The NBA has an unusually busy Thursday with nine games on the schedule. With the Rockets, Cavaliers, and Pelicans in action, some of the biggest stars in the league will be taking the floor. To add even more excitement to the evening, let’s try to bring home some money in DFS. Consider using some of the players below who have favorable matchups and plugging them into our NBA Lineup Optimizer to hopefully end the night a winner.
Damian Lillard, vs. Cavaliers (FD: $9,700, DK: $9,600)
Projected Points: FD: 46.74, DK: 48.78
Lillard is on fire right now, averaging 31.8 points, four rebounds, six assists and 5.2 three-pointers through six games in March. He’s really dialed in from behind the arc, shooting 47% on three-pointers during that stretch. Thursday brings a favorable matchup against a Cavaliers defense that allows the seventh-most points per game on both FanDuel and DraftKings to opposing point guards. Don’t expect them to be able to slow down Lillard.
Cameron Payne, at Grizzlies (FD: $3,900, DK: $3,800)
Projected Points: FD: 17.25, DK: 16.39
Payne was a major disappointment after the Bulls acquired him from the Thunder at the trade deadline last year and has missed most of this season due to injury. However, he’s played at least 16 minutes in five straight games, averaging 10.2 points, 2.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.6 three-pointers. The Bulls want to give him more playing time down the stretch and coach Fred Hoiberg even said they want to start giving Payne some minutes late in pressure situations. His upside isn’t very high, but he is still a viable option at this cheap price.
Nicolas Batum, at Hawks (FD: $7,800, DK: $7,800)
Projected Points: FD: 33.19, DK: 34.06
Batum has come on strong down the stretch, averaging 15.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.7 steals in six games this month. He has also excelled against the Hawks this season, averaging 14.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and nine assists in their first two matchups. The Hawks are dealing with a lot of injuries right now as well, leaving Batum with a ripe opportunity to provide value again Thursday.
Ben McLemore, vs. Bulls (FD: $4,900, DK: $5,200)
Projected Points: FD: 22.98, DK: 23.26
The Grizzlies are another team who has been decimated by injuries with Andrew Harrison (wrist) out, Mario Chalmers (hamstring) doubtful and Tyreke Evans (ribs) questionable for Thursday. They have leaned on McLemore to pick up the slack with all of those players sidelined, resulting in him playing at least 30 minutes in four of his last six games. The Bulls allow the third-most points per game on both FanDuel and DraftKings to opposing shooting guards, giving McLemore upside with an expanded role likely in the cards Thursday.
LeBron James, at Trail Blazers (FD: $12,500, DK: $11,400)
Projected Points: FD: 58.39, DK: 59.16
James is one of the best options in DFS whenever he plays regardless of his opponent. He posted a triple-double in his last game Tuesday against the Suns, marking his fourth triple-double in his last 10 games. Not only is his 31% usage rate tied for eighth-highest in the league, but he also averages 37 minutes per game. He’s going to eat up a significant portion of your budget, but he has one of the highest upsides of anyone in action Thursday.
Dillon Brooks, vs. Bulls (FD: $5,000, DK: $4,800)
Projected Points: FD: 21.37, DK: 22.1
Brooks has also seen an expanded role with all of the Grizzlies injuries, logging at least 30 minutes in eight of his last nine games. Although he doesn’t provide many rebounds or assists, he is averaging 20.2 points and 2.4 three-pointers in his last five contests. One of those games came against these same Bulls when he finished with 29 points and five three-pointers. The Bulls allow the seventh-most points per game (109.5) in the league, leaving Brooks with the potential for another offensive explosion in their rematch.
Anthony Davis, at Spurs (FD: $12,500, DK: $11,500)
Projected Points: FD: 58.8, DK: 58.6
Davis is dominating the league right now. If you remove the game where he played only 23 minutes due to injury against the Kings, Davis is averaging 30 points, 12.8 rebounds, 5.5 steals and 2.8 blocks in his last four full contests. Although the Spurs allow the fewest points per game (99.4) in the league, Davis has averaged 27.5 points and 13 rebounds in two previous meetings against them this season. Even though he’s expensive, it’s hard not to roll with Davis considering the streak he’s on.
Bobby Portis, at Grizzlies (FD: $6,600, DK: $7,000)
Projected Points: FD: 32.93, DK: 33.51
The Bulls have been changing up their rotations as they evaluate players for next season, but Portis has still played at least 27 minutes in six straight games. He has the second-highest usage rate (26.2%) on the team, so he’s going to produce more often than not when given enough minutes. He posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds in his last matchup against the Grizzlies and can at least approach those numbers again Thursday.
DeAndre Jordan, at Rockets (FD: $8,800, DK: $8,100)
Projected Points: FD: 36.96, DK: 38.31
Jordan absolutely dominated the Bulls in his last game Tuesday, scoring 29 points to go along with 18 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and one steal. He was an efficient 11-for-12 from the field and even went 7-for-12 from the charity stripe. He’s been a monster on the glass, averaging 19 rebounds in his last six games. With the Clippers playing small without Blake Griffin, Jordan is the lone big man left in the starting five to control the boards. It will be tough for him to approach 29 points Thursday, but a double-double with a lot of rebounds is a fair expectation.
Enes Kanter, vs. Sixers (FD: $5,800, DK: $6,700)
Projected Points: FD: 28.03, DK: 30.06
Kanter did not play Sunday due to a back injury but he returned Tuesday to grab 15 rebounds in just 21 minutes. He scored only three points in the contest and attempted just four shots. He’s had great success in two previous games against the Sixers this season, averaging 24 points and 17.5 rebounds. His playing time has been a bit inconsistent lately, but he should still see enough time of the floor to warrant considering for your entry at this price.