game (POR- 113.3 PPG/ SA- 113.2 PPG).
Point guard has one major injury concern in the form of Russell Westbrook (thumb), who's listed as questionable. Otherwise, there aren't any major short-term absences at play, and there's viable large-field tournament value at the position into the high-$3K range (Patty Mills).
Shooting guard enjoys a clean bill of health all the way down into the high $4K range, and at that point, RJ Barrett (ankle) has a chance to return from a nine-game absence. There's also large-field bargain options worth considering in the high $3K range here as well, with JJ Redick ($3.9K) and Bryn Forbes ($3.7K) fitting the bill.
Small forward is clear of any short-term injury concerns, and there's an excellent duo up top with Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11.4K) and LeBron James ($10.7K). Then, there's a welcome drop-off in salary to Brandon Ingram ($8.2K), and another from Ingram to Tobias Harris ($6.2K), who's underpriced relative to his ceiling.
With Davis cleared, power forward is free of any short-term injury absences and has viable options all the way down to $100 away from minimum (Nicolo Melli and Taj Gibson, for large-field tournament play).
Center is one position where an elite player won't cost you a mint, as Joel Embiid is the highest-priced option at $9K. Hassan Whiteside and Nikola Vucevic are also options below the $9K range for those who want a shot at elite production, and after that point, there's a nice drop-off to Brook Lopez all the way down at $5.5K.
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.
Russell Westbrook, HOU
Westbrook is questionable due to a thumb injury.
RJ Barrett, NYK
Barrett is questionable with the ankle injury that's cost him the last nine games.
Damyean Dotson, NYK
Dotson is listed as questionable due to an illness.
Mitchell Robinson, NYK
Robinson is questionable due to an illness.
Reggie Bullock, NYK
Bullock is questionable due to an illness.
Allonzo Trier, NYK
Trier is doubtful due to an illness.
Tomas Satoransky, CHI
Satoransky is probable due to an ankle injury.
Chandler Hutchison, CHI
Hutchison is probable due to a shoulder injury.
Tomas Satoransky, CHI
Satoransky is probable due to elbow discomfort.
Denzel Valentine, CHI
Valentine is doubtful due to a hamstring injury.
Daniel Gafford, CHI
Gafford is doubtful with an ankle injury.
Nassir Little, POR
Little will not play due to an ankle injury.
Notable Longer-Term Injuries/Absences: Josh Richardson, PHI; Kris Dunn, CHI; Wendell Carter Jr., CHI; Lauri Markkanen, CHI; Otto Porter, CHI; Jonathan Isaac, ORL; Al-Farouq Aminu, ORL; D.J. Augustin, ORL; Kenrich Williams, NOP; Ante Zizic, CLE; Skal Labissiere, POR; Jusuf Nurkic, POR; Zach Collins, POR
For a smallish slate, we have plenty of expensive options, with five players sporting five-figure salaries. James Harden ($11.5K) and Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11.4K) are priced through the roof but have the upside to warrant it, and both LeBron James ($10.7K) and Damian Lillard ($10.3K) could both be worth it given the elevated projected totals in their respective games. Russell Westbrook ($10.3K) is the one elite option questionable to play, with a thumb injury to blame.
Anthony Davis ($9.8K) could ultimately prove the "steal" of the top-shelf options, as his price has dropped and the shoulder injury that has him listed as probable isn't expected to limit him.
The chalk should primarily be focused on the usual suspects Thursday, although if Russell Westbrook (thumb) is forced to sit, then Austin Rivers should enjoy plenty of popularity as a value play, while James Harden should see his already robust ownership creep up further. Additionally, expect Anthony Davis to likely be even more popular than usual due to his reasonable (for his upside) four-figure salary.
As customary, I've also put together a specific list of sub-$6K value plays that should find themselves in plenty of lineups and have included those below the next section.
Key and Likely Underowned Values
Derrick Favors, NOP at CHI ($5,000)
Favors is coming off a clunker in his most recent game, as he went scoreless over 25 minutes versus the Bucks on Tuesday night. That should help keep his ownership down to an extent, but prior to that outlier, it's worth noting he'd scored 20.7 to 52.7 FanDuel points across his previous eight games. That range represents a solid-to-outstanding return on his current salary, and the Bulls are just the type of matchup that could coax one of his better performances out of him. Chicago checks in tied with the Wizards for the league's lowest rebounding rate (48.0 percent), and the Bulls have also yielded the third-highest offensive efficiency rating (33.5) and fifth-highest shooting percentage (56.5) to centers on the season.
Derrick White, SA at POR ($4,500)
White has seen a recent downturn in production, which should help keep his ownership percentages down Thursday. Following a five-game stretch during which he scored 29.3 to 45.2 FanDuel points, White has scored 19.9 FanDuel points or less in four of his last five. However, he spiked back up to 28.6 just two games ago versus the Clippers, and he'll draw a matchup conducive to a strong return Thursday. White has already averaged 31.3 FanDuel points in two prior games against the Trail Blazers this season, a sample during which he's shot an outstanding 64.7 percent. Portland is also allowing the second-highest offensive efficiency rating (28.6) to point guards, along with highest three-point percentage (40.8) to the position. And, also consider the Blazers have surrendered the fifth-highest offensive efficiency rating (46.6) to opposing second units, furthering White's case at a very reasonable price he's often proven capable of outpacing this season.
Coby White, CHI vs. NOP ($4,200)
White remains a consistent part of the Bulls' backcourt rotation, logging at least 20 minutes on most nights. However, he isn't always maximizing that playing time, which should keep his ownership modest Thursday. Nevertheless, he's worthy of consideration for large-field tournament play, as he's proven capable of outpacing his current salary on multiple occasions this season and also draws a favorable matchup. White has a pair of 20.7 FanDuel-point tallies in his last four games, and he's scored between 24.1 and 42.5 FanDuel points in 12 contests overall this season. Then, the Pelicans have also allowed the sixth-highest shooting percentage (46.3) to opposing second-unit players, and the fourth-highest offensive efficiency rating to point guards (28.0). New Orleans has also been more vulnerable than usual to ones recently, allowing 52.0 FanDuel points per game over the last five, compared to 45.2 per contest for the season.
Other likely higher-owned value plays to consider: Tomas Satoransky, CHI ($5,700); Carmelo Anthony, POR ($5,300); Eric Gordon, HOU ($4,800); Chandler Hutchison, CHI ($4,500); Shake Milton, PHI ($4,300); Austin Rivers, HOU ($4,200); Ben McLemore, HOU ($4,000); Taj Gibson, NYK ($3,600)