Even though are only four games on the schedule, FanDuel is offering more big NBA contests on Thursday night. Below are my top options at each position.
Darren Collison, Sacramento Kings, $5,600 - It’s tough to start building lineups today, since there is injury uncertainty in Lakers/Kings, which is the top game to target on the night. Rajon Rondo missed the last game with back spasms and is questionable for tonight. If Rondo sits again, Collison jumps to the top of the list at his cheap price point, but if Rondo is cleared, he’s a guy you’ll want some exposure to. The reason is the Lakers’ awful defense in general, particularly against PGs, as they are dead last in DVP this season. The Kings have the highest team total on NBA odds board at 110 points, and whoever draws the start for the Kings is someone you’ll want on your rosters.
Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics, $8,100 - Thomas is dealing with a sprained thumb, but it didn’t hinder him last night as he poured in 22 points and 10 assists. Avery Bradley will miss another game tonight, so Thomas will pick up a little extra usage and seems to be locked into 35 minutes a night. Derrick Rose is not the athlete he once was and that has shown in the Bulls defense against PGs -- they are 26th in DVP.
Marco Belinelli, Sacramento Kings, $4,300 - As mentioned, the Kings are the primary team to monitor tonight as both Rajon Rondo and Omri Casspi are questionable. Casspi has missed the past two games, which has resulted in a minutes spike for Belinelli. He’s been terrific over his past four games and is shooting the ball very well right now, averaging 20 PPG over his past four games. As long as Casspi or Rondo is still out, he’s still dirt cheap at $4,300, which is a price that is too low to ignore against the Lakers.
Rodney Hood, Utah Jazz, $5,600 - He was terrible against the Spurs, but I typically just ignore those stats since the Spurs are far and away the best defense in the league, especially against SGs and SFs. Prior to that, he had a great three-game stretch as he topped 34 FD points in each, including a game against this same Houston team. Houston is a very poor defensive team and Rodney Hood will continue to shoulder a bigger load with Derrick Favors out. I do have some concerns about potential foul trouble since he can be foul prone and James Harden knows how to get to the foul line. However, he avoided foul trouble in their last meeting and has big upside at his price point if he can stay on the court.
Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz, $7,600 - Hayward is the easy choice at SF tonight. He’s seen a big uptick in usage with Derrick Favors and Alec Burks out of the lineup and gets an elite matchup with the Rockets. He’ll likely see the Rockets’ best defender in Trevor Ariza, but the Rockets’ team defense is poor and they are 28th in DVP against SFs. He didn’t shoot the ball great against Houston on Monday but he still came through with 35 FD points, and he is the safest option on the board.
Jae Crowder, Boston Celtics, $6,200 - It’s a tough call between Crowder and Evan Turner tonight. Both have seen an uptick in minutes with Avery Bradley out and both have been fairly productive. They are similarly priced, so I’d prefer the one that will be guarded by Jimmy Butler and not Nikola Mirotic, since the Bulls are 22nd in DVP against SFs but sixth against SGs. My guess is that Butler will be on Turner, but that’s simply my guess. If the Kings are once again without Rondo and/or Casspi, Rudy Gay gets a solid bump as well.
Pau Gasol, Chicago Bulls, $8,900 - Paul Millsap draws an elite matchup with the 76ers, but with a potential blowout in Philly, I’ll give the slight nod to Pau as the top option at PF today. Pau has been great recently, as he’s averaged 50 FD PPG over his last two games, and now he will face a Boston frontcourt that is weak defensively. The Celtics are 20th in DVP against centers and Pau put up 16 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 assists in their earlier meeting this year.
Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls, $5,400 - Joakim Noah is out tonight but is due back soon, so now is the time to get your fill of the Chicago big men since the minutes will be crowded again soon. Taj has taken advantage of his minutes boost with Noah out, and has consistently produced around 25 FD points recently. He’s coming off his best game of the year and faces a Boston team that is 24th in DVP against PF and allows the eighth-most rebounds to PFs.
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings, $10,400 - Boogie is finally starting to show his insane upside after he’s registered back to back 60 FD points games, although his last game came in double OT. He couldn’t ask for a better matchup to make it three in a row, as the Lakers’ bigs are outclassed. The Kings have a team total of 110 points, the Lakers are 25th in DVP against centers, and the only thing capable of slowing Boogie in this matchup is Boogie himself.