Merry Christmas from the NBA as they are bringing us a star-studded five game slate for Thursday! Unfortunately it was just announced that Kevin Durant is out on Christmas Day, but Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, LeBron James, Kevin Love, John Wall, Carmelo Anthony, Jimmy Butler, Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan should provide a full day's worth of solid entertainment. A slate like this screams stud-scrub construction strategy. Being the type of person that always sees the positive side of things, I'll say that the one good thing about no games on Wednesday is that you get Wednesday's Bargain Bin article for Thursday's games! As always, I've tried to keep these guys below $5500 on FanDuel. Enjoy the holiday and my wish to you all is a big fat bankroll!
Aaron Brooks ($4200): I don't love recommending bench players, but that's what we have today at PG. Brooks is quietly playing very well over the past four games for the Bulls. He's seeing over 25 mpg and scoring an average of 25 fantasy points over that span. The Bulls get to face the Lakers who give up the most fpts to PG. Derrick Rose is obviously a great play too, but with Brooks scoring double digit points and adding a few rebounds, assists, and steals vs much tougher opponents, he's a tough fade at this price, in this matchup, in a high scoring game.
Ronnie Price ($4100): The other side of the court has nearly as good of a matchup as the Bulls have uncharacteristically given up the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing PG. Coming off the big win over Golden State sans Kobe Bryant, the Lakers feel like they're at a crossroads. With the franchise's storied Christmas history, all eyes will be on Bryant Thursday, particularly if he can work more effectively with his teammates. Price saw a season high of minutes (31) Tuesday night and racked up 36 fpts. I don't expect to see that kind of production with Kobe back today, but Price has scored at least 15 fpts when he's played 20 mpg or more. Price is a cheap second PG whose floor likely won't kill your lineup.
Advice: I would spread out the risk of a bargain bin guy in my PG second slot between these two and pair with Chris Paul or John Wall, who are my favorite studs at the position tonight. If you're making a mid-range lineup work, Rose, Kyrie Irving, or Tony Parker should all be good plays.
Tim Hardaway Jr. ($5500): With Iman Shumpert and JR Smith out, Hardaway Jr. is seeing all the minutes he can handle, which is about 35-40. Now his fpts/min aren't what one would really like, but he is getting you double digit points and a few peripherals every night which is good enough to meet value if you're saving at SG today. The matchup with the Wizards is a tough one as they rank 3rd in defensive efficiency this season, but Vegas expects it to stay fairly close, and as I said, the Knicks need Hardaway out there shooting even with Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony expected to play.
JJ Redick ($5200): If you read me with any regularity, you know that Redick is my go-to safe value SG. He is almost always playing in a high point total situation, as will again be the case Thursday, with a very well defined role for a player at his price. The reason for the price is that the production can vary, but it varies up from a floor I'm comfortable with at this price (18 fpts) if he allows me to use a key player at another position. Redick has 30+ fpt upside if his shot is falling, as it has been the past three games. He's a cheap way to get exposure to the best looking game on the slate.
Advice: There are a few other guys you might consider here, including Nick Young or Jamal Crawford in a similar price range. Only Dion Waiters ($4700) has a really plus matchup for the position vs the Heat, but he's not one of my favorite plays due to his extreme volatility. Marco Bellinelli ($4400) is another relatively high floor option in this range.
Shawne Williams ($4100): I like using Williams today because since he plays power forward for the Heat he gets the nice matchup, but you can fill that tricky SF slot on FanDuel with him for dirt cheap. With Josh McRoberts gone for the season and Chris Bosh still out on Thursday, Miami is thin in the frontcourt. Williams played around 30 minutes the past two games, posting 24 and 25 fpts on the strength of his shooting, rebounding and making a couple blocks.
Advice: Just one pick at this position, as I really can't recommend the other options in this value range. Any of Rasual Butler ($4600), Matt Barnes ($4200), Harrison Barnes ($5300), or Perry Jones III ($4600) can let you down in a big way. Paul Pierce ($5300) is worth considering in tournaments. He's never exciting, but has played well since returning from the toe injury. Mike Dunleavy ($4500) can't seem to get anything going lately, but he is known to break out in good match ups which is what he sees vs LA tonight.
Tristan Thompson ($4800): He will be a very popular play on Christmas day with the news that Anderson Varejao tore his achilles tendon and will miss the rest of the season. With Varejao out earlier in the season, Thompson saw over 30 mpg and turned into a double double machine. There is no reason not to use him here against the makeshift Miami front court.
Nene Hilario ($5300): Since returning from injury, Nene and Kris Humphries have played a similar number of minutes, but Hilario has been the more productive of the two, in terms of both floor and upside. He gets to face a Knicks team that gives up the 10th most fantasy points to PF.
Advice: Like I said, I'll be using Thompson pretty much across the board. The other option I'm considering, although the matchup isn't as nice, is Ed Davis. He's been really solid and for $4600 I feel he's one of the safer value plays today. The problem is that I'm going to want Blake Griffin or Pau Gasol in one of those PF spots.
Chris Anderson ($3700): It's tough to totally punt center today with DeAndre Jordan at $8000 against the Bogut-less Warriors. But if you do, Anderson is the guy. Chris Bosh is doubtful for Thursday officially, but it doesn't sound like he'll be playing. The Birdman is playing through a lingering ankle issue, but even if he continues to only play 20-25 minutes, he's doing enough to pay off this salary. 20 fantasy points should be a breeze.
Advice: I do like DeAndre Jordan the most at the position today, but overlooking Jordan Hill ($5900) could be a mistake. Chicago is quietly allowing the 5th most fantasy points to C and while Hill hasn't been doing anything special, that could change here. I expect him to be pretty low owned based on his recent mediocre production, which also makes me only want to consider him in GPPs.