NBA All-Star weekend begins on Friday, and 26 of the league’s 30 teams have already headed home for their midseason break. That leaves four lucky teams behind to close the doors and shut off the lights on the season’s first half. Due to the lack of options inherent in there being just two games, there are a handful of players the daily fantasy owner is almost compelled to start on Thursday. In fact, there’s really just one question to answer when building your lineups. Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant? The rest takes care of itself.
All prices are courtesy of FanDuel and based on a $60,000 budget.
PG: Russell Westbrook ($11,000) vs. NO: We’re going to go with the guy who has been one of the three best daily fantasy players all season as the answer to that question. Here is Westbrook’s recent game log: 48.6 fantasy points, 51.6, 69.8, 46.1, 55, 52.1, 55.6, and so on and so forth. You know that he recently had three straight triple-doubles, but do you know in the two games before and after that run he averaged 27.5 points, 11.3 assists and 6.8 rebounds? He’s an absolute machine, and one you want in your employ on Thursday.
SG: Khris Middleton ($7,300) vs. WAS: After hitting a scoring speed bump two weeks ago, Middleton is back in the groove. Over his last three games, he has averaged 19.7 real points and 31.3 fantasy points per game. Washington is terrible against shooting guards, surrendering the fourth-most fantasy points per game to the position this season. Perhaps most importantly, unless you want to roll the dice on someone like Dion Waiters or O.J. Mayo, you’re basically forced into using Middleton and Brad Beal as your shooting guards on Thursday.
SF: Giannis Antetokuonmpo ($7,300) vs. WAS and Otto Porter ($5,300) @ MIL: You have slightly more flexibility at small forward than at shooting guard, thanks to the presence of Kevin Durant. However, the dearth of moderately priced players means you can’t really afford Westbrook and Durant in the same lineup. If you go with the former, you’ve also made your choice at small forward. You don’t want to trust Steve Novak or Alonzo Gee, right? That means your only options are Antetokuonmpo and Porter.
PF: Ryan Anderson ($5,900) @ OKC: Anderson typically does his best work when Anthony Davis is out, and that is not the case on Thursday. Still, even when Davis is in, the Pelicans rely on Anderson to be a scoring threat off the bench. In fact, he leads all bench players with 17.1 points per game this season. We can’t squeeze Davis into this lineup, so Anderson’s scoring punch alone makes him a worthwhile selection on Thursday, especially in a game with a 220 over/under.
C: Marcin Gortat ($6,900) @ MIL: Gortat has double-doubles in all of his last three games, as well as five of his last seven, and seven of his last 10. Like the four players who comprise our shooting guard and small forward spots, we’re essentially compelled to go with Gortat. We can’t afford Greg Monroe ($8,200), and there’s no reason to reach down to Enes Kanter ($5,100). The takeaway, however, is that there’s no reason to tweak what we’ve already done to get Monroe in over Gortat. The Polish Hammer deserves this spot on merit.